From photos to videos to posts and shares, consumers are sharing more online every day and Mark Zuckerberg predicts that every year, consumers will share twice as much as the year before. This shift in consumer behavior has fundamentally changed the way people online search for, consume and share information. Consumers now turn to their peers, and even strangers, for recommendations and information on brands and the products or services they sell.
This massive shift in consumer behavior has been reflected in the changes to search engine algorithms over the past year. Google and Bing search algorithms now include consumer-generated content as one of the key factors in determining brands search engine result placement (SERP). And it doesn’t stop there, Google and Bing are now serving personalized results based on the data aggregated from consumers’ social graphs. As consumer-generated content moves to the top of the search-engine food chain, brands need to focus on strategies to drive consumer-generated content around their brands.
Brands looking to stay top of mind (and top of search) with their consumers must implement social marketing initiatives that foster consumer-generated content. Consumer-to-consumer (C2C) social marketing programs are designed to help brands tap into the power of customer advocates – to get them to share stories about the brand, product and services with their friends and social communities.
Here are three tips for fostering consumer-generated content to improve SERP:
1. Engage your customers wherever they are
Customers engage with brands across their websites, social networks, purchase and post-purchase environments, in store and more. The most effective way to drive participation in a C2C programs is to promote it across channels; via your corporate website, email blasts and on social networks to drive the highest awareness, participation and amplification rate. By giving consumers the option to decide where they want to engage, you will drive higher participation and foster more creation and sharing of stories.
2. Make sharing easy
Make it easy for customers to share stories about your brand, products and services with their friends. Include relevant sharing options (email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.). Default messaging that advocates can customize helps increase sharing and the effectiveness of the messages.
3. Increase participation through incentives
Give customer advocates a compelling reason to share with their friends. This could be an internal offer (free goods, discounts, or loyalty points), gift cards, or charitable donations. Make sure there is an incentive for their friends to make sharing more attractive. With relevant and appropriate incentives, marketers will see more sharing from their advocates, which will produce more social signals that can be picked up by the search engines.
The bottom line – cultivating consumer-generated content about your brand is a must.
With the ongoing updates to search engine algorithms, consumers have increasingly more power over brands SERP, making one thing abundantly clear for marketers – harnessing the power of customer advocates to create stories about brands, products and services is not a nice-to-have, it’s an increasingly critical element of their marketing strategies. Every brand needs a strategy for cultivating advocate sharing of stories about their products and services.
To learn more, check out the Extole ePaper: The Impact of Social On Search – It’s All About Content