User-generated, or consumer-generated content, is every marketer’s dream. With the power to propel brands to vast audiences with little input or resource is how switched-on brands build communities, trust and credibility.
So, what is user-generated content, how and why is it so powerful for brands and how do you go about getting it?
What is user-generated content?
Also known as UGC, user-generated content is any form of content, such as social media posts, reviews, testimonials, videos, text and audio, created and published online by people not brands.
The people publishing USG could be consumers of the brand, those who are loyal to the brand and want to support it, employees and members of the brand’s community.
Why is UGC so powerful?
People trust people. If you’ve ever heard a friend, colleague, or someone you follow online, raving about a new product or service, then find yourself making a mental note to check it out – that’s the power of UGC.
User-generated content is what successful brands work towards in their strategy, for the following reasons:
Reaches a wider audience
When a number of people post to their own networks of followers about a brand, it’s very likely their posts will reach a larger audience that if the brand was posting to its single network.
Takes authenticity to the max
Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to feel content is authentic over that of a brand’s content. Authenticity and trust are absolutely crucial to a brand’s success - one of the main reasons brands’ want to get their customers posting about them.
Builds brand loyalty and community
UGC creates conversations between brands and people that others can be part of. If a group of followers are all posting about the amazing coffee shop they’ve just been to, that’s a community with the potential to grow. Loyalty is built by that community, which generates more who want to be a part of it.
Influences decision to buy, increasing conversions
If a customer is considering your product and they see someone they trust, who may be similar to them, benefiting from it, they are more likely to buy.
They didn’t have to create it themselves
User-generate content is one of the most cost-effective ways brands, particularly new brands with less budget, can market effectively, build and speak to a customer community and reach new audiences.
Consumers are savvy on social media and are able to create brand loyal communities with minimal input from the brand.
How do you encourage UGC?
There are many ways to encourage UGC, which start with a brand’s own positive engagement with its customers.
Ask for reviews
Social proof drives purchases. It’s a fact that honest, authentic reviews are looked for, and influence, consumers. Make it easy and simple for your customers to leave reviews, prompting them not only about the quality of the product but the experience of dealing with your company.
Choose your social media platforms, where your customers hangout, and create hashtags for them to use, for your brand and campaigns/products.
IMPORTANT: you must ask permission of the user to repost any UGC on your own platform
And don’t be afraid to be specific about the type of content you are likely to repost. Consumers who like to post and generate interest on their own platforms enjoy being reposted, so if you have guidance, let them know. And credit them accordingly when you repost.
Run giveaways and competitions
Fuel your community with exciting giveaways and competitions, inviting use of the relevant hashtags for sharing images or brand-related challenges, quizzes, etc. You can share the best entries and winners.
Again, you must gain permission before reposting any user content.
Collaborate with your community
With all this UGC you are inspiring you are building a community of brand ambassadors. Communicate with that community. Invite feedback, dialogue and engagement.
Social media is exciting for consumers to be able to communicate directly with brands they love so take advantage of it.
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