All brands know the potential that user-generated content has within their marketing strategy. It is the users themselves who will advertise the product through their own experience, thus increasing the credibility of the product and the brand.
More and more companies are taking advantage to generate great social proof that increases sales thanks to the authenticity of the publications. Users will be able to attract new potential customers and thus increase the company’s sales without having to make new investments.
In this article, we will explain what user-generated content is, its types and the importance of its use in marketing strategies within a company.
- This is a type of content, of very high value for a company, that users create without economic compensation.
- The new information age presents a scenario where user creativity is the real driving force for companies.
- User participation and collective belonging become the key to success.
What is user-generated content?
User-generated content is all content created and published by the users of a given website, service, media, or platform. In other words, this content is created by the consumers themselves, without the company investing in this great marketing strategy. As these are people who are impartial to the company, their value is higher.
Why should you use user-generated content?
The importance of the revolution of new communication techniques performed by users through the web was already evident in 2006. In December of that year, Times Magazine featured “You” on its cover as the character of the year, representing each of the users who are influencing the information (1).
1. People trust real people, not brands
A few years ago, brands used to present their products in your home, selling you hoovers that caught all the dust we could swallow, make-up or facial creams suitable for each potential customer. The salesmen succeeded in this sale because they were able to show you, with their experience, that they met the needs we had.
The next step towards gaining consumer confidence in the product or service was the appearance of celebrities and influencers. People tend to trust them, through their affinity and credibility, and become customers of the product they advertised.
Nowadays, any of us can become a content generator for a product, almost without being aware of it. Many people share their opinion of the products they buy, either because of their experience using them or simply because of their trust in the brand.
2. Take authenticity to the next level
Companies know that authenticity is the key to building the trust they are looking for, both in the product and in the brand itself.
As a customer, by seeing that authenticity, you can feel that what other people are describing and commenting on covers the same needs that you yourself may have.
The feeling of belonging to a group generates confidence and motivates us at the time of purchase.
The following graph clearly shows the value we place on other consumers’ opinions of the product or service we are looking for. This is therefore a very important factor when it comes to finalizing your purchase.
The opinions of third parties manage to generate the necessary confidence to take the final step to the purchase of the product or service.
3. It is efficient in terms of time and costs
This type of content saves the company, both in terms of time and costs, the whole process of planning, design, creation and publication that it would have to carry out. In addition, it is created by external people.
User-generated content is created at high speed, providing the company with a lot of information and data without having to pay for it.
4. The return on investment in user-generated content is very high
User-generated content influences the entire consumer journey, from product discovery to purchase, which is why it is so beneficial. It influences purchasing decisions, which is why it increases conversions. But it not only increases sales, but also credibility and trust in the brand, something that would take the company a lot of time and money to achieve with advertising.
5. More profitable than influencer marketing
Modern customers are permanently connected. They are active customers, they do not just watch, but also listen, give their opinions and openly share their experiences when buying products and services.
Consumers tend to buy items recommended by people they believe to be trustworthy.
Rather than recommended by people, who get the financial reward from companies for their advertising. As consumers, we do not like to detect that we are being sold something that the person advertising it doesn’t have or wouldn’t use. This makes us lose all trust.
6. It works in harmony with social commerce
Social commerce is when a company chooses the best of e-commerce and combines it with social networks. In other words, it is defined as purchases made through social networks (2).
The main advantage of social commerce is allowing conversions to be made within a social media app natively without a need to go to an external platform. This is what makes user-generated content and social commerce a perfect match.
Types of user-generated content
Consumers express their satisfaction or disappointment in products and services they use in their daily lives through online channels (3). The following channels are the most commonly used in producing user-generated content:
- Photos and videos: Content generated through these media creates a greater user experience. A product can be seen without physically having it. In the evolution of social networks, you can see the great importance of video, its use was growing over time.
- Testimonials: The opinions of real people are the greatest social proof that can be offered to a user. They generate a lot of security, which has a very positive influence on the purchase decision. They should not be missing from any web page.
- Reviews: They are very similar to testimonials, but they are usually on pages external to the company. TripAdvisor, Instagram, and Amazon are great examples that we have all at some point resorted to.
- Blog posts: The comments made are a great source of information on what consumers are looking for and their expectations of the product or service.
How to get user-generated content?
Not only does this encourage the creation of content and its distribution among customers, but it also boosts purchases of the product.
The following infographic explains the three most popular ways to get user-created content:
How to start incorporating user-generated content into content marketing efforts?
Now that we know the theory, let’s focus on the practice and learn how a company can apply user-generated content in its marketing strategy.
Here are the steps to follow:
1. Define the campaign objectives and what type of user generated content will help to achieve those objectives.
Before inciting users to create content, we must know what objectives we want to achieve and focus our efforts on them.
In the following table, you can see examples of marketing campaign objectives that a company can set and the types of content they can request to be created to achieve that objective.
|MARKETING CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES||TYPE OF USER-GENERATED CONTENT|
|Increase brand awareness and positioning||Photos and Videos|
|Increase purchases||Reviews and Testimonials|
|Get more information to get to know the future buyer||Comments on blog posts|
2. Finding and asking users to create user-generated content
If the company has been around for a while, it is likely to have been talked about on different platforms with different types of content. The company should listen to what is being said about it and then create advertising strategies oriented at customers’ needs.
If there is no user-generated content around the company, or if the company is newly created, the user should be asked for the type of content needed to achieve the marketing campaign objectives.
3. Request permission to use the content and give credit to the original creator
It is mandatory to ask the customer’s permission before sharing their content. Even if it talks about your own company, he is the creator of that information. Asking for this consent is a sign of appreciation for the content generated, which also provides a good image of the responsibility that the brand has for the environment.
In addition to requesting this permission, make sure you find the original creator of the content and that he/she wants to be mentioned.
4. Promote your user-generated content
Once your audience is creating content, don’t hesitate to use it to your advantage. Photos and videos are ready-made creations to post on social networks, the most influential testimonials and reviews are indispensable to include on the website and from all kinds of comments, you can extract information for newsletters. These are some examples of how to apply content, generated by your users.
If a company is willing to continue creating this type of content, it can save more work, time, and money.
5. Track the success of your campaign
What can’t be measured can’t be improved. Without monitoring the data obtained from the marketing campaign, you will not be able to make the necessary adjustments to achieve your objectives. This is the difference between success and failure.
The use of user-generated content is essential to attract new customers and improve customer satisfaction. With all the information generated by them, it is a great source of data regarding the profiles of potential customers and their purchasing behaviour.
A company shouldn’t forget to connect with the people who are most important to its business: its audience. A vast majority of those people will be happy to be visible by promoting your products.
1. Fernández Castrillo C. Transmedia practices in the prosumer era. [Internet]. CIC Cuadernos de Información y Comunicación; 2013 [cited 2022Aug]. Source
2. Ventre Soto IH. Consumer participation in social commerce activities [Internet]. University of Valencia; 2019 [cited 2022Aug]. Source
3. Rentería-García JC, Sabogal-Salamanca M, Hernán Fajardo-Toro C. User Generated Content and its Relationship with Brand Trust [Internet]. RISTI – Revista Ibérica de Sistemas e Tecnologias de Informação; 2020 [cited 2022Aug]. Source