How to Get Things Right with User-Generated Content

July 12, 2016

11:00 am

Modern consumers no longer settle for a passive role. They proactively share their feedback on all kinds of purchases, feel quick to spot a scam or a negative review and constantly engage in price comparison.

While user-generated content often means free content for brands, a lot of markets still feel puzzled with how exactly should they respond to it. If you play your cards right, including UGC in your marketing campaigns can drastically increase your revenues, secure higher user-retention rates and foster customer loyalty.  

User-Generated Content Leverages Trust

Millennial and Gen Z consumers grew up prone to traditional advertising. Most of them consider it unreliable, sleazy and non-relevant. A recent research conducted by Bazaarvoice over 51% of responders said they trust UGC more than a company’s website (16%) or news articles and reviews posted by other online media websites (14%).

In fact, 8 in 10 consumers admitted that user-generated content from people they don’t know influences their shopping decisions and stands for brand quality. Over a half of respondents rate UGC higher than opinions of friends and family – traditionally most common purchasing decision-driver.

Visual UGC (product pictures posted on social media) is reported to be 85% more influential than branded photos and videos. If you are not yet investing in influencer marketing, you may want to reconsider this decision.

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Users Expect Guidelines on What Content to Create and Share

You don’t want to appear pushy and urge your customers to leave reviews or share staff on social media. Yet, at over 50% of consumers actually want brands to tell them what kind of information to include in a review or social media post. Currently, just 16% of brands are doing so, and obviously reaping the benefits. Here’s how Urban Outfitters are doing this:

Urban Outfitters

To join the bandwagon, consider the following:

  • Create a branded hashtag to curate user-submissions on social media. You can make a cross post on different channels and leave it there pinned for awhile. Additionally, publish a more detailed blog post with guidelines. You can style it as a seasonal promo or offer, encouraging consumers to use a specific hashtag and win a cool prize.
  • Make sharing easy. Most users feel compelled to share certain content because they want their friends to see it. Include share buttons to your products and reviews to enable quick and simple sharing to popular social media networks.

Users Love Case Studies

Case studies serve a double purpose – they show your brand in a positive light and highlight a customer’s opinion just like Millennials love. And they can be created for pretty much any niche – from fashion and food to accounting products and outdoor gear. Formats can vary too – from video, to slideshows, blog posts or quick social media endorsement posts.

To get started solicit your long-term clients to participate in exchange for a quick reward e.g. coupon code, discount, free item and consider approaching some influencers directly with your offer to create new content for your website.  Here’s what you need to consider when getting one on board:

“The most successful brand campaigns I did, involved receiving detailed instructions and brand guidelines. In most cases you should feel comfortable with providing not just your product(s) as samples, but some monetary compensation as well. After all, content creation is a job like any other – Instagram-worthy images and snappy, attractive texts don’t make themselves. That’s especially true when the end content is published on the brand’s channel. Creatives don’t work for “exposure” as some of companies tend to think. Align your goals with what an influencer feels comfortable delivering and be clear with your expectations from day one,” – says Logan Scott from All Outdoors.

Keep The Communication a Two Way Street

The most common problem with UGC is that the communication with customers tends to happen one-way. Writing to the void will not encourage your more people to share the love and publicly endorse your company.

Use your social media channels to stir up discussions from your fans.  This could be done the following way:

  • Create weekly chats on a pre-set topic – vacations, holiday, pop culture trends etc. Ask your followers to share their opinion with a branded hashtag and shoot witty replies. Ideally, you’ll need someone to moderate the session.
  • Host an AMA with your founder, CEO, head of marketing or an intriguing invited “star” and ask everyone to send questions in advance. This could be staged either on social media in real-time or as a video reply to a selected list of questions.
  • Ask to share feedback directly. Once in awhile through in a few requests to share feedback on using your products and services. You may get positively surprised with the insights you receive, especially for further product development and retention rates.

Millennial spend a lot of time on social media and running such campaigns will likely reduce your brand visibility and will paint your brand in a positive, friendly light. People no longer want to purchase goods from faceless corporations, they crave for genuine friendly experiences close to those happening in-stores.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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