User-generated content (or UGC) is, as its name suggests, a type of content created by users or other unpaid contributors of a product or service. In digital marketing UGC refers to comments, posts, blog posts, videos, photos, reviews, tweets and other forms of content created and shared by brand consumers online. This article will focus on UGC’s connection to successful social media strategies.
When used right, user-generated content can have a great impact on your brand image and boost your sales. In this concept, your customers are becoming brand ambassadors through creating highly valuable word of mouth for your brand. And who wouldn’t want to have their customers efficiently promote their business for them?
In order to understand why this works so well, just think about this situation and answer the following question. Would you be more willing to try a new beer on the market if you’re targeted by the beer producer with their message “The best beer you’ve ever had”, or you’d be more convinced if you see your friend’s photo post of the same product with a caption like “Great beer – should try”? If you have chosen the second option, you’re in the same group with other 70% of people who said they trust their friends, family and even unknown people they can identify with more than brand advertisers when it comes to deciding on making a purchase.
This means that using UGC eases building trust in your brand and, consequently, creates loyal customers because positive content created by your users communicates the value of your product or service in the most transparent way possible – it’s a positive feedback.
If you want to use content created by your fans, you have to be in constant interaction with them – which means you should always listen to what they have to say and get to know them better. It’ll prepare you to have prompt reactions and to recognize content opportunities you maybe wouldn’t even notice in some other scenario. If you’re interacting, you’re building relationships and with relationships comes trust and engagement. Besides resulting with increased social media reach and engagement, UGC will also have a deep effect on your SEO rankings.
With all these pros of using UGC, there is maybe no need to mention all the money you’ll save on advertising.
The efforts you’ll have to invest in creating and carrying out your UGC strategy depends on the industry you belong to. For instance – if you’re tourist board of an attractive destination you’ll probably have no problem in this field. You’ll have plenty of photos, videos, posts, tweets etc. about the destination that people are sharing on their own initiative. In this case, all you’ll need to come up with a suitable approach, interact with your audience and use their content to attract more visitors which shouldn’t be a trouble.
You’ll have visually appealing proof of what you’re “selling” – people having a great time by enjoying beautiful destination and amazing sights.
But in most cases, your product/service won’t be selling itself that easily and you’ll have to use your noodle and encourage people to interact with your brand in the way you need them to. In these situations you need to give your audience a reason to create content – but what can that reason be? There’s no one right answer because it rather depends on your products, goals and many other variables. Nevertheless, here are some tips to consider when in a hunt for UGC.
First of all, you should have a plan on how to use this content and how will you blend it in your marketing strategy. When you have this covered what you’ll do next is to ask for UGC. See, this is what you’ll need to think through – how to ask for it, and how to motivate your audience to produce photos/videos/post or whatever it is that you need (and have determined in the first step). You should make the whole thing simple and rewarding, and you could also make it fun if suitable. Giving a value in the return for content is a must here, weather it is a physical prize or rather making them feel like a part of your community, making them feel they have influence in the community, showing them approval or giving publicity.
For example, BMW is using a hashtag #BMWRepost, so to repost Instagram photos of their clients.
People who drive a BMW are proud to own it and this way they’ll boastfully display it. At the same time, BMW is showing how cool and happy their customers are for driving their car. This is a great example of successful win-win UGC strategy.
You can also partner up here with someone you share your target audience with and create an interesting story through joint forces. We have to emphasize this – be careful, you wouldn’t be the first to fail here. Be sure to deliver what you have promised.
UGC can be a great strategy if you know what you’re doing. It has great reach potential, it’s cost efficient and also memorable and trustworthy way of promoting your brand. Make a strategy and plan your actions, connect with your audience on an emotional level if possible and create experience and value for them.
One thing is certain, people love to share. You just need to give them a valid reason to do so, and of course, content worthy of sharing.