How You Can Invite Your Followers Into Your Content Marketing

 In Brand Yourself, Marketing Steps

How You Can Invite Your Followers Into Your Content MarketingIn today’s world, content marketing can be one of the greatest challenges and or one of the best opportunities for both business and consumer brands. The more brands try to expand their reach online so as to engage audiences beyond ‘interruptive’ advertising, I have a feeling that they continue to increase their need to cultivate shareable content which is informative, entertaining and interesting.

I think the importance of marketing on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn is the large size of the audience as well as the networked graph of connected consumers. This hence means that the sharing of content from person-to-person is a critical opportunity to tap ‘earned’ reach. A recent post on Mashable .com gave these ways that can help you invite consumers to create shareable brand-themed content.

1. Let your fans and followers vote

Voting allows fans to have a say in the brand’s direction, whether it’s helping choose something as light-hearted as a t-shirt design, or as important as a magazine cover photo. With engagement apps, fans can vote for their favorite destination, product, design — or marketing theme — and share their vote. Those voting results, enriched by commentary and insights, can provide content that fuels other branded channels and provides wider audience insights into how the crowd thinks and feels about your brand. Vitamin Water successfully deployed this idea with its social ‘favor creator’ campaign back in 2009. More recently, Outside Magazine tapped social fans to pick the ‘Best Town of the Year’ in 2011, 2012 and again in 2013 — campaigns that also fed valuable content for both the print and online magazine.

2. Give your fans and followers a personalized brand experience

A brand experience tailored to a user’s profile provides fans with something unique that keeps them exploring. Engagement apps can deliver a personalized experience, such as a set of product and service choices, white papers and case studies, or even fashion outfits, and reflect the identity revealed in their profile data. The clothing brand Jones NY is currently leveraging followers’ LinkedIn profiles this fall with their Style Creator campaign, allowing executive women to have outfits suggested based on their professional LinkedIn profile.

3. Ask fans and followers to contribute brand-related content

Contributions from fans don’t just make the community feel like a more essential part of a brand, they also help brand marketers delegate content creation. Social engagement apps can ask fans to submit photos, videos, or other stories on a brand-related theme. That fan-submitted content can then enrich a brand’s own marketing channels. For example, Dressy.com is reporting engagement success by asking fans to submit photos based on themes such as weddings, to their brand website. Virgin Mobile recently created a TV spot entirely from consumer contest videos.

4. Challenge the knowledge of your social audience

Challenge your fans, to get their attention and their engagement. Challenges can take the form of quizzes or polls that test a fan’s knowledge. They can pose questions for which the answers are informative and useful, and themselves become shareable results. Earlier this year, Air New Zealand launched a “Kiwi IQ” quiz that challenged fans’ knowledge of New Zealand sights by asking them to decide whether a photo or fact was about Auckland or about San Francisco. On a similar travel-related note, Visit Norway USA challenged their fans earlier this year to answer questions about Norway facts — a question a day for a month.

5. Help fans and followers uncover profile insights

Fans will be more likely to come back to a brand if they learn something about themselves by interacting with your brand or branded content. With engagement apps, access to a user’s profile can yield valuable personal insights that the user may not have noticed. By logging in with social credentials, a fan or follower might be able to see patterns or relationships in their profile they hadn’t seen before, or might see how they become ‘matched’ to some brand-related identity or product. For example, Microsoft launched a “Nametag Analyzer” powered by LinkedIn’s professional graph that gave followers a new look at their job title, while at the same time was introducing them to Microsoft products.

I think that success on social means finding a brand voice that resonates with fans and followers. I believe that having audiences contribute content, discuss content, and talk about wider themes that relate to a brand is a way to cultivate a more prominent voice. What do you think about these ways? Do you have any other methods that you use? Let us know about them by posting a comment.

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