User-generated content, also known as UGC, has become a critical part of the marketing mix for e-commerce, travel & hospitality, higher education, sports, non-profits, and many other industries.
Firstly, because of the rise of web 2.0 and social media, the internet became a two-way platform for companies and consumers to interact in real-time and for literally anyone to create content. As a result, a high percentage of everything online is consumer-generated content. Furthermore, the recent development of IoT, blockchain, metaverse, and future web trends indicate that the volume of data and user-generated content we create through our lives continues to grow.
Secondly, many traditional advertising methods are becoming ineffective due to tightening privacy laws. At the same time, some technology companies are proactively pushing for a future where consumers have more control over their data. Instead of relying on banner ads, brands need to build engagement and reach in channels and apps where their customers spend time.
Thirdly, the number of channels and platforms has exploded, and it is getting difficult for marketers to create authentic content for each of them in a cost-effective way. Sometimes, user-generated content already grows organically in channels where the brand has no footing at all.
Withi these trends in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why your brand needs the UGC marketing plan.
5 reasons why brands can’t ignore UGC marketing
1. Advertising is getting harder to measure and less effective in finding the right audience
In Europe, the GDPR laws require website owners to ask permission before firing analytics and social media advertising tags on the page. As a result, a significant portion of the website analytics and re-marketing data is lost as many visitors opt-out. California has already followed suit, and it’s only a matter of time for other States to draw similar legislation.
If you have an iPhone and are using one of the latest versions, you must have noticed that the phone now allows you to better control the data apps use in re-marketing and advertising. Effectively, your new iPhone now helps you stop ads following you on the web.
At the same time, Google has announced that Chrome, the most popular browser, will phase out the support for third-party cookies – some say it is the death of the third-party cookie. In general, the move most likely makes social media advertising pixels almost obsolete in the future.
For marketers, these changes mean it will become more challenging to measure the effectiveness and find the right audiences through the traditional advertising methods. Instead, marketers will need to find innovative ideas and solutions to increase brand awareness and reach.
That’s where UGC marketing and a user-generated content campaign can help. By engaging your customers in mentioning your brand or branded hashtag on social media channels, you increase reach and drive traffic to your profile and websites. Instead of relying on paid advertising, your customers and fans will share authentic content on their social networks.
2. People expect to see customer testimonials and reviews supporting brand content
In the past, we might have asked our family and friends for recommendations when searching for a solution to a problem. Other than that, we had to rely on the information created by the manufacturer, trade and specialist magazines, and other (mostly) advertising-funded publications online and in print.
Today, there’s a lot of authentic, trusted, and impartial information available through testimonials and online reviews.
According to research, 9 out of 10 consumers read reviews before buying products. This means people expect to see customer testimonials and reviews on the brand website and find them in aggregated platforms like Google and Trustpilot. Before buying the product we hope to see reviews that echo the promises and features listed by the manufacturer and the webshop owner. To complement that, the visual UGC and social proof embedded on your homepage and product pages make it easier for website visitors to imagine how the product and service look in real life.
One of my favourite UGC marketing examples is the Vivadogs website with social customer reviews and an Instagram feed embedded on the website. Vivadogs asks happy customers to share their stories using the branded hashtag.
3. Omnichannel marketing requires a LOT of shareable and authentic content
I’m sure you’ve heard of omnichannel marketing in your marketing meetings and conferences – it is a term to describe how marketing teams are looking to meet their consumers where they are, with the right message at the right time.
In today’s world, omnichannel marketing requires a lot of content, though. In addition to the physical world, your brand meets the customer on websites, live customer chats, and other digital apps, and through email newsletters, social media, Google search, discussion forums, and other content distribution channels. Often, your brand has relatively little control over the social media algorithms determining the distribution and popularity or how others talk about your brand.
A well-thought-through UGC marketing strategy can help you establish a trusted presence on channels where you are not in control and when there’s fierce competition for attention. You can, for example, get high-quality UGC for ads via creator marketplace. Or launch a hashtag campaign, helping you build a positive brand image and increase reach with your employees, influencers, and customers sharing their positive experiences. Not only that, UGC campaigns help you scale content creation and make the content authentic, too.
With a UGC platform helping you gather, moderate and categorize UGC from multiple channels in one place, your marketing team will be able to monitor the discussion and use some of the best content to support your omnichannel strategy.
4. Social Shopping continues to grow importance
Social Commerce, the convergence of e-commerce and social media, is one of the things that will become mainstream in the next few years. With platforms like Shopify, webshop owners can seamlessly integrate products with their social media posts. As a person looking to buy, you don‘t need to leave the Instagram app to buy products and services.
On the other hand, brands already embed social media feeds on websites, and it’s easy to see these two trends, social commerce and UGC marketing, to come together on brand websites.
Brands won’t be able to tag products to UGC posts and customer reviews on social media apps, but tools like Flockler have this feature built-in. Turning Instagram and UGC feeds shoppable takes a few minutes, and you can embed Social Commerce on any website and digital app.
5. TikTok will be the most popular social media channel in no time – UGC marketing is the best way for brands to join
Despite working my whole professional career building social media apps, I must admit that I’ve been astonished to see TikTok exceed one billion users in 2021. In three years from launch, they have overtaken most of the established social media channels.
For brands, the rise of TikTok and video content, in general, presents a new challenge. While for generation Z and younger audiences communicating through video is a natural part of their life, most marketers have grown in the text-heavy era. As a result, marketing teams might not fully understand the type of language, emojis, and memes in TikTok – something that teenagers know intuitively.
That’s most likely one of the reasons why you can sense a bit of hesitation from brands before deciding to join TikTok. Influencer and UGC marketing campaigns are the best way for brands to test the waters.
Once you get started, you can embed TikTok feeds on websites just like any other UGC marketing campaign. With Flockler, you can gather TikTok videos from your organisation and customers and display them on WordPress, Wix, Shopify, and any other website.