“A brand is no longer what we tell the customer it is – it is what customers tell each other it is.” Scott Cook – Co-Founder of Intuit
What is User Generated Content (UGC)?
So, what exactly is user-generated content? According to campaignmonitor.com content marketing term, user-generated content is “any form of content generated by consumers for a brand.”. In other words, when consumers are talking about your brand, I.e., leaving a review, a recommendation, or telling their friends about their latest purchase, they are creating user-generated content. User-generated content is unbiased, authentic content created by consumers on behalf of brands, as a result of their personal experience.
Any content, including text, videos, reviews, images, etc., created by people other than the brands themselves is user-generated content. Oftentimes, brands will share and use positive user-generated content on their social media accounts as part of their marketing strategy.
In a world where the internet and social media platforms are running rampant, full of reviews, referrals, opinions, and access to information is literally at your fingertips it is now more important than ever before that you understand the power of user-generated content. This access to information presents both a challenge and a reward for both consumers and businesses alike.
As consumers having the ability to read about first-hand experiences from other consumers provides an unbiased, honest opinion regarding products, brands, and services offered. On the other hand, businesses can capitalize on consumers sharing their experiences to spread the word regarding their business without having to spend copious amounts of money on an extravagant marketing campaign.
Why Encourage User Generated Content?
Now that we’ve discussed what user-generated content is, it is important to know why companies place a huge emphasis on user-generated content.
- Authenticity: One of the biggest reasons companies want user-generated content is that they are authentic and genuine, coming directly from consumers themselves. Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view user-generated content as authentic than content created by brands themselves. While that might not seem like a large percentage, it still provides a large credibility boost for brands as most consumers believe that less than half of brands produce authentic content.
- Builds Trust: Consumers want to know what they are going to be spending their hard-earned money on, prior to making a purchase. This knowledge is gained through online reviews and recommendations that are created by other consumers who have first-hand knowledge of what to expect.
- Encourage Purchasing Decisions: All of these other points all lead up to the most important one: consumers making a purchasing decision. A whopping 80% of people say that user-generated content had an effect on their purchasing decisions. Social media plays an integral part in helping spread user-generated content that allows for other potential customers to view, as many times as necessary, until they feel confident in making a purchase. Including user-generated content into your social media strategy is a powerful tool that can drastically increase sales.
What Makes Effective User Generated Content?
The key to making user-generated content so effective is having customers sharing their experiences with others, it is not coming from paid marketing professionals, but real people. Recent studies have found that a whopping 76% of consumers do not trust paid advertisements, as they are deemed to be exaggerated and a false representation of the true product or service being promoted.
Some of the most effective user-generated content include product reviews, Instagram photos, live unboxings, sharing of favorite products and brands. All of these increase a consumer’s confidence in their purchasing decisions.
How to Incorporate User Generated Content on Social Media
There are three proven ways to include user-generated content into your social media marketing plan that can help to drastically increase sales.
- Creating Brand Desire: brand desire is showing a brand, product, or service through the lens of the consumer. This is especially important for lifestyle and tourist brands that allow for user-generated content to show vacation spots through the eyes of a tourist. Posts that share user-generated content tend to receive thousands of likes and views, providing more exposure than original posts generated by the brand themselves.
- Showcase Brand Loyalty: After you’ve created brand desire, the next step is to cultivate long-term brand loyalty with your consumers. Customers who are loyal to a brand for a long time, result in increased sales and more brand desire to new potential customers. Users who create and share content on behalf of a brand, typically tend to already be loyal customers, who are excited to share your brand with others, ultimately gaining you more exposure.
- Build a Content Library: Creating new and engaging content on a regular basis can be tiring and challenging. Using user-generated content is a great way to build up your content library, so you always have new and fresh content to share on your social media profiles. Encourage customers to use a unique hashtag, specific to your brand that allows for your customers to create content that you can share on your accounts.
Even when customers use your specific hashtag, it is a good idea to ask for permission to use their posts on your social media accounts. Asking for permission is a good way to keep your relationships with your loyal customers, and not annoying some of your best brand representatives.
Examples of User Generated Content
Thanks to social media and the internet, there are examples of user-generated content everywhere! Some of the most common include.
- Reviews: Reviews are a great example of user-generated content as they are everywhere and cover just about every brand, product, and service you could possibly want to purchase. When making a purchase, over 70% of consumers said that they read reviews prior to making the purchase. This allows them to get a good feel for what they will be getting for their money.
Reviews can be found online, on social media sites, and on companies’ websites. Encourage customers to leave reviews, when possible, to help increase conversions. Even negative reviews can be viewed as an opportunity to improve and earn the trust of your customers. Both positive and negative reviews are good, as they help to show the authenticity of your business.
- Videos: Videos allow your audience to connect with your brand and products in a way that other types of content can’t. Videos are also often viewed approximately 10 times more than official brand videos found on YouTube. When consumers make a video showcasing your brand or products, you have an increased chance of boosting your visibility due to the fact that videos are easily shared.
- Social Media: This is the most popular and most widely used platform where User Generated Content is created, viewed, shared, and shared again and again. People share their feelings, suggestions, recommendations, and make referrals. This is happening daily, over-and-over again.
- Contests: Contests are a great way to encourage new and diversified user-generated content. Encourage users to share videos, pictures, reviews, etc. of your brand, products, or service using a specific hashtag that enters them into a contest to win prizes from your business. The more a specific hashtag gets used, the more popular it becomes, increasing brand awareness, which can ultimately lead to increased sales.
Regardless of how or where user-generated content comes from, it is a key element to a successful online marketing strategy. ShareitEffect makes it easy for consumers to share what they are buying online with their friends and family, by creating user-generated content with a few simple clicks. Through our unique integrated platform, we allow businesses to encourage user-generated content by providing a discount incentive for simply sharing their purchase with their friends and followers on social media.
When you use ShareitEffect (find it now on Shopify App Store – apps.shopify.com/shareiteffect) to encourage authentic user generated content, you increase your chances of exposure dramatically, along with increasing sales. Check out shareiteffect.com today to see how they can help you increase your user generated content exposure online and naturally grow your business!
Author: Ashley Christensen