Retail brands and small businesses are starting to learn the efficacy of resharing the content of their customers in creative ways, otherwise known as user generated content.
In an age of word of mouth, peer influencers and micro attention spans on mobile devices; if marketing is going to be customer-centric; content may as well come from them as well.
After all; a 6.9x increase in engagement is considerable.
The younger generation has retailers in a pinch with their distrust of traditional advertising. Of course, we can’t even blame them for being ad weary, when the Atlantic (via Sprout Social) reports that “the average consumer is bombarded by over 3,000 advertising messages a day. In a world of ad blindness, how can a small business get the word out about their products? The answer is simple: give customers incentive to advertise to themselves.
Chewy.com is a good example of a brand that demonstrates the value of building and celebrating an active customer community base. UGC is after all at the intersection of customer success, testimonials and social media itself as a social commerce platform. It is one of the most effective means of obtaining brand trust, awareness and advocacy in the age of authentic marketing.
What’s There to Gain from UGC?
User generated content (UGC) refers to written content, social media updates, images, and video content created for a brand by customers. UGC gets more shares than brand curated content and, according to the Later blog, “Millennials trust user generated content 50 percent more than other types of media.” And it’s not just Millennials that prefer UGC. A recent Harris study (via Curalate) found that 62 percent of adults in the United States report being influenced to make a purchase based on a friend’s social media posts.
In an era where content itself is becoming stoppable; one has to wonder at the future of UGC for SMB merchants as a trend that is particularly effective.
With user generated content garnering so much free traction, companies which don’t take advantage of the free promotion are missing out on a huge opportunity to grow their brand and increase customer engagement.
Reach the Right People
Creating a user generated content campaign gives a brand visibility among their followers’ social media networks. Audiense reports that “84 percent of people are more likely to trust opinions from people they know than from traditional advertising.”
Since many of a brand’s second degree connections will also fall within their target demographic, a UGC campaign is a great method to gain traction with potential customers.
Small Businesses Reap Big Profits
Although UGC Campaigns are beneficial for brands of every size, they’re especially beneficial for small businesses. Since small businesses have less red tape than larger companies, they’re often able to be more creative and offer customers a faster response time than their contemporaries. This creates quick and measurable growth for the business in question.
Small businesses can also use UGC campaigns to promote in-store sales and events, thus engaging their local community and bringing traffic into their stores.
Since major brands have already been gaining a lot of ROI from UGC, it might be time small businesses implement it to cater to the new consumer.
Getting Started with UGC
There are a few options for small business retailers looking to start their own UGC campaign. Before getting started, it’s important for retailers to hone in on their brand’s message or theme, and to figure out what type of campaign is most in alignment with the lifestyle of their brand.
Image-driven campaigns are the most effective, so creating an effective campaign means choosing which type of image will work best with the product and demographic.
Quick and Easy Way to Get Started
The fastest way for a small business to get started with UGC is to create their own branded hashtag on Twitter or Instagram, and to invite customers to submit photos for the chance to have their image reposted on the brand’s page. When doing this, it’s important to give followers specific guidelines for the image and to post examples of the type of image the brand wants.
For some customers, the potential to have their image shared with a brand’s following is incentive enough to generate content for the brand. For others, the incentive to win a prize or receive a discount on their next purchase will prove the most effective.
Promos on receipts are very compatible with UGC, as one of our up coming products can leverage it for small business retailers.
Source: images and graphs for this article from Mary Meeker 2017 trends deck.
Jasmine Glasheen is a Freelance Writer and Retail Strategist. A panelist on RetailWire’s BrainTrust, Jasmine has been published on Retailwire, Independent Retailer, CART, and many others. She was formerly the editor of Off-Price Retailing magazine, and has been quoted both in Forbes and in RetailDive. When she’s not at her keyboard, you’ll find her guzzling kombucha or dancing like a maniac. LinkedIn | Twitter