Why User-Generated Content Matters for Businesses

Why User-Generated Content Matters for BusinessesUser-generated content (UGC) refers to any content that is produced by consumers or users. It can take the form of social media updates, reviews, blog posts, Q&A forums, photos or videos. Many businesses use different kinds of UGC as part of their overall marketing strategy and the benefits getting involved with UGC provides are nearly endless for your business.

  • Enriched user experience – UGC allows your customers and prospects to interact with like-minded people and share their opinions – this could be through posting comments on a blog, on discussion forums or status updates.
  • Enhanced understanding of your audience – User-generated content offers you an excellent opportunity to listen to your customers and be able to better understand their needs.
  • Established trust – Consumers usually base their buying decisions on what other people are saying. Having positive reviews on your site enhances the chances of prospects using your service or buying your product.
  • Search engine optimization – Search engines like Google rank sites based on how unique and relevant their content is. Having user-generated content on your site can play a major role in improving your search engine rankings and even make your site more visible.
  • Cost effectiveness – Hiring designers and writers to create content for your business site can be very expensive, but if you work with an in-house team instead, it’ll help you save on money and time.

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The 5 Best Social Media Campaigns of 2014 (So Far)

The 5 Best Social Media Campaigns of 2014Social media marketing has proven itself as much more than just a passing fad. A common misconception is that when things go viral, it’s just by accident or some kind of fluke. Granted, there is a little bit of luck at play sometimes but certain firms have got it down to a science where they can really put the odds in their favor. Sometimes it’s about creating a new trend from scratch and making it go viral but other times simply jumping on a bandwagon will do more than enough to raise a lot of exposure for your campaign. Let’s take a look at some of the very best social media campaigns of 2014 (so far) and why they were so successful.

#GiveGregaHoliday

Here’s an example of a company seizing the opportunity when something goes viral by accident. If this was planned from the very start, it would have been incredibly clever and a brilliant way to get attention. Part of me wants to believe that this happened organically, but the cynic in my head says it was staged. In either case, the result is still the same.

TrekAmerica is a company that specializes in putting together adventure holiday packages. When one of their employees named Greg sent in a vacation request, he accidently CC’d every member of the company’s 3500 staff rather than just sending it to his manager. This resulted in the hashtag #GiveGregaHoliday taking off, and the company responded by giving Greg a trip to Las Vegas and including the hashtag #GregGotTheHoliday. The result here was exposure, and this campaign worked because most people can relate to wanting a little time off, and everyone loves an underdog story of an employee being treated right by their bosses.

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Business Basics – Cross-Blogging

Content marketing is amazing. Studies have found that inbound and content marketing cost 62% less than traditional marketing, and yet brings in three-times as many leads. If you don’t blog, you’re missing out on a huge marketing opportunity, and a great chance to network. Over the last year or so, we’ve really amped up our cross-blogging, and we’ve seen some amazing results. New markets have opened up, our web presence has never been bigger, and we’ve made some great new partners. cross-blogging

But, in finding new partners to blog with, we’ve noticed that some businesses don’t know the first thing about cross-blogging. So to help those of you experimenting with inbound marketing out, here are a few tips on how to make your cross-blogging experience positive and rewarding.

Make suggestions and share ideas

Some of the best articles we’ve ever written have come from ideas brainstormed with our cross-blogging partners. However, entrepreneurs can be a little skittish when it comes to sharing ideas. Now when a business is built on an idea, guarding it makes a lot of sense, but if that idea is nothing more than a possible topic for an 800-word article, you don’t have to treat it like a trade secret. So feel free to pitch ideas with your partners, and build off of each other’s suggestions. A major part of cross-blogging is networking. You want to forge a strong, working relationship with the people you partner with, and brainstorming is a great way to do just that.

Keep the relationship light

New bloggers sometimes get a bit overly zealous when contributing or accepting a post. Before anything is written, they want a thirty-page contract filled out in triplicate and faxed to their attorney’s office. Remember, you aren’t sharing revenue or starting a business together. You’re cross-blogging. A few simple requests like ‘don’t plagiarize’ and ‘don’t publish this somewhere else’ are really all that you need.

Don’t ask your partner to do all the work

We feel like this should go without saying, but we’ve had way, waytoo many potential partners ask us to just write the post for them. There’s no quicker way to ruin this networking and marketing opportunity than by shirking all of your responsibility and expecting someone else to pick up the slack. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Would you want a crummy, hastily written article, riddled with spelling and grammar errors on your blog? We doubt it. Any articles you send to your partner should be insightful, unique, and engaging, and you should expect the same of them. That way no one feels slighted, and your new partnership starts off right. 

Interested in contributing a guest post? We’d love to talk to you! Click here to read our author guidelines, pitch an idea, and get in contact with our social media team.

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3 Online Reputation Management Tips That Really Work

3 Online Reputation Management Tips That Really WorkOnline reputation management is an uphill battle for every small business.  In a June 2008 study conducted by Opinion Research Corp., 83% of consumers say online customer reviews influence their purchase decisions. It seems that the Internet’s ability to connect consumers has proven its staying power.

In a market where word of mouth and online reviews weigh heavily on consumer minds, small businesses need to be proactive in making sure customers (old and new) have access to fair representations of your services. While there is no simple solution for curing online reputation woes, there are a few things you can do to help your business take matters into your own hands.

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8 Tips for How Brands Can Stay Connected with Customers via Social Media

8 Tips for How Brands Can Stay Connected with Customers via Social MediaEngaging effectively with customers is very important for the success of any business. Social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn have made it very easy for companies to interact with their customers. Instead of making phone calls or sending emails, customers can raise their questions or complaints by simply posting a tweet or status update on these social networks. This makes it easy for companies to keep track of conversations about their brand or business.

Here are some tips which can enhance interaction with customers via social media.

1. Stay updated

Social media is a very dynamic and constantly evolving field. Find out which apps or platforms can make your customer interaction the most effective and where the majority of your customer base can be found and stay updated on those sites with your accounts.

2. Hire the right staff

Running several social media accounts can be a very daunting task to do alone. Look into hiring a social media professional who can manage your accounts and use the appropriate tools to help make customer relations easier. Alternatively, if you don’t have the budget for a social media manager, you could look into getting some of your staff trained on how to use social media for customer service.

3. Be active

Having a Twitter, Google+ or Facebook account is not enough; you need to engage your customers actively. You can do this by creating a search alert for conversations about your industry, business or brand. If you find someone complaining about your product, service or business, be sure to respond swiftly. On the other hand, any compliments should be shared or retweeted.

4. Demonstrate product benefits

Social media can be a great channel for demonstrating the benefits of your product. For instance, if you are selling a detachable recliner, show your customers how it is assembled, where it can be used and how to maintain it. This can be done using video or images. Videos can be uploaded on video sharing sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo, Flickr, Dailymotion, Veoh, Metacafé, and Break, and then shared on your social media profiles.

5. Don’t just talk about your company or products

If you are always promoting your products or company, your followers and fans will eventually get bored and find somewhere else to go. What people want is helpful and inspirational information. Be sure you provide this information, with occasional references back to your brand.

6. Address complaints and questions promptly

Whenever customers share their complaints and questions through social media, make sure you respond as fast as possible. This will show customers that you are listening to their problems and want to help out, thus enhancing their trust.

7. Don’t edit or delete negative comments

Negative comments can help you identify flaws in your products or services, thus enabling you to make necessary improvements. When responding to such comments, be as gracious and objective as possible. Offer an apology where your business or company made a mistake, and gently correct any of the customer’s misinterpretations. How you handle a negative comment could make all the difference between winning and losing a customer.

8. Be proactive

When your company or business faces major issues such as product recalls or a crashing website, you need to be proactive. Let your followers and fans know what is going on before they get a chance to complain. Assure them that you have already identified the problem and are working on solving it.

Charles Mburugu is a professional blogger who likes sharing tips about internet marketing and ecommerce. Currently, he is writing for Platinum Freight.

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3 Areas That Your Small Business Should Invest In

3 Areas That Your Small Business Should Invest InThere are staples and initiatives that every business needs in order to succeed. From marketing efforts to employees and equipment, you’re going to need to pay it forward in order to gain results. After all, the nature of business is to make investments.

However, the question lies in understanding where to make those investments and when to pull back. Read on to discover three areas within your small business that, with a little understanding and tact, will prove your efforts to be worthwhile.

Marketing

No matter how amazing your business offering is, it won’t mean much if no one is aware of it. Marketing is essential for any business that wants to bring in new business while educating and entertaining a consumer group. However, when it comes to setting a budget, where should you save and splurge?

Ad campaigns (consisting of flyers, banners or direct mail) can provide you with a return on investment both in a growing customer base and a more solidified brand image. The key to making your investment worth it is to have a consistent message across the board that speaks to your niche’s needs and wants.

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8 Guidelines for Effective Video Marketing

8 Guidelines for Effective Video MarketingPeople love watching videos. With almost 1 billion active users, YouTube has become one of the most visited sites online. Many businesses have discovered the immense potential of video marketing and are now using it to promote their products and services – here are some tips which will help you derive the biggest benefits from video marketing.

1. Understand your audience.

Before posting any video, you need to get familiar with your target audience. What are their ages? What are they passionate about? What problems are they dealing with? What kind of videos would appeal best to your audience? Once you have answers to such questions, you will then be able to carry out an effective video marketing campaign.

2. Think outside the box.

There are thousands of videos on YouTube competing for people’s attention. For your video to stand out of the crowd, you will need to think out-of-the-box. Come up with a creative and radical concept which will capture the imagination of your viewers. You can get some inspiration by looking at what others have already done and borrowing some ideas. However, don’t make the mistake of duplicating entirely the work of others.

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4 Essential Elements to Building Your Business’ Bridge to Conversion

4 Essentials to Building Your Business’ Bridge to ConversionIt’s one thing to get people’s attention towards your business, but what use is having all the recognition in the world if you can’t influence them to actually engage with your business? Once you’ve got them at your site, you need to give them a reason to stay there and click on a link to register an account, subscribe to a newsletter, order a product, or even just look around and find out more what it is you do.

But how do you accomplish this? Here are four fundamental elements that you need to build on to start getting conversions on your company website.

User Experience

How your target audience feels about interacting with your website is one of the very first things that you need to take into consideration. Your site needs to provide the information your visitors are looking for. It has to be easily navigable for different devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, etc.), browsers and connection speeds while still maintaining a credible and compelling design that reinforces your business’ brand.

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