Content marketing isn’t about your brand. It’s about the users of your products and services. So, it only makes sense that your users may be uniquely qualified to create content for you. User-generated content marketing lets your audience participate in the narrative.
And it works. Most buyers put more stock in what your customers say versus your own pitch. If you’ve flirted with the notion or aren’t sure how to leverage it, this post is for you.
We’ll be discussing user-generated content (UGC), defining its benefits, providing examples, and covering current trends.
What Is UGC?
Simply put, UGC is any content that your customers or users create. It often encompasses a wide range of activities, including: comments on blogs, testimonials, social media posts, videos, and stories. Brands don’t “own” this content like you do your blog posts, website copy, and ads.
And that’s the point. It’s genuine and authentic. Others recognize this and respect it. Consumers respond to UGC differently than your message.
Buyers trust customer reviews 12 times more than your marketing messages. It’s especially impactful for millennials. They are the generation of technology and choice. They are also the largest B2B buyer generation. Eighty-four percent of millennials say UGC has some influence over the purchasing decisions.
Just look at the explosion of YouTube as an example. Many niche YouTubers make a living on reviewing products that they use within the niche that they serve. Their videos (often unsponsored) serve as a vote of confidence for millions of consumers as they move through their buyer’s journey.
When you figure out how to weave UGC into your content strategy, you can achieve higher conversions without adding dollars to your budget.
User-Generated Content Marketing Benefits
In looking at the reasons to use UGC for your brand, you’ll find authenticity at the top of the list. Every company wants to be more human. The days of advertising superlatives are dwindling. You also have a bias in how you position your business.
UGC is bias-free. The creation of content is done by your customer, which is different from an influencer. Influencers aren’t legitimately authentic. There is a monetary incentive.
The best way to present an authentic viewpoint of your brand is through the eyes of your customers. Their perspective won’t always be positive, but that’s okay. If the feedback is negative, you’re presented with a new opportunity — to listen and evolve.
Beyond authenticity, other benefits flow from it. You could see an increase in conversions. Research suggests that promoting UGC on product pages can increase conversions by 64 percent. Why? Because it provides the prospective buyer a real-world experience.
What else can UGC offer? SEO benefits, social media reach, and providing audience insights to influence your content marketing.
How Can You Inspire Users to Create Content?
It’s no secret that consumers have opinions. How do you get them to share them? And what part does this play in content planning?
First, most of us don’t have customers who just happen to also be content creators. It’s always been fascinating to chat with some of our customers (ex: in the gaming industry) who literally don’t have to lift a finger and their customers will organically create videos and talk about their products online, relentlessly. The simple benefit of being part of a community of passionate users is motivation enough for many.
The rest of us might have to put forth more effort to motivate users to generate content for us. However, motivation doesn’t always have to include an incentive — although that’s an easy road. Here are some incentive ideas:
- Offer customers a discount on their next purchase if they review their first one.
- Provide a free trial of your service for a testimonial on their experience.
- Create a contest where you challenge users to show you how they use your product. The reward could be as simple as tagging them on your social media channels. This approach relies on competition, which gets others motivated.
But pay-for-play isn’t the only way to encourage UGC. If you have a longtime relationship with a customer, it’s easier to get them to participate in a case study or video testimonial. You’ve earned their respect.
Another option is giving them a new platform and media impressions. If your brand has a large share of voice on social media, your customers will see the opportunity. They can get social media exposure as well as a backlink from your website.
Each of these UGC campaigns can be part of your content plan. That’s because you still have to promote your desire to receive UGC. They should correlate with customer behaviors (e.g., after purchase) or in line with events or new product releases.
UGC is another segment of content marketing that’s always changing. Much of this has to do with the arrival of new platforms. Here are some trends that may be relevant to your business.
Micro-moments are intent-driven actions taken during the buyer’s journey. The buyer is in a state of want-to-know, want-to-go, or want-to-buy moments. They then turn to their device to act.
These moments are changing how people buy, which is supported by the experience economy. So, being able to position UGC in micro-moments could win you the conversion.
A good example of this is the home goods giant Wayfair. It’s become the place to find everything you need to decorate and live well. It’s also a brand that has continued to do well in the pandemic. They are all about inspiring homeowners, and they want other customers to do that with the #WayfairAtHome hashtag.
Image Source: Instagram
New Platforms: Hello TikTok
In the past few years, Instagram, Pinterest, and other visual platforms have been the center for UGC. This year, however, may be the year of TikTok. Younger generations are obsessed with this new platform, and it added more than 12 million U.S. users in March.
Content on TikTok doesn’t just live there. It’s shareable on other websites and apps too. Live-streaming is popular on the site as well. They launched a #HappyAtHome: Live! Series with lots of interesting programming.
If TikTok is where your customers are, then you need to be there, too. Engage with them with campaigns that speak to how your product impacts their life. The response you receive could give your brand the blessing of TikTokers.
Do More Than “Like” UGC
What makes UGC so powerful is the potential dialogue. That conversation is with not just the user who created the content but also everyone else. You need to do more than just “like” what they did. Make your response relevant to them. Be approachable in what you say — not some stiff, blanket response. In doing so, your brand becomes truly authentic.
User-Generated Content Marketing: A Must for 2020 and Beyond
To be a brand of the people, you need to make UGC a priority. It can drive true connections, turn customers into advocates, and trigger more conversions than any other tactic.
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