Nowadays, more and more businesses are incorporating user generated content (UGC) into their marketing strategies. User generated content could be photos, videos, written product reviews, blog comments or social media posts. Research has shown that the buying decisions of most customers are influenced more by user generated content than by brand-produced content.
Here are some of the ways user generated content can benefit your business or brand:
- Enhances trust – Having user generated content on your site shows that people want to be identified with your brand. As a result, it helps get rid of the hesitation that many consumers have when shopping online.
- Builds community – UGC offers an excellent opportunity to build a community of people who believe in your brand. This could be a community on your blog, website or social media pages.
- Increases loyalty – User generated content allows you to promote loyalty among your followers. For instance, you could quote customers in your blog posts or post their photos on Instagram.
- Extends your reach – Though people take note of content generated directly from your brand, they usually pay more attention to what other consumers have to say about your products or services. As a result, they are more likely to share user generated content with their networks, thus extending your reach significantly.
- Offers social proof – Potential customers want to know if other people have actually found your product useful. User generated content provides social proof by confirming that other individuals have purchased your product and benefited from it. Social proof helps in building brand trust, directly affects sales & drives more targeted traffic.
- Saves time and money – Content creation can be a very costly and time-consuming exercise. User-generated content allows you to carry out your marketing campaign in a more cost effective manner.
So how can you make the most of user generated content into your marketing strategy?
1. Make your purpose clear
To inspire your fans and followers to create great content about your brand, you need to make your intentions clear. Before creating any content, most people would want to know why you are collecting it in the first place. Once you have communicated your purpose effectively, you are likely to receive a high submission of quality content. However, you need to ensure the purpose is bi-directional. People should identify with your purpose enough to want to share their content. A good example is Apple’s ‘Straight Outta’ campaign where followers are allowed to create their own customized profile photos using text from the acclaimed movie cover.
2. Understand your audience
The first step to making the most of the UGC is to understand what kind of audience you are targeting. For instance, if you are targeting a young and digital-savvy audience, you could focus on building a user generated content campaign on Instagram. However, for an older audience, the traditional ‘Send us your story’ approach would be more appropriate.
3. Decide what kind of content you want
Besides understanding your audience, you should also keep in mind your brand image. For example, if you are dealing with visually-oriented products such as clothing, you could ask customers to share photos of themselves wearing your items. In case you are selling appliances, videos of your customers using your products could be very effective.
4. Drive awareness
For your user generated content campaign to be successful, you need to create widespread awareness about it. One of the best ways of doing this is by running paid social ads on the major social networks. In addition, you could partner with well-known and respected content creators in your industry. This will enable you to reach many people in the shortest time possible. In your promotions, be sure to give clear instructions on how content should be shared. For instance, you need to tell people where to share their content, whether on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. In addition, you need to tell them which hashtag to use when sharing their content. This will make it easy for you to keep track of your progress.
5. Make sure it is mutually beneficial
At times, customers would want to know how they will benefit from creating content for your brand. Therefore, you need to think of some incentives which could result in more user generated content. In many cases, just a simple thank you would suffice to recognize their efforts. Alternatively, you could run a competition where participants win a prize for attaining a specific target. This is likely to generate interest and enhance engagement.
6. Stick to the rules
Before incorporating any user generated content in your marketing strategy, make sure you have adhered to the laid down rules and principles. When soliciting for UGC from your audience, make it clear to them what the content will be used for. You could have a tick box on your site where customers indicate their consent before submitting content. Alternatively, you could just issue a short disclaimer in regards to user generated content.
7. Repurpose your UGC
Instead of spending all your time looking for new UGC, it would be wiser to repurpose what you already have. Besides saving you time and money, it is likely to enhance engagement and loyalty among your followers. One of the best ways of repurposing UGC is by adding it to your advertising campaigns. Blending ads with authentic customer testimonials will greatly enhance your chances of making a sale. In addition, you could add quotes from your followers on marketing materials such as blog posts and newsletters. The individuals that are mentioned are likely to share the marketing materials with their networks, thus expanding your reach. Finally, you could consider transcribing video or audio content into text, which can then be shared on your blog or social media.
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