User-generated content is the future marketing concept you can’t ignore if your aim is to grow your business.
User-generated content, or UGC, is anything digital that is created and submitted by your prospects or customers. It could be a blog comment, testimonial, review, an image, social networking updates, videos; the list goes on.
Just as word-of-mouth was the superior method of advertising in years gone by (and still is), content that is provided by people other than your marketing department, is the most powerful method of getting brand buy-in, more sales and increased website traffic.
In this article, you will learn the benefits of UGC and the techniques to get more buzz for your biz.
User-generated content has multiple benefits
UGC has multiple benefits, but all roads lead to Rome and it’s fatter wallet:
Improves your search engine ranking
There are millions of websites on the Internet, but only one search results page per keyword.
And since any business with a website should aim to be on the first page, search engines need a way to ascertain the quality of yours.
Search engine algorithms use UGC to properly evaluate a website for the value-factor. It tells search engines that your website is active, and providing value to Internet users. This alone can set your website apart from those sites that may not be open to user’s comments, reviews, and testimonials.
And when users are adding fresh content to your website, it will also result in increased traffic.
Facebook prioritizes user-generated content
Facebook recently decided that the organic reach of businesses on this social media channel, is not important. The Facebook algorithm has been changed.
The updated algorithm prioritizes posts from friends and family and decreases the barrage of content from businesses in news feeds. Which means that Facebook’s goal is to give their users more posts from individuals – family and friends – not brands soliciting business. At the moment, only 2% of your business posts are seen by your fans.
Amongst 100 000 other factors, Facebook determines the visibility of posts in news feeds according to:
- The interest of the user in the creator.
- The post’s performance among other users.
- The performance of previous posts by the content creator.
- The type of post the user prefers (video, image, link, etc.).
- The recency of the post.
The solution is user-generated content.
Achieves higher conversions
People trust other people more than they trust what your business says. Adding UGC in your marketing concepts increases conversions, because it’s not your brand doing the selling; it’s your customers.
Modcloth is one ecommerce store that uses UGC outstandingly by encouraging customers to upload photos of themselves wearing Modcloth’s products:
Seeing photos of actual, real life people wearing the item, builds trust and credibility. Not only do they display user-generated photos on their website, they also solicit reviews from customers, which substantially increases their sales because prospective customers can view overall ratings for the product, compare fit, length and quality, show the size of the item in comparison to the measurements of the customer, and the customer can provide a written review.
This is clever on Modcloth’s part, because one of the biggest reasons for shopping cart abandonment is the fear of the product not looking as it is displayed on the website.
Source of the best keywords
Search engines match your content to their user’s search phrases for the best match, so the more spot-on your words are, the more your content will be featured (bearing in mind that there are over 200 relevancy ranking factors). Find out more about how Google ranks and index search results.
Google says, “When a user enters a query, our machines search the index for matching pages and return the results we believe are the most relevant to the user.”
So not only is UGC excellent for SEO, but allowing your customers to speak, gives you the opportunity to find out the words they use, which makes your site more relevant, and therefore gives your content a higher ranking.
Ideas to add user-generated content to your marketing concept
Add customer reviews
Most people who buy stuff online, first look for reviews. In fact, 90% of people confirm that they check out reviews before making a buying decision:
Image Credit: Zendesk
The bonus about adding reviews in your marketing concept, is that it also sends a powerful message to search engines, and depending on your niche, your content will usually be displayed on search results over and above other content from websites that don’t have reviews.
Keep in mind that comments submitted by customers need to be indexable by search engines and they need to be responsive, so whatever platform you use, check this element first.
Easily add customer reviews with a WordPress plugin like Widget Pack Review System, or use Yotpo to make the experience smooth, and encourage social sharing of the review.
The last technique to get reviews for local searches – and beautiful little yellow stars in Google search results – is to encourage people to give your business a review on your Google+ page:
In the screenshot above, a local search was done for “restaurants”. The first results brought up by Google were the ones that had reviews. If you want those pretty stars, and to be featured as close to the first pages as possible, get reviews on Google+.
For searches to display stars for products, you’d need to add Schema on product pages. Easily add a Schema WordPress plugin to do the heavy lifting for you.
Accelerate user-generated content with Yotpo
Yotpo’s social curation tool helps you collect relevant Instagram photos from your fans and influencers, and displays them on a single dashboard. By using this tool, your business gains four distinct benefits:
- Send traffic directly from Instagram images to your website’s product pages.
- The tool manages rights UGC.
- Make products shoppable.
- Use UGC from Instagram, on other social media channels.
- Achieve a higher conversion rate.
Create a user-generated contest
From businesses who have proven success with UGC contests, here are some key tips for creating user-generated contests that work in combination with social media networks:
- Understand what makes people follow you and use it. For instance, if your travel company regularly uploads beautiful scenery shots, you know that your target audience shares a love of a good image. Encourage them to share their own good shots.
- Incentivize contests by offering a prize that your target audience values.
- Find out what your audience is already doing and use it. Think of the current selfie craze. Coca Cola, with their “Share A Coke” campaign, comes to mind as a prime example of a brand who knew what it’s audience was doing, and honed in on that, instructing their customers to take selfies with their branded Coke and post them, with a hashtag, to social media. It was great fun.
Image Credit: Coca Cola
- People are driven by emotion, so sell a feeling, not a product or service. Remember that even hard-core businesses are fueled by people, who all have feelings.
- Concentrate on the lifestyle of your brand, not the goods.Do something cool worth talking aboutWhen you do cool stuff, people will notice, and spread the word, especially if spreading the word makes them look cool too.The thing is, you can never be sure of content going viral; but if you keep doing great things, you’ll be closer to going viral, and the most powerful form of advertising in the world. When you do gossip-able things, you’ll also generate higher engagement.The big thing about cool is that your fans will keep an eye on you, so that they can be part of the cool. When you run any kind of other UGC campaign, they’ll be ready to join.Buzzsumo, who specialize in the most shared content on the Internet, report that they’ve found the following elements to be common in content that goes viral:
- Image Credit: BuzzsumoHere’s an ad by FiberFix that typifies cool:
- It’s cool because although it gets the point across in terms of advertising, it’s done in a funny way.It currently boasts a hearty 1,782,091 views on YouTube.Add user-generated content to product pages70% Of people say that they consider peer reviews to be more trustworthy than content by brands and according to Wayin, companies see a 25% increase in purchases when product pages include user-uploaded images instead of professional ones.Added to that, Millennials tend to research online before making a buying decision, and report that they place customer reviews above recommendations from friends and family.Research indicates that UGC has the best effect when it’s in visual form, so encouraging customers to share images of themselves with your products is a wise idea.Since adding user -generated content in the form of reviews and an “ask a question” type forum (other customers can answer questions), Evans Cycles product pages get 361% more views than before:
- To come up with the best type of user-generated content for your product pages, you need to understand what’s important to your customers, and think of creative ways to solicit UGC from them.Practical Ecommerce lists 20 platforms that add UGC to your marketing concept.Key take-awayContent provided by your customers is the most powerful form of advertising today and needs to be a part of your marketing concept.UGC has multiple benefits, like improving your search ranking, more content being shared on social networks, brings in more sales and is an excellent source to find out your best keywords.There are many ways you can use UGC; some examples are:Getting customer reviews
- Using Yotpo on Instagram
- Having a user-generated contest on social media
- Providing content worth sharing and talking about
- Adding UGC to product pages