If you’ve never heard that acronym, it stands for user-generated content. It refers to all the content that revolves around brands, companies, products, and services but originates with consumers, not marketers or salespeople. What do you need to know about user-generated content? And what role does it play in your marketing strategy? Let’s find out!
People talk about a lot of different things online. We browse the Internet for entertainment, to learn something more, to get acquainted with the news, and to discover new products and services. Internet users are very keen to talk about companies and their products. That’s why there are thousands of product tests on YouTube, millions of photos featuring specific products and brands on Instagram, and hundreds of thousands of comments relating to various brands on Facebook.
All of that is called UGC – user-generated content. Every review, every test, every photo, and every comment constitute UGC.
The power of user-generated content
If you’ve seen the “Super Size Me” documental movie from 2004, that’s the perfect example of how effective UGC can be. In some situations, it can truly impact the way large companies operate. Did you know that just six weeks after the film’s debut, McDonald’s discontinued their super-size portions? According to the Stackla report from 2021, UGC can be far more effective even than influencer-generated content.
Why is that? Primarily because consumers trust peer recommendations online. Content that originates with other users is natural, authentic, and, above all, true. If other internet users praise a given product, usually that’s because they are satisfied with it, not because they’ve been paid to write a positive review (although that happens, not every online review is honest, more and more companies perceive that as an unfair business practice). As different study shows, 72% of brands believe UGC helps them engage customers and build brand trust that results in a good connection with their customers. True, transparent content is a prerequisite for that.
And speaking of brands, how can you use UGC in your marketing activities?
The impact of UGC on your marketing
For starters, take a look at this video test of one of the latest Samsung smartphones:
Did you notice how many views this video has? At the time of writing that post, it has slightly over 6,446,000 views. The video has over 11 minutes. Now, think, how much money would Samsung have to invest to get to almost 6.5 million people with an 11-minute-long message? Hundreds of thousands of dollars, without a doubt! And it wouldn’t be necessarily effective, as most of the viewers would quickly get bored or annoyed. Here, everyone who watches this video does that willingly, so it is likely the majority of viewers saw at least a large portion of this material.
What does it mean to your brand? That you should employ UGC to present your brand to people! The more they talk about your products and services, the better. Moreover, UGC can give your SEO a significant boost. How is that possible?
HOW UGC INFLUENCES SEO
First off, reviews and opinions are a perfect source of long-tail key phrases that help you increase visibility on Google. Secondly, if you run an online store, UGC helps you stand out from the competition that frequently uses the same generic product descriptions. In fact, this refers to other websites, too. User-generated content is a perfect source of new unique content. If there are many reviews on your Google My Business account, for Google, it’s a clear sign that your company actively operates, so it’s worth recommending you to other users (of course, provided these reviews are positive).
Lastly, Google values in-depth reviews that your customers leave. In April 2021, they announced the Product Reviews update. According to this update, Google more willingly promotes in-depth product reviews that go beyond “all good”. If your website is full of valuable comments and reviews, this will surely support your SEO activity. You can read more about this recent Google update here.
HOW UGC INFLUENCES PURCHASING DECISIONS
79% of people say user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions.
People have different motivators when it comes to purchasing products and services. However, many claim that other people’s opinions can be very valuable, especially when thinking about friends and family. But recommendations coming from other Internet users are also valuable, especially when thinking about reviews of specialized equipment that’s used by professionals. According to the aforementioned research, almost 80% of consumers admit that UGC influences their purchasing decisions, which means that it’s one of the most powerful motivators for buying specific products and services.
This begs the obvious question – what can you do to implement UGC to your marketing strategy?
How to make user-generated content a part of your marketing strategy
CREATE A PLACE FOR UGC
First of all, you have to create a space where UGC can be published on your website and in other places where you are present online. When it comes to Google My Business, the answer is obvious – Google automatically assigns a place for online reviews, so you don’t have to worry about that. But your website; that’s a different story. Whether you run an online store, a SaaS company, or any other business, you have to find a place where user reviews can be displayed. There are many options here, but you have to remember one thing: UGC has to be well visible. You can’t hide it on a fifth subpage; on the contrary, it should be visible on the main page and all the major subpages.
Take a look at how we do that. There is a special section called “Our clients about us” on the main page of our website:
As a result, the majority of people visiting our website go through this section, and UGC can do its job.
ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO PUBLISH MORE CONTENT
We talked a lot about that in the previous article about customer reviews. In general, the best way to get more content coming from your users is by:
- Simply asking them to do that (via newsletters, thank-you pages, and even on the website itself)
- Offering them something in exchange (e.g., a small discount or a free delivery)
- Promoting other people’s reviews by making them clearly visible on the website and on social media
If you run an e-commerce business, you can create a special place on every product tab where customers can leave a review. You could write something like that: “Here, you can describe your experience with this product. We appreciate your input!“. Having a short message like this can make some customers feel obliged to write a few sentences.
And here’s another idea – if you sell physical products, you can encourage people to record video tests, unboxing videos, or how-to tutorials, and publish the most interesting ones on your website. This way, others will feel encouraged to create such materials as well.
VERIFY COMMENTS THAT YOU GET
Not every comment will be of high quality. If you lose control over UGC, your website could quickly become a messy place with tons of low-quality spam comments. That’s the opposite of what UGC is about. That’s why you need to verify and moderate the comments and reviews that you receive. Of course, we’re not saying here that you’re allowed to delete negative comments. Don’t even think about that. All you should do is delete comments that are false or spammy.
Lastly, if you run an international business, make sure that UGC is available in every language that you operate in. Sometimes, you can get reviews in a local language (that’s the best scenario), but if that’s not possible, your second-best option is to translate reviews that you already have.
Use the advice we share in this article, and you will see how UGC can be beneficial to your business. If done properly, user-generated content will get you more users and win their trust, even if they haven’t purchased anything from you yet. And that’s the whole point.