As marketers, we already know that social proof is an essential tool for every small business’s organic growth efforts. Leveraging the compounding factors that contribute to social proof can help our small business in all aspects of its growth.
That’s why understanding The Social Proof Theory is essential to everything we do in our marketing efforts, from driving positive customer reviews to promoting authentic user-generated content. In marketing terms, user-generated content (UGC) refers to content related to your brand that’s created by someone who’s not affiliated directly or indirectly with your business.
The Benefits of User-Generated Content
User-generated content can be anything from a status update to a video to a podcast. While the benefits of user-generated content are vast and far between, the primary reasons it can help in a brand’s organic marketing efforts are that:
- It helps build brand trust.
- It gives customers a voice.
- It can reach a wider audience.
- It can increase user engagement.
- It includes customers in the conversation.
Most importantly, user-generated content can help your customers tell your story for you. A 2013 survey 76% of consumers said that they think advertisements are “very exaggerated” or “somewhat exaggerated.” While consumer distrust of ads surprises no one, it’s often overlooked how beneficial it can be for brands to simply allow customers to share their experiences themselves. After all, who can tell their experience with your brand more honestly than your own customers?
The Importance of Customer Experience (CX)
As businesses, there are segments of the customer experience we often miss. Solely focused on marketing aspects of our business, we can easily overlook the small details which make up the entirety of our brand’s engagement with consumers. From the packaging of a box to a small piece of text –– we never truly know what details will really delight our customers and impact Customer Experience (CX).
Beyond Net Promoter Scores and customer feedback surveys, we can learn a lot from our audience if we just learned to listen. By building ‘channels for listening,’ businesses can begin to audit their existing efforts to gather customer feedback. Consider the entirety of your customer’s journey, along with points of interaction between customers and your brand’s products, solutions, and people.
Listening for Brand Stories
Mapping your customer communication channels can help to uncover meaningful insights, potential gaps, and potential collaborative opportunities. By identifying your brand’s most active and engaged users, it won’t be hard to find the voices that stand out from the crowd –– and the stories that matter most.
Usually, potential brand advocates are already committed customers and avid brand enthusiasts. If they’re not already telling everyone about how much they love your product or service, they’d be happy to if you simply asked.
That’s why social media is a great way to observe what’s on the mind of our customers –– and for others to learn more about what our brand has to offer. By embracing and even promoting customer experiences online, we can drive a sleuth of authentic, high-value content for our brand’s organic marketing efforts.
It’s clearer than ever that in today’s online marketplace, UGC has never been a more vital tool for small businesses. By simply giving customers a podium to voice their experiences, brands can reap the rewards of building mutually-beneficial relationships with their most avid consumers.
The cherry on top is that turning loyal customers into brand advocates costs very little –– which is especially important for small businesses and burgeoning brands. Research consistently indicated that when brands show customers they’re listening, they become their fiercest advocates.
By nurturing tight-knit relationships with a brand’s most loyal customers, small businesses can drive higher ROI, increase sales, and strengthen brand trust –– all without spending a dime.