Creating great content is hard, and many marketers still don't have sufficient knowledge or adequate resources to produce high-quality content on a regular basis. Let's face it, most brands don't have the resources or expertise to compete with larger, more established companies with bigger marketing budgets. So how can they create high quality content at scale?
User-generated content is one of the fastest ways you can make your business an authority and establish a trusting, loyal consumer base. If you own a business that is struggling to gain brand awareness and loyalty then try incorporating this powerful crowdsourcing strategy to help get you there: user-generated content (UGC).
User generated content is empowering your customers to create content that will:
- Assist in growing your content offering,
- Develop and strengthen the relationship you have with your users (53% of Americans who follow brands on social are more loyal to those brands (Convince & Convert),
- Provide a mechanism to link all the content created by your users back to your brand to improve SEO (Google gives way more clout to user-generated content than to content created by brands and businesses. In fact, 25% of all search engine results for the world’s top 20 brands are links to user-generated content); and
- Provide a means in which your existing customers can become a powerful voice to increase sales.
UGC is a multi-dimensional tool in your content arsenal. You can leverage UGC throughout customer journey. As evidenced by the image below, produced by Forrester Consulting, UGC can be used through every step of the journey.
Regardless of how good your training, marketing, and incentive programs are within your company, your customers are your best tool in selling to others. Creating a UGC program drives results for your online shopping platform.
What is UGC?
User-generated content, or UGC, consists of any form of content that's created by users and consumers about a brand or product. UGC isn't paid for, and its authenticity makes the user the brand advertiser as well.
Other people’s opinions are the most powerful marketing tool. Consider that 83% of people make purchase decisions based on recommendations from friends, family, and peers.
UGC content can be developed through a number of ways. They include:
- Forum posts
- Guest blog posts
- Social media posts and stories
UGC is particularly prevalent on Instagram, where brands can easily repost and regram UGC from users' accounts. And it's worthwhile for brands to do this -- 76% of individuals surveyed said they trusted content shared by "average" people more than by brands, and nearly 100% of consumers trust recommendations from others (check out The 10 Laws of Visual Content).
UGC not only bolsters social proof, but also encourages existing customers to participate as bloggers, copywriters, or photographers, creating an engaged community around your brand. UGC allows your customers to tell a story to others that will connect emotionally and experience the relevance of your product to the lives and outdoor desires.
Examples of UGC
Whether its guest blogging, Instagram storytelling, Twitter exchanges, FB, or live events, these companies provide a rich resource in examples of outstanding UGC to inspire your own efforts. Guests blogs range from product use in personal adventures, community action, purpose based brand support to product innovation.
Keen - Keen has a solid strategy for developing and utilizing UGC. Here is an I wrote entitled, "New Adventures in Parenting: Traveling With Teens" from a perspective of a user engaged in a new adventure with my teenage daughter. The article was augmented by posts to my Instagram account tagging Keen.
Deuter USA - With an outstanding series of packs and back packs and a pioneer in the development of women designed gear, this company provides another solid example of UGC through blogs and posts on social media channels.
NRS - With a wide range of written, video, and photo content contributed by users, NRS has allowed for users to create visually powerful stories that compliment the written content submitted.
GoPro - GoPro is so well-known for its effective UGC social strategies. Loyal customers upload their best photo and video content with the timeless hashtag #GoPro. GoPro owners have the ability to be high-quality content creators, and the culture around sharing content with this hashtag provides value by automatically turning customers into brand advocates. GoPro’s Photo of the Day Instagram campaign may be on the nose, considering the fact that they’re an action sports camera company, but it’s nonetheless compelling. Their customers would likely be posting their GoPro photos and videos anyways – but the Photo of the Day campaign incentivizes creators to both tag and engage with GoPro on Instagram.
The common denominator for all the aforementioned brands is that they took the time to understand their audience and curate UGC campaigns that are engaging and personalized, build community, easy to participate in, and directly related to their product offerings.
Tips in Building User Communities
So now that you want to pursue developing UGC, besides the general encouragement and incentives you create for your customers to create UGC, there is often a need to develop an overall strategy of how you want to create your user communities. Depending on your product or service, the type and support for user communities varies. To help you get started, here are some basic principles to creating online communities.
- Encourage participation through incentivizing.
- Set a standard for members to follow.
- Think in terms of the collective.
- Be honest and transparent with members.
- Promote your community to attract new members.
- Be persistent and contribute regularly to develop a voice.
- Allow members to be independent.
Whether it be fundamentals of digital marketing for the outdoor industry or improving your eCommerce platform, why not create some content that is user generated. Remember, as HubSpot opined, the advantages of developing a UGC program for your brand include:
- UGC helps brands understand their target audience better.
- UGC improves site engagement and time spent on the website.
- UGC increases customer satisfaction through conversations.
- UGC provides means for other users to connect, which then, builds a stronger community.
- UGC improves the brand's search engine ranking and online visibility.
- UGC is inherently peer-reviewed, making it more trustworthy.
- UGC influences customer purchases.
More importantly, UGC creates a competitive advantage for brands that is inherently difficult to replicate because communities can't just be copied.