By: Hanna Walther
In a world where digital consumption is at an all-time high, it’s no surprise that brands are constantly on the hunt for innovative ways to market their products, interact with their audience, and drive sales. With the help of social media, brands are turning to customers to showcase their products in unique ways, while building an authentic following in the process.
This concept is known as User Generated Content (UGC) and it’s one of the most effective ways to boost marketing efforts in today’s landscape. In this post, we’ll be exploring different methods of UGC and how using it strategically can drastically improve your marketing strategy.
User generated content is any content— a social media post, review, video, image, etc.—created by your customers. Its purpose is simple but powerful; for users to share products in an authentic way (unpaid), and encourage their followers to buy what they’re featuring. After all, data tells us that consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view user generated content as authentic, as opposed to branded content.
User generated content also means that customers create the marketing content for a business. It allows users to use their creativity and expression to showcase your products, and can be a powerful approach to engaging with your audience on their terms.
Here’s what user generated content can look like in action online:
As consumers, we’re constantly being marketed to in some way. When you’re shopping online or browsing Instagram, the chances of interacting with a brand is highly likely. Just because you see an ad or other content doesn’t mean you’re going to make a purchase, though.
Brands and businesses aren’t exactly unbiased when they market their product to the masses—they’re quick to say that whatever they’re selling is the best on the market. However, is that approach genuine? Would they really highlight any negative features of a product? Of course not! To do so would go against their bottom line (to make sales, not create hesitation) so consumers look elsewhere for validation of where they should be shopping.
Enter social proof.
The concept represents the power of group influence and how it can impact decision-making in others, from what they’re buying, where they’re eating, and… well, almost anything.
Think about it. If you see several people sharing how much they love a particular product or brand (and it’s relevant to you), wouldn’t you be curious and check it out for yourself? Consumers often just need to know that other people have made this same buying decision before them (with a reasonably good outcome). When a consumer sees that other people enjoy a product, especially if she knows these people personally, it helps alleviate feelings of uncertainty or doubt about the product.
Because of social proof, the likelihood of purchasing increases astronomically with user generated content.
85% of consumers say UGC is more influential than content made by brands directly, according to Adweek. With stats like this one, it’s essential for companies to understand the power of their customer’s reach — and to get out of their way!
This is why user generated content in marketing is so important. You have the customers, they have the social reach and authenticity on their side. It’s the perfect combination to implement as a high converting marketing channel.
A brand’s marketing strategy can vary depending on the product, audience, sales goals, etc. However, there are a few universal goals that every company aims to improve daily, and here are a few that can be positively impacted by user generated content.
Online furniture retailer, Wayfair, has a UGC campaign where customers showcase their recent home goods purchases.
Using the hashtag #WayfairAtHome (with over 52,000 posts!), users can share their home content featuring the Wayfair products they’ve purchased. Wayfair reposts the content on their Instagram page, including a link to shop the items shared in the post. In doing so, Wayfair uses both customer testimonials and design inspiration (their bread and butter) to drive sales. Genius!
A fairly well-known digital marketing campaign is #RedCupContest by Starbucks. This seasonal campaign encourages coffee drinkers to participate by offering a prize and also drives sales because purchasing a red cup is required to participate. Using a contest and a branded hashtag is a clever way to create buzz around your company, no matter the season.
Customer reviews can be the most authentic and trustworthy information about a company and what it will offer to customers, but you knew that!
Because of this, potential customers rely heavily on these customer reviews to ensure that they’re making a wise purchase with a company that appreciates their business.
Many retail websites, like Amazon and Target, leverage the power of reviews by displaying them on each product page so shoppers can read through the reviews from the get-go.
Now that you’ve got the 411 on user generated content, let’s put your knowledge to work! If you’re wondering where to start, don’t stress. We’ve got a few suggestions that will help get you moving in the right direction.
The best way to determine where to create user generated content is to evaluate your existing digital footprint; where do your current and potential customers spend their time online? Where are they researching your products and where do they interact with other brands?
This could be on any social media platform, or review section on an ecommerce site, like Amazon.
For example, if the majority of your customer base posts and shares content on Instagram, you should begin your quest for user generated content there. Customers can share Stories that you can repost, create a carousel of images, or record a video using your products.
The review sections on ecommerce sites (like Amazon) can be a UGC goldmine for businesses. Content created by customers, like pictures and video, can be especially helpful if your business hasn’t invested much in product photography yet. We have a few helpful strategies to entice customers to share content like photos and videos of your products, so keep reading!
What do you want to collect from users? Feedback and reviews? Social media posts with a branded hashtag? A video review of your latest product? Knowing this is essential to maintaining the interest of participants; ambiguity is your enemy.
You’re asking for user engagement, so don’t forget you have to give it right back! From responding to reviews, engaging in social conversations around your hashtag, thanking users for participating... The list goes on and on. We recommend having a point person (typically your social media manager) to ensure that no post, regardless of channel, goes unseen.
While there are numerous strategies for implementing a plan for user generated content on social media, reviews can present a unique set of challenges. That’s where Massview comes in.
On Massview, merchants promote their products to our network of early adopters who are looking for great deals (like cashback, rebates, and discounts) using a Snagshout campaign.
Sounds cool, right? It is. But we take it one step further.
Using Action Cash Campaigns in Snagshout, sellers can require that their customers complete an “Action” before they receive a rebate. Currently, Actions include posting a lifestyle photo or creating a video review about the product they purchased.
Once a buyer has completed the Action, sellers have the ability to send them a message within Massview, thank them for their content, and ask if they’re willing to leave a review on Amazon. If they post a photo or video with your product, they’re likely willing to write a review as well.
With Action Cash campaigns, we’re incentivizing shoppers to create content for sellers. Sellers then turn around and use that content for their own product listings, social media posts, and advertisements. The shopper gets a discounted product with Cashback. The seller gets a sale, along with free content (from an authentic shopper) to implement in their marketing campaigns and a higher likelihood of getting reviews.
Once again, everybody wins!
In summary, user generated content is an effective piece of a brand’s marketing strategy. You can engage with current customers, build a loyal community around your products and company, and create authentic relationships with potential customers.
Giving your customers the option to tell the story of your products and share their approval (and why!) is an effective and authentic way to bring in new business.