Content marketing is king, but especially when the right people are creating it. In today's media landscape, those people are users. In fact, both brands and consumers agree that user-generated content (UGC) is more influential than those created by brands. The reason? UGC is authentic, engaging and helps humanize brands. It's created by fans who want to give brands a boost.
UGC runs the whole gamut of media: blog posts, pictures, videos, Tweets, testimonials, reviews, and customer feedback. The possibilities for brands are huge, but too often brands fall short when it comes to fostering this content.
What Inspires Users to Share Content?
The users who create and share branded content tend to be fans or superfans. They've had a great experience with a brand, identify with what that brand stands for, and want to share it with the world.
Given its roots in great brand experiences, it's no surprise that UGC works: 93% of consumers find it helpful when making purchase decisions. On top of that, UGC leads to increased social media activity, higher web conversions, and higher ad performance.
But getting customers to create UGC can require an active effort on your part. While some will organically create and share content, most want guidance about what kinds of content to create and share. Brands that encourage users to create specific pieces of content are not only likely to benefit from UGC in greater amounts, but they're also able to help control the messaging around their brand.
How to Foster User-Generated Content
If you want to encourage UGC, you'll need to run campaigns focusing on it. This will drive the creation of far more content than simply leaving it to consumers' own volition. If you create the expectation that consumers will create and share content, they'll be more likely to do it.
To foster UGC, try the following:
Go where your customers are. Seek out past, present and recurring customers via email, social media or your app. These are the people most likely to create UGC.
Build an engaged audience. Customers love great content, so set expectations with a quality content marketing campaign, and encourage interaction along with emulation.
Try hashtags. Use hashtags to build a community around a brand, product or idea. They work: millions of people have been enticed to #ShareACoke.
Ask questions. Solicit feedback about favorite products and services or input about consumers' preferences, routines and ideas - and how your products fit into these. Users will be happy to share.
Offer incentives. Offer discounts, freebies or even shoutouts in return for creating UGC. Enter customers into sweepstakes or giveaways in exchange for tagging a friend or posting an image, or offer a small Starbucks gift card as thanks for a review.
Encourage sharing and posting. Customers are often happy to share great content, especially if they're incentivized to do so. Similarly, many will jump at the chance to share their expertise or experience through a post.
Collect reviews. Follow up with customers with a request for a review, and curate the best on your website, via social media or in your email marketing.
Share UGC. Show customers that you value their efforts by sharing UGC. This will encourage them to create and share more of it. Banana Republic does this with their #ShareaBanana IG posts.
Support a cause. Customers become fans when they align with your values - and choosing a cause to support helps strengthen that alignment. Pick a cause that matters to you, and encourage customers to get involved.
Start a beta group. A great way to source UGC for new products or services is a beta group. Give a small group of users first look at a product, then gather and share their feedback.
Get Active in Encouraging UGC
With word-of-mouth being critical to 84% of consumers, tapping into the possibilities of UGC is a must. You'll drive engagement, improved sales, and increased loyalty, effectively turbocharging your content marketing. To effectively build it into your content marketing efforts, actively encourage your customers to create the content you're after.
Need help fostering, gathering and sharing UGC for your brand? Get in touch!