Sometimes customers can be your most effective marketing tool. Whether they’re recommending your business to their close inner circle or posting their views for the whole world to see on Google or Facebook, recommendations from real people carry a lot of weight. Businesses should continually look for ways to include the voice of the customer (VOC) in their marketing efforts. Below are three simple ways you can incorporate user-generated content into your social media plan.

1. Use Reviews to Identify Testimonial Candidates

It’s no secret that online reviews help your business build trust and credibility with consumers. Studies show that a vast majority of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Additionally, positive reviews have a significant impact on purchase decisions.

One way to incorporate VOC into your social media plan is using online reviews to identify customers you can highlight in testimonials. Here are some examples of customer testimonials that are easy to develop.

  • Customer quotes: Businesses have had success increasing engagement on social media by posting motivational quotes on Instagram accompanied by inspiring images. We suggest you take that one step further and post pictures of real customers that feature quotes about their experience. This will show your audience that you are listening to what they are saying and find value in feedback.
  • Video testimonial: Consumers crave video content. It’s easier to digest than written content and can help businesses quickly and efficiently convey messages. When filming a video testimonial, we suggest creating a longer form (~2 minutes) video to be posted on YouTube, and then chop that video up into snackable pieces to be posted on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with a link back to the full video.
  • Fodder for your blog: Finally, customer testimonials make for excellent blog posts. Some of the most popular posts on this blog are customer success stories, and they’re quite easy to produce. Once you’ve identified which customer you want to highlight, all you need to do is get the customer on the phone for a short interview, which can quickly be transcribed and posted to your site.

2. Make it personal

When people make purchases, especially large purchases like a new car or an engagement ring, they typically get excited and might be in the mood to share their experience. These situations are a perfect opportunity for businesses to encourage customers to post user generated content.

If you’re an auto dealer, ask customers to post a picture of their new car on Instagram and be sure to have them include a branded hashtag. One thing a jewelry store might do is encourage customers to share their engagement story on the store’s Facebook page with a picture of the ring. To ensure participation and engagement, hold a random drawing for an Amazon gift card or a free product or service from your business for those who participate.

3. Invite Consumers to Look at Your Reviews

Finally, if you have good reviews, make sure to let everyone know. You can make this part of your social media plan by encouraging customers to check out your reviews on Google, Facebook, or whatever review site you prefer. Doing so could end up having a dual benefit. First, if you have good reviews, it shows customers that you are trustworthy. Second, it could also be the push they need to leave your business a review if they haven’t already.