Remember when you believed that clothing website when it told you that their denim sizes don’t run small? And then as you were hopping around your room to pull on your new pants, you thought to yourself, “How could I have avoided this and gotten accurate reviews about these ultra-skinny jeans…?”
That’s where user-generated content comes in. Also known as UGC, by definition, it’s anything that consumers submit such as reviews, photos, videos, and text with real assessments and feelings. UGC is considered to be sincere and trustworthy as it comes directly from consumers who have used and experienced the product without a sales pitch attached. And in recent years, more and more brands have accepted this and learned to pivot it to their advantage in marketing strategies.
When posting UGC, people don’t like to feel like they’re being sold something- but rather like they’re in control of their buying decisions. And when they come across a publicly shared customer review or photo, it allows people to feel connected with other customers of the brand. That increases transparency and credibility of the brand.
“Wow- they’re authentic!”
When viewing product content, audiences are 2.4 times more likely to view UGC as authentic than brand-curated content. This lets the brand leaders to take away the negative stigma of advertising and leverage real people and their opinions to their advantage.
Companies have always faced difficulties with coming across as “cold” and “corporate”, so there is always a search for ways to provide consumers with a more human-like touch. UGC helps to break down the barrier that stands between corporations and people as it can rely on the trusted fanbase to share their true opinions.
With a much different shopping landscape than just a few months ago, brands must be responsive to new challenges and learn to be proactive in situations. E-commerce sales are now up 108%, which demonstrates the evolving shopping environment. Now, more than ever before, customers are having their entire shopping experience online. From hearing about the product from their friend on Instagram to researching the brand online to reading reviews on different websites, and finally, ordering the product- it’s all done with a few clicks in a relatively short timespan. This means that UGC content is like gold, and if you’re not treating it as such, your brand will inevitably suffer.
How do I get started?
Ask for it! A good tip to gather UGC to use for your own content strategy is to ask your customers for it. Ask them to post pictures, ask them to write reviews, ask them for their honest opinions… It will allow your brand to be transparent, monitor product reviews, and will provide you with content that you can re-use on your own pages.
Contesting- By providing customers with an incentive to provide UGC, it will ensure that your consumers see it as a win-win situation. Many customers like to experience those 5 minutes of fame when their picture is featured on your social media pages.
Media monitoring- There is a good chance that your brand, unless newly launched, already has UGC existing online! You may have to take some time to search deep on Google reviews, Facebook and Instagram hashtags, and Twitter threads, but it will pay off. Even if they are older mentions of your brand, if they’re still relevant to your brand message today, feel free to contact the content creator and ask for permission to re-share.
People trust their peers. And they trust them because there are often years of faith and confidence that has been built into that relationship. Companies find it difficult to replicate that personal connection, especially with so many consumers scattered all over the world. But what they can do is leverage that peer-to-peer trust and utilize it in a UGC strategy. Once your company can support and demonstrate that, the benefits will quickly come rolling in!