By: Beles Lezina
As even more businesses look to the internet and social media to promote their services, it is becoming more important for them to engage with their audience in order to build a better relationship with potential and existing customers. The most cost effective and, arguably, the most efficient way to do so is through user-generated content.
User-generated content, or UGC for short, refers to content that is created by social media users, such as comments, videos, or pictures. This content is typically created by customers or users of a product, which helps promote a business’ products or services online to potential consumers and is cheaper to implement.
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UGC helps create a sense of trust between companies and their audience as people are more likely to take recommendations from their friends and family, or genuine customers of the product or service online rather than an advertisement. According to Adweek, 85 percent of users surveyed find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos.
UGC has also been proven to improve SEO results, with 25% of search results for the World's Top 20 largest brands being linked to user-generated content. As UGC-centred marketing grows, it is easy for businesses that don’t partake to be left behind. Here are some tips and tricks to capitalize on this entertaining marketing technique.
First off, it is important to decide whether UGC is a good idea for your business. For the most part, a UGC campaign is really only useful if the company has a social media following. Websites that analyze and track social media presence, like Hootsuite, can provide data on whether or not the services you provide are actually being discussed online, which can help make the decision easier for you. It is also essential to take your target audience into consideration. Are they mostly young adults? If so, a UGC campaign may be ideal for your business. However, a campaign that targets older adults may not be as successful.
Businesses are also urged to create a goal regarding their UGC campaign, whether it's simply to raise their social media following or to increase the number of consumers. Make sure these goals are realistic and attainable in regards to the business.
Two of the most common ways to start a UGC campaign is through a contest or a brand related hashtag. Both are relatively effective, but contests seem to be more successful due to the possibility of recognition or winning a prize. Contests also create more excitement around businesses, which is why it is essential to make sure the contest stays relevant. Companies can encourage participation by interacting with users and asking them to like, comment, or share posts about their business. Starbucks did this in 2014 with their White Cup contest which asked consumers to create a new design on their white cups and post their creations online. The best design was to be chosen and printed onto limited edition cups and by the end of the contest, Starbucks had thousands of entries from all over the world to choose from.
On a more local scale, many small business owners may ask consumers or clients to upload images of them using their product in return for a free or discounted offer. Make sure the rules, timing, and objectives are clear to avoid any confusion, and that the contest is easy enough for the audience to want to partake. Quizzes have also proven to be a favorite amongst business owners, as long as the guidelines stated above are followed.
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Business owners should focus on using the best submissions to promote their goods or services as it is a representation of the company. If the content doesn’t grab their attention, chances are it won’t grab the audience’s either. Attention should be given to creativity as this can be seen as a reflection of the company’s creativity. If the company works on a more local scale, finding content that reflects the community can also be useful and makes the business appear more relatable to people in the area. It is important to always let users know if you will be using their content.
When done correctly, user-generated content can be a success for businesses looking to expand their online presence. That is why it may be more useful to get professional advice before launching a campaign. For more information on user-generated content and other forms of online marketing, visit UpOnline and our blog for more digital marketing tips to help boost your business.