by Rose Lugo – Head of Global Marketing
User-generated content, UGC, is key in driving sales. Marketers deploy UGC as a tool to enhance lucrative connections with consumers. Major brands like BMW, Netflix, and Starbucks have made UGC an integral part of their content marketing strategies. They realize that UGC generates higher engagement, purchase intention, and conversion. The main reason for this might be the great deal of trust consumers place on UGC. Be it a written recommendation from a family member, a photo of a friend using the product, or a full-fledged product review from a fellow shopper.
According to Nielsen (2015) 83% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family member over advertising. In other words, whenever friends post on Instagram about their favorite brands, we generally believe their recommendations over the online ads served to us in the same feed. Moreover, in the same study, 66% of consumers indicated that they trust consumer reviews over ads, even if they do not know the author of the review. The point is that when consumers share online their positive experiences with products, brands cash in.
Generating UGC at scale is just the first part of the hurdle, once the UGC is available, the challenge is to leverage its persuasive power. To help brand managers in this task, here are 5 creative ways to repurpose UGC that go much beyond advertising:
1 – Brand Digital Properties. Whether on the brand’s website, app, or a microsite put together for a campaign, UGC is a great complement to every brand’s proprietary digital assets. Featuring UGC on these channels brings consumers closer to the brand and to each other, as they form a community. Instill a sense of belonging in your consumers by inviting them to post their UGC. Simply reposting UGC on your site might not do the trick. You miss the opportunity of creating a lasting brand experience if you neglect to ask your consumer to upload their content and join the community. See how National Geographic accomplished this beautifully by creating a digital destination where fans of the brand can upload their own breathtaking photos to a page created in the National Geographic site.
2 – Retailer Page. Be proactive in making sure that your most relevant retailers display your best UGC. Avoid delegating this job to the retailer marketing team, because you know—or should know—your consumer better than anyone. Most definitely do not rely on algorithm to pick the most popular UGC, because it might not be the highest converting UGC. You have an opportunity to be creative here too. Feature the comments, photos, and videos that best convey the benefits of your brand, and that complement each other. An excellent example is the focus Sephora has given to UGC in each product page in their Amazon store.
3 – Social. Leveraging UGC on your brand’s social channels is a way to increase the likelihood of engagement on your social pages, given that consumers engage with UGC more often than with other types of brand content. It is also a great way to build your relationship with your brand ambassadors who are already singing the praises of your products. Apple’s Instagram, for instance, features UGC exclusively. You can also add UGC to the content mix you normally share on social, just make sure to give huge props to your consumers every time you repost their content.
4 – Email Marketing. UGC can power your email marketing program. Use consumer endorsements shared on social, product reviews, and photos to make your messages more engaging. When you send an e-mail after purchase requesting a review, post a couple of the best reviews provided by other consumers to inspire your target to give stellar recommendation too. When you send an email blast promoting a new product, show photos of early adopters using it, and excerpts of their recommendations. Use UGC to validate your consumers in their buyer journey from discovery to re-purchase with content from consumers just like them. Think of calls-to-action like: “Read how our wonderful product changed Jenny’s life.”
5 – Offline. UGC is so powerful that brands have leveraged it offline as well, from product packaging to the isles at brick-and-mortar stores. Let your packaging tell the story in your consumer’s voice. Challenger soda brand Jones used this tactic extensively, and Amazon famously added consumer reviews underneath almost every book in its physical store.
UGC brings the voice of your consumer to shoppers’ attention as they consider your brand, make the most of it.
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