Build creative. Schedule posts. Publish content. Target ads. Pay per click.
Too often, brands on social media become so focused on publishing content and paying for growth that they forget why people are on social media in the first place. To connect with other people.
If we think about social media marketing in three channels – brand content, paid content, and User-Generated Content (UGC) – it is the third channel (UGC) that truly holds the most potential for growing audiences and driving sales. However, it’s often the last one a brand thinks about when building a marketing strategy.
For brands who are hoping to gain an edge in 2020, it’s time to make UGC the focus of your marketing strategy.
What is User-Generated Content (UGC?)
User-Generated Content is defined as posts, photos, reviews, and videos about a brand and created by the brand’s customers. While this content can be generated on many different mediums, the majority of it is created on social media sites where a brand’s customers frequent (like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc).
In essence, any of a brand’s customers can create UGC, and many of them do without any prompting. In that way, it’s distinguishable from influencer marketing where a brand typically hires individual influencer for a specific body of work, and influencers are typically paid for their services.
Used correctly, UGC can be a brand’s most effective channel for growth. Here are 5 reasons why it’s going to be so important in 2020 and beyond.
1 – Peer Trust
Consumers trust what their peers say on social media and review sites more than branded content, and that gap is only widening as millennials and subsequent generations of consumers build more power in the market.
Research shows that 92% of consumers trust UGC more than any other type of content (including professional reviews). Millennials are particularly dependent on UGC, finding that type of content 35% more memorable than other types of content. In fact, 50% of millennials reported using UGC to evaluate major purchases.
2 – ROAS is Decreasing on Social Media
With social media advertising becoming more essential for a brand’s success, the cost of paying for placement has increased.
In her 2018 Internet Trends report, Mary Meeker found cost of advertising on social channels to be rising twice as fast the reach of those advertisements, meaning that ROAS (return on ad-spend) was decreasing.
In addition to the rising cost of ad placement on social, brands also must spend time and money creating the content for both their owned and paid social media content. User-Generated Content is free.
3 – More Reach, More Quantity
Another force that has created concern for brands is the limited reach of their organic content. Recently, Facebook has made updates to its algorithm forcing brands to rely more on boosting posts to reach their full audience.
However, even with boosted posts, the reach of a brand’s posts will never be able to match the collective reach of its customers’ posts. In essence, a brand’s customers provide a brand’s reach with an additional degree of separation, exponentially increasing its potential audience. And rather than broadcasting to just existing customers, there is far more potential to reach new customers using UGC.
UGC also accounts for a huge portion of the content that is currently being generated on social media. A brand’s customers already generate far more content than the brand itself, and this content is being eagerly consumed. UGC comprises 30% of all media consumption (including traditional media like news and TV) for millennials in particular.
4 – The Shift to Visual Marketing Brings Along Positive Mentions
In the early 2010s, many social media teams spent their energy responding to angry customers on Twitter and Facebook. As the social media landscape has shifted from Facebook/Twitter to Instagram/Snap/Pinterest, consumer behavior has also shifted. These are visual platforms, and people typically focus on highlighting “their best life”, as opposed to starting a dialogue or a debate.
Fortunately for brands, on platforms like Instagram the result is overwhelmingly positive content from nearly all of their customers. If something is being posted on Instagram, it’s rarely a complaint and usually something that can be celebrated.
5- Intense Digital Competition puts an Emphasis on Customer Loyalty
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are on the rise, and the result is a more competitive landscape for brands to win digital sales. A recent report found that DTC advertising spending has increased by 50% over the last year, meaning that there are more companies with less barriers to engaging your customers. It is more important than ever to create a true brand identity that your customers will identify with and to improve customer loyalty.
Besides building great products, there is no better way to improve customer loyalty than to engage with your customers on social media, encourage them to represent the brand, and show gratitude when they do.
By encouraging customers to create UGC for your brand, you are building brand advocates who will identify with your brand’s products and ideals more than ever before. They are declaring to the world that they support you, and it will take that type of engagement to continue to win their business in this increasingly competitive digital ecosystem.
We believe that the most effective way of marketing and selling your product is through word-of-mouth marketing. Currently, the best (and most engaging way) for brands to scale word-of-mouth marketing is through User Generated Content (UGC) on social platforms like Instagram. LoudCrowd helps you analyze your UGC and incentivize your customers to grow it.
About the Author
Gary Garofalo is a marketing focused technologist and the CEO of LoudCrowd. He’s spent his career focused on analytics, strategic consulting, and building technology companies. When he’s not writing about social media, he spends his free time reading, lamenting over the risks of climate change and artificial intelligence, and playing pickleball with the LoudCrowd team.