How to leverage user-generated content to promote products

Thanks to the internet and in particular social media, customers are no longer passive audiences. Where brands could once control the release of carefully curated content through traditional media outlets such as newspapers and television, consumers have now taken control.

User-generated content (UGC) refers to anything produced and shared by individuals and third parties. This could mean reviews and ratings, unboxing videos on YouTube and Twitch, blog articles, photographs, podcasts and more.

Understandably, businesses may be concerned about losing total control over content creation, but there might also be some great opportunities they can take advantage of.

Read more: The Complete Guide to Developing Your Brand Guidelines

The benefits of user-generated content

User-generated content represents one of the key outcomes that marketers strive to achieve: engagement - and it's engagement at the highest level. Instead of purchasing a product and not leaving feedback, or viewing the item in-store, not purchasing it and leaving the marketer wondering what went wrong, UGC creates an immediate connection. Not only is the customer or lead giving you feedback, but they're also sharing that information with their own communities, broadening your audience reach with minimal effort or expense.

Trust is a huge factor in building successful relationships with your audience - in fact, establishing trust is one of the cornerstones to any effective marketing strategy. Of course, your content team still has to create engaging and informative copy, but authentic customer feedback helps new leads to make a purchasing decision even faster.

Negative comments or reviews can present opportunities for your brand to understand the needs of the customer better. This will enable the business to improve its service delivery and make helpful public responses that reassure the customer that you have rectified any problems and prioritised their needs. This will not only help you to prevent churn, but it'll also help you create loyal customers who know that their concerns are taken seriously.

Content that mentions your brand also boosts the company's search engine ranking and contributes to organic SEO and greater online visibility.

If you're still building up your content catalogue, UGC is a free and effective way of drumming up interest in your brand without blowing your budget or publishing content for the sake of padding out your online presence.

Leverage user-generated content for promoting your products

Since your customers have put in the effort to leave you a review, you can use that content on your website to share with future visitors who may be looking for social proof.

Develop an online community

To keep the conversation going and encourage the creation of an online community around your brand, you should make it easy for customers to ask questions, as well as answer each other's questions. If a new buyer is using your service, they'll feel more reassured if they receive advice from someone who has already purchased from you and has no bias.

You could create a forum on your website, or set up a Facebook group where users can pose questions to other users. Reviews including product images can also help. Buyers might be sceptical of the official branded photos on your website, so by allowing customers to upload pictures alongside their reviews, hopefully, they'll be reassured of the quality of the product and make a purchase more likely.

Launch a hashtag campaign/competition

To make your social media presence even more interactive, you can launch a unique hashtag campaign that fans of your brand can use when posting content.

Running a hashtag campaign alongside a competition, for example, will encourage engagement and get people sharing images of your product or an activity related to the competition. The hashtag will help participants see what others are doing and make them feel part of a community, while it will also give you an easy way of monitoring the progress of the competition and identifying the possible winners.

UGC for SEO

To get the most out of your UGC from an SEO perspective, consolidate the best content from your users into a single page of your website. This could be a page dedicated to reviews and testimonials, the best social media content or the most useful content from your forum or Facebook / LinkedIn group. The best ranking pages are content rich, so a combination of text content and media can be effective at driving organic traffic.

It's natural for there to be quiet periods in your content calendar when not much is going on in terms of events, sales, or promotional activities. UGC provides your marketing team with the opportunity to curate original content from your customers and repackage it for your audience. You can retain interest in existing products or refresh your website and social media channels with engaging content.

With so many advantages to user generated content, and the fact that it's likely to be happening with or without your involvement, marketers are realising the benefit of leveraging it for themselves. To make sure that you extract maximum value from the content your customers offer up, it's essential to collect and organise it effectively.

With a dedicated digital asset management (DAM) system, you can store and organise your user-generated content so that your marketing and sales teams can draw on this data when launching new campaigns or looking for ways to enhance the existing content on your website.

Check out our free trial and start leveraging the power of your brand's user-generated content.

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