May 17, 2021

How to make the most out of user-generated content


close up of hand holding a white mobile phone

User-generated content (UGC) is content created by people who use your products or services. It comes in many forms, from image-based content posted on social media sites to video content, blog posts on personal websites, or even written reviews.

Did you know, people are twice as likely to view user generated than brand-direct marketing content? That’s not all—almost 40% of consumers rely on social networks to research products before purchase. And it’s been revealed that 90% of consumers rank user-generated content as the most influential in their decision-making process. So, if you’re not already utilising user-generated content as part of your marketing strategy, you’re missing out.

Firstly, how can user-generated content help your brand?

User-generated content can have a huge impact on how your brand is perceived, your reach, and it can play a big role in influencing the consumer decision-making process. It helps to:

  • Promote authenticity, because it’s viewed as unbiased and genuine
  • Create trust—consumers trust someone like them, who they can relate to
  • Give people an insight into the product experience, without first having to invest themselves
  • Create desire, as products and their positive results are shown in action
  • Encourage brand loyalty.

This last point is one of the most powerful parts of a user-generated content strategy. When users see their content being shared, it encourages brand loyalty by creating excitement around the purchase, enhancing the post-purchase experience. This drives ongoing loyalty, and shows your brand is invested in the customer experience, even after a transaction is complete.

Leverage user-generated content to your advantage

Understanding how user-generated content can boost your brand is the first step. But how can you use it to its full potential?

Gain consumer insights

User-generated content can help you gain insight into your audience and how to best target them in future campaigns. Look at how your customers talk about your products or services, the language they use, how you fit into their lifestyle, and the communities they’re sharing content with. You can harness this information to enhance future marketing efforts.

Direct your brand messaging

Think about the message you want to convey with your own brand-generated content. The same goes for UGC. Give guidelines where possible, so users can create the type of content you have in mind, so they’ll best promote your brand messaging and goals. For example, a bold outdoor clothing brand wants to build hype for their new launch of winter gear. They might ask their audience to share photos or videos featuring the products in action, and give direction like ‘the more adventurous, the better’.

Get permission to reshare UGC content

Make sure to always ask permission before resharing content, and give credit to the person or account who created it. It’s not only just the right thing to do, but also encourages the user to repost, as most people are generally flattered that brands want to share their content, too.

Encourage your customers to create user-generated content

There are a few different ways to encourage your customers to become content creators.

Run promotions or competitions

Promotions are a great way to encourage customers to share their positive experiences with your product or service. This can range from offering discounts to product giveaways, and even social or traditional media exposure.

Offering rewards for creating content may seem the most obvious way to get more user-generated content for your brand, but be careful. Things can get a bit murky when offering incentives for customers to leave reviews, depending which industry you’re in, or where your reviews are being published. It’s best to let your product or service speak for itself when it comes to reviews, and focus on generating other types of content.

Create your own hashtag

If you haven’t already, create a hashtag for your brand that your audience can use year-round. Hashtags not only help new audiences discover you, but also provide a simple way to find content your customers have created. Share your hashtag regularly in posts and on your social media platforms, on your products, or even in-store and event spaces, to prompt users to tag you.

Use social listening tools

Trawling through your unique brand hashtag is one way to find user-generated content. But if you want to cover more ground, social listening tools are a great option. Social listening tools such as HubSpot and Mention help you to find exactly where your brand has been talked about, and give a good overview of what type of feedback you’re getting.

Use negative user-generated content to your advantage

The downside of UGC is you don’t have as much control as you would in your own campaigns. This means sometimes you’ll come across content that doesn’t align with your brand values, or get hit with a bad review.

However, negative user-generated content presents opportunities to show your customers you’re listening, and you care about meeting their needs. If you can turn negative UGC into a positive outcome, it’s even more powerful.

UGC Case study: Dominos

Having earned a reputation as the worst-tasting pizza in America at the time, the CEO of international pizza chain, Dominos, fronted a campaign called ‘We’re sorry for sucking’.

Admitting all their faults, and directly acknowledging negative customer feedback, Dominos promised to deliver change for the better. And they did. This direct and transparent approach ultimately won over consumers, and increased their market share from 9% to 15%.

While you don’t have to create a whole viral marketing campaign off the back of some negative feedback, you can apply this strategy in other ways. For example, when replying to negative reviews, even just acknowledging a customer’s bad experience and showing you’re taking their feedback onboard can turn a customer from a ‘never again’ to someone willing to give you a second chance, and even result in positive word-of-mouth.

Learn more about how to leverage your content strategy

There’s no doubt digital content plays a huge role in the success of brands today. If you want more tips on how to utilise content to your advantage, check out our blog post on why you need a solid content strategy for your business.

For more expert advice on content strategy, get in touch with us today.

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