With consumers spending more money online and more time on social media (more than half of the world’s population uses social media today, a 12.3% year-over-year increase), companies that want to stay competitive need to understand the impact their sites have on Internet presence in consumers’ buying behavior, and making sure that their marketing tactics reflect this. While many brands have relied on influencers to engage new and existing customers in recent years, some have begun to resort to a more affordable, sustainable, and authentic approach to improving their brand awareness online by leveraging User-Generated Content (UGC).
Recent studies from Bazaarvoice show that 56% of social media users now prefer following “everyday” social media users, such as friends, family, and peers, compared to traditional influencers. This change in consumer sentiment translates into their buying decisions as more consumers trust products promoted by people who actually use them rather than those associated with an #advertisement or #sponsor. As more consumers begin to change their behaviors and prefer more authentic content, now is the time for marketers to start understanding how to properly use UGC to connect with their communities in new and exciting ways.
The ability to benefit from authentic, brand-certified content at the lowest cost
Hiring an advertising agency to create professional content or partnering with a celebrity influencer is time consuming and expensive. Because of the pandemic’s huge impact on sales, many brands had to pause costly campaigns, and small businesses had to stop working with premium influencers altogether. With most companies still trying to make up for the money lost over the past year, turning to user-generated content allows them to get original and relevant content in a faster, more cost-effective and more sustainable way.
Brands can energize their followers through strategies such as social media contests or hashtag challenges, provide specific guidance on the content they are looking for and motivate followers with low-cost rewards like discount codes or free brand swag they already have. Even the smallest of businesses, like single family restaurants, can leverage their community through UGC to build their business without breaking the bank.
Building long-term relationships with consumers organically
In today’s digital world, there is a growing perception that branded content or ads are exaggerated or unrealistic. Even many consumers, especially those of younger generations, have installed ad blockers or avoided content sponsored by influencers altogether. With UGC, brands can connect directly with their followers and turn them into a loyal army of micro influencers who are an extension of their company. By inviting consumers to be the focus of your brand’s voice, there is a great opportunity to strengthen the consumer-brand relationship and enhance brand loyalty.
UGC is also a very effective way to resonate with current and future customers and to increase brand awareness by providing consumers with a more realistic view of their company’s products and services. Using organic content from real customers allows brands to connect with consumers on a more personal level and deepen their trust in the brand.
Stay ahead of the curve with trending topics
Trendjacking has become the way of the digital world for marketers as platforms like TikTok become more and more popular. Brands that are able to jump into trending topics or video ideas are able to better capture consumers’ attention and ultimately increase their voice across the market.
For example, #BamaRush’s recent viral TikTok trend has shown marketers that content produced directly from their communities is a rewarding and effective way to gain traction and engagement on social media. With UGC, companies can quickly insert themselves into the timely conversations surrounding trends and gain insight among audiences they otherwise could not reach. Since UGC is easily accessible and quick to produce, brands can jump on these trends much faster than competitors without a similar software, giving them a competitive advantage.
As more consumers continue to move away from traditional digital marketing ads and sponsored social media content, UGC offers marketers the ability to maintain their relevance and increase their customer base by providing credibility to their online presence. User-generated content is not only a cost-effective way to create content that resonates best with consumers; It’s also a great way for brands to revitalize their existing communities and grow a network of loyal creators.
Adam Dornbusch is the founder and CEO of EnTribe. He is a digital media executive with over 20 years of experience developing content strategies for the world’s largest brands. Prior to founding EnTribe, Dornbusch spent four years building GoPro’s flagship rewards and community content program (GoPro Awards). Prior to GoPro, Dornbusch was licensing citizen journalism from more than 50 countries for Al Gore’s Current TV (acquired for $500 million). He has spent his career building scalable content communities for GoPro, Current TV, Tribeca Film, Starz/Encore, Jaman, Access 360 Media and Ripe Digital. Not finding any suitable CRM solutions for the creator communities, he decided to create EnTribe, one of the first SaaS platforms that flip text over user-generated content (“UGC”) and enable brands to build a network of creators led by the people who use their products.