The following excerpt is from an article by Perry Evans, CEO and founder of Closely, posted on Entrepeneur.com. We've highlighted some of Evans's key points below; read through them and then check out the full article.
Small-business owners have long known that word-of-mouth is their single biggest and often most beneficial form of marketing. With social media, word-of-mouth has taken on a whole new life as it can be tracked, measured and amplified.
Businesses understand that consumer reviews are integral to online shopping, but as social and mobile have evolved, the way opinion and experiences are shared have become multidimensional. Word-of-mouth is no longer just about words. Photos are an integral part of the social media experience and have raised the stakes for how the word-of-mouth spreads.
Photos are participatory. When a customer posts a photo, the small-business owner has an opportunity to become part of the conversation by liking or commenting on positive and popular experiences. It’s a simple and powerful tactic that more business owners should use.
To capitalize on the potential of photos for a company's marketing strategy, here are four easy tips to get started:
1. Monitor photos about the company on social media. Create hashtags on Instagram, Twitter and other platforms and encourage patrons to use them when posting photos about the business so allow for better tracking of what’s being shared.
2. Encourage photo sharing about the business. Is a business location “Instagram-friendly”? Think about ways to create a great environment in which customers can create a fun-experience selfie. Put the company's Instagram address on the menu or on the retail counter. Let customers know that sharing their experiences is welcome!
3. Join in the share party. Once a company has a handle on what people are posting about its business, staffers should like a customer's photo and comment with a simple word of thanks. It could be shared with the company's followers as well. Consumers are sharing and posting in ways that can be repurposed by businesses seeking to amplify the word-of-mouth these photos represent.
4. Create photos, even sponsor contests. Make the best use of social media by posting the company's own images. Control the way the product looks and let customers add their thoughts and experiences to product pictures. Encourage others to take the types of photos most desired by hosting contests that require taking and sharing a photo to participate.