Content created by your community—otherwise known as user-generated content (or UGC)—can have a big impact. In fact, according to a study led by Ipsos MediaCT last year, user-generated content is 35% more memorable and 50% more trusted than other types of media and information.
This is especially relevant if your brand operates multiple brick-and-mortar locations. From restaurant chains to retail outlets, it’s imperative to bring your community into the fold so that you can speak with a more localized voice.
In doing so, you will be able to increase customer retention, spur audience engagement and gather valuable feedback on your products and services. Below, we take a closer look at the potential each of these areas holds.
User-generated content is 35% more memorable and 50% more trusted than other types of media and information.
Increase Customer Retention
Encouraging your customers to develop content will build trust, which in turn makes them more loyal to your brand. Remember, it costs five times as much to acquire new customers as it does to keep your current ones, so investing in these sort of community-driven efforts will prove cost effective as well.
To get started, you will want to create a program that incentivizes the creation of user-generated content with specific outlines of what your team is looking for and, most important, what’s in it for anyone participating.
It costs five times as much to acquire new customers as it does to keep current ones.
American Eagle Outfitters does a good job of this by encouraging customers to use the hashtags #AEOstyle and #AerieReal on Instagram and Twitter, letting them know that the best images will be featured on the brand’s website. To further incentivize participation, American Eagle will reach out to brand advocates with a thank-you card of $25.
To attract quality UGC, you will need to create brand guidelines and potentially even offer training sessions at your various locations or online. Brand guidelines will help organize your program across the board, ensuring customers are using consistent hashtags, formats and channels.
Spur Audience Engagement
It may be difficult for your company to keep up with the amount of content that’s being produced within your industry. Thus, it’s important to partner with your peers, customers and other influencers to foster continued engagement with your brand. The impact of finding the right partners can be substantial, considering the fact that 92% of consumers look to referrals from people they know above any other source.
Unilever’s All Things Hair YouTube channel does this to deliver highly targeted content to its various audiences. The brand partners with YouTuber users to create informative tutorials related to beauty and haircare, and then shares these videos on a page that isn’t overly branded. This helps Unilever align with the authenticity of each creator while reaching new audiences.
92% of consumers look to referrals from people they know.
—Tapfluence and Intuitive
To speak more directly to target demographics, Unilever also has wisely developed a YouTube channel for several key markets—the US, Canada, Brazil, Philippines and UK. This social outlet is a smart choice for another reason too: Because YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, engagement and visibility tend to build over time.
YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine.
Gather Valuable Feedback on Your Products & Services
Brand reviews are another powerful form of UGC that can build a feedback loop into how your products and services are perceived and, from there, help you refine your positioning. Make it as simple as possible for customers to leave their feedback across devices to understand where you’re succeeding and where you’re failing to serve them.
Coffee For Less used website reviews in that vein. In fact, the brand actually encouraged reviews so that it could borrow language from users’ comments in promotional efforts across other channels. This also helped Coffee For Less improve its customer service.
By encouraging user-generated content, it is possible to build both your brand and your community through a more authentic and engaging process on social media.
Start by determining what content is already being created about your brand, and plan how to continue to foster this process.
If there isn’t content being developed by your customers yet, develop an incentive to spur the creation of UGC based around the unique qualities of your business, such as your most popular products or your renowned customer service.
How has UGC impacted the growth of your business on social? Share your thoughts below.
Brian Honigman: Brian Honigman is a content marketing consultant and the CEO of Honigman Media, a content consultancy offering both content strategy consulting and content production services. He's a regular contributor to Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and others. Find him on Twitter @BrianHonigman.