User generated content (UGC) refers to content created for a brand by people who are not paid to do so and often meeting the objectives of the brand. This content can come in the form of pictures, videos or text. They are usually created by fans and followers of the brand.
In the world of content marketing, UGC should be treated like gem. The typical practice of content marketing often comes from people who are paid by the company to do it. This takes up time and resources. The beauty of UGC is that, this function is fulfilled directly by your target audience. Think of it as a content marketing bot. You determine the direction and then watch content being automated, without you having to actually create it.
The benefits of UGC are:
- It drives actual sales
UGC provides an opportunity for your target audience to interact with the brand and to feel ‘closer’ to the brand. In a world of social media, content marketing is no longer about creating content for a group of people, but also about encouraging participation through social sharing. According to the American Marketing Association, there is a correlation between social sharing and sales figures. In the #shareAcoke campaign by Coca cola, the brand personalizes bottles with the names of people who buy the product and encourage them to share it on social media. Prior to the campaign, Coca Cola was experiencing a 10-year sales decline. However, social sharing proves to be a powerful tool for driving sales. In a particular week, the brand reported a 30% increase in sales, attributed to the campaign.
- It builds trust
As fans and followers share their personal stories and moments with your brand, they naturally feel a stronger affinity. Affinity refers to a natural liking towards something due to a casual connection. This is based on the same principles of maintaining a friendship. We tend to feel more affinity with friends whom we have shared our personal stories and memories with.
- It adds credibility
UGC often has the ability to bring about more credibility. When a brand has significant UGC on its social media pages, it is like having positive reviews in the visual form. When a brand encourages UGC, it shows their authenticity. It also gives the impression of a consumer-centric brand.
On the other hand, a brand with an existing unfavourable perception should keep in mind that UGC may not be the right way to go. Since UGC encourages people to be honest, this also means that they are most likely to not hold back when speaking their mind.
- It helps you understand your target audience
Through UGC, a brand can gain a deeper understanding of their target audience by looking at what people are sharing or even what kind of questions they are asking. By looking at UGC, the brand is able to get an idea of how people are relating to the brand as well as how the brand is being perceived. This is absolutely useful in driving future marketing efforts since you know what to address.
Despite the seemingly delightful advantages of UGC, do keep in mind that not all brands should jump into UGC. If your brand is still relatively young with few followers (less than 1000), UGC might not work too well for you. In fact, it may even lead to an awkward situation where no one is responding to your campaign.
Before you begin with UGC, come up with a hashtag that is easily identifiable and most relevant to users. A hashtag is like an address for your content. It contains the messages and posts from a specific topic. Hashtags should also be easy to remember.
Tip: Ensure that the hashtag has not already been used by someone else.
As we can all learn from the recent Walkers Crisps campaign blunder, quality assurance measures also need to be in place when opting for UGC. Do not have the impression that UGC equates to no work on your end. In fact, UGC still requires diligent management and regulation of content in order for the positive effects of UGC to be maximised.
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