Thank You @WayneDenner for this great post on the importance of businesses encouraging User Generated Content. This is an essential part of integrity based marketing and it can pay off-dividends for brands improving on products and services. So many case studies exist on how this has improved services and even brought back products from “beyond the product grave”. Wispa Anyone?
Everyday our web of influence changes, over the past 5 years we have seen a massive shift towards social conversations platforms like Facebook & Twitter have exploded and brought with them a whole word of new content – this content was not created by famous writer’s nor was it created or dreamed up by fluffy marketers it was created by regular people. But before we get into ‘why user generated content matters’ lets me clear on just what UGC actually is, oh and by the way UGC is becoming a major part of Search #Fact and before I forget businesses also have a small part to play in UGC.
We have developed into a society or a world that likes to share and by sharing I mean digitally share. UGC is content which we upload to a website or social media platform – examples of such content includes Audio, Photography, Video, Written & Reviews. Now its no secret that I am not a fan of mass marketing and I believe that nowadays we are subjected to so much more advertising messages coming from a variety of different channels that as businesses and marketers we really need to take a step back and look at what if any of the message is actually reaching the customer or is it being lost. It is generally now accepted that peer recommendations online are more likely to lead to a sales conversion and that the attachment or advocacy connected with user-generated content can indeed be a powerful tool to strengthen and grown your consumer base all of which matters in the competitive space of trying to win customers online.
Research carried out has shown that more than 8 in 10 say user-generated content from people they don’t know influences what they buy and indicates brand quality, while 51%* say it is actually more important than the opinions of their friends and family, and far more trustworthy than website content.
*Source Talking to Strangers Millennials trust people over brands Jan 2012*
Now for me as an online customer engagement fanatic the whole user generated content area excites me a lot. As I see it there is a massive opportunity for businesses especially the small ones of become big players if they can get it right and build advocacy via social media it can really boost their business. For me where many of the businesses fail is getting it right, they sit on the fence way to long, dip their toe in the water or put in a half ass effort. I’ve always found in the past with using social media you need to go all in, a bit like poker to see any of the benefits. The generation of this content for the businesses comes at very little cost although it is worth pointing out it can come with its problems and the negative downside to those businesses that under perform.
I’ve included some steps, which you can take to start the ball rolling, and encouraging the creation of user generated content among your customers.
- Ask and encourage customers to post reviews and comments on their experience with your brand, business or service. Include links to trusted review sites.
- User generated content websites such as Tripadvisor attract search engines visitors linking your site through UGC are contributing towards improving your ranking and increasing your visibility via the search engines.
- UGC is easier grown if starts with the business, this is where the small part businesses play which I mentioned earlier in the blog comes into play – create content which connects with the needs of your customers.
- Encourage Discussion – the reason social media has been so explosive is because of its discussion aspect – its created outside of ‘actual’ physical conversations a place people can talk, share experiences, ideas at the touch of a button. Within your business social space online encourage customers to suggest ideas, contribute towards the success of your business, and why not even ask for their opinion on your products or services and how you could improve on them.
By encouraging customers of your business to create UGC they are in fact contributing to your overall business marketing efforts as the research shows earlier in the blog 51% say UGC is actually more important than the opinions of their friends and family, and far more trustworthy than website content.
In a nutshell your customers the ‘Users’ want to generate the content so at all opportunities encourage this of course from time to time the content generated maybe not what you have wanted it to be but its how you manage the process which will have the biggest impact and create the most leads which will win you the business. By providing great customer service within and throughout your business will lead to content being generated about your business and be sure to reward and incentivize fans for creating good content.
About Wayne Denner
Wayne Denner is a leading digital marketing professional and lecturer.
With over 14 years experience in traditional & digital marketing, Wayne has planned and developed successful campaigns for clients across the UK and Ireland, including Diageo, Carphone Warehouse, Specsavers,Drinkaware.co.uk, Orange, Armagh City & District Council, Invest NI, Newry & Mourne District Council and O2.
He has been at the forefront of the rapidly-changing digital marketing industry for over a decade and is an expert on emerging trends including social engagement, online reputation management, branding media, web 2.0 & e-commerce platforms.
Wayne also lectures on the Chartered Institute of Marketing program on Digital Marketing Essentials & Integrating Digital Media & Branding and is currently writing a book on the subject.
Follow him on Twitter @waynedenner