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User Generated Content for newbies

In the past, in the world of marketing, the sender of the advertisement spoke and the recipients listened. Today, the relationship between sellers and buyers has changed dramatically. Thanks to the Internet, we said goodbye to the imbalance in the communication pattern. The monologues were replaced by dialogues, and what the client says has become sacred. Why? Because User Generated Content pays off. What is more exactly and how to use this tool in your marketing strategy?

What is User Generated Content?

This is content created voluntarily by users, not by brands. They can take various forms: from various types of texts, through photos, to video materials. According to the definition, they must be at least partially creative. And… that’s about it when it comes to the concept of User Generated Content (UGC). So as you can see, it’s a very broad definition.

What forms can the UGC take?

User-generated content can take many forms. The most typical ones include:
– posts in social media – e.g. comments under brand entries on their fan pages, reviews or creative responses to marketing communication,
– entries on internet forums,
– reviews on review websites,
– vlogs,
blog entries on topics related to a given brand.

Thus, they can be all kinds of forms of Internet users’ expression, which are somehow related to brand communication.

Why is User Generated Content profitable?

Take a moment to think: how do you make purchasing decisions? What works more for you: an ad that promises you that product X is the best in the world? Or maybe a user’s comment on the brand’s fanpage or on the portal with opinions, reliably indicating the advantages and disadvantages of a given solution? What is more reliable for you? What content are you looking for? This is why UGC is so important. Below we present the most important advantages of this type of content.

Credibility
As research shows, 92% of people are inclined to believe the opinion they hear from a person they know, and as many as 70% consider the opinions on the Internet to be credible. What does it mean? A genuine message from a “normal user”, not a marketer, is much more credible than an advertisement.

Naturalness
Who else believes that the ads present a true picture of reality? The traditional ones are widely recognized as sweet and exaggerating the benefits of the products. No wonder – it is part of their “poetics”. But how with authenticity? This one is much bigger in reviews and other product content that users create. Hence the popularity of photo sets in the style of “expectations vs. reality”, where the photographs from promotional materials are compared with those made after the purchase of the product (e.g. a hamburger in a chain store or online clothes). Hence, more and more ranges are building blogs with reviews and channels of this type on YouTube.

Huge influence on customer purchasing decisions
User-generated content can be the proverbial last straw – the element that will push the customer towards the checkout process. This is highly likely, especially if it belongs to the target of the brand and is initially interested in a given product. This is also confirmed by research – as many as 80% of respondents agree that the UGC has a significant influence on decisions regarding the purchase of specific products.

Support for image-building activities
UGC can fulfill all functions related to building a brand image – it informs about its existence, arouses interest in products, creates positive associations and builds a strong bond between the consumer and the company. These relationships are not purely “business” – especially since a lot of user-generated content is generated by emotions (both positive and negative!). So they build long-term commitment.

The foundation of inbound marketing
… and therefore “inbound marketing” – a model in which customers come to the company themselves and create hype around it. It is a much more effective form of acquiring a permanent group of recipients – those who are faithful and come back again and again, attracting new customers.

Relatively low cost
In the case of UCG, it is difficult to clearly estimate the expenses that must be incurred to generate interest in the products and the willingness to share related content. Other expenses were incurred by, for example, Coca-Cola, creating beverage packages with personalized labels that very quickly became online and offline stars, and another company that created a simple Instagram contest. One thing is certain: skillfully (and honestly!), A casted rod will produce a response and will bring profits in the short or long term.

Strengthening SEO activities
In the world of positioning “content is the king”. However, not the first better content, but one that has real value for users. Google’s algorithms no longer focus solely on the number of repeating keywords in the content. Yes, it is still important, but not the most important. Currently, naturalness, user-friendliness and usefulness of the content count. Therefore, if, for example, users post links to a brand’s products on their profiles in social media or blogs, the chances of a higher position on the ranking list increase significantly.

A great source of feedback
The goal of each company is to create products that will be willingly bought by customers from a specific segment. And it’s not you, but your recipients know what they expect. Yes, you can try to create their needs and point to available solutions. But you also need to listen to the feedback received, and not only to your praise, but most of all to your criticism. The UGC is a good source of such information. Often, it is in the comments and reviews that you can find valuable suggestions that allow you to change your operating strategy for a better one for customers and for the company.

This shortened list of benefits that can be drawn from User Generated Content shows that it is worth taking care of its creation.

How to build User Generated Content?

At first glance, this question – in the context of the definition of UGC – may seem bizarre to you. After all, it’s about content that is created by the users themselves, isn’t it? Yes, but… not really. You need to create an atmosphere that will be an impulse to share impressions / experiences and thoughts.

Think for a moment: what products would you be willing to tell your friends about? What do you recommend them? In what situations do you want to take the time to prepare a review of the hotel where you happened to be? There must be specific emotions associated with these experiences.

Also remember that people who will be willing to create a UGC are a very diverse group. It will include both those who will share only negative feelings – in order to complain, and those who want to present their assessment to the “whole world”. There will also be those who will simply offer advice, e.g. in a Facebook group or on a thematic forum. Some of them can be encouraged to create a UGC, some will motivate themselves.

But how can you influence the frequency of UGC generation?

Contests in social media
It’s a simple way to add hype to your brand. Prepare a competition for users in which you will offer them valuable prizes, e.g. for preparing a short post related to your products. You can also reward them for writing the most interesting review, creating a photo related to the imposed topic, short story, poem … The more creativity you unleash, the better the entertainment. Sometimes the opportunity to read and see the products of others becomes a greater reward than the material ones!

Encourage to leave a review
Until some time ago, it was mainly a solution recommended for online stores – here customer opinions have long been more important than the lowest prices. Today, however, e.g. due to the way the opinion system on Google works, Internet users are looking for reviews of almost everything. Starting from restaurants and bars, through entertainment points, offices, shops, to tourist places. That is why it is worth encouraging your customers to leave a review. How? You can simply ask them for it – for example, by handing out a leaflet encouraging them to rate them or by sending an email with a suggestion. You can also offer an additional incentive, for example in the form of a discount on subsequent purchases.

Warning! Don’t just reward those who leave the maximum rating and delighted reviews! Let us say it again: honesty and authenticity are the secret of the power of User Generated Content.

An offensive post on social media
If you have a large enough social media followers base, asking an interesting, offensive question will be a straightforward way to get a huge amount of user-generated content.

Sometimes a simple question about how their day is going is enough. In other situations – a serious question for an opinion on a matter related to the brand’s activity. But be careful! Such discussions can get hot! Therefore, moderation is needed. Don’t forget: “moderation” does not mean deleting unfavorable comments, but e.g. reacting to hate messages and answering questions that will be asked of you!

Interacting on social media channels
On your social media profiles, comments may appear regarding the experience of working with the brand or a specific situation that caused emotions in the user. You cannot leave them unanswered – just like those relating directly to the post.

What are the answers that generate the UGC? They contain open-ended questions – ask and encourage recipients to “open up”. It is also worth choosing a looser style of communication – especially in response to negative comments. If you approach them with a grain of salt – your answers will become the subject of discussion by themselves. And that’s the point!

What to avoid when creating a UGC?

There are many ways you can inspire your audience to create content related to your brand. Remember! You have to do it in a thoughtful way. Avoid:
over-encouraging commenting and sharing – if it appears too often and too intrusively, it will discourage more than encourage creativity and interaction,
artificial “crowd-making” – yes, you can think about subtle moderation of the discussion, but it is not worth doing it incognito. It is definitely better to communicate openly and honestly on behalf of the brand (or through its ambassadors) than to pretend to be ordinary users. False notes will be quickly detected, and the action will lead to defeat, not victory,
publishing UGC without the consent of the creator – for example, if you receive an e-mail with a positive opinion about the company, before making it public, ask if you can do it. The same applies to creative works sent to competitions and other corporate events. Ask for permission to publish, preferably in writing, and only then brag about what you got,
creating campaigns aimed at building User Generated Content among people outside your target group and in a style that does not match your brand – after all, the ultimate goal of such communication is to build a specific image among specific recipients.

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