Like many e-merchants, you’ve decided to use your customers to enrich your content marketing strategy with user-generated content (UGC). Are they sending you visuals of themselves with products from your merchant site, rating your new products, answering questions from other internet users, setting up a community chat with other people who may be interested in what you’re selling, etc.? Congratulations! You’ve managed to engage your community and boost your web visibility at the same time.
Social media, Instagram videos, articles on the web, TikTok challenges... What if you offered your customers the opportunity to become the central pillar of your communication? The internet offers endless formats, and users are always sharing: be persuasive!
Definition: What is user-generated content?
User-generated content, also known as UGC, is a digital marketing plan based on the creation of content by consumers of your brand and visitors to your ecommerce site.
You can include all the publications posted on social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter; forums; blogs; video platforms; online photo and video albums; review sites; etc. in UGC.
Here, we’ll see why basing your communication around user-generated content is a popular strategy for brands everywhere and how it can be very beneficial for your website. It’s perhaps even the best advertising campaign you could create around your business, with the help of users and members of your customer base. And this goes far beyond social media!
Why create a UGC communication campaign?
With UGC campaigns, you develop your visibility, because all the web content created by the people who’ve purchased a product from you reinforces your web presence. By highlighting the consumer even before your product, you’ll be able to enhance your online store thanks to the values of sharing and recognition that you’ll confer on your brand. Trust is also at the heart of UGC. Let’s take a closer look at this marketing plan for your online store!
Give your customers a voice to grow your customer base
You likely already have a pretty good idea of the power of social media in ecommerce. It’s able to connect brands and consumers in a way that just wasn’t possible in the past.
Buyers who create posts after their purchases on the web are going to want to relay them on their social media networks, to the people in their own communities. In the user-generated content scheme, it's all about “small” communities (close friends, acquaintances, family, and a few extra subscribers, depending on the social media platform).
However, the strength of content shared by personal accounts shouldn’t be underestimated. These profiles are real vectors of traffic and purchases for brands, and they should be considered as central to your communication plan.
HubSpot tells us that 92% of prospects trust the content published by a person over a brand’s post. In addition, 4 out of 5 consumers buy items that are recommended to them.
Traditional, physical word of mouth has been overturned by content platforms for an audience that’s increasingly demanding authenticity in the reviews they read before purchasing. In fact, if one of your buyers is satisfied with your services and shares it in a post on their social media networks, this user will be able to convince one of their close friends or a member of their family very easily. Thanks to one sale, you’ll be able to quickly generate new ones.
According to Photoslurp, images posted by users are five times more likely to convert visitors into buyers! The engagement of these accounts is often important because, even with a hundred subscribers, if these people are all part of the user’s close circle, then the result can pay off.
UGC: what if you were to add it directly to your product pages?
Customer satisfaction is the best indicator for convincing people to buy on your site. But in addition to relaying or re-sharing the posts of users who’ll be able to identify you on content platforms, make the publication of images by your customers a real argument, directly on your merchant site.
More and more brands and online stores allow users to post comments and share visuals and videos to further illustrate their opinion. This is also a great way to let the truth be told, in full transparency, and help to increase trust.
Another technique that can also bring you a positive result: ask your followers who tagged your brand to reuse their posts on your site or social media networks, for example. Once you’ve discussed the legal framework and the rights of use of their content with the user, you can include your followers’ best images in your commercial strategy.
This is great proof of creativity on both sides: you let your followers’ imaginations speak for you to communicate about your brand but also and especially about the quality of your services!
A communication plan at a lower cost
Yes, user-generated content, as its concept indicates, isn’t normally paid. Unlike a partnership or an affiliation system, this highlighting resides in the fact that your customers will create content only as a result of their purchases.
Thus, this marketing technique is based solely on a merchant/customer relationship, without any financial incentive. This scheme is then an excellent vector of visibility and conversion, on the sole condition that the returns you receive from your UGC campaigns are positive and rewarding for your brand!
How do you design an effective UGC campaign?
Is your website in dire need of a new lease on life for a more efficient content marketing plan? If you want to opt for this webmarketing lever, you should know that users offer some important advantages.
User-generated content and SEO
Implementing such a marketing strategy will be beneficial for your search engine optimization and for your organic traffic:
- The time spent by users on your pages will increase.
- Customers explain and describe their recommendation with precision, these comments will improve the semantics of your pages and better reference you in search engines. A contribution for your site which will then be able to move up the pages of Google by multiplying the keywords.
- Users provide you with paragraphs or blog posts, adding backlinks to your site, which is gold for your pages!
By opening the door to these spontaneous posts, you’ll maximize the chances for your site to be referenced in the best way on search engines, but also to take the pulse of your service, your catalog, to always improve.
What kind of content?
The aim of your UGC strategy is going to be to encourage people to leave comments, share images and videos, talk about your brand on forums, etc. Encourage these internet users to talk about you and to follow you with the following:
- Contests: By offering the possibility to win one of your objects or services on the occasion of a contest on the networks, for example, the users will, in fact, talk about you and your products in order to win.
- Challenges: Very popular on TikTok, by creating a challenge related to your brand, you can encourage users to create free content to promote your brand.
- Reposting publications: By creating specific hashtags, you can invite your customers to post content related to your catalog. On your side, offer the possibility “to repost the best content on the brand's account.” If your professional account has many subscribers, smaller accounts will feel valued by this initiative.
- Reviews with images: Many merchant sites allow users to leave reviews with visuals to prove to future buyers the quality of the services. Do the same!
It’s up to you to be creative to create a real relationship between your customers and your brand!
Negative comments: a lever to improve your site
To obtain UGC, a brand must deploy a solid digital strategy (contests, ads on social media networks, etc.) to encourage its buyers to be active. In addition, the brand has to set up some kind of quality control to make sure that the UGC produced by the users respect its editorial line.
Criticism is, of course, quite easy in this day and age, but the interest for brands and merchants is going to be to learn to question themselves while gaining humility. Your service won’t be perfect every day: it’s up to you to deal with bad comments and negative opinions from consumers, if they’re based on real arguments (obviously).
“This coat is big,” “I would have liked to have a 24 hour delivery,” “the customer-service response time is too long”... All these comments will help you to correct these anomalies in your organization. It’s then up to you to find the right answers to convince your prospects to have faith in your brand and your product!
3 examples of inspiring UGC strategies
As a form of content marketing, UGC has the power to transform a brand’s presence on social platforms and beyond. Whether you’re looking for Instagram post ideas, YouTube inspiration, website content, etc., check out these great content marketing examples with campaigns that make the most of UGC!
This is the most influential company in terms of UGC. During major international events, such as soccer tournaments or popular holidays, Coca-Cola invites its customers to share their posts with its products.
The latest initiative was to personalize the bottle with the word or name of one’s choice and to pose next to the bottle. A worldwide success imagined by great marketing specialists!
The fast-food giant is always looking for UGC. As proof, each new product calls for an invitation for buyers to share their experience. And their strategy is more local than national: many restaurants have their own page on social media networks, which brings the brand closer to consumers.
In addition, by collaborating with other brands like Monopoly, McDonald’s was able to invite customers to participate in the game set up to win prizes. A 100% winning operation where the user becomes the star. The American giant also created a special platform to collect the memories of its customers in connection with McDonald’s to create an advertisement: smart!
The very concept of the site is based on UGC: TripAdvisor is the benchmark for customer reviews in the tourism, restaurant and hotel industries. Photos, texts, videos, notes... The floor is entirely left to the user!
The only negative point is that anyone can leave a review, even someone who’s never been to the establishment in question. A possible limit to UGC?
From UGC to IGC?
If you like the idea of using UGC to promote your brand or product, you should try influencer-generated content (IGC): influencers’ content will certainly tempt you because it allows you to go further than UGC. The content is generated by influencers around a brand, a product, or a company towards their communities of subscribers or fans.
They know how to integrate perfectly into your editorial line and bring you incomparable visibility with the content they share and post, for an affordable cost and a good return on investment.
However, be careful not to oppose IGC and UGC. The two types of profiles are very complementary. Both help you enrich your ecommerce content marketing in an innovative way.
With the former, you work mainly on your visibility and your e-reputation, by reaching, thanks to the Instagram influencer, for example, an audience you wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. And with the latter, you engage people in your own community, to reinforce their attachment to your brand. So don’t hesitate to consider both strategies in parallel!