7 Amazing Benefits of User-Generated Content
User-generated content, UGC, UCC, gained content, whichever term you prefer. It’s something we’ve looked at before when discussing visual commerce, and today we’ll be looking at 7 amazing benefits of UGC and why you should be using it in your own marketing.
UGC & Visual Commerce
Let’s start off with a few basics just so we’re all on the same page. Feel free to skip ahead to the section ‘Why should you use UGC in your marketing efforts?’ if you’re already well versed in what UGC is and just want the specifics on the benefits of using it.
User-Generated Content: Definition
User-generated content is any form of content, images, videos, text or audio file that is published online to social media. Brands can then use this content in their own marketing campaigns, once they have obtained permission from the content owner.
If you’re not quite sure and want to see some UGC examples, every image we’ve used in this article is an example of UGC.
Images taken by consumers for whatever reason, whether they’re showing off their new shoes or their pride at purchasing a delicious coffee. The benefit to the brand is that their product is being used, reviewed and promoted online.
So now that we have a good understanding of what it is, let’s dive into the benefits of UGC!
Why should you use UGC as part of your marketing strategy?
Your audience does much of the work for you
If you need any persuading about the benefits of UGC just consider consumer behaviour at events, such as Coachella, the Superbowl (or even just a trip to Starbucks).
Countless images are posted, tagged, shared and interacted with on social media, with all this content being created and shared, I’d be surprised if the marketing department don’t just take a long holiday when these events come around, after all, the work is being done for them!
Higher conversion rate
Traffic is a hugely important KPI to marketers, but traffic without conversions is useless. If there happens to be an easy way to increase conversions, you have to do it, right?
Well, as we discussed in a previous article regarding user-generated content, UGC converts at a higher rate than brand produced content. If you choose to ignore this you’re essentially making life more difficult for yourself, keep things simple, work smarter not harder.
There isn’t much to say on conversion rates, if one type of content converts better than another (and is less expensive to produce) … Do it!
In times when fake news, hacked accounts and fake profiles are more prevalent than ever, reliability and social proof can be the clincher in the decision-making process when considering making a purchase.
- Over 70% of Americans check reviews online before making a purchase.
- 63% of consumers say they’re more likely to make a purchase if they can check product ratings and reviews.
This highlights the importance of social proof, in the form of reviews and images that your adoring Instagram followers post online.
“Social proof can be the clincher in the decision-making process when considering making a purchase”
Do you trust recommendations from a friend over a stranger? Of course you do, (depending on your friends). You already have a pre-existing relationship with a level of trust involved. So if your friend says that these trainers are better for running than others, there’s a good chance you’ll trust this information right? Maybe not to purchase outright, but at least enough to look into it further.
Reaping the benefits of user-generated content doesn’t limit you to searching consumer posts for content relevant to you. You can go a step further to take advantage of consumers subconscious desire to fit in with peers.
Build your ideal buyer persona. Use the information provided to find their pain points, but most importantly, find out how your product solved a problem for them, then simply spread the news.
This strategy taps into the thought that people don’t want to be left behind, they want to be doing the same things their peers are doing, have the same luxuries and not be an outsider.
Take an example of social proof in a simple form, one that has existed for years. Think of a nightclub and the well-known ploy of ‘always keeping a line’, people are waiting outside in the cold and want to get in, so it must be good right? Social proof has worked in this way for decades, so make it work for you too, simple.
Increasing your reach on social media
Does the marketing department for the Eiffel Tower need to spend much on ads? I seriously doubt it, considering how many thousands or millions of images are taken each day.
Interestingly, sharing photos of the Eiffel Tower light show is actually illegal, the copyright belongs to the artist who installed it. The intricacies of UGC!
We’ve discussed increased reach on social media in the ultimate guide to visual commerce, a great read if you’re looking at ways to increase your social media sales.
Think about it, your company profile could have 5000 or 5 million followers, there will always be people who would LOVE your product, but will never even know of its existence. Ways around this? Ads and UGC. As you can see from our discussion so far, user-generated content is like a free ad.
Let’s say I’m a consumer, I’ve bought a product of yours, and loved it. Now there is a good chance I might share this news with my followers. Whilst I’m only doing it for personal reasons, this could be opening up a previously untapped section of the market for you.
Going back to something we said earlier, people don’t want to be left out, we’re friends with like-minded people (for the most part) so if I like your product, there is a possibility some of my friends in my network will like it too, opening up a previously untapped part of the market for you to push into.
Of course this isn’t true for everyone, if I adore the hiking boots I bought from your website, many of my friends will not care one iota, but a small number would be interested and may even find out more, possibly even making a purchase. And BANG I’ve just done the work of your marketing department for you!
Your product and your company have been exposed to potential new consumers, perfect!
So what’s next on our list of awesome benefits of using user-generated content?
You would be forgiven for thinking ‘authenticity? Isn’t that the same as reliability?’ not quite, dear reader. When talking about UGC and how it provides authenticity, it is in the authenticity of your ads.
Authenticity can be broken down into a few subcategories,
Do your ads look genuine? Does it look like the people in there are really enjoying your product and feeling like it’s money well spent? Or is it a standard, air-brushed photo of a model that users will simply scroll past and barely notice?
Studies have shown that customers prefer authentic content to traditional ads. That’s the big takeaway, your customers prefer authentic over traditional, and authentic is less expensive to create, so the solution is straight forward… right?
Audience Insights/ Feedback
Does this customer seem happy with their brand new Adidas shoes?
Sales and marketing are always asking users to complete surveys and reviews, it helps us do our jobs after all. Thing is, a lot of consumers HATE THIS.
If only there was a way to unobtrusively obtain customer feedback…
UGC provides insight into what consumers think about your product, price, packaging, even the service online/in store. It allows you to get the honest, unprompted opinions of customers about things which matter to them.
This means you can better understand your audience, pain and pleasure points, even the type of content they enjoy/ interact with.
“UGC allows you to get the honest, unprompted opinions of customers about things which matter to them.”
Unique content: Unique positioning
As marketers we’re always trying to stay on top of trends to keep our content relevant, in essence, trying to please the average consumer. Content produced by your audience is a demonstration of the type of content users enjoy, the type of content that they engage with and which can convert them.
Aside from the outsider perspective we get from UGC, it has the possibility of putting you ahead of a trend, to surf the wave of public interest at the most lucrative point, rather than noticing a trend too late when it’s on the downward slope.
UGC: a final note to consider
We wouldn’t be doing you justice to only proclaim the amazing benefits of UGC, as we said in our earlier article, the ultimate guide to visual commerce, is that you must get permission to use this content.
Obtaining approval sounds like an arduous task, finding appropriate content, reaching out and waiting for replies from each and every individual, and without our visual commerce tool, it is a nightmare!
The benefits of social proof should now be obvious, but remember that it works both ways, the effect of negative social proof can be catastrophic. In various studies, it has been found that negative social proof has an adverse effect on desired behaviour (in this case, making a purchase).
By publishing negative social proof, you are providing evidence that other people have opted against your product or service and in essence, making it socially acceptable (follow the crowd mentality) for others to do the same.
Now you’ve got all the useful information you could ever need about the benefits of user-generated content and can avoid the pitfalls, you’re ready to implement UGC into your marketing strategy and reap the benefits. Be sure to drop us your email if you’ve got any questions about UGC or increasing your E-commerce sales, our proprietary technology means we’re the best in the business at this!