How User-Generated Content Can Tell Your Brand Story

Your brand story is so much more than a collection of facts about your business. It’s even much more than how you feel about your company and what makes it tick. It’s a unique, complex combination of the facts about your brand blended with the emotions your brand stimulates in its customers. Essentially, it’s a human-to-human representation of your business. Fans are already posting to Instagram and Facebook, why not empower them and harness their user-generated content for brand marketing?

User-Generated Content for Brand Marketing: Your Fans are Storytellers

As a business owner, you work to create a compelling brand story that speaks to the heart and soul of your business—your customers. And what better way to create a compelling story than by having your customers tell it for you? Think about it. Brand evangelists can be a marketer’s best friend. You spend time liking their photos and positive comments about your brand or product, but you could use their content for so much more.

Share User Generated Content

When your customers post photos or videos of themselves using your products or services, don’t just like their content. Share it far and wide. These are the people that are living the lifestyle your brand represents, and they are the perfect people to tell your brand story visually.

People love the opportunity to genuinely engage with a brand. What’s more flattering than having your favorite brand re-share your photo or comment to its community? This can often lead to inspiring more people to post their own pictures, and you might be surprised at how good they are.

Burberry did this well with its Art of Trench website, but you can do this with just about any business. It can be as simple as sharing user-generated content across your social media sites or as focused as building a website designed just for this type of sharing.

Don’t forget to share positive comments, too. If your customers are tweeting praises about your brand, a thank you and a re-tweet can go a long way.

Create Contests Featuring User-Generated Content

When done well, contests are a great way to get customers and prospects engaged and keep your brand on their minds. Create a contest with an amazing prize and make the entry user-generated content. For example, you might have them submit videos or photo collages that demonstrate how they use your products and what your products mean to them. You can share the submissions via social media and even incorporate them into your marketing campaigns.

Chobani, the Greek yogurt brand, managed to increase its revenues by more than 200 percent by running a contest that asked customers to tell their personal stories about eating the brand’s yogurt.

Build Emotional Connections With Personal Stories

Remember, it’s not only about videos and photos (though visuals are always helpful online). Your target audience can be won over by your customer’s personal stories. Personal stories help create a shared experience, stimulate customers to get involved and interact, and help create an emotional connection to your brand.

Don’t Forget the Reviews

Good feedback naturally helps sell your product. Many people who shop online read reviews before they click to buy. However, that’s not the only way reviews can help you. Take the time to read them and use them as constructive feedback. Take what you identify as most important to your customers (from their reviews) and use it in your next marketing campaign.

How important are reviews? Consider this: In a survey by Dimensional Research, almost 90 percent of those polled said online reviews influenced their purchasing choices.

Let Your Customers Do the Selling

How better to sell your product than with words, photos, or other creatives directly from your customers? Adding user-generated content to your product pages is an excellent way to give your customers and prospects a break from the norm and showcase what people who are actually buying from you think of what you have to offer.

It makes sense to let your customers tell your brand story. It’s the most genuine and authentic story that could be told. Put user-generated content to work for you.

8 Steps to a Killer Social Media Newsroom for Inbound PR

newsroom

Creating remarkable content can be a great way to generate inbound media coverage for your business. In fact, we’ve seen many businesses successfully use this very tactic, conducting studies and publishing reports using industry statistics to attract the attention of media publications and bloggers. Heck, at HubSpot, we do it, too!

But once you’ve put that great, PR-worthy content out there into the online world, are you making it easy for interested media folks and bloggers to contact you about it? What if they have a question about a certain statistic you mentioned, or they want to interview one of your business’ executives? Would they be able to easily find and get in touch with the right person at your company? Could they gather all the information they’re looking for if they decided to write more in-depth coverage of your business?

You can publish great content that might be worthy of some coverage, but if a reporter or journalist doesn’t know who to contact or can’t easily find the information they’re looking for, that journalist might pursue a different source for their story, meaning you’d miss out on some great PR coverage.

One of the best ways to maximize your business’ potential to generate inbound PR coverage is through a carefully crafted social media newsroom . Here are our top 8 tips for creating a truly stellar one…

  1. Provide clear media contact info at the very top of your page. Sometimes a journalist or blogger is simply looking for someone to talk to. Don’t bury this information. The last thing you want is a journalist losing interest because he or she can’t find contact information. Instead, clearly position contact info at the top of your newsroom, and include multiple methods of communication – an email address, a phone number, even a Twitter handle! Consider also creating a separate search engine optimized web page with just this media contact information, so journalists searching for your business’ media contact in search engines can quickly find it.

  2. Include links to additional information and resources. Instead of cluttering your page with tons of information, include links to other pages on which you expand upon certain information. For example, if you’d like to showcase your award wins or a list of the media coverage you’ve generated, you might provide a snapshot of highlights in your newsroom but also link to separate pages you’ve built to house more detailed information.

  3. Incorporate social media elements. Your newsroom is a great place to aggregate and share your business’ social media presence. Include links to your Facebook Fan Page, your company’s Twitter feed, Flickr account, YouTube channel, LinkedIn page, etc.

  4. Include interactive elements. People prefer to absorb information and be stimulated in different ways. Give your visitors variety. Some ways you can achieve this include embedding a video overview of your company or product, including eye-catching icons, images, and photos, or adding links to audio elements (e.g. a podcast interview featuring your CEO).

  5. Insert an RSS feed to your company blog and/or corporate Twitter account. If you publish a company blog and/or maintain a corporate Twitter account, add feeds to your newsroom that display recent posts/tweets and links to subscribe.

  6. Highlight noteworthy company data, achievements, and benchmarks. Are you a startup that just recently raised a round of venture capital? Perhaps you have some interesting company stats to share like your customer count or employee size. Highlight them in your newsroom for an added PR punch.

  7. Include ‘about’ information or your company’s boiler plate. Sometimes a reporter is just looking for some additional information to round out a story and doesn’t even require human interaction. Provide a brief description of your business and its products/services for their reference. This will also encourage them to use a description (or a form of) that you’ve influenced, so you know they’ll get your company’s messaging right.

  8. Keep it fresh! Make sure you continually keep your newsroom updated with the freshest content and up-to-date information. Has your customer count increased over the past few months? Make sure to edit your newsroom for accuracy.

In what other ways can you make your company newsroom more effective?

 

Pamela-VaughanAbout the Author:

Pamela Vaughan is a Principal Marketing Manager on HubSpot’s web strategy team, with a focus on conversion rate optimization and conversion copywriting for HubSpot’s website. She is best known for introducing the concept of historical optimization, which increased organic search traffic and leads for HubSpot’s blog by more than 200%.