4 Ways the User-Generated Content Revolution Benefits Marketers
It’s a pretty exciting time to be a content marketer. The growing popularity and amount of user-generated content, which can be just about any kind of content (reviews, blog posts, videos, social media images) created by consumers, is a huge opportunity for brands if they know how to approach UGC and how to use it in their marketing.
Brands and media outlets are no longer the gatekeepers of great, engaging content. We’re living in an age where just about anyone can create professional-quality content and gain recognition for it. Content created by individual consumers about brands and companies is becoming so popular that many people would rather engage with brands through their peers than through marketing and advertising from the brand itself. The idea of social proof is not entirely new, but it’s becoming clearer that the best people to advertise your brand are the ones that use your products and services on a daily basis.
Leveraging user-generated content means understanding what your consumers are saying about you and finding ways to engage with them through the content they create and highlight their contributions in a variety of different ways. With the right UGC tactics integrated with your content marketing campaign, you gain popularity and trust, boost sales, and build a strong community around your brand.
Don’t be left behind as UGC continues to gain more notice and popularity. Learn how UGC is changing content marketing for the better and why it’s a good and potentially profitable thing for your business.
1. UGC Provides Low- or No-Cost Content and Eases the Content Creation Burden
A top concern for content marketers is how to find the time and resources to produce more and more material to meet customers’ expectations and keep up with competitors. This is inherently difficult, because creating good content takes time, dedication and a financial investment. User-generated content, on the other hand can be repurposed without requiring the time and money involved with creating new content. User-generated content is defined as being unpaid, and just getting the recognition of a popular brand can be enough compensation for most people.
As far as time involved, while it may take some time to curate, compile and otherwise repurpose user content, it’s nothing compared to the time commitment for creating new content. If you’re running out of fresh ideas for original content and can’t dedicate much more resources to this area, UGC may be the way to consistently keep your content output high.
2. UGC Gives Your Customers the Authentic Voice and Opinions They Want to Hear
Consumers are smart. Smarter than ever, in fact. They know that no matter how entertaining, engaging or educational your marketing and advertising campaigns are, they’re not quite as authentic as hearing opinions about your products and services from their peers. This is perhaps why case studies have been found to be the most effective form of content marketing. Instead of telling customers why your product is great and how it can make their life better, it’s much more compelling to be able to show them or for them to hear about it from a peer, someone with similar interests and needs and a similar lifestyle as them.
People trust the recommendations of their peers far more than they trust a brand’s evaluation and description of its own product. Smart marketers know that embracing and highlighting UGC is one of the best ways to authentically promote their brand.
3. UGC Brings You Closer to Your Customers and Strengthens Trust
Let’s look at a pretty common example of leveraging UGC. Many brands, including Lululemon, Warby Parker and Starbucks, have implemented the tactic of encouraging social media involvement from customers through a hashtag.
In the case of Starbucks, they ran a contest for the best customer cup doodle, urging people to share their artistic creations on social media with the #WhiteCupContest hashtag. With close to 4,000 entries in three weeks, it’s clear that the campaign was highly popular and likely effective in increasing the buzz around Starbucks. But what’s more interesting is the reaction of the winner of the contest. Brita Lynn Thompson said, according to the Starbucks press release, that winning the cup design contest ranked as “probably the happiest day of my life.”
That’s an example of the kind of affection and emotion that brands can create simply by giving recognition and gratitude to their customers. Imagine if you, like Thompson, received that kind of validation from a brand you loved? It would probably make you a customer for life.
4. UGC Provides a New Way for Brands to Improve SEO
Yes, you read that right, UGC is beneficial for your ranking in search engine results. According to KissMetrics, a quarter of the search results for the world’s top brands are UGC. The more search engine listings there are related to your brand (especially positive mentions), the more ways people can find you online. Even if the UGC isn’t on your website, just the mention of your brand and any links to your site can be beneficial.
UGC helps your SEO in another way, as well. You probably know that having fresh, regularly updated content is good for SEO. If you allow customers to create UGC on your site (in the form of reviews, for example) you benefit from a stream of new content hitting your site.
There’s no question about the fact that user-generated content is changing the way marketers create content, in addition to changing the way people see their relationship to a brand. Now that consumers can play such a huge role in marketing and advertising your brand to their peers, it’s your job to embrace this change and make it easier for customers to create content and receive recognition and validation for it.