User generated content (UGC) has taken the marketing world by storm in recent years. According to one study, 76% of consumers think ads are “very exaggerated” or “somewhat exaggerated”.

Simply put, people trust fellow consumers more than they trust brands. Hence, as a business, you need to have to invest in user generated content to gain your customers’ confidence and make sales effectively. 

So, what is UGC? Basically, this is marketing content made by anyone who’s not a direct representative of your business. This content can be in the form of podcasts, reviews, social media posts, etc. As long as it’s coming from someone who’s not affiliated with your business, it’s user generated content. 

If you’re unsure about how to market your business in this way, worry not. We’ve compiled this little guide to help you understand the merits of UGC, as well as strategies to take full advantage of it. 

Read on to find out what they are.

Merits of user generated content

1. Boosts your social media presence

When you create custom hashtags and encourage people to engage with your content, you’re automatically collecting followers and increasing your reach. The more visibility you have on social media, the greater your presence on it. And UCG goes a long way in helping you accomplish that.

Take the example of beverage company Coca Cola. with their #ShareACoke social media campaign, they were able to massively boost their social media presence. Thousands of people shared pictures of themselves with their coke bottles. And Coca Cola managed to do a successful social media takeover. 

2. Raises your SEO ranking

According to one study, 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user generated content. This tells us that UGC is a brilliant way to ensure your business shows up at the top in search results.

Your SEO or search engine optimization ranking can be improved through all types of user generated content. This could be blog posts that people have written about you, customer reviews, videos, you name it. 

You need a good SEO ranking to ensure more clicks on your website. And with user generated content, you can make it happen quickly and easily. 

3. Keeps marketing content interesting

Traditional marketing ideas can quickly get stale and uninteresting. It can often feel robotic or monotonous, especially when every brand is doing the same thing. 

User generated content makes way for fresh new ideas from thousands of different minds. It allows for a unique perspective into marketing. Most importantly, it keeps people engaged.

Consumers can have more fun with the content they post. And because there’s an added layer of authenticity, the content immediately draws more attention. Getting this sort of feedback also keeps a business young and prevents it from fading into obscurity. 

4. Increases personalization

Generic ads generally don’t interest people anymore. According to one study, 71% of consumers prefer personalized ads. 

This is because people want to feel special. They like knowing that promotional content is geared specifically toward them. This also makes it more likely for people to engage with your content.

User generated content adds that personalization in a seamless and authentic way. If your next door neighbor is recommending a product, you’ll be more likely to buy it because it’s coming from someone you know and trust. On the other hand, you’re more likely to be skeptical if you see a generic ad telling you to buy something on TV. 

Consumers are people like you and I, and so we’re more likely to trust their judgment about brand quality than that of faceless corporations. And so, consumers can create content that relates to the average consumer in ways that corporations cannot. 

Strategies for a successful UGC campaign

1. Create a hashtag

User generated content is great for social media promotion. Because social media is all about two-way engagement, the more people interact with you, the better it will be for your brand.

Let’s face it. Simply posting on social media is a futile exercise if you’re getting enough likes and followers from it. To make it interesting, you need to get people involved.

So come up with a hashtag for your next big promotional campaign. Encourage your followers to use the hashtag in their posts. This will result in a domino effect whereby their followers will also end up participating and interacting with you. 

Let’s say you run a clothing brand and your new fall line is out. How do you get people involved in your promotion? Well, start a trendy hashtag and ask people to put up pictures of themselves in your clothes. Incentivise people to share by offering rewards for things like “Best Dressed”, “Best Cootagecore Look” etc. 

Your hashtag should be short, snappy and easy to remember. You will have to promote your hashtag rigorously before it can take off, though. Use an online flyer maker to make a social media flyer promoting the hashtag campaign and laying out the instructions for users. Many sites like PosterMyWall also have flyer template options that you can customize to do your promotion.

Here are some UGC campaigns you can strengthen with a hashtag:

  • Reviews from customers after a new product or service is launched
  • Creating social media hype for a special day e.g. a national holiday
  • Getting customers to participate in a new social media challenge
  • Running a campaign to collect customer stories
  • Creating social media hype for a special event e.g. a product launch

Marc Jacobs ran a user generated campaign by using the hashtag #CastMeMarc. The idea was that Marc Jacobs would find its next big model on Instagram from people who posted a look and used the hashtag. Hundreds of thousands of people participated and Marc Jacobs got tons of free publicity. 

2. Get customer reviews

70% of consumers rely on product reviews before buying. Often, reviews can mean the difference between people purchasing your product and logging off.

Authentic customer reviews will build trust for your product and will get people to buy it. Therefore, you need to gather as many customer reviews as possible.

Encourage people to leave reviews on sites like Yelp, Google, and Trip Advisor. These are sites people typically refer to most often when looking for reviews. Also, get people to post reviews under your products on your website. 

Incentivise people to leave reviews. Make it as easy as possible. A couple of days after the purchase, send the customer a text or an email asking them to leave a small review by replying directly.

Get more Yelp reviews by offering coupons and discounts to people who write them. It’s important that this particular incentive also goes to people who leave bad reviews, so that you don’t appear biased.

Always thank the customer after they leave a review. This makes it more likely for them to engage with you again. 

If you get a negative review, use that to improve your product or service, then reach out to the customer and ask them if they’re satisfied.

This type of customer engagement will go a long way towards selling your brand. 

3. Support a cause

Supporting a social or moral cause can be a great way to get people on board with your brand. According to one study, 81% of Americans are likely to switch brands, if equal in price and quality, to one that supports a cause. 

People will also be more likely to create content for you if they feel it’s for a good cause. This is because they’ll be able to fulfil a moral obligation while participating in a fun challenge.

This point is best demonstrated by Under Armour’s #RunToVote campaign. The company encouraged people to run to polling booths and cast their vote. This was a huge awareness campaign, and it established Under Armour as a brand that cares about its social responsibility. 

4. Get video content made

User generated videos about a brand are typically viewed 10 times more than official brand videos. That should tell you something about the significance of user generated video content.

There are a number of ways you can get consumers to get creative with video:

  • Ask people to post unboxing videos of the products they buy from you
  • Ask them to make a little video showing people how they use a specific product
  • Get local influencers on board, send them a PR package, and ask them to show your products on their story
  • Get video testimonials from satisfied customers
  • Invite customers to go live with you and share their experience with your brand

Incentivise people to make videos by sharing them on your page, and offering coupons to your favorites.

Final thoughts

User generated content is a much-needed marketing tool, because it’s a way to help customers have a better experience with you. It’s also a way to build customer trust and loyalty.

The main takeaway here is to encourage users to get creative while sticking to your brand image. Also, your UGC campaign will be a success as long as you can get people excited about engaging with your brand. And finally, don’t forget the power and relevance of social media!

Author

Sumit is an aspiring writer with an increased interest in Asian politics.Residing in New Delhi, he often writes about Diplomatic Relationships, Trade and International Business. Reach Sumit on Facebook / Twitter.

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