Baidhurya Mani is the founder of SellCoursesOnline.com. He regularly shares tips, tools and, strategies to help creators build a successful online courses business.
The way that we shop has changed considerably over the last three decades. Thanks to digital communication, it’s never been easier for your customers to share their feedback about your company with a global audience.
As a company, you can make the most of this opportunity by leveraging User Generated Content (UGC) and feedback to grow your company. This guide will walk you through five ways you can use UGC to grow your business.
Why is user-generated content important?
According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92% of consumers trust User Generated Content (UGC) more than traditional advertising. Content created by consumers can entertain, inform, and convert prospects into customers.
The outcome depends on the type of content produced.
Broadly speaking, UGC falls into two categories.
First, you have consumer reviews and product feedback. Consumer reviews and product feedback are great at turning people into consumers or turning them away from your brand.
Consumer reviews are generally done by people who have purchased your products or tried your service. Those people might be brand advocates who love your company and just want to share that experience with their social circle.
Then, you have the niche influencers who review your products and share their feedback with a large audience. This type of UGC might happen organically or could occur as an outcome of a paid campaign.
A nice example of a marketer who organically produces review-style and unboxing UGC is the Youtuber Marques Brownlee. He reviews consumer products like the iPad.
These reviews are great for your company because they leverage the content creators’ authority with their audience. Marques Brownlee, for example, has 14.1 million YouTube subscribers.
The second type of UGC that you see helps raise brand awareness.
For example, you have content creators who entertain people with their content, where the product is not the focus. A nice example of this would be a content creator like Karenxcheng, who makes fun videos on Instagram.
Various companies like Adobe Video, Lego, Puma, etc. sponsor the videos.
This type of content helps raise brand awareness. It’s the kind of content advertising agencies might have been paid to create before social media.
The UGC created organically or as the result of paid campaigns will help raise awareness about your company. You can incorporate that content into your marketing should you choose.
Aside from acting as social proof, UGC also helps you build stronger relationships with your customers. When you feature UGC in your campaigns, you engage your followers, especially those who created the content, and get exposure to their online community.
User engagement is important for any company looking to boost profits. A Gallup poll has revealed that engaged customers represent a 23% higher share in profitability, revenue, and relationship growth.
Five tips to ensure effective brand-building with UGC
Just like any marketing method, UGC is most effective when it is planned and executed strategically. Here are five tips that can help you build your brand with UGC.
1. Repost UGC Content From Your Audience
The most straightforward way to engage with UGC is to reshare content organically created by your audience. Most companies do this to some extent. It’s a nice way to show how your customers are using your products, sharing feedback about your brand, or enjoying your services.
Loews Hotel, for example, regularly shares content from people who stay at their hotel on their Instagram feed. The content from users is interspersed with images that are created by its marketing team, creating an effective Instagram marketing strategy.
That combination of UGC and marketing content will make your social feeds engaging.
At a basic level, this strategy shows that you have customers. People can see what your audience is saying about your company.
Secondly, resharing content on your social media feeds helps you engage with people who have something to say about your brand. These people can often be your super users – after all, most people don’t share content about the companies they buy from online.
Finally, resharing content through your social media channels is a nice way to recognize your customers. Many people want to increase their following on social media.
2. Run contests and offer rewards
User-generated campaigns run on your customers’ creativity. However, your followers might be shy or otherwise need an extra push to convince them to contribute content.
If you just wait for them, you might not get the UGC you need for a campaign.
Contests are a great way to incentivize your audience to create UGC. You could offer cash, prizes, or exposure to your audience people who create content.
Many companies run online contests to engage their audience. Waiakea, a water brand from Hawaii, often runs online competitions to ask users to share photos on Instagram.
These types of campaigns help companies grow their audience. For example, one of the campaigns by Waiakea generated 62,000 email subscribers and 124,000 new social media followers across various channels.
Moreover, competitions are a great way to strengthen your relationship with customers.
3. Create engaging hashtags
Hashtags help you categorize content and reach a broader audience. You can use custom hashtags as a central feature of your UGC campaign.
Coca-Cola’s #ShareaCoke is an excellent example of a hashtag-centric campaign.
The #ShareaCoke hashtag is simple and easy to understand. It’s easy to remember, too.
The hashtag-focused marketing campaign generated 25 million new Facebook followers. Facebook users have shared more than 600,000 images with the hashtag from 2011 to the present. It is one of the top-trending hashtags of all time, and it’s filled with UGC.
The right hashtag will promote customer engagement and help you reach your marketing goals. If you play your cards right, it may even stay trending for years.
Here are some tips that will help you step up your hashtag game:
- Choose an original hashtag. Copying from your competitors is just plain lazy – and can be a lawsuit waiting to happen.
- Make sure the hashtag is easy to understand.
- Don’t use too many words in your hashtag. It might be challenging to remember.
- Avoid offensive words or expletives.
- Use trending topics to guide you in choosing your hashtag but don’t rely too much on them.
Consider how you can incorporate hashtags into your marketing campaigns. They can be a great way to engage your core audience.
4. Encourage reviews
When people talk about UGC, they often talk about customer testimonials and reviews. Customer feedback and reviews will happen organically. You can increase the number of organic reviews by providing some sort of financial incentive, like an affiliate program.
The great thing about customer reviews is that they are valuable at the bottom of your sales funnel. Reviews help convert leads into customers.
You need to have a system in place to monitor product reviews. You can use a social media monitoring tool to track brand mentions. Then, you can investigate what people are saying when they reference your brand.
Many customers share public feedback if they are satisfied with your product.
To increase the number of reviews you receive, you can incentivize people to leave feedback or create reviews. For example, you can run a product review campaign. Running these types of campaigns is straightforward:
- Identify niche influencers with an engaged audience who create reviews
- Get in touch with these people and offer them your product for free
- Ask for honest feedback about the product
Hopefully, the UGC reviews will be positive.
But what if you receive negative feedback from your customers?
Ignoring customer complaints is not smart. Make sure to contact people who have identified problems with your product or service. Address negative feedback head-on, and ask for a chance to make a better impression.
5. Engage with your customers
The final strategy for effective brand building through UGC is to engage with your audience. When you engage with your customers regularly and listen to them, they’ll feel you appreciate them.
That engagement can generate a positive feedback loop.
You can use social media listening tools to monitor conversations about your company. If a customer has a complaint, respond quickly and address the problem. You can even respond to comments that have nothing to do with your brand.
Netflix has turned unsolicited replies into an art form.
The exchange above didn’t just prompt a response from Sammy. Other users even chimed in:
Netflix generated more than 300 likes, 14 retweets, and four replies from that Tweet.
You can use this approach to engage with companies in your niche. It’s an effective way to grow an engaged audience.
People have always talked about companies. In the past, though, most of that feedback lacked a global reach. The feedback people shared with friends and family had limited reach.
The digital world has changed this dynamic. With the advent of social media and marketing channels like YouTube and online blogs, people can share feedback about a company that has a global reach. Consequently, UGC has become increasingly important.
This guide looked at five ways you can leverage UGC to build your brand. You can reshare content created by people who talk about your brand, run competitions to incentivize feedback, create engaging hashtags, encourage reviews, and engage with your customers.
Follow the tips shared in this guide to improve your UGC game and grow your brand.
One of our experts will get back in touch with you soon.