Share and Share Alike

Advertising can be expensive and sometimes ineffective. Could user-generated content be the solution? Nicky Kriel thinks so.

Do you ever wonder how to get your customers attention when they’ve grown cynical of ads? Especially as ad blocking, particularly on mobile devices, continues to grow? One way, that definitely gets results, is to make it real and to share authentic content generated FOR YOU by your customers.

Want proof? Look no further than the Burberry case study. In 2009, Burberry introduced the ‘Art of the Trench’ website, where customers could upload pictures of themselves wearing a Burberry trench coat and comment on other people’s pictures. Conversion rates from the Art of the Trench website to the Burberry website were significantly higher than those from other sources. Burberry increased their ecommerce year-on-year sales by 50%.

What exactly is user-generated content (UGC)?
It is any type of content that has been created and posted by people who use the product or service, rather than the brand itself. Fans of the product promote the brand through posting pictures, videos, testimonials, blog posts or social media posts about the brand. And they do this without getting paid!

10 statistics to show that UGC works
1. Brand engagement rises by 28% when a combination of professional content and user-generated videos are used. (ComScore).
2. UGC ads get 4x higher click-through rates and 50% drop in cost-per-click than average (Shopify).
3. User-generated videos on YouTube get 10x more views than content created and uploaded by the actual brand (EMARSYS).
4. 25% of search results for the world’s 20 largest brands are links to UGC (Kissmetrics).
5. On-site consumer reviews can increase conversion by 74% (3d Cart).
6. Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than information from mainstream media sources (Smart Brief).
7. 70% of consumers place peer recommendations and reviews above professionally written content. (Reevo).
8. 84% of millennials report that UGC on company websites has at least some influence on what they buy (Bazaarvoice).
9. 41% of consumers only need to see 1 to 4 user generated reviews to be influenced to purchase (Adweek).
10. User-generated product reviews are trusted 12x more than promotional marketing content (CIO).

Getting started
There are 2 ways of acquiring UGC. The first way is to run a campaign encouraging your consumers to submit photographs or videos. These can work successfully if you can tap into something that your customers feel passionately about. The second way is to find UGC that has already been published.

It’s good practice to set up alerts using tools like Google Alerts, Mention and Talkwalker so that you know when your company name or products are mentioned online. It’s also worth doing regular searches on Google to find images, videos and blog articles about your brand.

Instagram is worth searching by relevant hashtags to find images that your customers may be sharing.

Best practices for repurposing UGC
Ask permission – Make sure that you explicitly ask your customers for permission to use their images, reviews or videos. Not only is this polite, but written permission will get you out of legal trouble. In most cases, customers will be delighted to have their content shared, but you need to check first. It’s always good to check with your legal team if there’s special wording you need to use, especially if you want to use the content in ads.

Give credit – Make sure you acknowledge the creator of the content using their social media username. You show your customer your gratitude and love and it allows them to have their 15 minutes of fame.

Be selective – Not all content is created equal. Make sure you choose images and posts that reflect your brand in the best possible way. Not all UGC will be worth sharing, but it’s worth engaging with your customers when you find relevant content they’ve shared. Everyone likes to be acknowledged.

Encourage more sharing with a ‘call to action’ – Whenever you share UGC, encourage more people to share by asking them.

UGC works because it’s authentic and cost effective and it resonates with your customers because they created it. Make sure that you incorporate it into your marketing strategy.