Once upon a time before Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards your website was likely the beginning and end of your online marketing. But these days you may focus more on your Facebook timeline than your landing page. What if you could put all the social activity you’ve worked so hard to stimulate to good use, improving the effectiveness and profitability of your website?
As social media publishing matures, and the tools evolve along with it, smart marketers are integrating social content into their web experience to engage visitors and drive sales. Way more (and better) than a feed of the latest tweets, social content is being included in-line as part of the overall content mix. User generated images, tweets and videos are being automatically pulled from Instagram, Twitter and other networks to be displayed on home, community and product pages. Traditional assets like product shots are being replaced by their user generated cousins.
What’s in it for you?
Social/User generated content ticks many of the boxes for what makes web content effective in general, with the added benefit of being created by your most passionate brand evangelists. User generated content can be a great addition to your website because it’s:
Sticky and Novel: We’ve all had our inner voyeur pull us down a social media rabbit hole. Social content keeps people looking longer. And the promise of something new with each visit gets people coming back more frequently.
Timely and Adaptive: Social content captures your products in the season, style or meme of the minute. Rainy days bring pictures of rubber boots and sandals fill the feed when it’s sunny.
Compelling for Selling: What is more convincing, a stock product shot or an authentic pic of your product in action? Social content means social proof. According to HubSpot, more than 8 in 10 Gen Yers say social content from people they don’t know influences the way they buy and indicates brand quality.
Social content can even be “productized” for “social selling”, linking directly to e-commerce pages. Leading retailers like Urban Outfitters are using Curalate to create and manage shoppable community driven catalogues around #UOONYOU. Imagine making your most passionate customers your best sales people.
Abundant and Economical: Producing quality content takes time and resources. A steady stream of new free content is out there to compliment your in-house efforts, you just have to funnel and manage it. Promote a hashtag as part of your overall brand strategy, set up your filters and watch the content flow in.
Cooperative and Inclusive: Your marketing team can’t be everywhere at once but your customers, ambassadors and staff can. Empower them with a hashtag and let the people living with your product every day have a starring role in your brand story, wherever they are. You’d be surprised, Steve in accounting makes great Vine videos.
Things to Consider
When done properly integrating social content on your site can deliver big benefits. Consider the following to make sure it clicks and gets people clicking.
Presentation: First thing, is your overall site experience set to impress? Next, is your social content integration on point? Simply “plugging in” your social content can distract rather than delight. A widget with tiny Instagram thumbnails can do more harm than good. Invest in web development that accentuates the social content in a way that feels like it belongs.
Rockefeller Center has used #topoftherock content in a way that leaves an impression that’s more about their brand than Instagrams’.
Moderation: Don’t let the unfettered firehouse of social content loose on your webpage. The results can range from embarrassing to disastrous. Use a system that lets you quickly and reliably handpick the best bits and filter the rest.
Speed: Make sure the task of curating and sharing content does not become another “to do” that never becomes a “done”. Help yourself succeed. Don’t try to publish manually, use tools that let you moderate and publish fast. I’ve personally found TradableBits’ “Stream” to be a great tool for the job. Publishing can’t be instantaneous, find the pace that’s reasonable for you and your community.
Location: Can you use social content beyond online? Live events and retail locations are the perfect place to showcase your brand and fans via curated social content. Why not make your community part of the atmosphere and animate your spaces with their photos? TEDx Portland used Postano and guest generated content to colour the auditorium for their 2014 conference.
How are you using social content on your website? Well, poorly, not at all? Is it distracting or compelling? Are you capitalizing on all the social activity around your brand? Why not? We’d love to hear your comments. Tweet me @trevorjurgens.