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29/10/2020 Luke Goldsworthy

Utilising User Generated Content

Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, high-quality user-generated content (UGC) is easy for your customers to produce – so long as they are motivated to do so. Whether they’re sharing a picture of their lunch to Instagram, or their new purchases from the upcoming crazy sales period to Facebook, this content can be invaluable for eCommerce businesses to boost their sales.

Put simply, UGC is content created by those who interact with your brand, rather than you yourself. Back in July, we looked at embracing reviews, which are one of the key types of UGC. As we noted then, 92.4% of customers use reviews to guide the majority of their ordinary purchasing decisions, and 40% of online customers use social networks to research new products and brands. But UGC is more than just reviews, but any content generated by your customers, such as social media posts, videos, and photos. Maybe it’s a photo on Instagram, or maybe it’s an unboxing video shared to YouTube.

Particularly with the rise of Direct to Customer (D2C) transactions, which we discussed in last week’s blog, UGC has become the weapon of choice for reaching and selling to Millennials and Generation Z. Forbes reported this year that ads based on UGC receive four times the rate of click-throughs and cost up to 50% less per click than average ads.

Kirsten Baumberger, Founder of minisocial.io, said: “UGC has levelled the playing field for marketers in recent years. Now anyone with a good product and a few super-fans can compete with the big dogs on acquisition channels, vying for (and converting) the same customers as publicly traded companies.”

Social Proof

The huge advantage of UGC is that potential customers believe it, while they remain sceptical of direct marketing messages. When people see other people endorsing a product it provides “social proof”, giving external validation of a product from real customers. We see this with the adoption of innovation. A few early adopters lead the way – they’re our crucial first UGC creators – then as more people validate the product, it becomes less of a risk in the customer’s mind to purchase it. If you can trigger this adoption and UGC – before long, even laggards are buying the latest must-have product of the season.

Effective and Engaging

UGC is cost-effective, by having your customers as your content producers, photographers, influencers and marketers. Properly harnessed, you can have a steady supply of content without having to create it all yourself. Not only do you save time, and consequently money, on content creation, UGC is also valuable because it reaches into the social networks of the content creators, expanding beyond the original social-network reach of your brand. Additionally, UGC provides engagement between you and the broader community. By studying the UGC, you can come to a better understanding of how the community views your products, get to know them better, and build stronger relationships with them.

Using UGC

UGC sounds like a marketer’s dream, but for it to work you need to:

  • motivate your customers to create content
  • have channels for sourcing and collection content
  • have a plan for using the content

Some brands, such as the iPhone, are fortunate. People line up to buy the latest version (well, maybe not the latest in this specific example) and are immediately sharing all kinds of content about it. For most brands, you’ll need to motivate your customers to create content, and in particular the kind of content that helps you build your brand. Two of the most helpful ways are to solicit UGC in post-sales emails, and to incentivise content creation with contests and giveaways.

To source and collect content, you must have social channels that your customers can either post to or tag, whether it’s a Facebook page, Instagram feed, or Twitter handle. It is equally important to create specific hashtags for your customers to use with their UGC. They need to know what to tag, whether it’s a specific tag for your brand or the product, or both. Both your social channels and your hashtags should be shared and reinforced at check out, in thank you emails, on your social channels, on your website, on product packaging… wherever you can. This is the key to sourcing and collecting UGC.

Once you have UGC, it can be used in multiple ways depending on its type, from being incorporated into traditional advertising, to being reposted on your social channels, to being embedded on your website, or included on a social media wall.

UGC is just one point on the marketing spectrum, but is an increasingly effective one. If you’d like to discuss your marketing objectives with an expert from The Playhouse Group, please don’t hesitate to click the button below. We have expertise in everything from large distribution sales catalogue mail-outs, to Facebook and Google ads, to UGC.

Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any eCommerce questions you may have.