It’s time to face the music: Brands need a new way to market.
More and more often, brand messages are blindly overlooked as consumers try to navigate through a world of overflowing content.
The same marketers who once praised content marketing are now discouraged complaining that consumers have become immune to the content they’re producing.
“They’re flooded with too much content!”
“They have banner blindness!”
“The internet has too much competition to be seen!”
So, are customers over content? The truth is, customers are not at all over content. They’re consuming more than ever – and on multiple devices. Content still matters, it just takes something special to rise above the noise.
Across the web and social media, people – especially Millennials – prefer messages from trusted sources (often friends, acquaintances, or influencers), over faceless brands.
Speak From the People to Speak to the People
In order to be heard, brands need to use the content that customers respond to.
And guess what:The best place to go to understand what content consumers want is the customers themselves.Click To Tweet
Across social platforms and digital media, customers are showing they want to have a voice and not to just be talked to. They want to be part of the conversation.
In order to create a real conversation, it’s about more than just responding to customers on Twitter.
Brands need to get customers really involved. And to do this, they need to use user-generated content. Using content created by customers allows brands to gain much more valuable insight than a marketing survey ever can.
The Importance of Integrating User-generated Content (UGC) in Marketing
User-generated content, or UGC, isn’t just another marketing trend to catch your audience’s attention. It’s the singular way to put engagement at the center of your customer relationships.
Think about this: Simply put, the principle of UGC – content created by your customers – requires consumer participation. Customers can’t sit by and passively absorb content – in order to have a UGC-based marketing plan, it requires customer involvement and action.
Marketing with UGC is effective – it works because of powerful psychological principles that impact on and offline social interaction.Content created by the people, for the people is an authentic alternative to brand advertising.Click To Tweet
Consider social media: brands failed to sell well on these sites when they failed to remember that people were on them to socialize, not buy.
Sites like Pinterest and Instagram do best for brands when they integrate customer content into their marketing.
A Few Benefits of Marketing With Customer Content
Millennials love it
For content marketers, Millennials are presenting an issue. Luckily, UGC is one type of content Millennials are engaging. In fact, Millennials respond better to UGC than all other forms of content marketing.
UGC builds trust and authenticity
Today, people trust people, not brands. Third-party opinions, like customer reviews and testimonials, can offer authentic advice to other consumers. Additionally, customer content like photos of how customers use the product can help customers realistically envision the true look and feel of a product they may otherwise be unsure about.
It spreads social referrals and word-of-mouth marketing
In the digital age, word-of-mouth marketing happens online. You see a lot of your friends like a brand on Facebook, or you read a review one of your colleagues wrote about a hotel on Tripadvisor. The beauty of the internet is that people are more connected than ever and free to spread social referrals around the globe with the click of a button.
It encourages brand advocacy
You’ve got a few highly dedicated customers who absolutely love your brand. These are your strongest brand advocates. However, these customers won’t talk about how awesome you are unless you give encouragement.
UGC campaigns ask customers to become brand advocates – it encourages them to form a relationship with the brand that extends beyond a purchase. It improves their emotional ties to the brand, reminding them why they love the brand and cementing customer loyalty.
It Improves SEO
UGC is great for SEO. It provides a steady stream of fresh content and shapes basic SEO attributes such as titles, keywords, and internal links. Additionally, UGC targets a very vaulable type of keyword: long-tail keywords. These keywords (normally 3-4 words in length) attract highly engaged and qualified customers.
It’s the difference between searching for “shoes” and “affordable red sport shoes.” Which customer has a higher intent to purchase? The one whose search is more specific.
UGC naturally shapes long-tail keywords by using the real phrases and word choices consumers are using to talk about a brand.
For example, take a look at how reviews impact SEO: if a customer reviews a hotel and says “most affordable rooms in West Lake,” a search engine is going to take that testimonial and note key phrases, like affordable rooms in West Lake.
Now, when a new visitor goes looking for affordable accommodations in the West Lake area, guess whose listing will show up?
It’s a match made in heaven for social media marketing
Sharing posts about your brand looks spammy, so then what’s the solution to getting the word out about your awesome products on social media? Your customers!
How to Market With UGC
UGC marketing can be integrated into nearly any content marketing or digital campaign. It can flourish on its own, or in conjunction with brand content.
Here are some examples: Instagram campaigns that ask users to submit photos, video campaigns that ask users to send in their personal experiences, or running Twitter campaigns with a cohesive brand hashtag.
UGC isn’t a free-floating strategy, free of brand influence. In contrast, it needs brand direction to get the results that matter. A carefully crafted UGC campaign knows its target audience, goals, and how to get the results that matter. Like any marketing, UGC requires monitoring and adjustment to get optimal results.
UGC is flexible and creative, which makes it adaptable to many different marketing strategies and can often be added on to existing campaigns.
Can you think of a way to integrate UGC with your content marketing plan? Maybe you already have? We’d love to hear your thoughts about it. Leave a comment below!