Marketing teams are constantly searching to create valuable content for their brand. Effective content marketing offers multiple invaluable benefits for any brand. With time, however, creating quality content often becomes time-consuming, expensive, and repetitive.
Does a better way to generate high-quality marketing at minimal cost, actually exist? What brand isn’t looking for reliable, honest, and unique content? What if I told you that the content already exists and is proven to be more authentic than any, and all, marketing strategies combined?
Well, it does. It’s called user-generated content (UGC).
On any given day, consumers are providing invaluable content for brands. Their content is reliable, unique, and drives better results than any internal marketing team.
The challenge for brands is to leverage the customer content correctly.
UGC is an ideal solution to many of the challenges that brands face in searching for content. User-generated content quickly become one of the most effective marketing tools, simply because it’s readily available and is extremely powerful in its results.
As eMarketer says:
Every day, user-generated content (UGC) is part of the online experience of millions of US Internet users. From entertainment to communications to e-commerce, consumers are taking charge of the creation, distribution, and consumption of digital content.
Why is UGC Important?
1 | People Trust People:
Recent research indicates that 85% of consumers find UGC to be more influential than branded content. So, while brands will never admit it, customers will always prefer consumer reviews and insights over brand generating marketing efforts. Rather than hearing from a brand, customers are seeking to gain genuine insights and opinions from fellow consumers just like them.
Consumers trust UGC more because it’s not sales-driven. It’s consumer-driven which adds a human layer to the brand that makes it more trustworthy.
2 | Places Your Customer Front and Center
UGC creates a win-win relationship between the brand and the customer.
By baking consumer content into marketing efforts brands are:
- Empowering consumers to tell the brand story (rather than have brands figure it out)
- The brand messaging is optimized, targeted and personalized
- The brand isn’t marketing TO their audience, they’re marketing WITH them.
- Putting the customer back into the equation, allows the customer (the reason for any brands success) to shine.
3 | Social Proof
What brand wouldn’t want to be considered trustworthy? UGC does just that. Brands that integrate UGC, instantly position themselves as being more trustworthy. Seeing content from real customers, rather than staged images, instantly boosts a brands credibility to the forefront.
4 | User-Generated Content Can Stretch Marketing Budgets
What marketing budget isn’t stretched thin? With limited resources, marketing teams have to get creative. UGC allows for ultimate creativity and frees up the cash for more effective marketing campaigns. Instead of spending money on photographers, why not run a contest and encourage consumers to provide the brand with endless visual content?
User-generated content is a very cost-effective way to source images. These images are not only high-quality but they’re also audience-driven, which means they’re telling you how to tell your story.
With people snapping selfies and sharing videos across social media, marketing teams can leverage UGC at scale. The real question is: after integrating UGC into the marketing mix, what will your brand do with all the extra marketing budget?
5 | Outshine Your Competition
It’s no secret that consumers are overwhelmed by ads and promotional content. In fact, many customers have learned to shut out the ads in their digital feed.
So how can brands stand out in the crowded digital ad space? How can a brand cut through the noise?
User-Generated Content allows any brand to shine. Since user-generated content doesn’t look or feel like the traditional digital ad, it isn’t salesy and is actually created by the target audience, customers will find the content to be more genuine.
Another added benefit of UGC is that it can actually drive more conversions. According to a recent study, placing user-generated content directly on product pages can improve conversions by up to 64%.
Not only is user-generated content a proven method of outperforming the competition, it offers an additional benefit of pushing the needle forward for any brand.
6 | Outsmart the Algorithm
Facebook recently changed its algorithm to favor ‘meaningful engagements’. UGC inspires a stronger, deeper, authentic relationship between brands and customers. Social media platforms are increasing the prevalence of human to human interactions. While some brands will ‘pay to play’ to get into a customers feed, Facebook and other social platforms are shifting towards meaningful conversations as the primary indicator for what will show up in the feed.
According to Nielsen, 83% of consumers trust digital word of mouth content more than content produced by advertisers. Facebook is clearly aware of this trend and it’s exactly why the social media giant has brought the conversation and dialogue back to the forefront. Facebook is doing what every brand should do, it’s putting the consumer back at the forefront of the equation (see tip 2).
User-generated content bridges the gap between brands and consumers by integrating customer-driven content into the marketing mix. Especially in a time where consumers are inundated with content, UGC provides brands with an opportunity to leverage the power of their audience. By creating new, unique and customer-focused campaigns, brands can tell their best stories by empowering their community to be their marketers.