Consumers are sharing more online every day, whether it’s updates, conversations, recommendations, photos, tweets, posts, shares or +1′s. And Mark Zuckerberg predicted that every year, consumers will share twice as much as the year before.

This shift in consumer online behavior has been reflected in the updates to search engine algorithms we’ve seen over the past year. Google and Bing have updated their algorithms to incorporate consumer-generated content, or stories, into search engine results pages. They are now pulling in social signals and even displaying personalized results. In order for brands to maintain their SERP prominence, it is imperative they launch marketing strategies that foster the creation and sharing of consumer stories about their brand. The resulting social signals will be calculated in their SERP and can improve rankings.

Consumer-to-consumer social marketing programs are designed to help brands tap into the power of customer advocates — who share stories about the brand, product and services with their friends and social communities. Brands can launch end-to-end marketing programs, which enable them to identify advocates, cultivate sharing, convert friends into new customers and optimize results. In addition to driving the creation and sharing of stories, brands can grow their advocacy base, amplify awareness and maximize social marketing results.

Here are three tips that marketers should keep in mind when launching C2C social marketing programs to help impact and improve their SERP.

  1. Engage your customers wherever they are. Customers engage with brands across their websites, social networks, purchase and post-purchase environments, in store and more. The most effective way to drive participation in a C2C program is to promote it across channels; via your corporate website, e-mail blasts and on social networks to drive the highest awareness, participation and amplification rate. By giving consumers the option to decide where they want to engage, you will drive higher participation and foster more creation and sharing of stories.
  2. Make sharing easy. Make it easy for customers to share stories about your brand, products and services with their friends. Include relevant sharing options (e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.). Default messaging that advocates can customize helps increase sharing and the effectiveness of the messages.
  3. Increase participation through incentives. Give customer advocates a compelling reason to share with their friends. This could be an internal offer (free goods, discounts or loyalty points), gift cards or charitable donations. Make sure there is an incentive for their friends to make sharing more attractive. With relevant and appropriate incentives, marketers will see more sharing from their advocates, which will produce more social signals that can be picked up by the search engines.

By implementing C2C social marketing programs, brands can cultivate advocate sharing of stories with their friends and social communities. These stories will be amplified across the social Web and pulled into search engine algorithms, which improves brands’ SERP. With the recent updates to search engine algorithms, consumers have increasingly more power over brands’ SERP, making one thing abundantly clear for marketers – harnessing the power of customer advocates to create stories about brands, products and services is not a nice-to-have, it’s an increasingly critical element of their marketing strategies.

This post was written by Angela Bandlow, vice president of marketing at Extole.

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2 Responses to “3 tips to cultivate consumer content and drive search results”

  1. I think that at the moment sharing via different social networks is more influential on the SERP results than ever. So every company should encourage the customers to share the informaion and opinions.

  2. the prob with easy sharing is that it assume users dont mind staying logged in to social sites all the time.

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