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The user generated content marketing phenomenon

Ben Dickens, September 8, 2017

You’ve probably noticed lots of noise about content marketing and specifically, user generated content marketing (UGC) at the moment. But UGC isn’t a new thing, customer review sites have been around for decades and certain ones are huge players on the digital field.

Often, when brands consider incorporating user generated content marketing into the business, it’s straight forward customer reviews that spring to mind. For marketers this means striving to achieve only positive reviews, which is why many, even very experienced and ‘switched-on’ marketers are often fearful of embracing UGC in their marketing mix.

But reviews really are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to user generated content marketing and a strategy that effectively leverages UGC is a very powerful thing indeed.

An intrinsic element of a well-crafted content marketing approach, UGC can be the fuel that drives wider engagement, builds trust and powers marketing channels well beyond the lifespan of a campaign, even a really good integrated one.

In this article, we will explore:

·      Exactly what user generated content marketing is?

·      A strategic overview of UGC.

·      Putting UGC to work, practical steps.

What is user generated content marketing?

Content Marketing is arguably the most important element in customer communications in the world of marketing today. This is in part due to the huge explosion of technology seen recently and has intrinsically changed the way that customer consume and engage with content.

DVO created a white paper on UGC marketing with industry expert Gerhard Malojer, his definition of User Generated Content is:

“User Generated Content Marketing is authentic content generated by users in connection to a brand, encouraged by an inspiring and empowering call-to-action framework from that brand, with the aim of raising brand interest and generating sales”

For further reading download the whitepaper.

 


A strategic overview of user generated content marketing.

UGC, used effectively as part of a holistic omni-channel marketing strategy, can be a very powerful tool. As the power over the actual content ultimately lies with the consumer, this can lead many brands to be fearful of UGC. But with the right strategy and framework in place, UGC can be hugely beneficial to a brand and makes content marketing so much more seamless.

Still unsure? Here’s some facts and figures that might help change your mind:

·      Advertising based on UGC can result in a 400% increase in click through rates

·      UGC can increase web conversions by 26%

·      UGC on a site can results in a 20% increase in returning visitors and time customers spent on the site itself can increase by up to 90%

Much of the User Generated Content that we all experience day to day is that of online reviews. Whether it’s suing it to research your next holiday, or being asked for it after purchasing something from an online retailer, customer reviews are extremely valuable. From everything from products to services, packaging, and the ultimate delivery, every step of the customer journey through their purchasing decisions is open to review.

But why are brands and service providers so keen to allow themselves to be critiqued inn such a way? Well….

·      When making a purchasing decision, 93% of customers say they find review helpful

·      Having customer reviews on your site can increase conversion by 74%

·      64% of customers will actively search for online customer reviews

So, what makes UGC so massively powerful? Well, the very simple answer is, trust.

Since human society evolved, we have shared stories and experiences. It’s what builds communities and holds them together, sharing the human experience. Ultimately, that is what UGC is about, sharing our experiences. It’s just that the technology has changed the way we do this.

Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing discipline available to any business. It’s the one channel that will gain you the most return, but it’s also the hardest one to deliver, as you really don’t have any control over it. Why is it so powerful? Well, people tend to trust other people. A brand might share a piece of messaging, which is largely ignored. But if a person shares that same message, their peers, friends, family, colleagues and even strangers are more likely to not only listen, but also trust it.

·      70% of people will trust peer reviews and customer recommendations more than the same brand value messaging direct from a business

·      Social networking (50%), peer reviews (68%) and conversations with friends (74%), which are all forms of UGC, are trusted for product information for than TV (34%), radio (37%) and newspapers (44%)

So, if you want to gain consumer trust, a major contributing factor in not only gaining new customers but retaining existing ones, then you need to get people outside your business creating and sharing content about your brand for you.

Practical steps to building a user generated content marketing framework.

So how can a brand build UGC into their business?

Let’s walk through the sales funnel of KNOW, LIKE, TRUST and BUY.

·      KNOW – For a customer to ‘know’ the brand the content and communication of the company’s core beliefs and value requires an element of “How to”

·      LIKE – Use storytelling around the brand beliefs to create sympathy and empathy for the brand

In these first two stages, UGC can grow.

·      TRUST – This is where the full potential of UGC can evolve and expand. The challenge is creating a framework and motivation for consumers to express their brand experience in a way that is desirable to the brand itself. Once the content is generated, there then needs to be methodology in place to broadcast it and allow engagement.

·      This can then start a cycle of feedback and analysis to constantly monitor and improve the experience to strengthen the brand, which will lead to BUY.

The potential of UGC in marketing is massive. Generation C, the connected generation, which spans across ages are twice as likely to engage with a brand using UGC. This creates a compelling case for it’s inclusion in any customer focused marketing strategy. At a practical level simple software can be used to begin the process of sourcing and curating UGC to sit alongside branded content. A quick search of social media for brand mentions and hashtags can identify user conversations and these can simply be re-pulished. Care must be taken over rights when considering the use of content for advertising but platforms such as Stackla and Tint have in-built rights management solutions which smooth the process for marketers.

Whatever you intend to do UGC should be on your agenda, good luck. If you get stuck or need expert advice get in touch with us here.

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