Social media is seeing a significant rise in user-generated content. John Doerr of Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist says that “the next wave of the web is going to be user-generated content.” He could not be more right. Aggravated by the current world pandemic everyone is facing, there has been a significant spike in user-generated content as people wait out the turmoil in the safety of their homes. Even work and the school has shifted to the house as the only viably safe environment at this time, and as a result, people have been more active on the internet, especially on social media.
Image Source: TMC
What is User Generated Content?
User-generated content (UGC), also known as user-created content (UCC), has users as its primary source of content like pictures, videos, text, audio, blogs, and discussion forum posts. Users share their content through social media platforms and open-source websites that allow UGC/UCC, such as Wikipedia. In this digital age, where audiences have become more proactive in their online engagements, people are no longer satisfied with what brands say about themselves. People also look for engagements by other digital members of this sharing community all internet users are a part of. People rely heavily now on peer reviews and recommendations from other users that have experienced a product or have an expertise that can give greater insight for other users. For instance, in eCommerce sites, 60% of the people trust user-generated content, like the posted photos and comments by other customers than those taken by the seller or manufacturer.
UGC or UCC then can add credibility to your brand more than your paid, content ads. It is something that every social media marketing team must optimize in their social media campaigns. Adweek adds that 85% of users are more influenced by the UGC brand-generated content made.
Even on other social media platforms like Instagram, is supported more by other users than brand-generated content. UGC posts tend to get more likes, comments and reposted. All these actions are engagements that are crucial to social media optimization.
Brands have taken notice, and the smart ones have capitalized on UGC as well. For example, Netflix promotes posts made by fans about related to their shows and movies. With the use of strategic use of titles and hashtags, they can generate buzz in the Netflix community and beyond, promoting upcoming new shows and series.
Image Source: Netflix on Instagram
UGC Creates Trust and Brand Authenticity
UGC is original and feels more authentic to customers. Trust is easy to establish because these users producing the content are from their side. The users’ real ideas, experiences, opinions, feedback is easy to consume as if it’s their own too. Product reviews from fellow-users affect the buying decisions of others in the community. SO UGC is something that brands should give place to because it can either boost or hamper their revenue and identity.
Again, since consumers are more pro-active participants in their favorite brand’s identity journey—whether they are following an influencer, a start-up, or a corporate brand—consumers trust images by other consumers on social media seven times more than what the brands post themselves.
And even if some brands would maliciously deceive consumers by creating fake accounts for positive reviews, consumers still would eventually know that it’s bogus. Sometimes, all it takes is one authentic user-generated review to dispel what’s false. Consumers also have the habit now of cross-checking UGC from different sites.
So, in this day and age of disruptive, spammy, inauthentic marketing, UGC is a refreshing alternative to provide personal, authentic, and trustworthy information to consumers in aid of their purchase decisions. The best way to manage your reputation as a brand is to produce excellent products and provide the best service. The key is to get people’s trust is to be trustworthy and authentic.
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UGC Increases User Engagement and Interaction
User engagement is an essential metric that marketers use to optimize conversions. The higher the engagement, the more chances to convert visitors to consumers.
It also opens the avenue for feedback and its productive two-way communications with your target market. You can get the pulse of the market not just through data but by asking them directly.
I’ve seen numerous times how TV shows changed their story mid-way through a series because of UGC. They were able to cater the show into what consumers love, thus extending the life of their show. On the other hand, some TV shows, and series also experienced a downfall in their ratings because of consumer backlash. And how did these TV shows know about their viewers’ opinions? Digitally, mainly. Through emails, comments on their websites and social media accounts, and the like.
Die-hard fans will even go as far as producing videos to air out their concerns or their praises. Hashtag campaigns are often instigated and made famous through UGC. So, also if you are not a digital brand, you cannot escape UGC because you live in a digital age. Whether you want to or not, consumers can and will talk about you online, for better or for worse.
You need to open avenues where customers can get involved with your brand and feel a sense of ownership as well. UGC not only benefits your digital marketing and social media marketing campaigns. It can also be a more efficient way of improving your webpage traffic and engagement at no extra cost.
You need to focus on meaningful relationship building with your consumer base. Be where they are. Go to forums, answer their comments even if it may be a complaint. It shows consumers that you have integrity as a brand that takes time to answer legitimate concerns from your consumers, not just those that praise you.
UGC Drives Conversions and Increases Revenue
Optimizing user-generated content marketing and integrating UGC in your sales funnel can help in drive conversions and increase revenues immensely.
With UGC, you get higher clickthrough rates and will gain influence ten times stronger than getting an influencer to promote your brand. Since consumers want authenticity, they stay away from influencers whom they know promote brands based on sponsorship. It’s still okay to use influencers, especially local ones, to market your brand, but let it not be contrived, short of hard selling. Let the influencer genuinely review your product or service. If you have a good product or service, it will stand the test of great influencers.
Conclusion: Strong Customer Relations brings Better UGC
The world has been dramatically brought together through the internet and social media. We belong to one community of digital citizens where sharing has become the norm. It is crucial then to establish yourself in the community as a brand—whether you are an individual, business, or organization—and build relationships that will allow you to share what benefit you can offer to the community.
Even if you grow to be a big-named brand or you are already one, you cannot underestimate the power of personalized user-generated content, that can influence a multitude one person at a time. Also, come up with strategies and protocols that preserves and improve user gratification. Take every opportunity available to you to engage with your audience directly online, as customers are the lifeblood of your business.
Mayleen Meñez worked in media for almost seven years in TV, radio, and post-production as a Graphic Artist/Editor. Finding her true passion for NGO and community development work, she devoted 15 years as a coordinator and teacher, traveling both in the Philippines and countries in Asia. She homeschools her three kids and reinvents Filipino dishes in her spare time. Writing has always been a hobby and pursuit, and she recently added content writing with Softvire Australia and Softvire New Zealand up her sleeve, while preparing for her next adventure in the nations.