Have you been posting content on social media with @mentions, #️⃣hashtags or 📌location tags? If so, you are producing a special type of content – one that is increasingly popular among companies today. It is none other than user-generated content! Such content is more common than you think and has become an important part of many marketing strategies. Read on to find out why marketers love using it, especially with the millennials crowd.
User-generated Content: Valuable Content from Your Customers
User-generated content, as inferred by its name and a lack of better words, is an electronic word-of-mouth content created by your customers. It can be found anywhere, mostly saturated on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, Pinterest being the top few.
This powerful content is a result of an interaction with your company and is in essence, a form of customer review, shared publicly. It comes in many forms – photo, text, video and word of mouth. Fun fact: 75% of consumers are willing to share their positive experience if you ask.
— Fred Faulkner IV (@FredFaulknerIV) 12 oktober 2016
Sprout Social reported that consumers are 70% more likely to convert into paying customers after a positive interaction.
“By leveraging on your delighted customers, you can attract higher quality leads to become sales qualified leads.”
These leads may have a much solidified purchase intent compared to those who are still in the consideration stage, where they require more customer nurturing.
Growing popularity due to consumer distrust and sharing phenomenon
There can be a million reasons as to why user-generated content will be, if not already, the biggest marketing driving force. However, they all boil down to two root cause – our sharing lifestyle and the shift in consumer trust.
We are biologically wired to love talking about ourselves. This desire to share our thoughts, opinions and experiences have played a part in the rise of social media and us as digital natives. To supplement the message, 54% of internet users are creating and sharing visual content regularly. Brandwatch reported that an AOL/Nielsen study recorded 3.2 billion images being shared on a daily basis today. Additionally, creating visual content has never been easier with smartphones, internet connection and social media intertwined with our everyday life.
According to Nielsen’s consumer trust index report, 92% of consumers today trust peer recommendation above all forms of advertising. Millennials in particular, trust user-generated content 50% more than other types of media. We cannot blame consumers for losing trust in branded messages and advertisements, given the overly idealistic portrayal of products only for consumers to be disappointed. Such experiences accumulate and shape their perception towards branded messages. Even brands who have been selling products exactly the way they are marketed have fallen victim to the situation. Since consumers find themselves not being able to trust branded messages fully, they decide to turn to an alternative – peers. Question now is, how will you tackle the problem and win over your customers?
Deliver High Quality Brand Experience Consistently
Beyond the negativity, the phenomenon provides a great opportunity for you to invite your loyal fanbase to be part of your marketing strategy. Doing so builds a strong bond between your consumers and your brand, and encourages them to be your brand’s consumer face as strong advocates.
Nilson Group AB, Scandinavia’s leading shoe group understands the importance and value that consumers and user-generated content hold. The brand ensures that each and every one of their customers walks away satisfied with both their purchases and shopping experience. Over time, it develops its reputation for delivering high-quality brand experiences and customers appreciate that. Because Nilson Group provides consistently good experiences, customers are more than willing to share and promote the company to their peers. Hence, the group decided to tap into this valuable opportunity to engage their customers by encouraging them to share real-life pictures of themselves with their shoes on social media.
With product pictures and supporting user-generated content available on social media and online stores, customers are able to make well-informed choices that they are satisfied with. As a result, Nilson Group establishes trust with their customers to spur a purchasing cycle for increased sales and decreased returns.
Reassure Decisions with User-generated Content
User-generated content is formed from real experiences rather than an idealised message and millennials LOVE this. In fact, millennials consider user-generated content to be 20% more influential and 35% more memorable when it comes to making purchases.
A great use case is iDeal of Sweden, which is a highly successful (1000% growth in 2 years) Swedish mobile case manufacturer. They have incorporated user-generated content in product pages. This allows potential clients to have a better understanding of the product. By displaying visual aid that shows their product in action, customers can make well-informed choices.
Customer-turned-advocates are impressive marketers. This is because prospective customers find them much more relatable. Compared to branded or paid advertisements done by influencers, user-generated content is raw, unprocessed and authentic. This is in accordance with the social proof theory, the higher authenticity, the higher engagement and in turn, conversions. In situations of uncertainty, consumers turn to others because their choices provide them with information and reassurance.
Additionally, having some user-generated content (as long as it’s not negative) is better than having none at all. For example, majority of us would choose a restaurant with mediocre ratings and reviews over another restaurant without any reviews. Rather than trying something new and no one has spoken about, we would “stay safe” and go with what has already been tried.
Build Brand Loyalty with Customer Engagement
In midst of gathering content, you get to engage with your customers. Doing so shows that you care about their opinion and put them in high regard.
When customers feel important and appreciated, it becomes easier for you to approach them and form lasting relationships. This relationship is extremely valuable in the long run. It promotes brand loyalty, making it difficult for competitors to poach clients from you. In addition, loyal fans will want to play a part in growing your company. As such, they are able to give you insights into their ever-changing needs and pains. This way, you can refine your product and ensure that it remains attractive to the market. As loyal fans, your customers will also become your brand ambassadors, promoting your brand and products/services to their peers hence, increasing sales for you!
It is time to recruit user-generated content into your marketing strategies. Visual user-generated content provides authenticity value for new leads while being a source of engagement for existing customers. User-generated content is beneficial for all stages of your customer journey – awareness, consideration, decision, or delight stage. Let your customer advocates share their brand experience and encourage others to join them in a fun and easy way.
Incorporating user-generated content into your customer’s journey shows that you have put in the effort to understand what they want to see and hear, rather than force-feeding them information the traditional way that we all know, is not working.