A guest post by Manuel Fornillos.
If you’re in the digital marketing sphere, you’ve probably come across the phrase “content is king.” In this phrase, the “content” referenced is information that a brand provides its target audiences via a specific channel, such as a social media page or a website. It can take many forms, like video, images, or audio.
Considered the cornerstone of a successful digital marketing strategy, content marketing is an approach that involves creating and publishing useful, relevant, and compelling content to a target audience. The benefits of content marketing are many: it establishes brand identity, improves SEO results, and drives website traffic, among others.
A content marketing strategy often includes user generated content (UGC). UGC differs from traditional content in that it’s neither created nor published by a brand or its marketing team. Instead, UGC is made by customers who want to share the experience they’ve had with a brand to others. Marketing with UGC means letting your fans tell your brand’s story for you.
What are the benefits of user generated content?
Consider using UGC if you’re looking to take your marketing strategy to the next level. Apart from being free, using UGC is one of the most effective ways to achieve your brand’s marketing goals. The following are just a few examples of the benefits of marketing with UGC.
UGC increases brand awareness
For small and medium-sized businesses, building brand awareness via traditional content such as ads is also prohibitively costly. User generated content works very well in increasing brand awareness, and because it’s free, it can be utilised even by brands with limited marketing budgets.
With UGC, you harness the power of word-of-mouth to get your brand known and attract more customers. When users post UGC about your brand on their feeds, their content is seen by their followers. Their posts provide your brand with exposure and expand your social media reach.
It boosts trust in your brand
Consumers crave authenticity. They pay more attention to content created by friends and loved ones over professional ads, and they trust brands that speak to them in their language.
UGC lends authenticity to your brand because they’re endorsements by real people. It appears more credible and genuine because the feedback comes from someone who isn’t paid to say good things about the product or service.
UGC allows consumers to get to know a brand through the lens of its most passionate advocates—people just like them. Marketing with UGC will enable you to leverage your fans’ voices to create rapport with your target audience and earn their trust at the same time.
It supports your SEO strategy
UGC is an excellent source of new and relevant content for your website. Search engines index testimonials, guest blogs, comments, and other forms of user-generated content. When the UGC is deemed useful and fresh by crawlers, it will rank better in search.
UGC can be used on social media to direct traffic to your landing page or e-commerce website. The influx of visitors to your site will also positively influence its performance on search engines.
Another way UGC boosts SEO is by helping your website rank for long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are highly specific search phrases. They get less traffic than commonly-searched-for keywords but are more comfortable to rank for and have a higher conversion value
By analysing your users’ posts, you can get insights into how they talk about your brand and their questions. You can use the information you gleaned to identify long-tail keywords you can utilize in your SEO strategy.
UGC can increase your sales
UGC has the power to significantly influence purchasing decisions more than brand-created content.
To consumers, user generated content by friends, co-workers, and loved ones hold more weight than ads featuring celebrities. Also, they consider online reviews before deciding to buy a product or pay for a service. The reason is that consumers view UGC as genuine and unbiased.
UGC also provides social proof. It shows potential customers that other people are buying the brand’s products, making them feel comfortable doing the same.
Types of user generated content
Before incorporating it into your marketing strategy, it helps to understand the different types of UGC.
Generally, any content that is made by an individual and features a brand can be considered UGC. It falls under three general categories: video, audio, text, and images.
Some examples of user generated content are:
- Social Media Posts
- Online Message Board Posts
- Testimonials and Reviews
- Case Studies
Which types you should use in your marketing strategy depends on your audience. Are they active on Instagram? Do they comment a lot on Reddit? Are they frequent visitors to review websites like Yelp?
It’s also helpful to understand which types of content work best on each platform. For example, people tend to go to Instagram if they want to look at high-resolution images. They look to Pinterest for DIY tutorials and Twitter for news. A person who wants to watch funny videos will head to either Facebook or YouTube.
Tools like website analytics and surveys provide basic demographic data, such as age group, geolocation, and gender. They also provide insights on consumer preferences and online habits, making it easier for you to choose which UGC types to use and where to use them. They empower you to tailor your UGC marketing approach to the audience you’re trying to reach.
How to leverage UGC in marketing
UGC can attract new customers and turn existing customers into loyal fans. Here are some ways you can use UGC as part of a broader marketing campaign.
Start a hashtag contest
To start a hashtag contest, ask your followers to post content with your hashtag on social media. Every time they do so, they are entered into the contest to win a prize.
Hashtag contests provide you with a large volume of UGC. Also, they boost customer engagement as well as increase brand awareness.
To ensure your contest’s success and increase the chances that your hashtag will trend, follow these tips:
- Choose a hashtag that is unique and has not been used by another brand.
- Make sure that the hashtag is easy to remember and spell.
- Don’t forget to highlight your hashtag in your social media posts and other content.
Ask for fan videos
People are more likely to watch user-generated videos than brand-generated ones. Also, videos are highly shareable, and they can go viral. It’s perhaps for this reason that major brands like Coca-Cola and National Geographic have featured user-generated videos in their ads.
Also, having their video featured on an ad or a social media channel strengthens the connection between a user and a brand. The user is then more likely to share more content about the brand in the future.
Share UGC on your social media pages
Regularly reposting UGC on your social media pages shows your community that you care about them and value their contributions. It also serves as an almost infinite source of fresh content for your brand. To make reposting easier, build a content library with UGC and map out your publishing schedule using a content calendar.
Showcase reviews on your website
Reviews can nudge a casual website visitor toward a purchase decision. Ask your customers to give you feedback on your products or services, and request their permission to repost it.
Managing bad reviews
Because consumers use UGC as a tool to express their opinions and attitudes toward brands, it can sometimes be a double-edged sword. While positive content can help your brand, negative UGC can tarnish it.
In the short term, bad reviews can scare off potential customers. Left unaddressed, they can severely damage your brand’s hard-earned reputation.
However, it is possible to mitigate the effects of a brand review. Here’s how:
Answer promptly yet thoughtfully
An angry customer will only get more upset if they’re made to wait a long time for a response. Once you discover the bad review, compose a thoughtful reply, and post it as soon as possible. Avoid pasting canned responses, as this makes customers feel that you’re insincere.
Not only can responding to bad reviews calm down an angry customer. It can also put your brand in a positive light. People appreciate businesses that provide timely, thoughtful responses.
Continue the conversation in private
Once you’ve provided a public response, invite the reviewer to discuss their issue in detail via private chat or a phone call. This way, you can resolve the customer’s problems away from the prying eyes of the public. Afterward, subtly encourage the customer to remove or update the original review to reflect that the issue has been fixed.
Acknowledge the customer’s concern
Even if you think the customer had no cause to complain, it’s still important to acknowledge their experience. Empathise with them, and let them know you regret that they’re not 100% satisfied with your brand’s product or service.
If your brand was truly in the wrong, it helps to apologise. It shows that your brand is accountable for its actions and truly cares about keeping customers happy.
Act on the feedback
Customers want to know that their concerns are being taken seriously. Show your customers that you listen to them by taking action. For instance, if your customer complains that her food delivery was late, try to find out why. Get back to the customer with your investigation results and what you plan to do about it.
Is there a specific issue that keeps being brought up by multiple customers? If you notice a pattern emerging, probe further, and identify what needs to be done to prevent the issue from happening again. Bad reviews can’t be avoided, but at least you can learn from them.
How to create a UGC campaign that converts
UGC delivers the kind of authentic customer experience that attracts and engages customers. Cultivating customer content can even help transform people on the fence into buyers and, eventually, ardent advocates of your brand. However, for a UGC campaign to be effective, it has to be planned and executed correctly. Here are some tips to help you get started on creating a UGC strategy that converts:
Research your audience
Take the time to identify your audience, their needs, and preferences. What would incentivise them to create UGC for your brand? What types of content are your customers looking for, and on which channels do they spend the most time? The answers to these questions will guide you in designing your UGC campaign.
Identify and set goals
Define your goals in terms of numbers. For instance, you may aim to get 1,000 shares or 10,000 submissions within your campaign period. Having clearly defined goals sets the course of your campaign and drives your marketing decisions. It ensures that you don’t waste time or resources on actions that don’t align with or benefit your strategy. Setting goals also provides you with a way to measure your campaign’s performance.
Decide how long your campaign will run
The duration of your campaign depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If your campaign’s purpose is short-term, such as promoting a new product, it makes sense to limit it to a certain period.
Be clear when explaining the campaign’s submission rules
If you provide vague instructions, you might end up with the wrong kind of content. Worse, you may put off people from participating. To avoid this, provide your audience with the proper guidance.
Ask for permission
Keep in mind that user-submitted content can’t be used without permission from the owner. To avoid legal issues, get your audience to agree to the terms of your campaign. Consider drafting a legal document that protects your brand from legal issues arising from the use or reposting of UGC.
UGC marketing can lead your brand toward success
User generated content is key to standing out in a crowded social media environment. Its benefits include heightened brand awareness, increased traffic, and higher conversation rates—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
UGC is a winning marketing strategy that any brand can leverage to get results. UGC allows your brand to cut through the noise and rise above the competition by amplifying your customers’ voices.
About the author
Hello! I am Manuel Fornillos, the senior author and one of the editors of Design Doxa team. My writing proficiency covers the topics about social media, digital marketing, technology and mobile applications. When I was younger, I fell in love writing my emotions through poems and as years gone by, I used my gift by making informative articles regarding new technologies to reach out my reader’s souls. When I’m not writing you’ll see me in my garden with my plants to refresh with nature.