If you’re simply using social media to send out an occasional post or tweet, you could be missing out: social channels are a great way to interact with customers because they’re already using Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to interact with friends and family. One way to boost that engagement is to feature your customers via social media, but doing so the right way requires a little discretion and a dose of creativity.
“Featuring customers is a great way to create some buzz and ultimately increase revenue,” says social media strategist Brittany Serra, the owner of bSocial Strategy. “Every company should incorporate customers into its social media site, but few companies go beyond the basic look-at-me post.”
Dunkin’ Donuts went beyond the promotional posts, using Twitter to select customers to appear in TV ads. The pro-Dunkin tweeters starred in their own 30-second spot as part of the #mydunkin campaign.
While most small businesses don’t want to shell out thousands of dollars to feature a customer on TV, Serra says there are plenty of easy, budget-friendly ways to showcase your customers and still get a good return on your investment.
Serra offers these creative ways to feature your customers on social media sites:
Facebook cover art
If you’re looking for a fast and easy way to feature your customers, use the cover photo section of your company’s Facebook page, Serra suggests. “The cover photo is like a billboard,” she says. “It’s prime real estate and it’s super easy to swap the picture out. It will literally take you seconds to do.”
Auto giant Ford, for example, uses the coveted space to feature a fan of the week. The company asks owners to upload a picture of themselves in their vehicle. Each week they pick a winner and post the picture to the company’s Facebook page as the main cover art.
A giveaway or contest
A giveaway or contest is another great way to feature customers, Serra says, but you should make sure the campaign is related to your company and products.
“Nothing irritates me more than an iPad giveaway. Unless you’ve become the head of Apple recently, you shouldn’t give away products from another company. Use prizes that are relevant to your company,” Serra says. “Of course, the real key here is to feature the winner on your site.”
Anatolian Tale Design, a small jewelry business, got it right. The company is giving away a compass necklace. To get more exposure, the company not only posted the giveaway on its company site, but also on Facebook’s Giveaway Tab, which is something Serra says every business should do.
Share customer pics and quotes
When a customer takes the time and initiative to post a picture or write a nice comment on your company page, thank them and repost it, Serra says.
“By sharing a customer’s content, it serves a dual purpose,” Serra explains. “For starters, the customer feels loved because you featured their comment or picture. Plus, studies show people prefer this kind of organic content. Customers are more apt to believe positive feedback from other customers rather than company insiders.”
Tell a customer’s story
Everyone loves a good story and there’s no better place to tell it than on social media, Serra says. Get a loyal customer to write or tell you about his or her experience with your company or product.
“The best way to leverage this kind of content is to have the customer write a guest post for the company blog,” Serra says. “Don’t forget to ask the customer to include a picture too. People want a face to go with the story.”
Be sure to cross-promote the story on social media. You’ll get more bang for your buck because you’re utilizing multiple promotional platforms.
In a pinch, you could always do a quick interview with the customer over the phone and write up a little something to share with your fans on Facebook. That’s what a Minnesota-based charity, PRISM, did. The non-profit featured a client who takes advantage of a free book program.
While these are just a few ways to feature customers, Serra says every company should gather a small group of people and brainstorm ways to creatively highlight customers on social media. “Break the social media mold,” she says. “You’ll be rewarded by your customers if you do.”
Do you, or have you, featured your customers on social media? Tell us about it!
This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.