March 21st, 2014

Making the Most of User-Generated Content

by Steph DeLuca

The rise of mobile technology has allowed users to play an active role in gathering, evaluating, and sharing information online. Social media platforms continue to provide space for consumers to communicate and discuss purchasing experiences more freely and openly than ever before. User-generated content (UGC) comes in all shapes and sizes: reviews, blogs, videos, Facebook posts, tweets, and more. Now more than ever, user-generated content should be an integral part of a brand’s marketing strategy.

User-generated content empowers audiences and has the potential to not only build a customer base from social campaigns, but also provide businesses with key insights to improve brand reputation.With all of this potential data on multiple networks, how can businesses leverage these conversations and make the most of user-generated content?

Understanding the Value of the Conversation

According to a survey by Dimensional Research, 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.* Customers are constantly looking online for recommendations, reviews, and feedback.  With consumers more likely to trust the opinions of real people over brands, understanding the value of these conversations and the insight they provide is crucial to the success of your business.

Focused Listening

Once you understand what kinds of conversations are surrounding your brand, identifying key advocates and influencers will help you determine where your fans live online. Is your business Facebook page performing well in terms of engagement? Kudos! Build on that momentum and determine what other groups and forums they are a part of. You’ll find even more members of your audience – both detractors and potential customers – and garner a more thorough understanding of your brand’s reputation. What are your current customers saying? Conversely, what are they not saying? From there, you’ll be able to strategize areas of improvement and anticipate potential gaps or blind spots in your existing marketing strategy.

If you haven’t yet implemented a social media strategy for your business, take a look at some specific social media goals our team has used to produce successful results for our clients.

Engage, Engage, Engage

Every point of contact is an opportunity to engage with your market. Receive three stars out of five? Find out why, and then find out how to make it right. 95% of unhappy customers will return to a company if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently, so it’s essential that you capitalize on this feedback.*

Stimulate the Conversation Through Social Contests

Campaigns are a fun, creative way to engage with fans, learn a little bit more about your customer base, and attract new business. Photo and photo caption contents, polls, sweepstakes, and video submissions are all examples of social campaigns developed with your users at the heart of the concept.

Think about the last social campaign you participated in. What did you like about it? What deterred you from participating in others? Chances are you appreciated quick and simple versus lengthy and multi-faceted. Simplicity will increase participation and not only engage your existing fans, but also pique the interest of new ones.

Choose the Right Campaign Management Software

Does the idea of starting a campaign seem daunting? There are plenty of user-friendly tools that will help manage your campaign, but here are some of our favorites:

Say Thank You

The Ben & Jerry’s #captureeuphoria campaign is an excellent example of a stimulating UGC contest. Ben & Jerry’s asked fans to click a picture of them capturing euphoria – eating their ice cream! – and post to Instagram. As a thank you, many photos were displayed on national “thank you” billboards. The program was designed to be a show of gratitude and a public celebration, and continues to be one of the most successfully and recognized campaigns to date. Thanking fans is easy, and your rewards don’t have to blow your marketing budget.

Whatever the specifics may be, the ultimate goal of user-generated content campaigns is to get your audience talking about your brand and serve as ambassadors to other potential users. If you’re interested in developing your company’s social media services, please contact us.

* PeopleClaim