Just 34% of all customers trust the brands they buy from. The online world is saturated with spammy ads, and customers have learned to tune it all out. Instead of relying on branded content, like ads, to make informed buying decisions, shoppers look to their social network.
In practice, this means customers trust each other more than they trust your company. While there’s still value in running PPC campaigns and writing blogs, you have to be more genuine, reliable, and transparent to win over the modern customer.
But how, exactly, do you show customers you’re the real deal?
User-generated content, or UGC, is the answer. Think of UGC as the digital version of word of mouth marketing. Since word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing on the planet, it stands to reason that UGC is an effective, trustworthy way to enhance your brand’s reach.
UGC is unpaid content produced by your customers. It includes multimedia content like photos or videos, blogs, and social media comments or shares. Shoppers love seeing UGC because it shows your products in the real world from an unbiased angle. UGC is most popular on social media, but you can also integrate it on your website landing pages or blogs to boost conversion rates.
Why do I need user-generated content on my site?
I know user-generated content may sound like a fad, or like a new-fangled marketing idea that won’t work, but it has 3 real benefits for brands willing to take the plunge.
86% of Millennials say user-generated content is a sign of brand quality. In other words, it means you’re trustworthy. People trust and believe UGC because it’s a genuine endorsement from other customers. Since you aren’t paying people to promote your product, they have nothing to lose by showcasing your brand. That’s why people trust UGC.
You need UGC to convert customers into brand advocates. You can’t buy credibility like this; only UGC can build an organic presence that boosts trust (and, as a result, sales).
Save time and money
How much time does your team spend creating content for your blog, social media, and website? It’s probably hours. And how much does that cost you in labor, expenses, and tools?
It’s expensive to create content as a brand. But when you embrace UGC, you’re able to repurpose users’ content to promote your products, saving both time and money. But be sure to repurpose the content in a legally-compliant way. You don’t want to swipe people’s content without permission—that’s plagiarism.
Boost SEO and conversions
Sure, UGC will boost your social media following. But if you want to take your UGC to the next level, add it to your website. UGC encourages shoppers to spend more time on site. Because they trust you more, they’re more likely to convert and make a purchase.
This is obviously great for sales, but it can also boost SEO. A longer time-on-site and higher conversion rate signals that you have a quality website. Search engines will take note and improve your rank over time.
5 steps to implement user-generated content
Done right, user-generated content is a holistic strategy that boosts your existing marketing efforts. With the right strategy, UGC boosts all areas of your business. But UGC can’t happen on its own, especially if you’re running a growing brand that isn’t a household name. Use these 5 steps to gather and use UGC to boost your brand.
Decide on your goals
86% of companies try user-generated content, but their efforts often fail because they don’t have a goal. Never jump into a campaign without a plan.
What do you want to get out of this campaign? Decide on a goal like:
Set both qualitative and quantitative goals for your campaign. When in doubt, set SMART goals to keep your campaign on track.
Choose how you’ll collect UGC
Next, decide how you’ll collect UGC from your customers. Typically, social media is the easiest way to accumulate UGC. Social media is a great place to start because users are already accustomed to uploading content and sharing posts. Plus, the campaign will boost your social media profile in the process. It’s a win-win!
Pick the platform that will get you to your goal. For example, if most of your customers are active on Instagram, choose Instagram. Don’t push for UGC on platforms where your customers don’t spend their time; take the path of least resistance to get engagement.
Clearly ask users to share their content
You know what you want from the campaign and where you’ll post. Now it’s time to write your ask. What do you want users to do? Write a post that details:
- The dates for the campaign.
- The medium you want, like text, photo, video, etc.
- What content the UGC should include, like a selfie or a shot of them using the product.
- Any hashtags they need to use.
Remember, you’re asking your customers for a favor here. Try to incentivize UGC by offering a giveaway, freebie, discount, or shoutout in exchange for their participation. Be sure to follow the FTC’s rules for giveaways if you’re giving something away for free.
You’ve run your campaign and gathered tons of great UGC. You have more photos, videos, and testimonials than you know what to do with. Before you take that UGC from your social media and share it on your website, you need to make sure you’re following the law.
It’s okay to share UGC via social media because of “implied consent” rules. But if you take a user’s photo and use it for your next email campaign without permission, you could get into hot water.
You need explicit consent from customers that it’s okay to use their content on your website. Direct message the customer and ask for their written permission to use the UGC. Some people might say no, won’t respond, or will ask for payment in exchange for their content. That’s completely normal. Respect the customer’s wishes and don’t share their content on your site if you don’t have consent.
Remember, this is still cheaper and less time-consuming than creating content yourself. You have the time to ask for consent!
Repurpose the UGC on your website
Once you have the user’s consent, you’re free to repurpose their content on your website. UGC is a great addition to your site. Consider adding it to:
- Landing pages
- Product pages
- A compilation video
- A testimonial page
- Case studies
UGC shows your products in everyday life. It’s a great way to boost customer understanding and trust, which leads to more sales.
The bottom line
It can be tricky getting started with user-generated content, but once you gain momentum, it’s a great way to boost your brand across different marketing channels. Paid promotions like PPC are an important way to grow your business, but you need organic growth, too. UGC can get you there. Follow these 5 steps to not only generate more UGC for your brand, but use it in a productive and safe way that gets results.
Stop the content rat race. Get in touch with Logical Media Group’s team of social media and CRO experts to help you put user-generated content to work for your business.