UGC: Business owners and marketing managers are constantly looking for new ideas to incorporate into their marketing strategies, to increase brand awareness and increase sales. UGC is a reliable, low-cost marketing solution to achieve these goals. So what is user-generated content? What are its features and types? How do you use it optimally in your company?
User-Generated Content (UGC) is a type of content marketing that consists of original content associated with a brand, but written and published by those loyal to the brand or users of a service or product, not a company. It may take several forms, such as social media posts, reviews, podcasts, videos or photos, and others.
For example, when you buy a specific type of perfume from an online store and like it, you create a YouTube video or write a post on a social media platform, explaining the features of that perfume and your personal experience with he-she. This example shows how user-generated content on the Internet is created, naturally and for free, by customers and consumers themselves.
There are many benefits to user-generated content that motivate businesses to take advantage of it, including the following:
Some marketers spend a lot of effort and money to prepare perfect advertising content so that unusual features of a service or product appear in the belief that this is something the consumer wants to see, which may motivate them to make a purchase decision. But then it turns out that this is not true, because consumers are looking for something real and not beyond perfection and perfection, but rather originality and authenticity.
These statistics confirm that the consumer trusts more in the recommendations of customers who have bought and tried the product or service, because they find their review to be impartial and intended to benefit, unlike the advertising of brands that most find their goal is only to sell.
User-generated content helps increase brand loyalty because it makes the consumer feel part of the brand community and not just a sales figure. This feeling is achieved when the consumer shares the experience of using a product or service he has purchased, as well as when the brand interacts with the content owners and responds to them, studying their proposals to develop the offered product or service.
All this helps to develop and deepen the relationship between the audience and the brand and creates an interactive community between the company and its customers on the one hand, and between customers and each other on the other. In addition, it is constantly working to solidify the brand image in their minds. As a result, brand loyalty increases, and your customers become more loyal to your company than the rest of the competitors.
Traditional marketing activities cost huge amounts of money to pay employees, launch paid advertising campaigns and other expenses. In turn, user-generated content saves on these costs, because the customer who purchased the product or service is responsible for producing the content and enthusiastically sharing it with others online. However, it may take some expense to motivate customers to share this type of content regularly.
For example, you can give them discount coupons or free wallet credit, or even send them the product or service for free for them to review and share with the public. All this ultimately leads to increased ROI by reducing marketing expenses, which is critical for every company and entrepreneur.
If you’ve ever bought a pair of shoes after seeing someone else wearing them, or ordered a meal in a restaurant after impressing you while it was served to someone else at a table next to you, you’re under the influence of social proof. The concept of social proof asserts that people tend to imitate the actions of others, and thus companies and brands can exploit this behavior to influence consumer buying behavior.
Previous statistics indicate that 79% of consumers are strongly influenced by their purchasing decisions, as user-generated content is a credible social guide. Many companies have taken advantage of this to improve their conversion rates and sales, for example, Busabout, a tour operator favored by millennials, provides its users with tours and adventures in multiple destinations across Europe.
The company has replaced all visuals on its website with user-generated content, to raise awareness of the brand’s tourism services in Europe. The result was astonishing, with content production costs reduced by about 65%, while the rate of bookings increased by 33%.
There are many different types of User Generated Content, here are the main ones:
More than 58% of the world’s population uses various social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Twitter, and others. Therefore, any content that will be shared on these platforms has a significant impact on many potential customers, which may affect their purchasing decisions towards a particular product or service, if you manage to choose the appropriate platform for your target audience.
Customer testimonials or reviews are one of the most powerful forms of social evidence and are part of a brand’s word-of-mouth marketing strategy. It consists of customer reviews and ratings after they purchase and try a particular product or service. It provides potential customers with honest and impartial experiences from customers like them who have previously purchased and tried the service, and thus provides them with confidence and credibility, as well as a realistic perception of the details of the thing they are willing to buy.
Customer-generated content doesn’t have to be text, but it can also exist in the form of images, especially with products that primarily require it. Customers are sometimes reluctant to buy products from the Internet, fearing that they will not match the images provided by sellers. Therefore, they resort to looking at previous buyers’ reviews that contain photos, to discover what the product looks like in reality rather than the ideal images are shown.
Potential customers love to watch videos about the product or service before they decide to buy it, especially with products and services that need a real user experience and this is only possible through a video, such as reviews of smartphones and tech devices, home appliances, cars, and other products and other services.
Here are some important tips for using UGC properly and effectively:
Sometimes companies make the mistake of not setting a goal for their user-generated content, so they may actually succeed in achieving a goal, but it is not in line with their marketing strategy. So before anything else, you should ask yourself what is the point of user-generated content for your company? Is your goal to build a brand identity, or something else?
If your goal is to increase brand awareness and reach new customers, you should focus on seeing more likes, comments, and interactions on different social media platforms. If your goal is to increase conversion rates, you should prioritize content that increases awareness of your brand’s services and products, influencing buyers’ decisions and motivating them to make a purchase.
Your goal may be to increase the trust of your audience and potential customers, and therefore you should focus in this case on motivating your audience to share photos and videos after purchasing, and trying the product or service on the ground. Therefore, you must first clearly define your goal, in order to develop an appropriate strategy to help you achieve it.
In order to ensure that you achieve effective results for your user-generated content, you must put it in the right place. Here are some of the ways you can use it to display this content to your potential customers:
User-generated content is original and unique, so you can display it on your site or online store to increase trust and influence customer purchasing decisions, especially before the checkout step.
Live and virtual events
There is nothing better than User Generated Content to capture the attention of your audience at live and virtual events, it helps the audience stay fully focused and enjoy the event, and similarly helps to raise awareness of your brand among new customers who are watching the event.
When you share your audience-generated content on your brand’s official social media, it makes them feel appreciated, which motivates them to work on producing more professional content with great enthusiasm. In addition, do not forget to always mention the owners of the content in your post, this will add more appreciation and respect to your company from the audience.
You can leverage your email marketing user-generated content as a highly credible social proof, to influence your customers’ purchasing decisions and motivate them to make a purchase.
Sometimes some companies and brands neglect to take a necessary step before publishing user-generated content, which is to ask permission from the content owner, who owns the intellectual property rights to that content. Thus, if the company does not seek his permission before publishing his content, this may expose it to lawsuits for intellectual property rights infringement.
Your customers offer you unique and credible content, so why not offer them token rewards in return, in order to encourage them to continue sharing their experiences with the audience? You can express your appreciation to them in a number of ways, for example by providing discount coupons or free credit, sending invitations to attend live and virtual events, sending new products and services for review and sharing with the public, and many other ways.
You should know that the content your content generates is not always positive, but sometimes a user may post a negative post about your brand because they are upset about an issue. In this case, you should not post negative experiences but focus only on the positive to spread inspiration with your audience, and not harm your brand.
At the same time, you should not ignore the negative participation so as not to affect the image of the brand, but you should contact the upset customer, asking him to explain his problem in detail. For example, if the problem is with the late arrival of the shipment, apologize to him and offer him a discount coupon or free credit. After you satisfy the customer, you can share with the audience their positive participation after solving the problem, this will create an impression on your company that they consider the customer service experience.
After a short period of time, the user-generated content will accumulate for the benefit of your brand, so that the process of finding this content is not difficult and long for your company, and so that it is easier for potential customers to reach and interact with this content, you should customize your brand hashtag.
Thus by simply typing the hashtag in the search box, you can access all the content that this hashtag references easily. You can search for the best quality content that matches your company’s content strategy, to share with your audience and benefit from it.
GoPro, the company that has been producing lightweight, high-definition personal cameras for several years, has been integrating user-generated content with its marketing strategy. The results were amazing. In 2013, more than 6000 videos were uploaded to YouTube every day related to the company. Today, when you search for the word “Gopro” in the YouTube search engine, you will get millions of results.
In addition, today there are more than 10.6 million subscribers on the official YouTube channel, and the company has its own channel on Virgin Airlines and Xbox, showing them great videos of people doing exciting adventures, such as snowboarding, mountain jumping, and more. However, you don’t feel like you’re watching a constant ad for the camera while watching these videos, thanks to the content shot by GoPro customers.
Businesses can exploit the low cost of user-generated content and its powerful influence on consumers’ purchasing decisions to increase sales. To do it right, you need to hire a professional marketer to help you set up a well-defined content strategy and goals, and choose the right posting system for your product or service.
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