User-generated content (UGC) has been around since the early days of social media platforms and customer review sites. As platforms—and the internet in general—have developed, the influence UGC has had on advertising has increased. There are many reasons why brands and businesses should utilize UGC in an effective way. Not only does it promote your brand, it helps expand your presence on social media, instills trust in your target audience and boosts overall sales.
The bottom line is that, the trust internet users have in each other and the general mistrust they have in marketing and advertising, makes it more likely that a social media review from a first-hand customer will provide an accurate description of a product or service. According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92 percent of consumers trust UGC more than traditional advertising.
Rise of the Influencer
The expansion of the internet made room for a new brand of celebrity—the influencer. Some of the most followed people on the internet were, indeed, made by the internet, giving them a huge platform. Utilizing influencers with paid promotion and sponsorship places your product in the hands of a person that is widely followed, admired and trusted by their own audience.
While influencers are present on nearly all social media platforms, it is important that you choose the right platform for your needs. This will make it easier for you to tailor your content to the correct audience and reach the right customers. While Instagram is most popular for sharing visuals, Facebook is useful for sharing long-form videos. YouTube is a great platform for engaging with audiences through influencers with sponsored videos and paid promotions.
It is also important to remember that UGC does not just exist within paid promotion and sponsorships. Sharing UGC that is relevant to your brand will help you engage with users of social media and increase your following and brand awareness. One report by UGC specialist Stackla states that 51 percent of consumers are more likely to engage with or actually purchase from a brand if it shares their posts in its marketing.
For example, ASOS.com has a huge presence on social media—particularly Instagram—and a large chunk of what they share is UGC. Their Instagram account shares memes and work from creatives on social media, as well as images of users wearing ASOS products. It is important to ask for permission when sharing UGC though, so please reach out before posting anything.
It is important to engage with your audience; however, how will they know to do this unless you encourage them? Interacting with your followers and target audience will increase your reach. According to an infographic by web-based social promoting platform Offerpop, more than 50 percent of consumers want brands to tell them what kind of content to create and share. However, only 16 percent of brands actually do this, even though it can be to their benefit.
This leads to an important point: that care should be taken with using UGC as a brand, explains Brian Susantio, chief technology officer at Custom Media. “UGC is a double-edged sword: used carefully and skillfully, it can help you slice through the vast world of social media and make an impression. Treated carelessly, it can hurt your business more than you know.”
Garreth Stevens, consulting and sales director at Custom Media added that it’s key for brands to communicate in a way that’s in keeping with their tone and character, and warned that trying too hard can backfire. He also said it’s crucial for brands to pay attention to what their fans and followers are saying on the platforms, as this can be valuable feedback that can drive strategy, both online and off: “Users can generate both commentary and products themselves, and if brands are listening, there is plenty to learn.”
Understanding how to connect to consumers with UGC is hugely beneficial and being explicit within your UGC marketing is important. If you are looking for your social media strategy, please get in touch with Custom Media.