The Social Observer

The Social Media Marketing Blog by SNHU Students

How to have your customers advertise for your small business!

A guide to increasing social media and actual reach through User Generated Content for Small Businesses

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple and cheap way to increase your brand’s reach and increase your customer base? In other words, to make your small business operate more like a large corporation. In the marketing and advertising world, there are two major things that separate a small business from a large corporation, their marketing budget and their reach. Unfortunately, there is no magical technique or tactic available to a small business to legally increase their budgets without some kind of monetary investment. But increasing reach on the other hand, that is something anyone can do with little to no monetary investment at all. Harnessing user generated content only takes a little time and energy, but you can significantly increase your reach through social media.

The Social Observer has given great insights on how small businesses can utilize social media platforms, with previous articles like:

Facebook Advertising, 5 Tips for building a successful strategy as a small business

Small Businesses Can Use Social Media To Improve Customer Service

If you haven’t read these, please take the time to check them out, they will provide a great baseline for the information discussed below.

What is Reach and why do I need to worry about it?

In order to make sure we’re all on the same page, check out the following link for a little background in order to answer the age old question. What’s the difference between reach vs. impressions? Or, if you’re short on time and really want to start extending you’re reach, the below quote from that link will give you the basics you’ll need.

“Reach is the total number of people who see your content. Impressions are the number of times your content is displayed, no matter if it was clicked or not. Think of reach as the number of unique people who see your content. In a perfect world, every one of your followers would see every piece of content you posted”.

So now we’re clear on the definition, let’s discuss the most effective tactic for increasing reach without increasing your budget. The most effective way to increase reach is through the use of User Generated Content (UGC). For marketing purposes, the most common and effective form of UGC is when your customers post pictures to social media of themselves using your products or services.

Why is UGC so important and influential in increasing your brand’s reach?

small business user generated content graph

This survey shows us that the opinion of other customers is valued more than an expert or professional who uses a product or service. In other words, as consumers, we trust other consumers like us more than experts and/or professions.

How can small businesses utilize User Generated Content to benefit their brand?

Now that we’ve established the What and Why, let’s get to the most important part, the How.

First, the brand should establish at least one brand specific hashtag. The brand should intend to use this hashtag in all social media posts so customers learn the brand’s preferred hashtag. This is important because it allows the brand to track customer posts related to the brand. As long as the customer uses the hashtag in their posts. Thanks to social media, hashtags offer a way for both brands and consumers to track conversations in real time. Once posted, hashtags automatically become clickable links that show a list of each time that hashtag was used in a post. Thus immediately giving consumers and brands a database of customer reviews.

Warby Parker user generated content example

Check out this great example from eyeglasses brand Warby Parker. Here they’ve used photo that was tweeted at them as an opportunity to reach their audience with a nontraditional post. Next, once the hashtag is established, brands should encourage their customers to use the hashtag on social media. You can do this with regular social media posts, in follow up emails to previous orders, or on a brand’s website.

How can you get your customers to use your hashtag?

So the hashtag is ready and customers know to use it, that great! Now, the brand should incentivize their customers to use the hashtag. Once a customer buys, a brand can encourage that person to tell their friends about it on to social media. This creates instant reach for the brand. Each person in the customer’s social network will see the post and will establish the customer as a brand advocate. Start by offering them a small discount on their next purchase, 5-10% off.

Through social media, a brand can request customers to post a picture of themselves using the brand’s product. If you can do this without an incentive, it is a great way to find your most loyal customers. But if not enough people post organically, brands can incentivize their customers by offering a discount or prize to the post which has the most engagement.

For a small businesses, your brand and products are your identity. Allowing your customers to advocate for your brand will only strengthen your customer relations and build long-term loyalty. The Social Observer is a source of marketing knowledge for companies and brands of all sizes. Subscribe to stay current on all future topics! Always feel free to comment if you have specific thoughts or questions related to any topic discussed.

Category: Social Media Marketing 201