The 2016 State of Marketing Report by Salesforce revealed that almost 50% of top content marketing leaders leverage user-generated content.
Before we take a look at why user-generated content is so important for marketers, let’s find out exactly what UGC is.
UGC, or user-generated content, is the content produced by a brand’s customers. Brands nowadays are even collaborating with influencers to generate high-authority user-generated content. User-generated content (UGC) can take many forms including blog posts, reviews, social media posts, videos, forums, etc.
Why is UGC so Important?
User-generated content is more trusted than many other forms of media, and in certain cases, much more popular. Look at the following facts to learn why:
- UGC is seen as thrice more authentic than brand-created content, according to the Stackla Consumer Content Report.
- A whopping 90% of US consumers find user-generated content to have the most impact on their purchase decisions, according to TurnTo Network.
- And 87% of search engine results consider UGC as the second most influential element of a purchase decision, according to the same TurnTo study.
Here are some insights and key benefits of UGC:
1. It Builds Trust and Enhances Customer Experience
UGC gives brands an opportunity to establish a personal connection with consumers. The UGC satisfies the customers’ search for brand information. Consumers trust UGC more than traditional advertising due to the human connection and trust factor attached to it. People have always relied on word-of-mouth recommendations and feedback. Plus, UGC works as social proof.
According to the previously-cited 2017 TurnTo consumer study, 73% of buyers feel that UGC boosts their purchasing confidence and improves their buyer journey.
Image via TurnTo
2. It increases Organic Traffic and Reach
Organic reach is dwindling. And marketers need to create customized, moderated content on all social media channels to improve organic reach. This is where UGC comes to the rescue.
Gone are the days when the quality of the product was the sole determinant of a brand’s success. Ever since social media started shaping the future of digital marketing, UGC has become critical to every business’ success.
UGC increases your site’s organic traffic, loading search engines with fresh and engaging content that lands straight on your site. Even top social media platforms like Facebook are continuously changing their algorithms giving more importance to UGC than branded content.
3. It is Affordable and Profitable
User reviews, (the positive ones), increase conversion rates and businesses benefit from them. Since consumers trust online reviews, it makes sense for brands to source more UGC for increasing customer engagement.
UGC is also free most of the times. Most consumers like to share their feedback for any brand or product they’ve purchased.
According to the 2017 Consumer Content Report cited earlier, 85% of people like to talk about their pleasant travel experiences on social media. About 63% of them are likely to post about a positive dining experience. And every month, almost 52% of people post about their product purchases on social media.
Challenges Faced by Brands While Scaling UGC
Businesses have quickly realized the soaring importance of UGC with consumers trusting the wisdom of the crowd.
However, PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey revealed that creating trustworthy and authentic UGC is still a challenge for many brands. The challenge is not just with sourcing and scaling up UGC, but creating good quality on-brand UGC.
Let’s see the top challenges brands face while scaling up UGC.
1. Content Moderation
Allowing users to post content on your brand’s website does not always have a positive result. For example, negative reviews may damage your brand’s image. Also, you can be a victim of abusive and offensive comments posted by users. It becomes difficult to control consumers’ behavior online.
2. Seeking Users’ Permission
Although UGC is free almost all of the time, there are legal issues involved too. But let’s say you launch a user-generated content contest to encourage people to share their pics with your products or brand.
In such cases, you need to seek their permission if you want to use their images on your business pages and website. You may even need to acknowledge and give credit to the person who originally created the content.
3. Getting High-Quality Content Created at Scale
Want to get a lot of high-quality UCG created over the next 30 days? It’s a daunting task. The best approaches are often to work with a gifting focused micro-influencer agency such as Octoly, HeartBeat, Social Native, or Apex.
They manage the hardest part – activating a large network of influencers and getting your products into their hands so they can create great content on social media. These agencies typically have usage rights taken care of in the agreement.
4. Ensuring UGC Reaches Potential Customers
This is specific to UCG posted on social media. Instead of relying only on organic reach once the content goes live (and not knowing the downstream impact), you can bring this content into your paid media strategy.
There are two ways to do this:
- Amplify content using Facebook’s branded content tool. This requires influencers to tag your brand in the post “in paid partnership with your brand.” You can amplify this content to you brand audiences and optimize for your objective.
- Leverage Lumanu, a platform which allows you to amplify influencer content through their social accounts to their audience. This also lets you add a call-to-action and drive folks back to your specific landing page.
How to Overcome UGC Challenges
Let’s now see how brands can get past these challenges and maximize the benefits of UGC.
1. Publish a Content Policy
Let your users know what is allowed and what is not.
2. Use Technology to Activate UGC Campaigns At-Scale.
There are many platforms, like Crowdtap, that allow you to leverage the right people for the right campaigns. Invite relevant brand enthusiasts regularly to take part in your brand storytelling. Use third-party tools or plug-ins for commenting and filtering content.
3. Keep Collaboration in Mind when Building UGC
Collaborate and coordinate with all of the agencies and teams involved across all marketing channels while creating and sharing your content.
4. Include Terms of Sharing into Your UGC Programs from Day One
Clearly communicate all of the terms of your UGC campaigns with consumers before inviting them to generate content. Most people are okay getting featured with repurposed branded content. Many times, users are happy with being appropriately attributed for the content that they created.
How Influencers Can Generate UGC at Scale
According to the PwC Global Consumer Insights Survey, social media is the number one source of inspiration for customer purchases.
In fact, social influencers are the perfect people to collaborate with to scale up UGC for your brand. They are very powerful when it comes to delivering your brand message and engaging a new set of audience on social media. As per a Twitter study, 40% of people purchased a product on the direct recommendation of a social media influencer.
Influencers are successful in generating more UGC as they have huge fan followings and more targeted audiences. Their content is professional and reliable. That is why influencer marketing is the next level of content marketing.
Here’s how you can leverage influencers to scale up user-generated content for your brand:
1. Ask Influencers to Run a UGC Hashtag Contest
If you’re looking for a simple way to garner user-generated content, involve your influencers in a UGC hashtag contest.
Brands usually ask users to participate in such contests to get a chance to win prizes. Followers are asked to share their images and content on social media with brand hashtags.
This content can be a customer image, video, product review, or any information related to the brand use.
When influencers enter these contests, they amplify brand visibility and reach through their huge follower’s network, thus scaling up UGC.
These contests are very popular on Instagram and Twitter.
In the example given below, you can see how Wayfair used the hashtag #WayfairAtHome on Instagram to scale up their user-generated content.
Image via Instagram
The same principle works on Twitter. You simply need to ask people to use your hashtags in their posts to enter the contest and win the prize that you plan to give away.
2. Set the Rules Before Entering into a Partnership
- Clearly communicate your partnership goals and show influencers the value and exposure they would get from your brand partnership. Also, clearly communicate that their relationship is vital to scaling up UGC for your brand.
- Give deadlines in advance to give them enough time to prepare for the campaign and gather the required information.
- Seek their advice before publishing any piece of information. Influencers are much more experienced at knowing what resonates with their audiences.
- Reach out to them after each post is published and update them about its performance.
3. Amplify Influencer Content to Reach More People
Amplify your influencers’ content using platforms like Lumanu, in addition to promoting it on all your social media and ecommerce platforms. Talk about your contests everywhere to reach more people.
Follow-up with the winners of contests, and even with other contestants. Let them know of other offers and benefits to encourage more of them to try your products.
Use influencer content across all your social networks and ecommerce pages to engage users with your brand and drive sales.
4. Get Product Reviews and Testimonials
Invite your influencers try your products and ask them to share feedback with their followers. Comment and reply to their feedback and tag them in your comments. Influencer campaigns work best when you align your content strategy with theirs.
You have already seen above how online reviews and product testimonials can impact purchase decisions. So leverage such influencer reviews and ask them to write testimonials to build trust and authenticity for your brand. Use genuine feedback and reviews from influencers to create content valuable to users.
Lifestyle influencer Brittany Daisy, for instance, vouches for a Carbon Coco product in the following Instagram post. She gives a short but clear statement about the benefit of the product.
5. Measure Influencer Performance
Keep track of influencers’ performance and measure the impact of their content. Check the engagement rate and conversions driven by each influencer and their posts. Your analysis will help you understand which content worked well with your audience and what failed to impress them. Accordingly, you can make changes in your future UGC campaigns.
Many popular brands use influencers to generate online buzz and drive sales with their UGC strategy. Since influencers are established names in the industry, UGC driven from them is not short-lived. In fact, it has a long-lasting impact in consumers’ minds. Consumers tend to remember brands with the name and face of the influential personalities associated with them.
So, what’s your plan?
How are you going to scale up UGC for you brand? Have you found your influencers yet?
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.