07 Feb Social Proof: Making the Most of Consumer Generated Content
Consumer Generated Content is replacing word of mouth as the most trusted form of marketing. Testimonials and real-life images from happy customers are far more compelling than a slick ad.
Research shows that more than 70% of shoppers trust consumer opinions posted online(1). That number drops below 50% for paid advertising, no matter what the medium. Strategic use of Consumer Generated Content can give your digital marketing a real boost.
What is Social Proof?
It all comes down to social proof, the psychological phenomenon where people look to the actions of others to guide their own actions and beliefs. Have you ever asked a friend what they are planning to wear to an event before you choose your own outfit? You’re looking for social proof. Have you purchased a product because your friends have raved about it? You’ve been influenced by social proof.
Social proof takes several forms, from ratings and reviews to Instagram posts of projects in progress. In this article, we’ll explore ways to incorporate social proof in your messaging.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content(2). When it comes to grabbing the attention of crafters, photos can’t be beat. But creating artful images for your website and social media can be time consuming and expensive. And you’re likely to spend your resources taking pictures that focus on the details of your product, rather than lifestyle shots that inspire the customer.
Customer photos can help fill this gap. With the popularity of Instagram and Facebook, your customers are posting beautiful images every day. For you, these photos are marketing treasure.
In a recent study, 66% of shoppers said they are more likely to purchase a product if the website has social media posts with pictures/videos from real customers. Let’s face it – consumers are a little skeptical of the content you produce. They assume that your product photos are the equivalent of graduation pictures, staged and photoshopped to create the most attractive image possible. Photos taken by their peers are assumed to be more “truthful.”
How to Get Started
Encourage customers to take photos of your product and post them to social media. This encouragement can take many forms. Make sure your website, invoices, and newsletters include #yourbrand or #yourproductname as a subtle reminder. For a more direct approach, ask customers to tag your product in an image posted to Instagram or Facebook, and give a prize to a winner randomly drawn from all postings with the specified tag.
If you have a retail store, or if you sell at craft fairs or fiber festivals, be prepared to take pictures of customers who share something they’ve made. Have a sign with your company name positioned to work as a photo backdrop. Fuji Film created this great backdrop for their booth at Creativation 2018. Notice that they’ve used an event-specific hashtag to remind customers to post their photos. Offer to take two pictures of the customer proudly showing off the project, one with their phone and one with yours. Ask permission to post the photo on your social media feed and tag the customer in the post. Chances are good the customer will post, too. In a couple of quick clicks, you’ve added to your portfolio of consumer generated content. Better yet, you’ve made a customer feel appreciated!
Comb Instagram, Pinterest, and Ravelry for great photos featuring your product. Think of yourself as a curator – you don’t need to promote poor quality images. Pictures of freshly unboxed skeins of yarn, projects in process, and finished projects are all worthwhile.
When you come across images you love, share the post if it’s on Facebook and re-pin of it’s on Pinterest. Like and comment on the photo via Facebook or Instagram. These simple actions will mean the image is seen by more people.
Consider compiling a gallery of customer photos for use in a newsletter or blog post. This can be particularly helpful in promoting products that have been in your line for a while, providing fresh inspiration.
If you want to use a customer photo beyond a social media share or re-pin, be sure to ask first. Never use someone else’s pictures without permission. Reach out with an email or other message, and start your request with a compliment (who doesn’t want to hear “I loved your photo”?) Be specific about how you want to use the photo (on your website? in a blog post? in a newsletter?) and ask the customer to respond with their consent. Ask how they want to be identified in the photo credit – by name, Instagram username, Ravelry avatar? And be sure you credit the photo properly each time you use it.
Reviews and Testimonials
Happy customers are your best brand ambassadors. Make it easy for customers to write positive reviews by including a review link on each product page on your website. Consider implementing an automated email process asking recent customers to review the products they purchased. Display reviews near the buy button. Include excerpts in your promotional copy and newsletters. Third-party systems such as PowerReviews integrate with your shopping cart system to make it easy to collect and display reviews.
When a popular teacher, designer, or another expert in your craft mentions your product, it can feel like you’ve been touched by the Fairy Godmother’s wand. A link on Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s blog, the Yarn Harlot, can lead to an exponential increase in sales of a yarn or pattern.
If you see a spike in sales of a product that isn’t tied to your own marketing initiatives, track back along your inbound links to see if you can find the source. If you see traffic coming from a blog post or review site, you’ve found an influential advocate! Reach out to the writer and thank them profusely. Offer to send them sample product for future projects and reviews. Ask if you can help promote their site through links in your blog or social media.
Trade shows often present the opportunity to meet with bloggers and designers. If you provide them with product samples, be sure to let them know you’d like to see photos of their work. Offer to cross-promote their blog or pattern.
Stitchcraft Marketing can help you connect with the bloggers and podcasters your customers love. Our Influencer Outreach programs can help you generate and distribute high-quality content that will have a measurable impact on your bottom line.
Contact Leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com to learn how we can help you grow your craft business.