WHY UGC SHOULD BE FRONT AND CENTRE IN YOUR DIGITAL STRATEGY
It’s hard to escape “content” right now, especially if you work in digital.
The need for content that sits across the whole customer journey from awareness to conversion has never been greater. The role of the content marketer is simply to put the right content at the right point in that journey to move the consumer towards purchase, simple. So, what’s all the fuss about User Generated Content (UGC)? There’s a huge buzz as brands are starting to connect the dots, a UGC framework strategy is essentially a super charged word of mouth exercise, and every marketer knows word of mouth is the most powerful tool out there. Why? Because consumers trust other consumers more than they trust brands, Trip Advisor anyone.
However, UGC plays against the natural tendencies of most marketers who have been drilled to control the message and maybe base fears that the product or service they represent isn’t really that great and too much of the consumers’ voice might not be a good thing.
Well I’m here to put those fears to bed.
What is UGC?
So, let’s start at the beginning, what is UGC. Quite simply, it is content a story created by a consumer, not the brand. This can take many forms from opinions and reviews, posts on social media, shared experiences via video and imagery to blog posts, comments and activation experiences.
A strategic overview
Why brands should not fear UGC
You can’t get away from the fact that as a brand you are giving up control but let’s face it technology did this some time ago, consumers are creating content good or bad about your brand, products and services whether you want them to or not. So, it’s seems illogical to not want to get involved and shape that content for a wider purpose?
At the basic level, a lot of UGC is simply feedback - some good, some bad. That’s happening all the time verbally, digitally. People do interact with other people; technology has made this very easy. Embrace the negative feedback it’s how you learn to make things better and handled in the right way can be the missing link to taking your brand to the next level.
The UGC marketing sales funnel
The step by step sales funnel of KNOW -> LIKE -> TRUST -> BUY has become more important for brand communication. It’s about building trust, engaging with a user at a one to one level, demonstrating understating.
The user as an individual has the power to express that trust to their wider connections. A UGC framework simply makes this process easier and more effective, or optimises it for the SEO crew!
The next layer is to do this on a bigger scale, creating a framework that does this for larger groups of similar users with an exponential effect on the overall trust of a brand.
People buy more stuff from brands they trust.
The sales funnel stages
There are specific stages of a UGC campaign:
Step 1 - getting to know the brand (awareness) / knowing the brand needs “How to” content and brand led comms.
Step 2 is where you create empathy for your brand. This is where storytelling comes in.
Steps 1 and 2 are basically just content marketing and we know that works well.
Step 3 - hold on to your hats
This is where UGC takes your activity to the next level. Step 3 is where trust is built. Using UGC will do it faster and more effectively because people trust other people more than they trust your brand. The challenge marketers have is to motivate and give consumers a framework to express their personal brand experience, whatever that experience is and then build on that.
There’s some great examples of this at work, such as a South American Coca Cola campaign where a platform was created for users to post video stories. These were shared socially, and curated by the brand for use on other channels. The stories were so good that one was turned into TV ad.
Analyse AND Improve
Aside from the usual digital metrics, UGC content gives you a great insight into the consumers’ emotions around your brand. Feedback can be used to shape your curation strategy and feed into your communications. As ever, I advocate a test > learn > refine approach. Nothing works 100% first time - all the time.
The bigger picture
Millennials are social media natives the behaviours that drive UGC are they’re behaviours. Millennials are your UGC early adopters. Don’t try and fight against hard-wired digital behaviour - embrace it.
Interactive multi-channel UGC content marketing
Every online channel has its own target audience, mechanics and advantages. Effective UGC marketing strategies always ask users to interact. Linking this cross-channel increases awareness and extends the message. Elements of the story can be further adapted for different purposes. The possibilities are only what you can come up with, and test.
What it boils down to is more engaged people at all stages of their journey with your brand, and that simply means more sales, or sign-ups.
BuildIng UGC into your strategy is about embracing the two-way nature of modern communications. Clever brands move from content production to content curation in this process building a framework that works for their individual objectives. The leaders in virtually every sector are doing this in some way or another.
Don’t fear UGC. After all, it’s going to happen whether you take advantage of it or not.