User-generated content is composed of videos, copy, photos, reviews or audio that consumers make about your products and services. Unboxing videos, where people record themselves opening a newly received product and providing their first impressions, are a common example of user-generated content.
Not only is user-generated content popular, but it is also a great resource for businesses that have smaller advertising budgets, and for those that want to authentically connect with their consumers while driving sales.
At Clearbridge Branding Agency, we rely on user-generated content to help our clients. Below, we’ll share advice on how to obtain it, but first, let’s take a deeper look at how it can help you.
User-Generated Content for the Budget Conscious: From influencer marketing to television spots, advertising can be costly. User-generated content is organic, and there’s little to no cost to obtain it. Consumers purchase the product and then, often of their own volition, create a video, post a photo or leave a review.
After asking for permission, many businesses find that consumers will happily permit their content to be shared—though sometimes it helps to offer them a discount or a free product in exchange. For some consumers, their content being recognized and showcased to a larger audience is reward enough. For brands, this helps solidify their relationship with a passionate brand advocate.
Foster Authenticity and Trust to Drive Sales: With the effectiveness of influencer marketing starting to wane for some advertisers, we’ve seen many pivot to a focus on authenticity. They’re striving to connect with people whose lifestyles and uses for products closely reflect reality. The idealized and glamorized “what could be” is being replaced with “what actually is” and a look at how a product can make the lives of consumers better and easier.
Adding user-generated content into your marketing efforts can help you show your authenticity and build trust because many people trust consumer opinions posted online more than other types of traditional advertising.
Consumers typically avoid buying products and services from companies that they don’t trust, so user-generated content can be a profitable sales tool as well.
How to Obtain User-Generated Content: Sometimes user-generated content will be easy to find because consumers will post it on your brand’s social media page or tag your brand in their post. Other times you will need to search it out. Using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and even Google are great ways to manually find conversations about your brand or product.
Start listening by using social media monitoring tools and dashboards where you can aggregate conversations and posts just by adding keywords or phrases about your brand and letting the tools do the work for you.
Or you could ask for user-generated content—whether you want to start a conversation about your brand or a specific product or campaign, write a post, send an e-mail or create a call to action on your website asking for consumers’ help. For example, if you are an essential oil company, ask consumers to send in photos or videos of how and where they are using their favorite oils. Not only will you receive responses to use, but you also may actually find new ideas for future content.
Most importantly, always get permission from the content creator before you use their content. Don’t be afraid to publicly respond to their social media post and ask for it, or send them a private message. If you are asking for submissions via a website, include messaging and a checkbox so that the person submitting understands how their content may be used.
Once you obtain permission, be sure to credit the person, either by including their actual name or their account name, and link in the social media post, or if you’re using the content in a traditional marketing campaign like print, put it in the ad itself.
User-generated content is at your fingertips. You are just a few keystrokes away from finding your next campaign and driving new sales, all while having fun learning more about what people are saying about your brand. n
As originally published on Forbes.com. Clearbridge Branding Agency is a digital marketing agency located in Glassboro. Visit ClearBridgeMedia.com.