User generated content (UGC) describes any form of content such as video, blogs, reviews, feedback, pictures and discussions which is created by and available to consumers. In terms of brand strategy, it is a cost effective and natural way to amplify how stakeholders think and feel about a brand. Marketing efforts are often focused on above the line marketing, digital advertising and email communications whilst utilising the consumer voice is something which is often overlooked.
Copyright Note: Image by Benjamin Barber on www.participationmarketingconference.com
UGC in conjunction with the growth of Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram is allowing businesses to assign brand amplification duties to customers in the form of reviews, feedback and storytelling. Here are three ways UGC can add value and insight to a brand:
No business is completely safeguarded from public reviews on social media or official review websites. This is a massive responsibility when customer reviews are directly linked to trust, traffic, sales and insight as well as being a huge indicator of whether potential customers will actually use a product or service. According to e-tailing Group, 89% of consumers reported that reviews have an influence on their purchasing decision. This shows the massive impact of social media commentary as well as user generated reviews on platforms such as Trustpilot, Feefo and Reevo which provide an official platform where businesses can see individual reviews.
Copyright Note: Image by reviewtrackers.com
The first key method to encourage reviews is to prompt and incentivise honest feedback on digital platforms, email communication and in-store. Secondly, it’s worthwhile showcasing reviews on all communication channels as this shows relatable and first-hand awareness of brand experiences. From a consumer perspective, it’s also refreshing to hear from consumer peers rather than only being presented with branded messages. Lastly, it’s essential to track and address reviews on a daily basis by logging into the review websites and searching for brand mentions on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.
Responding to all reviews on websites such as Trustpilot prevents crisis management issues, is a proactive way to show a business is appreciative of positive reviews and provides textual evidence that a brand has learned from a negative experience and has tangibly put processes in place to compensate the customer and alter future consumer experiences. A negative review left unanswered could create total distrust from prospects and not only affect SEO but future online presence as a whole. Acknowledging reviews is essential, particularly as research from Invesp shows that 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Brand mentions can build a feedback loop into business performance which can help define overall positioning. A strong commitment is therefore needed to gather, sort and share UGC feedback internally in order to push a business in the right direction. User generated feedback can help a business understand what services their target audience are looking for and what glitches occur during that customer journey. Not only can this be obtained directly by individual business mentions but this is also insightful when looking at UGC insight on competitors or those in a similar industry.
Copyright Note: Image by Oktopost.com
Social listening by tools such as Radian 6 and Trakur can prove particularly useful for gathering candid feedback and sorting this by sentiment, content type, location, time and platforms. UGC is also useful for identifying opportunities in the wider landscape and recognising the share of voice compared with competitors. For example, restaurants can use social media monitoring to learn about UGC which articulates lunchtime habits during the weekend, what dishes people love by competitors, an undiscovered or emerging food trend and pinpoint key times that people discuss their hunger. Searching for industry trends can also help identify gaps in the market such as the need for a new iPhone app and flexible opening hours which can provide a unique selling point for future strategies.
Incentivising fans and followers to create interactive storytelling with content through the usage of sweepstakes is mutually beneficial to both parties. Rewarding customers with prizes, vouchers or something brand related in exchange for sharing photos, textual updates or video creates the end result of bringing the brand product or notion to life. Recently Universal Studios partnered with Brandmovers to create a UGC storytelling process which supported the launch of the latest Minions movie. Amazon temporarily shipped all of its USA deliveries in yellow Minions boxes. Each box carried a sticker directing them to take a photo with their Minions box and post it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #MinionsBoxes.
Note: Images of some of the entries from this Brandmovers campaign.
Images were then integrated into a picturesque Minions-themed “photomosaic.” At the end of the entry period, random winners went on to receive Amazon gift cards. Not only were thousands of Minions/Amazon co-branded images posted on social media but this content was viewed by their own broader network. This storytelling effect integrated the film, packaging and offline elements into a combined experience that everyone publishing the hashtag shared. This positive amplification created an organic content hub and showed an interactive user experience from receiving the Amazon box, to taking a photo to publish on social media, becoming part of a mosaic and also being a potential winner.
Overall, by encouraging UGC though the use of review prompts, sweepstakes and Q&A’s, it’s possible to put content production into the hands of consumers. Adopting the use of social media monitoring and review sites can pull feedback and reviews by current customers, prospects, industry spokespeople and customers of competitors. Not only can this build invaluable insight to add value to a brand but it can provide a major competitive advantage in the long term.