19 Jan User-Generated Content is Key in 2021
User-Generated Content is Key for Your 2021 Marketing Plan
As calendars flipped to a new (and hopeful) year, businesses are facing many of the same creative challenges they straddled in 2020 – from less face-to-face interactions with customers to slimmer marketing budgets. One positive trend that emerged is the increase of user-generated content (or UGC), and it’s proving to be a lifeline for businesses in today’s social media age.
“UGC should be a core part of every marketing strategy in 2021,” urges Social Media Today.
Authentic connection through storytelling allows customers to know and trust your brand – and the benefits of UGC in creating that trust is undeniable.
What is user-generated content?
UGC is any text, image, review, or video created by your customer or client typically posted on social media – aka seeing your product or service “in the wild.” Think GoPro’s entire Instagram account. Outdoor-lovers share their GoPro videos or photos with the #GoPro hashtag, then, in turn, the selected content is shared on the company’s main IG feed.
An additional category of UGC is employee-generated content that can create a buzz about your company with inside peeks into employees’ lives, workspaces, and their own excitement about your product or service.
Why focus on UGC?
- Cost – In terms of content, the cost is free. There’s no need for big photoshoots or video productions when it comes to UGC. Intriguing, eye-catching, authentic content is being shared around the clock. With UGC, your team can save both time and money responding to trends in almost real-time instead of mapping out a long-term branded campaign.
- Connection – Authentic connection continues to be a real felt need among consumers. As trade shows, in-person seminars, and big-crowd events are feeling the lasting effects of social distancing, UGC provides people the sense of togetherness they crave via a shared product or experience.
- Community – If you’re looking for a restaurant recommendation for Friday night, you’d ask your local foodie friends. As you’re searching for a realtor, bank, or a great place to buy local goods, you’d ask your neighbors on the NextDoor app or your local online community group. Using UGC from satisfied customers creates a community of belonging, accountability, and trust.
“A full 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, and 70 percent trust online consumer opinions,” cites Hootsuite.
Creating online buzz is great, but what about conversion rates? Hootsuite offers that almost 80 percent of consumers credit UGC for impacting their purchasing decisions.
How to implement UGC
Now that you understand the “what” and “whys” of user-generated content, it’s time to start strategizing how to incorporate UGC into your digital marketing plan. Here are a few ideas:
- Invite customers to share your product or service. Include branded hashtags in emails, websites, print materials, social media bios, and individual posts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google My Business, and other platforms your customers are using). Give a specific call to action, such as “Use #joesbikes to show us your sweet rides on the trails.”
- Create interest with a short-term campaign. For example, if you’re a dental office, use hashtags to tie your business to current events: “It’s a new year, show us your #smiledallas. Get your whitening consultation at #yourdallasdentistry today.”
- Offer incentives, discounts, and prizes to those who participate in a hashtag campaign.
- Watch for shares and see what’s trending. Go with it and reshare (with permission).
- Include UGC curation into your weekly schedule. Dedicate a team member or a block of time daily or weekly to UGC marketing strategy.
- Make sure you’re following all hashtags that relate to your industry and your specific company. For example, Trader Joe’s grocery store customers use #traderjoes, #traderjoesfinds, #traderjoeshaul, #traderjoesrecipes, #traderjoeslist, and more.
- Even if you don’t plan to reshare, take time to respond to mentions with a “Thanks for sharing and loving our products. We appreciate customers like you!”
Permission and credit is key
If customers share your product online, it’s likely they are a happy camper and would love a repost, especially if they used a branded hashtag. To use their content, it is vital that you get express permission so they feel valued, not used. Permission helps create goodwill and avoid messy copyright hassles. Here’s how:
- You can direct message the original poster, request permission in the comments section, or offer a standard email or form seeking permission. Check out these tips on each method.
- Whether you take a screenshot or use a repost tool, always tag the original poster in your grid, news feed or story.
Examples of UGC at work
From clothing brands to humanitarian agencies, grocery stores to lifestyle products, any business can benefit from aesthetic, authentic user-generated content like these below:
Facebook: Turn customer reviews into Facebook ads or feed posts featuring their images or their text with your own images. Falcon.io offers some great examples, such as furniture company West Elm inviting customers to use the #mywestelm hashtag, then creating Facebook ads with those images.
Instagram: Instagram makes shares easy, with built-in reshare features or repost apps, but don’t forget to utilize these features: IG stories (which disappear after 24 hours), a highlight reel on your bio featuring UGC (with an obvious label like Customer Love) and a hashtag on your bio page. For example, PetSmart’s #fortheloveofpets offers an express call to action for pet owners to share their images. Also, share reviews and video testimonials. For more, watch the Social Media Examiner’s six-minute video on How to Use User-Generated Content on Instagram.
eCommerce: eCommerce sites that feature user-generated content increases conversion rates by 20-30 percent, cites Flocker. For example, KiwiCo (subscription service with monthly activity crates for kids) features its UGC-heavy Instagram feed on its homepage. You could also create a gallery page on your site using content from a specific UGC campaign.
In today’s world, user-generated content is the new friends-and-family seal of approval. With this accessible, cost-effective tool, you can increase sales, reward customer loyalty, and foster a growing community. It’s time to make UGC part of your marketing plan.