Visual Content Marketing has some powerful lessons to teach. Consumers today are leveraging social media to discover and validate potential purchases. In fact, they rely more on digital feedback from friends, family and influencers, and less on brand-generated messages, according to Forrester.
Their research revealed of U.S. adults online, some 70% percent trust brand or product recommendations from friends and family, 46% trust consumer-written online reviews, and just 10% trust ads on websites and 9% trust text messages from companies or brands. This is according to new Forrester data based on a survey of more than 58,000 respondents.
Another Forrester study shows that 32% of U.S. online consumers trust a stranger’s opinion on forums and websites over branded advertisements.
According to Nielsen’s Latest Global Trust in Advertising Survey, 92% of respondents in 56 different countries said they trusted word-of-mouth recommendations from their friends and family above all other forms of communication. That’s up 17% since 2007.
Consumers are also increasingly likely to trust the voices of strangers over those of a corporation. Online consumer reviews are the second-most trusted form of communication (cited by 70% of consumers, up 15% since 2007).
A study conducted by Bzz Agent revealed the following insights about Brand Advocates:
1) They are 83% more likely to share information than the average Internet user.
2) They enjoy solving problems and helping others make better purchase decisions.
3) They are 75% more likely to share a great product experience and three times more likely to share product opinions with someone they don’t know.
4) They act and think very differently from typical web users – they are a different breed of consumer.
With this kind of information, marketers will have to find important ways to get their customers involved in creating content.
Allowing users to share images automatically increases engagement and builds a sense of community around the brand or business. If you’re a small business imagine the free content you’d be getting, saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars in marketing expenses.
Building your army of advocates takes time and has to be done with your brand’s mission and goals in mind. Let’s not forget that creating relationships online takes time. This is no different than how we develop friendships outside social media.
Here are some examples of how brands on Pinterest are leveraging their customers:
1) Urban Outfitters
Urban Outfitters has dedicated a board to fashion bloggers and customers wearing their products.
Moira Gregonis, senior marketing manager at Urban Outfitters, says by integrating user-generated content into its site it presents a “win-win” opportunity for boosting measurable, social engagement. It is planning to put social pics directly on its product pages in the coming months.
Brand advocates are motivated by recognition, so mentioning or tagging their name on pin descriptions creates an easy opportunity to fulfill that need.
2) Home Depot
Home Depot has a blog called “Style Challenge” that features bloggers sharing their inspirations using Home Depot’s products and it shares those images on their Pinterest board called “Patio Style Challenge”.
Home Depot also adds a link from their blog post to the blogger’s site page to give them exposure. It’s a great partnership for the brand and the blogger. The blogger gets the exposure they deserve and Home Depot continues to get other people talking about them.
3) Michael Kors
Michael Kors has teamed up with fashion bloggers for curating content for their “Street Style” Pinterest board.
4) Stonyfield Yogurt
The company states “We try to provide exciting and meaningful opportunities for them to work with us and learn more about the mission that drives us – healthy food, healthy people and a healthy planet. In exchange, we enlist their help to educate others and improve the eating habits of families across the country. Since we don’t pay these groups, we understand the importance of highlighting and promoting their posts to increase their readership.”
This strategy works extremely well because they are leveraging moms and this audience loves to share. After all more than 50% of female Pinterest users are moms.
By focusing on helpfulness and lifestyle benefits for their customers and not exclusively on their product, they gain build trust and inspire others to share their content.
5) Free People
Free People created a board called FP Me which represents their online style community for fashion lovers worldwide. It is a place where they invite customers and fans to engage with Free People online by creating a public profile, sharing street style pics, curating collections, ‘hearting’ products, collections, photos, and connecting with other fashion lovers.
So what can you do about it?
- The next step is for you to reach out to your key influencers and brand advocates and start creating a dialogue with them. You can start by commenting on the pins they pinned from your website or blog and thank them for sharing your content.
- Then you can reach out to them via Twitter or Facebook. If they haven’t linked their social networks to their Pinterest profile, you can easily comment on the pin description and let them know you want to feature them on your Pinterest board and ask them to email you with their email address.
Employ this customer featured approach in order to make your Pinterest presence as powerful as possible to help you get more followers and traffic to your website.