Closeup of hand using a tablet with a laptop in background

This is Why You Need User-Generated Content Marketing

User-generated content marketing is a relatively new concept in the marketing world. With the rise of social media, people everywhere can share their voices with the world. Sometimes they even use their voices to create user-generated content that helps your brand.

Today, we’re going to break down user-generated content marketing and how it works. Let’s get started.

First, let’s get our definitions straight.

User-generated content (UGC) is anything that your customers make about your brand. That “anything” can be videos, blogs, Tweets, reviews, and more. Customers shouldn’t be paid to produce anything, but they can use their content to enter into a contest.

User-generated content marketing is using that customer-created content in your own communications strategy on your own digital channels. You, essentially, work their creations into your social media posts, on your website, or in your commercials.

But where do you find user-generated content? You have to search for it. Sometimes customers will tag you in their posts and make things easy. Other times, you’ll have to search for specific hashtags or do a bit of plain ol’ internet sleuthing.

If it doesn’t already exist, you have to ask for it. That means hosting a contest, offering a giveaway, or just openly inviting people to share their message. 

You can use UGC as part of your everyday marketing communications or as part of a specific campaign strategy. We’ll talk about examples of both as we discuss the reasons why you need to use user-generated content marketing.

Reason #1: People care about authenticity.

Ah, authenticity. Marketing junkies talk about this concept so much that we almost start taking it for granted. But don’t let it become just a buzzword – authenticity is still really important. Like really, really, really important.

Time and time again, research shows that modern customers consider authenticity to be one of the most important factors when choosing a brand. User-generated content is authentic by definition, so it has a huge influence on customers.

Graph: What type of content highly impacts your purchasing descisions?

A lot of people don’t believe the professional ads and marketing campaigns that are just thrown at them. But many do value feedback and reviews from peers who are not paid for voicing their honest opinions. 

UGC won’t always be the most polished or have the highest production value. But those flaws are just part of the authenticity; they’re a sign that a real person is sharing views that haven’t been scrubbed and sanitized to fit a perfect corporate identity. That’s authenticity. 

Reason #2: It shows you’re open to interaction.

People want brands to listen. It’s important to interact with customers no matter your campaign strategy.

Responding to reviews, answering questions, and accepting feedback – these are all things you should be doing anyway. Doing it in the context of user-generated content marketing just builds a closer connection to customers. Being open to feedback and willing to celebrate your customers is tough, but powerful.

Just a note: remember to ask permission before sharing UGC on your own channels. It’s a nice way to have a connection moment with a customer – and it’s just the polite thing to do.

Success Story: Starbucks

The winning black-and-white swirl design of Starbuck's White Cup Contest

Way back in 2014, Starbucks launched their White Cup Contest. The rules were simple: just draw a design on a plain white Starbucks cup, take a photo, and submit it.

Starbucks got over 4,000 entries in three weeks. The winning design graced an official, limited edition cup. This contest was a great way to encourage UGC and gave Starbucks a chance to share customer voices. Pretty brilliant, if you ask us.

Reason #3: User-generated content helps build a loyal community.

Customers who create UGC already know and love your brand. When they promote your brand online without being paid, it endorses you to everyone in your loyal customers’ circles.

Think about it: when potential customers are seeking out word-of-mouth reviews and recommendations, where do they look? They often first look to their community.

A community can be family, friends, or even an online group of people who share a love of something. We trust what our community has to stay. In fact, 92% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends and family. 

We don’t have an example for this one because you can look at your own life for an example. Just think about the time you or someone you know solicited recommendations for a product on Facebook or Twitter. Word-of-mouth is huge – and user-generated content takes it to the max. 

Reason #4: It takes (some of) the work off of you.

It’s less of a strain on resources to curate user-generated content than it is to produce new content yourself. With UGC, you’re not paying for actors or equipment and you’re not spending hours brainstorming and producing content. That can be a major blessing to your tight budget.

But you can’t leave everything to your customer base. Encouraging customers to post their content? Curating what you find? Actually sharing it to your branded social media? That’s all work you still have to do to make the most of your customer’s messages.

Success Story: Adobe

Screenshot of Adobe's instagram showing share UGC

Adobe is all about creating the software people use to make great things. But do they need to spend time making their own art pieces to show off their products? No – they can just share the great things customers make using their software.

Adobe’s Instagram is full of user-generated content. Adobe encourages people to share their work with hashtags like #AdobePerspective and #CreateYourStory. This is a great way to use UGC in your daily social media feeds – and a great way of showing off what your product can do.

P.S. We’re here to help.

At Slice, we believe user-generated content marketing is best when it’s paired with other efforts – like YouTube marketing, a strong social media presence, and an expertly-made website to host all of your wonderful content. (Hint: we can help you with that last one.)

If you want to learn more about how we can help you with your digital marketing efforts, just contact us. We’ll help you create a robust marketing strategy that blends all kinds of different tactics to make the biggest and best impression.


Man uses a touch stylus on a tablet while drinking coffee

The 5 Best B2B Content Marketing Tips to Drive Engagement

B2B content marketing is how you attract potential leads to your site through smart and engaging content. Useful content helps build your brand as a valuable resource in the eyes of other businesses – and teaches them something new along the way.

But making good content isn’t that simple. Slice is all about making engaging content for our clients, so we thought we’d share these 5 tips on how to engage your audience and keep their attention.

Tip #1: Create a blueprint for success.

Before you start writing, pick up a camera, or send your designers off to make infographics, you need to create a solid content strategy. You should figure out:

  • Your audience. Are you targeting individual small business owners or managers in specific departments? Are you talking to the tech-savvy or the people who have trouble opening their email? This can help determine the tone of your content, as well as where you post it online.

  • The reason why you’re different. What’s your angle or value proposition? What makes you special? And why should someone pick you over the other guy?

  • Your KPIs. Your key performance indicators can be anything from page views to full conversions. Make sure you define several KPIs so you’re not hung up on one single metric.

  • Where your content will live. We’ll talk more about this in a bit, but you need to start thinking about your content channels. Are we talking YouTube, Instagram, your own site, or multiple channels?

  • What your competitors are doing. It’s never a bad idea to scope out the competition. Also, consider if you can do exactly what your competitors are doing – but better.

Bonus Tip #1

Your strategy is allowed to change over time. Maybe you find some niche to focus on or you find that different success metrics are more useful than others. Make a plan and try to stick to it, but don’t box yourself in.

Tip #2: Show why you’re useful – immediately.

The golden truth of all marketing is that people don’t want to engage with content that doesn’t benefit them in some way.

Your Instagram carousel of the recent office party is fun and helps to humanize your brand. But no one is going out their way to look at it – and no one is going to buy your product or service because of it.

Now, no one is necessarily going to buy your product because you wrote the best ever blog post either. But they’re more likely to find your brand in the first place and go on to engage with your site than they would from the office party photos.

So, remember: your potential clients are busy people. They’re probably not here to read your blogs or watch your videos just for fun. Your story and the way you tell it needs to focus on the core value of what you’re offering.

Bonus Tip #2

Your ending call-to-action is more important than ever when it comes to B2B. If someone wants to get in touch after engaging with your content, they shouldn’t need to hunt for your contact information. Make it easy for people.

Tip #3: Appeal to humans, not just corporations.

Remember all that work you did figuring out your audience? You probably profiled people, not faceless companies.

B2B content marketing is generally more technical and detail-driven than B2C marketing. But while your goal is to convince other businesses of your value proposition, you have to remember that there are still people on the other end engaging with your content.

So, how should you adjust your strategy to appeal to people? Here are a few ways:

  • Start with good technique. If you make a video with thought-provoking and valuable information but film it in a dimly lit room with muffled audio, nobody is going to sit through it. Remember: presentation matters.

  • Respect their time. It’s okay to do long-form content pieces when it’s appropriate. But you should always try to say what you need to say in as few words as possible.

  • Keep it simple. One idea per content piece. Don’t ramble, don’t go off-topic, and don’t try to cram too much information into one place. Focused content is more engaging.

Bonus Tip #3

Tell a story. It’s in our nature as humans to love storytelling – and it’s scientifically proven that the messages in stories are 22 times more memorable than just straight facts. We’ve talked a lot about storytelling marketing before, so don’t neglect it.

Tip #4: Embrace multimedia.

If content is king, then media channels are his royal palaces. Where your content lives and breathes is just as important as what it’s saying. A key of B2B content marketing is to reach across platforms and media types.

Here are a few ideas of what it looks like to embrace multimedia:

  • Send email newsletters with the latest trends in your industry

  • Write long-form tutorials on your blog about a niche process in your field

  • Film interviews with industry experts about their creative approaches and post them on YouTube

  • Make infographic case studies showing the measurable impact of your product or service in beautifully designed graphs and charts

  • Post short thinkpieces on LinkedIn

Exploring new avenues allows you to produce content uniquely suited to each format and reach new people. You don’t need to do everything – but change things up when you can.

Bonus Tip #4

Try to strike a balance between selling your brand and providing information. It’s okay to be a little more salesy in B2B settings, but understand there are different times and places to promote your services versus teach something new.

Tip #5: Get help from the pros.

A strong content marketing campaign is a full-time endeavor. It takes a lot to research, plan, film, write, design, edit, and upload good content.

An effective B2B content marketing strategy can’t come to life if you only have 15 minutes here and there to work on it – especially if you want to film videos, which take skill and time. That’s why you need a professional company to make it happen for you.

You can make content on your own. But a professional production company is how you make good content – the kind that keeps people engaged.

Bonus Tip #5

We at Slice are in the business of helping businesses. We’ll help you with video production, web design, and photography for your campaigns. We know our stuff – and we think this blog proves it.

If you’re interested in getting started or just want to learn more, contact us. What would this blog post be if not a useful and value-laden bit of B2B content marketing itself?


Real estate video marketing

5 Real Estate Video Marketing Tips That Sell

Video marketing is the art of using videos to engage potential clients, elevate your brand, and educate the world about your company. As the digital world grows and more people have an online presence, we’re increasingly seeing videos play a key part in any good marketing plan.

According to Techsn, video marketing alone generates over 120 billion views a month. In the real estate industry, realtors were able to pull in leads from 65% of the videos they posted. 

Real estate in particular is uniquely suited to video marketing – whether that’s recording listing tours or just showing realtors on camera to build a connection with future clients.

Real estate video marketing is a growing trend in the industry. Realtors are starting to see that they can reach new people through video in ways like never before. If you’re interested in making videos, we’ve put together these tips to help you impress.

1. Keep It Focused

Each video should have a guiding purpose or goal, which should be clear and easy to understand from the very beginning.

No one wants to watch a rambling video that constantly veers off-topic–that’s a quick way to lose interest. Your audience should understand what they’re getting into and the video should stick to that. Everything you show on-screen should be part of supporting that guiding purpose.

Of course, the best way to keep things on topic is to create a game plan before you ever start filming.

We’ve written a lot about what you need to consider before starting a video project, and it all starts with planning. Planning can be making a storyboard, writing a script, or just picking a set of questions to answer. Whatever you do beforehand to prepare will save you a lot of time and money in post-production, as well as create better content for people to watch.

Find your goal, find your message, and find your purpose before picking up a camera.

2. Have a Call to Action

Once your viewers finish the video, what should they do? Call a number, send an email,  sign up for a newsletter, or like, comment, and subscribe?

It’s vital to include some sort of call to action at the end of your video. After you’ve given potential clients information, you also need to provide some sort of way to act on that information. Make it easy for them to find you, rather than requiring them to hunt down your contact information.

Be careful, though – don’t overwhelm your audience with a to-do list. It’s okay to stick with one or two brief lines. A simple “contact us here today” or “click the link in the description to schedule an appointment” with all of the appropriate contact information is perfect.

3. Embrace Variety

Having a variety of video content keeps things from getting stale. Listing tours are one of the most common types of real estate video. And while they may be your digital bread and butter, there are tons of other types of videos you can pursue. 

  • Q&A sessions. Have a realtor sit down to answer and explain some commonly asked questions. Bonus points if you livestream the Q&A session to allow viewers to ask questions in real-time.
  • Interviews. Have realtors talk about their experience and background history or give their thoughts about a relevant industry topic. This is an excellent way to demonstrate your authority and expertise.
  • Testimonials. Bring some satisfied clients on-screen to share their story and satisfaction.
  • 360 listing tours. Your typical property walk-through but better. 360 videos require specialized equipment, but they allow for a much more detailed and immersive experience.

Think about what your clients really want to know. Think about the questions you hear from them most often. Answering those questions and fulfilling those needs are great sources of inspiration for your videos.

4. Put a Face to the Name

As a realtor, you know how important it is to make a personal connection with your clients because they put an enormous amount of trust in you. Letting them see your face and hear you speak before meeting you is a great way to build trust.

We know this is true because of the psychological concept of parasocial relationships. When people see you on social media or in videos, they can grow to like and trust you, even before they ever meet you in real life. It’s the same reason we grow to love celebrities and social media influencers so much just by seeing them on TV or online. By watching you in videos, potential clients can come to feel as if they know you personally.

So, one of the biggest tips for success in real estate video marketing is to show your face. Treat the camera like it’s your most important client and be amazed at the response you receive.

5. Use Apps and Other Tools

Even if you’re just using a smartphone, there are apps and other pieces of software that can improve the audio and picture quality or allow you to share videos without having to have professional editing tools.

Some great resources available include:

  • Livestreaming software, like Periscope and Instagram Live. These let you share in the moment and allow for enhanced viewer interaction.
  • Editing tools, like Magisto and Animoto. These are great for making small enhancements with no video editing experience required.
  • Social media that supports video, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. We’ve already talked about why you should be using IGTV, so take the time to familiarize yourself with the platforms available to you.

Your videos don’t necessarily need to be flashy or have Hollywood-level production quality. But the higher the production quality, the better.

You may discover that even with the help of useful software tools and apps, creating a polished video is more difficult and time-consuming than it seems.

That’s why Slice is here. We’re a video production company based in Tampa Bay and we’ll help you through the entire process of making a great video. From planning to filming, post-production and editing, we’ll help you reach potential clients through masterfully made videos.

Contact Us

If you’re interested in hearing more about the power of real estate video marketing, just contact us! We work with companies of all industries and sizes – and we’re excited to hear from you next.


youtube marketing

YouTube Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

youtube marketing

YouTube is the place to be for businesses. Whether you’re creating your own channel or simply using YouTube to advertise, it’s a valuable addition to any marketer’s toolkit in today’s highly visual world. Unfortunately, many small businesses tend to shy away from spending on video, deeming it too expensive - but with the right small business YouTube marketing strategy, it’s a worthwhile investment.

There’s plenty of data to back up that claim, too. According to Hubspot, mobile ads on YouTube are 84% more likely to hold a viewer’s attention than TV ads, and 68% of YouTube users watch videos to help them make purchase decisions.

First Things First: Do Your Homework

Is there already a YouTube channel out there creating similar content? Build off of what they do well and change what they don’t. Find videos that have the most views and interactions to see what your audience will be interested in.

It would also be wise to look at their video descriptions to see what keywords they’re using. There are also free browser extensions like VidIQ that allow you to see helpful information about another channel’s videos, such as demographics and which videos drove the most subscriptions.

Creating a YouTube Profile & Writing a Channel Description

Your YouTube profile page is often the deciding factor for subscribers, so you’ll want to make a good impression. Including a large banner image (2560 x 1440 pixels) at the top of your page and uploading a profile picture (ideally an 800 x 800-pixel image to ensure clarity) will make you appear more credible to channel lurkers.

Your channel description is located under the “About” tab on your profile. It should include:

  • A keyword-rich bio
  • Links to your website and social media profiles
  • Location and contact information

It’s important to remember that YouTube is a community. Networking with similar channels is highly beneficial to both parties - you can endorse each other’s channels by adding them to your Featured Channels box on your profile, and vice versa.

The way you organize the videos on your profile is important, too. Arranging your videos into playlists is an easy way to keep your channel neat and tidy. And when someone clicks on one video in a playlist, the next will autoplay, keeping that person on your channel longer and giving you more views.

YouTube SEO for Small Businesses

YouTube, like Google, is a search engine. That means SEO, or search engine optimization, is going to be part of your small business YouTube marketing strategy.

YouTube SEO includes things like titles, thumbnails, and descriptions. The best practices for each ranking factor are listed below.

Titles

Video titles can be up to 70 characters long, although no more than 60 is recommended to prevent it from being cut off on search engines. When creating a title, you want to use words that are commonly searched. Put yourself in someone’s shoes who may know nothing about a topic when searching for it.

Avoid “clickbait” titles that aren’t related to your content, as these will only hurt your channel in the long run. YouTube monitors how long your videos are watched, and if people are initially drawn in by your title but click away quickly, YouTube may penalize you for it.

Thumbnails

A thumbnail is a photo that represents your video, appearing in search results or the recommended sidebar. The thumbnail photo you choose should be clear, eye-catching, and hint to what the video is about. Research shows people respond well when a human face (often a very expressive one) is included in the thumbnail.

Descriptions

The descriptions you write for your video help YouTube’s AI better understand your content. For this reason, vivid descriptions of what the video is about will help your videos rank higher. Place key search terms toward the beginning of your description, don’t resort to unnatural-sounding keyword stuffing.

If your video is particularly long, use your description to link to important timestamps so that viewers can skip to the parts they want. This space can also be used to link to similar videos, add hashtags, and link to your brand’s other social media channels.

Tags

Tags are a major factor in YouTube SEO. Choose tags that include the keywords you used in your title and description, and be sure to only include tags that are relevant to your video. Tags are not visible on videos by default, so you’ll need to use an extension like the previously mentioned VidIQ to mine your competitors for tags.

Call to action

If you watch a lot of YouTube videos, you’re probably tired of hearing the words “like, comment, and subscribe” over and over again. That’s because the reminder works! You can also place custom subscribe buttons visible only to non-subscribers on your videos.

Cards

A card is a small, clickable button that appears in the top right corner of a video at the time you choose. You can use cards to link to your other videos, giving your viewers somewhere to go next.

Pro Tip: YouTube also highly favors videos that have closed captions available. While YouTube auto-captions videos, these captions typically aren’t very accurate, so it’s better to do them yourself or hire someone else to do them for you.

Content is King, but Consistency is Queen

YouTube favors channels that post frequently over channels that post sporadically. Uploading regularly also gives you more opportunities to learn YouTube’s algorithm and perfect your marketing strategy.

Consistency builds credibility. Even if you can only manage one video per month, letting viewers know that it will always go up on the first Wednesday of each month helps to create a more loyal following.

Consider Influencer Marketing

Along the same lines of networking, it may be in your business’s best interest to work with an influencer in your niche. They already have a following, which means you have the potential to easily reach more potential customers. Research has shown 60% of YouTube viewers trust the opinions of those they subscribe to.

Advertising on YouTube

Creating content isn’t the only way to promote your brand on YouTube. You can also pay to place ads on other people’s videos. You’ll need to do some research to determine which of the following types of ads best fit your brand’s voice and budget:

  • Skippable video ads
  • Non-skippable video ads
  • Bumper ads
  • Overlay ads
  • Display ads
  • Sponsored cards

The key to YouTube advertising is to make the viewer forget that they’re watching an ad. The better your ads blend into the publisher’s content, the more likely they’ll pay attention.

Measuring and Reporting

Your YouTube channel is set up, your titles and descriptions are optimized, and you’re posting regularly, so that’s all there is to it, right? Not exactly.

You should be monitoring different aspects of your channel to see what’s working and what’s not Here are some important metrics you’ll want to keep a close eye on:

  • Subscribers gained/lost
  • Shifting audience demographics
  • Traffic sources (are people finding you organically, or through referral channels?)
  • Device type (mobile, desktop, smart TVs, etc.)

While you probably won’t make a big splash right away, the small business YouTube marketing tips laid out in this guide will put you on an accelerated track to success.

But knowing how to optimize your content for YouTube is only half the battle - the other half is, of course, making great content. If you’re a business owner in the Tampa Bay area, you can turn to Slice for all of your video production and post-production needs. We work with companies large and small to bring their brands to life - contact us today for more information.


storytelling marketing

5 Reasons Why You Need Storytelling Marketing

storytelling marketing

If you want to succeed in today’s competitive marketing world, you need to be a great storyteller. 

At a time when attention spans are dwindling and new channels are popping up every week, brands have to be laser-focused on breaking through the noise and establishing themselves in a niche. To do this, you need to add storytelling marketing to your strategic arsenal. 

What is Storytelling Marketing? 

 

Storytelling marketing is the use of narrative to get your brand message across. A good story captures your attention and holds it until the very end - it enthralls you. In a world where the word “advertisement” is synonymous with “annoying”, marketers must take advantage of the power of storytelling to get their messages across.

A story can be simple as the blurb on the back of a wine bottle about the vineyard it’s from or as complex as a short film or documentary. 

According to Adobe and Goldsmiths, University of London, 61% of consumers purchase products and services that reflect their personal values, and 43% want to have a relationship with the brands they buy from. And that’s why storytelling marketing is so effective - stories don’t just say “Look how great my brand is!”, they foster a real emotional connection. 

Is storytelling marketing always the right approach? No - like any strategy, there’s a time and a place. Warm and fuzzy narrative ads don’t work effectively without a solid foundation of audience awareness gained from more straightforward introductory ads. 

Defining Your Values

 

At its core, storytelling marketing is about defining your values - what does your brand stand for in five words or less? For example, Apple stands for innovation and user experience, not computers and phones. What is truly important to you? Your value statement should be short, but that doesn’t mean that creating it is a short process. Take a few days to brainstorm with your team and gather third-party insights. 

Having clearly defined brand values doesn’t just help you connect with consumers - there are internal benefits, too. When your employees believe in the values of the company they work for, they’re happier, more productive, and more likely to continue working with you. 

Once you’ve defined your brand’s values, you have to live up to them - you can’t build your brand around stewardship of the earth and then not have a single recycling bin in your office. Your values should guide your actions, not just your ads. 

The Benefits of Storytelling Marketing

 

Once you’ve decided on your value proposition, you can begin to incorporate storytelling into your brand strategy. Here are just a few of the advantages of this type of narrative marketing: 

1. It can help you overcome media fragmentation. 

 

Media fragmentation presents a challenge for marketers in the choice-rich digital age, but a growing range of media also presents new opportunities. Storytelling marketing is right at home on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, where people are looking for experiences instead of products. 

Stories are also easy to cross-post on multiple platforms at once when accompanied by a video or interesting photo.

2. A consistent message builds audience trust. 

 

You may sell different products or change up your service offerings over the years, but as long as your value message stays consistent, it will be easy for an audience to connect with your brand. Consistency builds familiarity, and the more people feel like they really know you, the more likely they are to trust you. 

3. Your audience will remember you.

 

What’s the oldest commercial you remember? Odds are, it probably told a darn good story. 

It’s been scientifically proven that the human brain loves stories, and stories are much easier to remember than facts. Not surprising, considering stories were used long before pen and paper to pass information from one generation to the next.

Humans are socially driven creatures. When we empathize with the characters in a story, it can even motivate us to take an action or make a change. This is why storytelling marketing is a particularly effective strategy for charitable organizations - empathy drives us to donate, and donating makes us happier.

4. Stories create positive associations.

 

We all like to think that we’re savvy shoppers, but our spending habits are actually quite emotionally driven. You might know in your heart that every dish soap on the shelf is basically the same, but you’re willing to spend a dollar more on Dawn because aww, there’s a baby duck on the bottle. 

There have been countless studies on consumer behavior and how emotional links can influence the way we shop. Storytelling marketing helps to establish that crucial connection between your brand name and who you are. 

5. You might (might) even go viral.

 

As every content creator knows, you can’t just sit down and make something that’s guaranteed to go viral. Internet virality is chaotic and random by nature. However, telling a genuinely engaging story is your best chance. Even if you don’t “blow up” on social, a story is going to get more shares and reach a wider audience than a typical sales ad.

Tell Your Story 

 

Telling your brand story is important, but not everyone has the creative instincts needed to write and produce an eye-catching narrative ad. A professional post-production company is often needed to create high-quality content that leaves a real impact and ages well. 

If you need help developing a video strategy that uses storytelling marketing, get in touch with Slice Creates to learn how our Tampa post-production team can bring your vision to life.