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How user-generated content can boost your brand
Do you show your customers how valued they are? According to a study by Qualtrics, just 17% of consumers feel appreciated by the brands they transact with, whilst the same report stated 90% of marketers describe their approach as ‘customer-centric.’ Clearly there is a huge disparity between how brands see themselves and how they are perceived by the people they are trying to connect with.

So what can you do? Incorporating user-generated content into your marketing mix is one option worth looking at.

Build a sense of community
Many people who purchase goods and services routinely share pictures and videos on social media. It’s therefore worth getting involved in these discussions, reacting to people’s posts, adding hashtags and sharing the posts on your own social channels.

This approach can strengthen the bond between you and your customers, as people will know you genuinely value what they think, are willing to interact with them, and present an authentic, unfiltered view to the world. At the same time, these social interactions could increase your brand visibility and raise awareness with prospective customers.

Gain insights into your customers
By reviewing and posting user-generated content, you will gain valuable insight into customers’ tastes, preferences and circumstances. The Qualtrics study found that nearly two-thirds of marketers feel held back when it comes to developing customer insights, largely because of a lack of time and a limited budget. Furthermore, many respondents admitted they didn’t always know what they were looking for when they were analysing data and customer feedback. Therefore, by encouraging user-generated content and opening a transparent dialogue with customers, many of these obstacles are overcome as people openly share information that could help shape future marketing decisions.

It’s cost-effective
Since you’re asking people outside the business to provide you with content, from pictures and videos to written material, the cost to you is minimal. And it may be the case that these brand conversations deliver results on par with paid advertising campaigns.

Boost search engine rankings
Search engines look favourably on sites that are regularly updated with fresh and relevant material. Incorporating user-generated content into the mix is a great way of ensuring a steady flow of new material to your website and social channels.

Build brand trust
According to figures from Nielsen, more than 9 in 10 consumers believe suggestions from friends and relatives more than paid advertisements. Embracing user-generated content harnesses the impact of word-of-mouth marketing, with prospective customers seeing that a brand is confident enough in its offering to let existing customers speak on their behalf. It shows a willingness to be completely open and transparent, which in turn fosters brand trust and credibility.

Build brand loyalty
If happy customers are invited to share, review and engage with a brand online, it’s likely they’ll become more engaged. At the outset, motivating them into doing this may be tricky, in which case you could consider offering an incentive. For instance, you could select a favourite post on Twitter or Instagram that uses an appropriate hashtag and reward the person with a discount voucher or free sample or you may like to say thank you with a logo printed t-shirt or fleece embroidered with your specific #hashtag. You can also print these #hashtags on promotional merchandise like pens, mints or carrier bags that you giveaway at trade shows and events to encourage visitors to follow your social media channels.

Remember to ask people beforehand to include relevant hashtags in their posts so they are easy for you and your audience to see, and so everyone knows what they must do to be in with a chance of getting a reward. The possibility of bonuses and gifts for minimal effort could be very enticing – and can help build brand loyalty.

Offer unique marketing material
As user-generated material isn’t produced by experienced marketers relying on tried and tested formulas, there’s far more chance of your brand being able to present a distinctive offering to help stand out from the crowd. This should help engage regular followers and attract new audience members too.

There are countless ways to incorporate people’s photos, videos, blog posts and testimonials into your marketing mix and to encourage them to put these forward on a regular basis. When done well, brands may see user-generated content yield returns, both financially and also in terms of brand equity.


Sources / Further reading
Only 17% of consumers feel valued by brands, despite 90% of marketers claiming to be customer centric Digital Doughnut
6 Key Benefits of User-Generated Content (and How You Can Achieve Them) Social Media Today