Why your business should be incorporating user generated content into its marketing strategy
What is user generated content and why should your business incorporate UGC into its marketing strategy?
User generated content isn’t a new phenomenon that has taken digital marketing by storm, nor is it about to drive 100% more traffic to your social profiles or your website. It’s not a quick fix but it’s not a fad that’ll be brushed under the carpet by 2020 either; you can count on that.
It’s not to be mixed with ‘influencers’ and whilst it does sit somewhere within the lines of people influencing others with their opinion, user generated content (UGC) is content created by a person because they love and trust your brand, and want to give it the credibility it deserves through their voice on social media (mostly).
What is User Generated Content?
UGC is a form of content/media that has been shared within the public domain for anyone to see. It could be in the form of a social media post or story, tweet, a video or vlog, an article or a quick testimonial through a review. It’s the act of sharing honest opinions about a brand or company without the added nudge of a reward. Whilst influencers are often gifted or paid to promote a brand or company (sometimes whether they use the brand’s products or not), those that act upon UGC genuinely want to discuss a brand, whether that’s in a good or bad light.
Instagram has really allowed UGC to flourish and people are able to outwardly mention the brand or call them out in hashtags, or not notify them at all. Photography has certainly become the most authoritative form of content when it comes to UGC, with many sharing photos of products or places, with or without themselves featured.
Why is User Generated Content so powerful?
People are mentioning brands in stories, tagging them to fill a ‘tagged’ feed or mentioning a brand on Twitter because of a blog they wrote about a product. What should a brand do?
It’s easy for companies, especially the big ones, to allow these points of contact with their brand to go missed or even (sadly) ignored. This is a customer who is actively supporting a brand and spreading their message through word-of-mouth across social media. Believe me when I say it - social media is one of the most powerful forms of communication out there. And whilst that might seem sad and disturbing to some generations (even mine as a millennial), it’s only going to continue to grow in popularity as new generations arise. We have to embrace UGC and why wouldn’t we?
Peers trust their peers and are more likely to consider a brand and their products for themselves, when someone has openly and honestly given them the thumbs up online. Brands are still in the mindset that curated feeds and social calendars are key to a successful brand on social media, but incorporating their customer’s content opens up a whole new stem of credibility and trust in the brand from both existing and new custom.
Whilst gorgeous photography of products, culinary dishes or new places to visit are perfect for building an aesthetic and prompting aspiration (and an appetite!), bringing in real imagery from real people out there doing it and living it, is more powerful, honest and trustworthy than any other form of ‘sale.’
How can you start to prompt User Generated Content and build it into your marketing?
Some brands receive UGC in peaks and troughs, you only have to look at brands like Benefit Cosmetics UK, Mercedes Benz or ever growing independents like 200 Degrees Coffee. Then there’s smaller emerging brands such as waxu that have a growing community of salons and therapists, who are actively supporting the wax brand through the content they share on Instagram.
The key is avoiding what we’d standardly consider a reward or prize, such as paid partnerships or product giveaways. We’re not saying to avoid competitions or gifting advocates of your brand product, we’re suggesting not using it as a means to influence your customers to share their love for your brand. You don’t need to.
- Create posts or stories asking your followers to share their use of a product or a visit to a place and @(mention) or #(hashtag) your business page, because the company would genuinely love to see and hear about their brand from its customers.
- Create a #(hashtag) for a campaign or new product launch for customers to tag in their photographs.
- Create regular posts that are less ‘curated’ and more organic such as videos or photography of the product/place in use from a mobile phone. Some people don’t have the equipment or ability to create pristine layouts and they’ll feel much more comfortable knowing that a brand isn’t expecting them to, to share their content.
- Be real. Take waxu for instance. They’re a British brand who was founded by one of the UK’s leading specialists in waxing. They’re not afraid to show the waxing process on their social media - both the removal of the wax and the aftermath. Their followers enjoy seeing their waxing videos, the amount of hair removed on a hotwax strip and genuine reactions to the use of their wax - so much so they’ve started to create their own content which waxu are more than happy to share.
- Update your profile bio to include a call to your customers, such as ‘@(brandhandle) or #(brandname) to feature. This will raise awareness to your customers that you’re looking for them to interact and share with your brand.
- Ask employees that already advocate the brand to help in driving more user generated content by sharing some themselves to start the ball rolling.
It might start slowly but the more customers see a brand interacting and embracing their customers thoughts, opinions and love of their brand, the more they’ll want to become part of the community and share their own content. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your marketing comfort zone and engage more closely with your customers on a level where they’ll feel even more connected with your company. It grows loyalty and the more acknowledgement of a brand from customers, the more their peers will begin to join in to advocate with UGC.
And an added little bonus? It can often take the strain (and lower the budget) of creating content and assets for the pace of social media.
Want to know more about user generated for ecommerce in particular? Head over to Lauren’s article on State of Digital for ‘Why User Generated Content is Redefining Marketing for Ecommerce Brands.’