Creating buzz around a product on an external forum or blog can be very effective, especially if the blog is full of relevant links to deep product or service pages on the brand site. But it’s not always easy…
It’s also not hard – just time consuming, and you need to know what you’re doing. Here’s one way that won’t break the bank, or deviate too much from any social presence or initiatives you already have running:
- In order to facilitate and encourage participation in brand related product forums and social networking sites to gain decent anchor text backlinks, you might consider starting an unofficial blog where you provide interesting information about your brand, your direct and indirect competitors and suppliers.
- Include insights and mentions of complimentary and supplementary products and services highlighting faults, advantages, customer service and other relevant feedback from all related forums, social media and industry sites. Nofollow non-prime site external links; there’s no value to sharing out your newly gained link-juice, but there is value to providing those external resources to your knowledgeable, info-seeking visitors. Open those links in a new window.
- Build a solid reputation as an objective industry source of information and pay attention to regular commentary contributors – positive and negative – building a brand game plan to deal with both on the brand site itself.
- The potential for YouTube exposure is infinite if you offer brand based prizes for (examples) ‘funniest’, ‘weirdest’ or ‘most innovative’ use of your product, or ‘most extensive use’ of your service. The potential is limited only to the brands legal and social responsibility, and your ability and innovativeness as their lead.
ABDUCTION OF THE INFLUENTIALS… This is one of the best vids I’ve ever seen to explain UGC… Just CLICK!
Harness the Power of Social Networks
There are social networks for pretty much everything; Go Green, IT, design, architecture, SEO, electronics, home goods, kids stuff, books – you name it, it’s out there. Find a few really targeted and relevant networks and integrate. Again this can be in the form of both main brand and pseudo-brand.
- Create a FaceBook/MySpace account – invite people via search, and incentivize them with an offer; e.g. a draw; once we reach 1000 we will send 15 random entrants a Starbucks discount… It depends on the brand, your insights, your involvement, and how you handle your SMM. NEVER be in the position where you can be accused of bribing.
- Create a Twitter account – if you’re really big, offer a free software package, but offer daily/weekly tidbits of info to folks who have already purchased it, including updates and engage.engage.engage.
- Digg both detractor and evangelist type articles.
Social networks can be particularly powerful for brand-building. If you are a brand and want to engage the power of consumer feedback, take an active part in those communities that work best for you and link to them from your blog or your prime product page/s.
Enabling your users to find ‘more’ information from their peers via your facilitation might generate a bit of a flux in the social network, but if you have a name in the network, not only can you answer them, you can expect your brand evangelists and followers to take part in dealing with their queries as well, even if it is simply to the point of linking them back to an FAQ or review page.
Problems With UGC And How To Deal With Them
To help site owners manage the potential avalanche of UGC headed their way a number of platforms have been developed which allow companies to add UGC elements to their sites. Ensure that whichever option you choose you stringently evaluate the SPAM management offering. Most CMS enable spam monitoring and blog creation; setting goals, expectations and limitations is up to you. It is advisable if you are unsure to check the full disable functionality of any CMS or blog software.
Anonymous commentary or feedback must always be run through a stringent spam detection program which prevents spam blog or review commentary prior to live publication. Simply ensure you have a disclaimer on the page that is very direct and simple indicating that if feedback doesn’t show within a set period of time, to contact you by email and include a link to your spam definition. Never allow profanity, blasphemy, or plain vileness through. Filters sort that, don’t make the mistake of enabling it – it’s in your power; it’s your brand.
Transparency is good, enabling ‘hate’ or plain disrespect and bad manners is not. Make your filters as transparent as possible – that’s what the filter is for, and that’s what the disclaimer supports. You can’t stop what other sites say about you, but you can – to an extent – ensure that your commentary, while transparent, is palatable.
It is absolutely vital to monitor your online presence, and take the initiative wherever possible and/or necessary. For example; if a well known industry blog writes about your product in a less than flattering manner, detecting that mention of your product or brand name quickly is imperative. It allows you to be proactive in two ways:
- Copy the negative feedback from the blog on your own product site with a link to the blog post, with immediate, genuine company feedback, including a link to the other reviews or UGC (hopefully positive) on your site.
- On the ‘offending’ blog itself post a comment to the effect that you have seen their post, thank them for their time, and urge them and their other readers to view your full response and other user commentary on your product review page via a link.
While there are numerous online reputation management tools if you are going ‘free’ I personally recommend Google Alerts; if you are prepared to spend money, then TrackUR.com is a paid service, but far superior, and affordable.
The boost of interest in UGC and the need to implement it while watching for on-site spam has intersected very nicely with the desire to monitor both positive and negative commentary around the web. Monitoring what is being said about your business on the net and in the blogosphere also enables businesses to discover what people do and don’t like about their company, brand, product line, specific product, customer service, affiliate, brick and mortar store, and more. It’s a great way for a business to be knowledgeable while at the same time proactive, assuming the strategic ability deal quickly, diplomatically, carefully, and positively with brand detractors and evangelists as they gather insights for R&D and insight and planning.
This is Part 3 of a 3 part series on UGC. Part 2 is UGC and Small Business – What Works & Why and Part 1 is UGC – Maximize Your Online Exposure with People Power!
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