What is User Generated Content and how best to leverage it?
Photo by Aurore Baron, Meero
According to Altimeter, 70% of marketers are missing an integrated and consistent content strategy. Coming up with new and creative content can be difficult, as oftentimes, marketers produce generic content that fails to capture readers’ attention. So how do you go about publishing high-quality content at a scale? The answer to that is user-generated content. User-generated content is exactly what the name implies- content fostered by users about a specific brand or platform. UGC usually comes from comments on your blog, social media posts, blog articles, videos, Instagram stories, photos, or any other material that comes from customers.
Mention.com suggests that 50% of consumers are more likely to trust the information given by other users than that provided by businesses. With user-generated content, you can not only create awareness but also increase sales. Here are a few tips on how to leverage UGC in the best way possible:
1. Stay Authentic
2. Continue to Motivate Readers to Produce UGC
3. Pay Attention to the Quality of the Visuals
4. Record the Testimonials of Your Customers
5. Learn how to Share UGC best
6. Encourage Users to Create Value
1. Stay Authentic
Understanding authenticity is essential when it comes to user-generated content. To build trust and loyalty, your brand needs to rely on the principles of relatability to win the hearts of consumers. Your customers need reassurance, telling them that they’re making the right choices by sticking to your brand. You can make the users seen and appreciated by sharing their UGC and engaging with them. The more authentic you are, the more credibility boost you get. Statistics show that 30% of millennials would not go to the restaurant if the Instagram game is not up to date. What’s more, 70% of people trust online reviews, thus creating posting authentic content on your website essential for bonding and generating testimonials that are beneficial to your brand.
Just take a look at Burt’s Bees Instagram account on which they frequently post reviews of the products done by consumers. The brand is so successful in its social game due to the active interaction with the buyers. Another brand that heavily relies on UGC is Color Street. Their customers are also the ambassadors for the brand, sharing their Color Street customer experience. WholeFoods uses the hashtag #WholeFoodsHaul to show what people have inside their shopping carts when visiting the store. These UGC campaigns are always relevant and encourage visitors to share their experiences.
2. Continue to Motivate Readers to produce UGC
What’s interesting, is that 50% of users request some kind of guidelines for creating reviews, meaning that brands have a great deal of power in leveraging UGC. There are a few things you can do to encourage your friends to spread the word about your brand by posting on social media. Here are some of the techniques you can use to communicate with your audience:
Create a buzz around your brand- as did Coca-Cola with its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. The campaign first launched in Australia but proved successful around the world. The company stamped its bottles with random names, this way consumers could find their own names while shopping.
Run Contest/quizzes on social media-as did Dove with its ‘Real Beauty’ ad. Dove asked its Facebook followers to share what real beauty means for them. Participants had to name their friends and what they found beautiful about them.
Leverage the power of hashtags- hashtags are great for spreading the word of a new promotion. Just take a look at Redbull’s #PutACanOnIt campaign that generated engagement and got an overwhelming response.
Offer Rewards- this doesn’t necessarily entail monetary rewards or discounts. Just sharing your consumers’ content can be beneficial. This is exactly what Yo!Sushi does by including UGC in emails, Instagram and Facebook posts.
And don’t forget to ask questions! Understanding whether users actually enjoy your products and services will not only create loyal customers and build trust, but also take into account the negatives and show how to improve.
3. Pay Attention to the Quality of the Visuals
Visuals matter, especially when it comes to UGC. Written content that is accompanied by great images gets 94% more views than less visual content. What’s more, at least 71% of all respondents look at UGC 2-3 times per day. Your brand can stock the site with UGC galleries. Audiences will spend up to 90% more time on pages with scrollable addition. Professionally done and relevant photography can inspire your audience and identify your brand with quality in general.
At Meero, we’re experts at providing you with high-quality photography. As the largest photography company in the world that raised over $230 million in funds, we pair your brand with the best-suited photographer near you. At Meero, we partner with 58,000 photographers in more than 100 countries. Whether you need professional and bespoke photos for your e-commerce, food, corporate or lifestyle needs, we can provide you with photography that suits your brand. Just take a look at how Meero helped efood scale throughout Greece here.
While a 60-minute shoot takes a photographer on average four hours of post-production work, Meero’s AI is able to complete the same work in seconds.
Thanks to its adaptable and scalable solutions, at Meero, we can provide photography that reflects the identity of your brand, while delivering the final product in less than 24 hours. This way, you don’t have to worry about your UGC not being authentic or too made up. We can make sure consumers are not only inspired by the images but also feel relatable to the experiences portrayed in the photos.
4. Record Testimonials of your Consumers
It’s important to share what your buyers think. However, there are a number of ways you can do that. You can start by encouraging the buyers to record video testimonials because they can make more influence on the rest of the buyers. With video testimonials, consumers can hear, see and experience the product from a real customer. According to Search Engine Watch, videos help 73% of people to buy a product, and the video and audio combination help to stimulate consumers’ senses, invigorating better message absorption. You need to keep in mind a number of practices. Here are some of them:
Always request permission- your company should ask permission even for an image that includes a tag, this way you don’t have to face any potential legal troubles later on. Just look at how WholeFoods asks for permission to share user content. The food chain comments with a message saying that they would love to share the photo, and if the user agrees to that, they can reply with a #KaleNit to the comment.
Credit the Original Creator- you can do them by tagging them in a post. Providing credit where you not only indicate the visuals but also specify what exactly your consumers shared, whether it be words or visuals, is vital. Like this, fans can also verify that the content was created outside of the company, making it more authentic and legit.
Consider your Target Audience- when you decide to publish UGC, you need to know the group that you are trying to reach. You need to consider the industry, demographics, and psychographic characteristics of your target audience. Select the videos that strategically meet the characteristics to maximize the effect of UGC.
When partnering with your buyers that agree to record their testimonials, you need to be upfront with them and explain why you’re seeking a testimonial. Testimonials can also let you ‘sell’ the image of your buyers. Finally, don’t forget to respond to the testimonials, thanking your customers for the participation and encouraging them to continue showing loyalty towards your brand.
5. Learn how to share UGC in best ways possible
Since 86% of millennials consider consumers’ comments as main indicators, marketors are becoming more considerate about this area. Buyers need social proof, indicating that your products and services are valuable and bring something to the table. For your social proof, you can rely not only on celebrity/expert endorsements, showing honest reviews and testimonials, but also on the reviews from the general public. However, besides sharing UGC in the best ways possible, you also need to remember to stay cost-effective. Remember the #IceBucketChallenge? The campaign was launched to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and went viral in 2014 with over 17 million people participating in the challenge. What was the cost of this campaign? Zero!
In addition, UGC that you share can increase your conversion rates by 64%! To add to the efficacy of the UGC, make sure to keep track of the SEO. SEO not only improves your search rankings and optimizes your website, but also increase your visibility through social signals. Your brand will have to optimize the website by including keywords, alt-tabs, metas, getting backlinks from other sites, and cross-linking within your site. That being said, you also need to identify networks that are most effective for your campaigns. For example, if you’re trying to reach a specific age category, think about what social media means they use to learn about your brand.
6. Encourage Users to Create Value
According to the Content Marketing Institute, a Tweet has a half-life of fewer than three hours, while on Facebook you will get only 75% of all views in five hours. The blog, on the other hand, will take on average 37 days to reach everyone. Although these numbers don’t show the entire picture, they show how not all content is created equal. As time goes by, your content will lose value, which is completely normal and doesn’t always depend on the quality. This is simply due to the fact that your content is tied to an offer, and once the offer expires, the popularity of the content slows down.
However, this doesn’t necessarily apply to all content. Content whose value increases over time is referred to as ‘compounding’ or ‘evergreen’. To produce more evergreen content, your brand needs to focus on customers. The more you talk about real people, the more relatable your brand becomes. Most importantly, you need to ask visitors for content that delivers value. Just think of ‘How-to’ videos that aim to educate, inspire and entertain the audience. Your brand needs to think of content that will inspire others to share. Consider Jeep People. All the Jeep owners would share their experiences and fun adventures, prompting others to join in.
Understanding how important UGC is, some brands decide to outsource these services to professionals. Companies like Expedia, Universal Music Group and Disney partner with Stackla, a UGC platform in San Francisco that brought its recent total to more than 10 million due to the growing popularity of the services.