User-generated content: this is how you get your customers on board

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User-generated content: this is how you get your customers on board

User-generated content is more than just a background for your own advertising. Ratings, comments and photos from users are considered far more influential than any other form of media.

The idea behind it is quite simple: users create content for a brand, a product, a company themselves and distribute it via the social web. The result: more reach, better customer loyalty, new fans. User-generated content is therefore far too important to be left out by marketers.

Why user-generated content shouldn’t be ignored

The influence of user-generated content on the behavior of (potential) customers has already been the subject of numerous studies and investigations. According to Mavrck, this generates 6.9 times more engagements than brand content on Facebook .

study by Olapec on consumer confidence also shows that users place much more trust in user-generated content and that the willingness to buy increases when user-generated content with positive connotations is seen about a product.

The advantages of user-generated content are therefore clear:

  • It’s virtually free or at least cheaper than other content.
  • Customer loyalty is strengthened.
  • He is authentic and creates trust.
  • Users identify more with a brand / company.
  • UGC achieves higher reach and interactions.

What types of user-generated content are there?

The phenomenon is not new: reviews, ratings or comments on social media platforms are commonplace. Such user-generated content is primarily used by companies to receive honest feedback from their customers. In turn, such contributions help other users with their purchase decision. This content is usually very text-heavy and is therefore not really suitable for targeted campaigns with user-generated content. Anyone who wants to use a campaign to specifically encourage their customers to become active themselves should rely on photo and video contributions. Unboxing videos or photo competitions are effective formats here.

How companies can use user-generated content for themselves

User-generated content can also backfire, as the Nestle campaign shows.  (Screenshot: Twitter)

Not every product immediately offers enough user-generated content to make it usable for your own advertising strategies. Emotional products, so-called high involvement products, such as luxury goods or premium food, are much more affine for user-generated content, so that companies can often fall back on a real cornucopia of such content without much effort. Low-involvement products, such as food and other everyday goods, have a harder time. Here companies have to actively encourage their customers to generate their own content.

In order for such a campaign to be a success, a few points must be observed:

  1. Weighing up the risks beforehand: Making users the mouthpiece of your own brand can quickly backfire on controversial issues. Think of # FragNestlé . Make sure that your customers have had mostly positive experiences with your brand or company so far.
  2. Prepare crisis strategies: User-generated content has the disadvantage that it is never possible to predict exactly how the users’ reactions will be. A crisis strategy is therefore indispensable even for less controversial issues. The content must be moderated: Clear rules on netiquette are required and negative reactions must be responded to quickly, but above all transparently and politely.
  3. Whet your appetite: A UGC campaign that runs over several weeks or months carries the risk that interest will quickly decline and ultimately fizzle out. In order to still motivate as many users as possible to participate, the campaign should therefore be attractively announced in advance and arouse users’ anticipation. Once they are fed, companies can look forward to a flood of content once the go-ahead has been given.
  4. Take your customers by the hand: In order to receive valuable user-generated content, don’t leave your users alone, but be a kind of co-marketer for them. For example, provide them with a hashtag or photo filter. Show them how they can create, distribute and interact with content or select targeted brand ambassadors from your user group with whom you then implement a campaign.
  5. Clear, simple rules: It is important to keep the threshold for participation for your users as low as possible. After all, your users want to have fun and share their experiences with your brand with others with as little effort as possible.
  6. Interact and moderate: If you are calling on your customers to produce content for you, you should value this “work”. React to the content of your users, comment or share it. Your users have to notice that they are being noticed and taken seriously so that they don’t lose interest. This does not only apply to UGC campaigns, but to any content from your users. Regular monitoring of how users interact with your brand, for example using your hashtags, helps you to get in touch with your users.
  7. Evaluate successes: The success of a UGC campaign can be measured using various key figures: click rate, length of stay, sales, new leads. Thorough monitoring is the basis for a successful evaluation. After such a campaign, you should also draw a conclusion on the content: How was the engagement of the users? How was the quality of the contributions? How much negative feedback was there? With this knowledge, you can plan new UGC campaigns even better.

User-generated content from an SEO perspective

In a video from the # AskGoogleWebmasters series, John Mueller explains how Google treats user-generated content on websites, just like other page content. Regardless of whether these are comments, discussions or entire pages that are written by users. Google assumes that this is content that webmasters want on their site and that therefore meets their own requirements. In order to simplify the moderation of such content and to prevent bad UCG from harming the ranking of the page, Mueller recommends excluding these pages from indexing until a quality check can be carried out. If user-generated content include links, they should also with the UGC attribute rel = “ugc” be provided

Conclusion

User-generated content is a powerful tool for strengthening your own marketing activities. Customers build a much stronger and more personal bond with a brand and thus represent the lifestyle behind a product. And although consumers recognize the advertising intent behind a UGC campaign, they trust its content more than pure brand content. In order for such a campaign to work, however, here are the most important questions that you should ask yourself in advance:

  1. What content should be produced? (Photos, videos, texts)
  2. Who should produce content? (all or selected users)
  3. Where should the content appear? (social networks, company website, separate homepage for the campaign, offline …)
  4. How long should the campaign run?
  5. What time and human resources are available?
  6. Which overarching goal should be achieved?

And last but not least: Listen to your customers, take them seriously and give them a platform. This is how you can turn them into authentic ambassadors for your brand.

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