User Generated Content (UGC) is not exactly a new concept. Over the last decade it’s only grown with the common use of social media. The content, created by followers, customers, and users, allows brands to showcase their products or services in a natural, more genuine way. In some ways, it can actually be even more appealing to consumers than more traditional forms of marketing or advertising or even paid social media posts.
So, why am I writing about UGC now? Because after last year’s increased engagement on social media, thanks to a pandemic and a divisive political season, I thought it would be a good time to revisit all the ways brands can take advantage of this medium to have a positive impact for their business. And since according to a 2020 Stackla survey, 79% of people say “UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions”, clearly this kind of marketing content can make a difference.
While UGC has been called “the virtual word of mouth”, it really is a tool that can and should be controlled and tailored to benefit advertisers. It’s all about starting a conversation and growing the audience in that conversation via custom hashtags.
One of the simplest ways to create UGC is to offer up a prize for consumer participation. Whether it be a contest for the best picture posted on Instagram or the cleverest quote used on Twitter, virtual “word of mouth” will spread much faster if your consumers have an incentive they can and want to share with their followers.
Testimonials can be the most positive force for driving business, but many times, they are ones that advertisers themselves have posted or included on their website. Through UGC, testimonials become much more real and people are more apt to like and trust them. Brands should always ask their customers and users to share their positive experiences. These posts will help give other prospective consumers an idea of what they can expect from your brand. Great results will speak for themselves to further promote your products.
UGC has inspired a new level of online “bragging rights”. Consumers love to share what they are doing, where they are going, what they are buying and even what they are eating. Everyday brands can develop cult-like followings and use the social media “bragging” to help grow their social media presence through a share, show and tell model.
However, don’t forget to reply, compliment, and engage with the consumers that are touting your brand through UGC. It’s important to respond to and share their content, especially if you have asked for their participation. It will actually create more meaningful interaction and encourage other to participate in posting and sharing content.
Maybe even more critical is responding to any negative feedback. This lets the audience know you are paying attention and care about more, than just your product. You care about them.
If a brand is accessible and personal, it makes it that much easier for more people to get to know and understand what the brand stands for. So, get personal and interact!
It’s the best way to get your target audience to notice and engage with your content and to understand what resonates with them. The majority of consumers prefer more personalized advertising. Show them something that matters to them. Encourage consumers to comment, post and share and don’t forget to use custom hashtags to broaden your audience reach.
In the end, no matter the size of your company, whether a sole prop or a national conglomerate, get personal. Because if we have learned nothing else from COVID this year, we’ve learned the fact that personal interaction is much more important and cherished than many of us first recognized.