Every single day merchants are fighting the constant battle of building a meaningful brand, while selling their products. The battlefield changes, the strategies and tactics change, but the real struggle remains the same … How do you build lasting relationships with consumers in an ever-changing digital world? Communication cycles are getting faster, the consumption of information is speeding up, but we're still left with the challenge of keeping customer relationships in tact.
So how do we do it?
One trend in Commerce and Retail is to leverage the strength of developing communities. With new digital tools we have the ability to connect and build those communities within platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. All of this can be confusing though, and you might be wondering how do you actually build relationships and increase revenue through these channels. Well, User Generated Content, or (UGC), is one way brands are building equity and profit. Below are three strong strategies to leverage UGC with your business to begin tackling this challenge.
Integrate Social Content into your Website:
This is something we're seeing more and more. Brands are pulling social content into their eCommerce site with the goal of bringing in more fans and followers. There are two approaches here. The first, which takes more effort in strategy and administration, is to pull posts from your audience and publish to your site utilizing hashtags. You can do this with services like Candid.io and Pixlee.com. These solutions have a licensing cost associated with them but allow you to pick hashtags as well as merchandise products thus turning followers into purchasers. The other, more affordable option is to use widget based tools to pull your own feeds into your website. This allows you to test interactions and engagement. With any new digital strategy, we recommend you benchmark traffic and sales through these pages prior to launching and don’t forget to pay attention to trends.
Make Content Shoppable:
Facebook is the easiest platform to make "shoppable" as you can post product images and posts onto your Facebook page. We recommend your product posting remain less than twenty percent of your overall content though. Social media should be less of a billboard and more of a brand engagement tool. Instagram is the newest social channel that can become shoppable. Instagram feeds with this feature are becoming more and more popular. Keep in mind, that although some services can be costly to implement, any brand can create a grid-layout wordpress blog link to place in the Bio of their Instagram account. This would automatically re-direct potential customers to your eCommerce site. We're actually surprised we're not seeing more brands create their own shoppable Instagram feeds. Pinterest still remains the highest converting social channel, but we're seeing growth in Instagram and Facebook from a conversion perspective.
Encourage and Incentivize Users to Come to Your Site:
Creating a conversation on other channels like Instagram or even Twitter is just the first stepping stone. Transitioning that user from the social channel to your site and even your email list is the trick that separates expert marketers from Social Media Managers. So how do you bridge that gap? We've found that intrigue and curiosity work. Showing a partial post or posing a question and then providing a link that says, “Find Out More by Visiting Our Website.” Also rewards and loyalty programs work well to increase traffic. Engaging with visitors and sharing some benefits of your VIP or rewards program throughout posts is a great way to soft-sell fans and followers to come to your page.
The key is to start the process and start something. We find that our clients that do this, enjoy the added dynamic and fresh content to their site, their customers who visit the site stay and engage more and conversion rates increase because of the additional third party validation and credibility. We hope these ideas help challenge, or encourage and even inspire your brand to look at user generated content as a benefit for your retail business.
Brad McCrory is the CEO of Commerce Acceleration Group. You can follow him on Twitter @bradmccrory. Commerce Acceleration Group is an Integrated Agency that builds brands into platforms through creative, analytics, technology and marketing. Get Accelerated!