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The Impact of User-Generated Content & How to Get Started Blog Feature
Lee Stouch

By: Lee Stouch on May 31st, 2018

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The Impact of User-Generated Content & How to Get Started

Marketing | Offline Marketing | Online Marketing | lead nurturing

We may not be cracking any complex codes, but people tend to trust other people before they trust brands. Yes, even your brand. It’s not your fault – you’re ultimately in the business of selling something, and that simple fact makes consumers skeptical.

It’s no surprise that they’ve learned to tune out that vast majority of company-generated content at the rate we’re all shown ads. User-generated content, on the other hand, has much more potential.

User-generated content (UGC) are assets created by your customers, fans, followers or influencers. Images, videos, testimonials, social posts, blog articles and reviews or ratings are all forms of UGC. Unlike the numerous pieces of content your marketing team has generated, this content comes from a source without a vested interest.

Even though UGC may promote your brand, the fact that it comes from a consumer makes other consumers more likely to trust and engage with it. In fact, 92% of people are more likely to trust a recommendation from another person over branded content. More specifically, 51% of consumers trust the information they read through UCG before they trust what they read on your website or in articles about your company.

Users aren’t ignorant – They realize when they’re being marketed to and most easily sense when they’re being sold. Reasonably, many marketers are exploring ways to capitalize on UGC. One such method is to create campaigns that encourage your brand advocates to use specific hashtags when they post on social media. Another example is running a contest that awards the user who creates the best or most creative post showcasing their product.

What are the many ways in which UGC is effective? How can you start reaping the benefits of this approach?

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More Reasons to Take Advantage of User-Generated Content

If you’re already sold on the power of UGC, take a look at some of the many indicators of its effectiveness:

Unsurprisingly, consumers are 70% more likely to make a purchase from a business after they’ve experienced a positive interaction with a brand. More importantly, 75% of consumers report that they’ll share a positive experience they have with a brand. They’re also twice as likely to share user-generated content with friends or family than content you create.

Brand engagement also increases when users share content. According to a ComScore study, brand engagement increases 28% when consumers are exposed to a mixture of branded and user-generated content. The study also found that consumers ranked UGC higher than professionally-produced content in emotional intensity, relatability, key message communication and importance.

UGC also works wonders no matter the generation of your target audience. When Bazaarvoice asked a pool of Millennials and Baby Boomers how much user-generated content played into their purchase decisions:

  • 84% of Millennials said UGC had at least some influence
  • 70% of Baby Boomers said UGC had at least some influence
  • 20%+ of each generation said UGC had a lot of influence
The most astonishing fact Bazaarvoice uncovered is that Millennials are more likely to trust recommendations from users on a company’s site than their own friends or family. To be fair, it was a close race – 51% to 49%. Meanwhile, 66% of Baby Boomers trusted their friends and family first.

The benefits of UGC are not constrained to personal advantages either. User-generated content  also significantly helps your SEO efforts. Kissmetrics studied the top 20 brands in the world and found that 25% of their search results are linked to user-generated content. Translation: More user-generated content linking to your site boosts your page authority and brings more organic traffic to your site.

Of course, the ultimate goal of marketing is to support sales. According to Olapic, when user-generated content is placed directly on product pages, the conversion rate increases to 4.6%. If a consumer interacts with that UGC during their purchase journey, their conversion rate more than doubles, reaching 9.6%.

How You Can Use UGC to Your Benefit

If you want users to create content promoting your brand, you need to create campaigns with that end-goal in mind. Your only immediate objective is to compel users to create content, increasing your pool of UGC to use in your future marketing efforts.

Step 1: Create a UGC-specific campaign

No marketing campaign is effective without first establishing your target audience. That determination will then help you decide which social network(s) you may want to target. Twitter and Facebook/Instagram have their own analytics platforms that can give you insight into your target demographics on each network.

Now you have to get more specific about what you want from your users. Whether you’re asking for photos or stories, you have to make your guidelines clear to your audience. Otherwise, you might confuse them and turn them away. For example, if you’re marketing a restaurant, you might ask your audience to describe their first bite in 100 words or less. Naturally, you might ask them to share photos of their meal instead.

You’ll also want to make sure that they use a branded hashtag of your creation. In the example above, perhaps that could be #MyFirstTastebuds.

Promote your hashtags prominently on your social portfolios and create posts or updates that specifically ask for the UGG, reminding your audience to use the hashtags. With limited time and unlimited competition on social media platforms, your audience could miss your posts. Direct mail is another creative avenue to promote your campaign.

Step 2: Collect the content

Once your followers start posting content for your campaign, you’ll need to gather all posts and identify the best of the best. You’ll have to ask the users who create these posts for their permission to share their content on your feeds or site. Consumers love being noticed by brands they enjoy, so they most likely will consent. But ask just in case.

Step 3: Share, share, share

With users’ permission, share the UGC everywhere. Don’t forget to credit to the user – They’re bound to share your post with their audience too. You should also use those posts as an opportunity to remind your to use your hashtag and get involved in the contest or campaign. To a point, the more you share user-generated content, the greater the reach and likelihood that more customers will post under your brand hashtag.

User-generated content campaigns have been some of the most effective marketing campaigns. From betters engaging your audience to boosting your brand image, UGC can have a far-reaching impact on your business.

If you’re struggling to think of the most engaging ways to launch such a campaign, consider the impact of video. After all, video is one of the single-most engaging pieces of content. If you want to learn how to get started with video – for a UGC campaign or other marketing efforts – read or informative guide. Just click below.

Step 4: When digital isn’t enough

It’s really difficult to get eyes on your valuable UGC if you’re just trying to share it online. Think of all the digital messages you see every day. It’s way too easy to delete an email or block a pop up and once that message it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Try targeting influencers or high value prospects with that same UGC through direct mail. Include a call to action to drive them online to view that very specific content and, while there, encourage them to connect with your brand socially and share your content with their network. Plus, direct mail has 70% better brand recall than digital ads and a much higher trust factor.

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