Think of your favorite brands and why these brands are important to you. Think of how these brands appeal to you emotionally. Yes, your running shoes, car, blender, sunglasses, and your favorite hoodie all mean something more to you than simply being utilitarian objects.
You buy and prefer these brands because they appeal to your sensibilities and how you see (or want to be seen) yourself. Now, we’re not going to dig into the psychology of why people buy and respond to specific brands, but suffice it to say – it all comes down to good content.
You need to build this same connection with your customers. And the best way to do this is with good content. More specifically, you need to take advantage of user-generated content. Now, don’t freak out here – you’ve likely got user-generated content working for you already, we just want to turn up the volume on how you use this special content.
Now, remember as you’re learning about user-generated content and how you can use it to promote your brand, that rules of good content still matter. Make sure your content is well-written, spelling error-free, relatable, friendly, and has a personality.
Your users see themselves in how you present your brand – and the best tool you have is your content: social media posts, videos, photos, infographics, blogs, newsletters, digital marketing campaigns, and banners in the sky.
What is User-Generated Content?
Essentially, user-generated content is any content created or generated by your users. Think of product reviews, comments on blog posts, responses to email newsletters, social media posts, photos and videos showing the user with your brand.
Just as you read customer reviews and search Instagram for people using the new bicycle you’re thinking of buying. Your customers do the same about your brand and product. You want to know what others think of the new bicycle, you look for Instagram posts that represent how you want to feel and look when riding the new bicycle – you look for confirmation that this is the right brand and product for you. You rely on the opinions and experience of strangers to tell you if this is the right decision for you.
This is the power of user-generated content. And just as it can work to promote your brand and build an immediate emotional connection with your demographic, it can also destroy your brand and brand image. Yes, user-generated content is all-powerful. And this is why we want you to know how to use it to your advantage – both to build a brand image and connect with your customers and to help you recover from a company misstep or miscommunication.
Each one of us relies on user-generated content because it’s not created by the brand or company. It comes from people like you and us – giving it immediate authenticity and credibility. These stats from a recent Olapic study on how millennials respond to user-generated content should drive home the importance of user-generated content to your brand and digital presence:
- 76% of surveyed individuals said they trust content shared by average people than the content coming from the brand.
- Close to 100% of all consumers trust brand and product recommendations.
How to Use User-Generated Content
Now, before you get all excited about user-generated content, we want to remind you that the power of this content still depends on key tenets of SEO and digital marketing.
- You need to know your users.
- You need to know how your users are searching for you.
- You need to know the keywords your users type and speak.
- You need to know what happens when your users find your website.
- You need to know why your users choose your brand over your competitors (and why they don’t).
With this information you can identify the best ways to use user-generated content to promote your brand and product. When we sit down with you to discuss our research on your users, your brand, and your digital footprint, we’ll highlight some of the ways user-generated content can be used:
- Be unique. User-generated content can let you show off your brand differentiator. For example, ask customers to post photos of the fun ways they use your product.
- Be real. People are tired of marketing campaigns that use photoshopped people and experiences. Use real people using your product in the real world.
- Be good. If your company or brand is involved with a charity or social campaign, show this off. For example, Instagram posts of your employees volunteering on Earth Day or helping out a food bank.
- Be personable. It’s a crowded marketplace out there. Give your brand a personality that your users can relate to. Encourage your users to share how they use your product or brand – create a hashtag that users can use on social media to connect with others.
- Be honest. Post the good and the bad customer reviews. You know that not every product you want to buy is a winner with every person – and so do your customers. When it comes to the negative reviews, post your response and show how you’ve worked to fix any customer concerns. Show that you care and will respond.
To take advantage of user-generated content you need to make sure your campaign fits with your customers, you brand, and your goals. You can’t wing this or do it half-heartedly. Remember, those savvy customers out there, they’ll catch on pretty quickly if you’re not the brand you’re pretending to be online.
Taking the Next Steps with User-Generated Content
Now that you know the facts on user-generated content, you’re excited to get started. Well, before you rush off and start Instagram campaigns, blog contests, and go hashtag crazy – we want you to take a step back.
Think about the bullets we listed above about knowing your users. Can you honestly and competently answer these bullets? If not, there is no point in going full-steam ahead with a user-generated content push.
Like all things SEO and digital marketing, user-generated content needs to be researched, planned out, and strategized. This is where we come in. As you know, we know a thing or two about user-generated content, SEO, digital marketing, and effective quality content. So, let us provide you with the professional expertise you need to get this done right.