User-generated content is the strongest marketing tool you’re not using.
Amidst a tumultuous social political and economic landscape, people are craving something they can trust. Research shows that transparency and authenticity are the leading social currencies for consumers. In fact, according to Stackla, 90 percent of consumers evaluate authenticity when deciding to purchase from a brand, and Label Insight points out that 94 percent of consumers are more likely to support a brand that offers transparency. Quippy taglines or eye-catching visuals alone will no longer forge a meaningful and lasting connection with your audience.
User-Generated Content: Transparent Talk
User-generated content (UGC) provides that unvarnished, unedited peek into the experiences and words of “people just like me”. UGC consists of pictures, videos and quotes directly from current customers. A well-curated library of UGC automatically showcases a variety of demographics offering brand advocacy that consumers know isn’t paid or polished. UGC can build your brand champion base as well as educate your audience about the daily uses of your product. And as a considerable benefit, User-generated content is easy to maintain and relatively inexpensive (or free) in comparison to paid advertising or influencer partnerships.
The proof is in the pudding on this one. Stackla shares that consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view UGC as authentic compared to content created by brands, and 79 percent of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. Now is the time to focus on your UGC strategy, strengthen customer loyalty and broaden your market share.
Curating the Content
The online realm is ripe with avenues to effectively gather UGC from customers, brand champions and even employees themselves. When crafting a UGC campaign, gather content for a social media platform that highlights not only your product but also the product’s adjacent lifestyle. For example, a women’s fashion shoe brand won’t just show photography or videos of its latest stilettos; it might also showcase the pumps in a snazzy wine bar at a girl’s night out, on date night or in a posh salon—hinting at the social cache that comes with wearing these shoes. To start using user-generated content:
- Launch a branded hashtag on social media: ask followers to share experiences marked by a hashtag. Instagram is the front-runner platform for a hashtag campaign, followed by Twitter and TikTok. Create a consistent ethos for your campaign with a corner overlay or border for UGC reposts.
- Roll out an email campaign: directly ask fans for their pictures, videos and quotes.
- Leverage a landing page or personalized app: craft a contest, challenging fans to submit their best take on your product for a chance to win swag, experiences and discounts.
- Tap product reviews: encourage photos in reviews for a one-stop shop. (Fun tip: More than 70 percent of consumers say they look at product reviews prior to purchase.)
- Host a daily photo challenge: make each 24-hour period an opportunity to submit fresh takes (like this one from GoPro).
- Create a TikTok challenge: for richer content complete with ready-made music, sound effects and built-in video editing.
- Gamify the goods: require users to complete a series of tasks (including submitting content!) to earn rewards.
Utilizing Your User-Generated Content
The beauty of UGC is its versatility and applicability throughout the customer relationship, and options abound for how to leverage your UGC library. Once collected, certain content formats perform better on various platforms. Facebook, for example, works best for longer-form video, which can also be featured in paid ads for greater and more targeted reach. For shorter-form content, use the Regram app to repost to Instagram. Share Reels and challenge followers to “react to this person’s video” or ask them to repost as a duet.
But don’t be afraid to branch beyond social media. UGC can be featured on employee uniforms, fan swag or product packaging. Connect with brick-and-mortar foot traffic by spotlighting images in your store (checkout lines, store backdrops and even floor decals).
While UGC yields impact at every stage of the buying cycle, stats show that it is distinctly effective at the final stage of the journey—the tipping point where consumers are weighing options. For example, include UGC photos on the landing page for a specific product that garners ad traffic. Feature quotes on an abandoned cart landing page or email. Build review testimonials into a nurture campaign for warm audiences.
Important note before posting any user content:
Be sure to ask your consumers’ permission before sharing their content. If launching a formal campaign, build in a consent form in the entry process, or reach out to individuals via direct messages. Ensure that you also confirm how they would like to be credited, especially if sharing content across multiple mediums.
Ready to beef up your UGC strategy? Email us for a consult!