The Benefits Of User Generated Content
If you work in ecommerce or marketing, chances are you have heard how important user generated content (or UGC) is becoming. Although it has always been important to receive feedback from your customers, with visually rich social media platforms continuing to skyrocket in popularity, user generated content is on the rise. Sharing experiences with your brand or product is appealing to customers, who want authentic and original content. This is especially true of “influencers”, a user who strives for credibility in a specific industry (fashion, makeup, gaming) by gaining a large audience who values their opinion. A study by Bazaar Voice shows that 51% of United States consumers trust content generated by other users above any other form of information. While you cannot control user generated content as you can your own marketing efforts, there are many benefits to allowing and displaying user generated content.
UCG helps build relationships: One of the biggest benefits of user generated content is that it helps build relationships. Not only does this allow your customers easy access for a relationship with you, but it also allows them a relationship with one another. Giving your customers a community builds their loyalty to you, allows discussions and suggestions, and helps promote your brand. Authenticity plays a big role in building community as well. Having unscripted conversations, videos, and other interactions add depth to your business. Do not be afraid that user generated content will make your brand look cheap or lazy, rather look for the high quality content users who are passionate about your brand are putting out. You do not have to choose between authenticity and quality, rather encourage your customers to contribute to your brand’s story.
UGC helps rid customers of anxiety: Even if your product looks great online, customers want to see it to believe it. Since the closest they can get it virtual images, many turn to reviews to see what advice previous customers have. Especially when it comes to items that are not one size fits all, potential buyers are looking to get their questions answered authentically. People trust people more than brands and marketing schemes, so allowing customers to interact and leave reviews will help rid potential buyers of some anxiety. Reading about the fit of a certain item, how well a product works, or how helpful the customer service team will be if a return or exchange is needed can make or break a customer’s decision. If you have social media accounts, especially Instagram, encourage customers to tag your brand in photos or videos of them wearing or using your product, so potential buyers can see they product they are interested in being used by people like them.
UGC helps add quality content: Trying to create content on your own can be an overwhelming task. However, many customers are happy to give you content if you ask for it. With younger customers striving to me social media influencers, they are often willing to leave a review, take content pictures, or even record themselves talking about or using a product. While not all of these pictures and videos will be top quality, chances are you will still have a good number of customers that will send you great content. To get a lot of content, consider running a photo or video contest. Running a contest will get you a lot of free, authentic content, and will also boost your social media presence. Even a small prize and a chance at fame is enough to motivate consumers to enter the contest, and will peak the interest of those who are not as familiar with your brand. Blue Buffalo shows a great example with their “Patriotic Pets” contest. To enter, pet owners simply had to send it a photo of their pet decked out in patriotic gear, with the hashtag “#BLUEPatroticPets”. This did not require the owners to go purchase a certain item to take a photo with, rather the hashtag and influx of pet pictures were enough to boost Blue Buffalo’s social media and get pet owners talking about the brand. The prize for the winners was a bag of food for the pet, so Blue Buffalo got plenty of free, authentic content to use without having to spend much time or money.
User generated content is a great opportunity for everyone involved. Customers get a sense of community, their concerns addressed by fellow buyers, and your business gets plenty of authentic content and credibility while building a relationship with your customers. Be sure to monitor what your customers are posting to be sure that everyone is being kind and respectful to one another. Encouraging customers to have a voice is essential to grow your brand, so enjoy your growing relationship with them and watch your sales rise.