You've all heard the old adage that content is king. How, with an effective inbound marketing strategy, you can improve brand awareness, drive traffic to your store, and increase sales. The power and potential of content marketing is old hat by now.
But what you may not realize—what many businesses tend to forget—is that no matter how much effort you put into your content, no matter your content's quality, it's ultimately still being written from the perspective of a business.
So, what can you do to ensure your UGC (user generated content) feels authentic? It starts with understanding the role of UGC in D2C content marketing.
The Problem With Branded Content Marketing
Such content by its nature will always feel somewhat staged. And even if you have a reputation for authenticity, there will always be a small kernel of distrust in your audience. The suspicion, dwelling at the back of each reader's mind, that you may be more focused on influencing their buying decisions than providing them with a truly valuable experience.
They aren't exactly wrong. It's the nature of the beast where marketing is concerned. As long as content isn't your only revenue source, your end goal traces in some way to your business's sales funnel.
And your audience knows that.
Word of Mouth, Evolved
The worst thing that can happen to a business or brand is for people to stop talking about it.
For as long as business has existed, word of mouth has been a powerful promotional tool. Flash-forward to today, and we now live in an era where it's functionally become supercharged. Whereas before someone might recommend a product to their friends and family, now their recommendation might be seen by hundreds, thousands, or even millions of other consumers.
And each one of those customers tends to implicitly trust the words of influencers, micro-influencers, and peers. That's precisely why user-generated content (UGC) is so valuable. We're quick to assume that D2C content marketing is an effort to sell us something, to cast doubts on the veracity and authenticity of branded content.
We're much more reluctant to do so if that content originates from someone we can relate to — it provides us with social proof of a brand's quality.
With the above in mind, incorporating UGC into your content marketing naturally makes your brand come across as more authentic and trustworthy. Building that foundation of trust consequently can greatly improve your overall reputation with your target audience. You need not simply take our word for this, however.
Consider the following:
- 93% of marketing professionals agree that consumers trust UGC more than branded content.
- 66% of consumers say transparency is one of the most attractive qualities of a brand.
- Only 51% of consumers feel their favorite brands create authentic content.
- Consumers are more than twice as likely to say UGC is authentic.
- Consumers can distinguish between UGC and branded content roughly 70% of the time.
Building a Community Based on Trust
UGC also represents a shift in focus for your content. You're no longer directly promoting your business, brand, or products. Instead, you're stepping aside to allow one of your customers to discuss their own unique experience.
Suddenly, rather than just being a passive spectator being talked at by your marketing team, they become an active participant in your digital narrative. They get to be part of something greater than themselves, something which in turn can greatly increase their loyalty towards your brand. More importantly, this can be used as a springboard to build a community of loyal, engaged prospects and leads.
And that community can in turn drive conversations with the potential to provide you with extremely valuable insights about your audience, business, and products — all at a fraction of what a standard marketing campaign would cost.
The Types of UGC
According to Hootsuite, UGC originates from one of three sources:
- Customers: The vast majority of UGC. Varies wildly in format and type from product reviews to unboxing videos and Instagram stories.
- Loyalists: Passionate advocates of your brand who regularly discuss and praise it on social media. If you want to create specific UGC, this is the group to which you'll reach out.
- Employees: Although not technically user-generated, authentic content created and shared by employees pertaining to your business provides a glimpse 'behind the curtain' and can have a similar impact on how people feel about your business.
UGC is also incredibly diverse, and can come in any of the following formats:
- Social posts
- Testimonials and reviews
- Live streams
- Blog posts
Adopting UGC into Your Content Marketing Strategy
UGC is redefining not just content marketing, but the entire D2C marketing sector. And with good reason, too. It's a low-cost, authentic, and extremely effective means of driving both awareness and sales.
So how can you wrap UGC into your brand's own marketing?
- Discover: Social media is by and large the starting point for user-generated content of all sorts. Figure out where your core audience spends most of their time, and establish a presence if you've not already done so.
- Assess: What do you want to achieve with UGC, and how will it complement your other marketing efforts? What sort of strategy do you have for your UGC campaign?
- Interact: Like and comment on posts about your brand. If you see any that would work well on your website or social feed, reach out to the customer who originally shared the content to gain their consent.
- Communicate: Let your customers know what kind of content you want to see. This could be through something like a social media contest, hashtag campaign, or even longform blog content.
- Collaborate: Community-building is a crucial aspect of UGC, which is inextricably bound into both inbound marketing and social marketing.
- Evaluate: Measure the results and return of your UGC efforts in the same way you would any other marketing campaign.
UGC Needs to Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy in 2022
There’s no denying how effective UGC can be when done right. UGC is one of the easiest ways to create authentic experiences empowered by the voice of the customer.
The challenge for many brands is getting started with UGC. Asking customers to create UGC may seem daunting, while the idea of trusting customers to create high-quality content—impossible.
The reality? Your customers want to see authentic customer experiences more than ever before. So, don’t be afraid. Dive in and start exploring how UGC can become a key part of your content marketing and customer experience strategy.
Not sure how to get started? Get in touch with the team at Parkfield Commerce and we’ll show you the powerful role UGC has to play in D2C marketing.