What Is User Generated Content, And Why Should Your Small Business Use It?


What Is User Generated Content, And Why Should Your Small Business Use It?

Imagine if your existing customers helped you to convert potential customers into buyers, for free. Well, that’s what User Generated Content (UGC) can do.

User Generated Content (UCG) is any piece of content that a customer generates to promote your business. UGC can happen organically, and often does. You can also encourage it, and you should.

Some examples of organic User Generated Content are:

  • Before-and-afters posted online by users of your program or product
  • Photos or videos of your customers holding, using or enjoying your product
  • Customer reviews that you don’t ask for, such as Facebook, Tripadvisor or Google reviews

Some example of encouraged user generated content are:

  • Customer reviews of your product that you ask for
  • LinkedIn recommendations

UGC can also be rewarded, and unrewarded.

Why User Generated Content is pure marketing gold?

  • People trust real people far more than they trust branded content. As Marty Neumeier famously said, “Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is”. With UGC you are letting your customers tell your brand story for you.
  • Word of mouth is the most powerful form of referral for your business, and UGC is essentially word of mouth on steroids. Social media gives you the potential to create infinite connections between your brand, your fans, and their friends. And if they are talking about your brand; winning. There really has never been a better time to be in business.
  • It removes the “cold audience” trust barrier. While UGC is great for increased brand awareness, it also gives your brand an element of trust via social proof for first-time visitors. “If they all like it, it must be good and I will probably like it too.”
  • User Generated Content creates a sense of community which gives your existing customers something they can belong to, and your potential customers something they want to be a part of.
  • It’s free! The beauty of UGC is that you let your users do the work. By all means, reward them and even pay to leverage it. But unlike traditional creative content creation, you don’t need to outlay cash for every piece of content generated upfront.

How can your business get in on the User Generated Content action?

1. Create a UGC campaign

A User Generated Content campaign offers something to your users in exchange for their content. Your offering can be an entry into a competition, a voucher or even a freebie.

The Starbucks example mentioned above shows how successful UGC campaigns can be, and they aren’t the only brand to embrace its potential. Think Share a Coke, Burberry’s Art of the Trench campaign and Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters Place as great examples of UGC campaigns.

You don’t have to be a big brand though, you can easily create a UGC campaign for your business. Just follow these simple guidelines and let your creative juices flow:

  1. Don’t ask too much, or too little, of your audience. If your audience is creative, ask them to get as creative as they can. If you audience is not-so-tech-savvy, don’t ask them to create and upload a video.
  2. Make it easy to participate, such as posting on Instagram using a specified hashtag.
  3. Match the effort required with the reward being offered. If you are giving away something small, don’t ask your users to record themselves jumping through rings or fire.
  4. Request content that you can use in future marketing campaigns. And have this clearly stated in your terms and conditions.

2. Encourage reviews 

If you have an e-commerce site, install a third-party app, such as Yotpo, to encourage people to review your product.

Or if you offer a service, like me, ask your customers for a LinkedIn review.

3. Encourage sharing of photos and videos 

Send emails and run Facebook ads only to people who have purchased your product. Encourage them to show you how you are enjoying the product. Be sure to define a hashtag to use.

4. Repurpose User Generated Content into future marketing campaigns 

Create a library of UGC and repurpose it regularly. Repost your users’ Instagram and Facebook posts, use them in your email marketing or publish great content on your website. Just be careful to set clear Terms and follow privacy laws. It’s always general courtesy to mention the user if reposting their content.

So now you know what User Generated Content is, how are you going to leverage this powerful marketing tactic into your business?

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