People love sharing online their own opinions, happy moments, comments and other stuff. All that called user-generated content and can be found almost everywhere. In fact, YouTube, Facebook, and other social networks have sprouted and benefited from this kind of content.
User-generated content (UGC) can help businesses to grow and improve trustful relationships with their customers if used wisely. Recent research shows that UGC impacts buying decisions of about 90% of customers more than emails or even search engine results.
If you’re looking for more leads and customers, aiming at establishing strong relationships with them and save some time and money, user-generated content is the type you need to include into your marketing strategy.
Set up your goals
UGC can spark conversation, build trust and boost engagement but used the wrong way it may work the opposite way and make your customers leave you. So, like with any other type of content, you need to set clear goals for the user-generated content work perfectly. Here are the most obvious ones:
- Building trust. Users trust opinions from other customers more than brand’s own words, ads or celebrity statements. It makes user reviews a good base for building brand awareness and create trust among new users, but only if those reviews are genuine and not paid.
- Boosting brand engagement. User reviews, videos, comments, and other content types often stark online discussions and gather likes and shares across various channels of communication.
- Better audience understanding. User-generated content helps you to understand better your customer needs that your business can help them with. It also shows their most common issues and allows you to react to them much quicker.
- SEO benefits. High-quality content means more engagement and more search visibility of your site for your target search terms. When you choose only relevant content that speaks to your users and educates them, it helps you to attract more traffic and get higher in SERPs.
- Saving time. With user-generated content, you need far less time to create an excellent, engaging post for social media. Utilizing hashtags, videos and other media as well as comments, you save much effort during the process of content creation.
Choose the right platform
Each platform, be it social media network, email or your site, requires a different approach. It’s crucial to know where your audience engages the most to choose the right platform for posting user-generated content. You cannot start the campaign on Instagram just because studies say it’s the best place for posting media content now if your audience is not there. Choose the platform according to your goals and the target audience.
Businesses mostly use UGC on social media. But there are a few cases that make this kind of content a perfect base for the business’ website. Thus, user reviews are great to use them in your Testimonials section or for the case studies that explain how to use your product.
Social networks are the best platforms to post user-generated content.
- It’s easy to find what users post about your brand by skimming through hashtags. People often set branded hashtags when they like the brand, so you can quickly find good user posts about your product.
- There is not much text in Twitter posts, but sometimes it’s enough to support some idea or get a nice user video of your product. Like on Instagram, you can search by hashtags here.
- Facebook has the broadest choice of user-generated content that you may use on your page. Encourage users to share their stories, photos, and videos about your brand. Facebook’s algorithm is focused on comments, so posts that spur discussions should be your focus point.
Source: Halo Pets on Facebook
Choose the type of the content
To get a proper type of content from your users, you should speak to them directly. Always ask your users what their texts or photos would you like to use on your site or social media accounts. There are a few ways to ask users for the content:
- Run contests. Just set up the rules, reveal the prize (it can be merchandise, free service or account) and then choose the winners to show their media or testimonials on your page.
- Hashtag campaigns. Those are especially popular on Instagram and may serve as a word-of-mouth advertisement. Use the contest approach here too. Sometimes it’s enough to reward your users with their photo featured on your Instagram page.
- Stats show that 63% of US consumers and 66% of UK buyers trust user’s post-purchase photos more than the brand’s media. You should find ways to incentivize your users to not only leave their reviews on your site but add pictures and videos to them. Thus, you can offer a next-purchase discount for an unboxing video.
- Surveys and user stories. Original researches and insights are that form of content that always get tons of traffic, shares, and comments. Include insights from your customers into your industry reports and share with your audience.
Source: Cheerz on Instagram
Set clear rules for the info that you want from your users. Don’t change those rules while gathering the information not to spur negative comments.
Collaborate with your users
User-generated content starks engagement and improves trust. That’s why one of the main things about getting UGC is creating a strong community around the brand. You should be extremely attentive to what your community says. Answer their questions, treat their issues, stay connected during the product launch and show the personality behind the brand. When users know that there is someone on the other side who listens – they will share their insights more openly.
The results of collaboration with your users will be unique content that you may use on various platforms and in multiple forms. Here are a few ways of such collaboration:
- Collect their questions from your support chats to know what issues they’re addressing and what new features/products they would like to have. The most popular questions are the primary source for your FAQ or Help section on the website.
- Users may often give you ideas for new articles and videos on your website. Always read the comments they leave to your social media posts: users often share what they would like to read/watch from your brand.
- Never take without permission. You should always ask your customers before you use their photos and videos on your site or social page. Even if it was a part of the contest, you should warn a user that their photo will appear on a page and ask them to take a look before publishing.
- Always credit the content. Even after a user permits you to use their photo or video, you shouldn’t post it as your creation. State clearly that a certain user kindly offered the photo and give them the full credit in the caption.
You can also set up alerts to track the mentions of your brand/business/site online. Google Alerts are easy to set up to receive emails with the mentions of your brand. Thus, you get early access to the influencer info posted about your business and may use it in your content strategy. You can also reach out to the bloggers who mention your brand and offer them collaboration, try to build some links or establish relationships.
Measure and test performance
When you decided to include the user-generated content into your marketing strategy – there’s no way back. Every step should be tested and measured otherwise it has nothing to do with the strategy.
Check out what goals have been reached and what you should improve to achieve more success with the UGC. Thus, if your goal was to get more traffic to your site with the help of an article that reveals the most common issues your users addressed in their comments, you should perfectly optimize that article for search. And you should take care of the proper promotion of that article through your social media and email channels.
- Choose the right keywords for any type of content. Be it a “How-to” article or a case study, you need the right phrases for other users to find them online.
- Create the appealing and relevant titles and descriptions that will appear in the search results. They should incentivize people to click them to learn the info they were looking for.
- Share those articles and videos to social media and build backlinks to them.
Note: If you want to know more about optimizing your page for SEO, here’s a quick video tutorial for you:
You can repurpose those the most successful posts later, add or change the parts, get new content from users, etc. and then promote it again on social and in emails.
On social media, you can also use tools that track the performance of the post. Remember, the likes and shares only don’t count and bring little to no traffic and sales for you. Facebook announced that it would prioritize in the News Feed those posts that spark meaningful discussions. You can increase engagement by encouraging readers to leave their comments and participate in conversations.
It will pay off
Well, it’s your turn now. Ask your users for collaboration and try to find the ways you can incentivize them to share their content with you. When your customers, users, and readers become your advocates, it pays off in more trust to your business, and as a result – in more sales.
Modern users prefer the content that resonates with them and is about them. That’s why the brands may benefit from the user-generated content and get a neverending source of ideas and fresh, unique content.
Helen is a content marketer at Ahrefs. She explores new things every day to impress her readers with catchy stories. Apart from all that marketing stuff, Helen loves listening to rock music, reading and traveling. A lot! Feel free to follow Helen on Twitter.