Encouraging user generated content (UGC) is one of the most important things you can do for your brand. It’s not that brand generated content isn’t important and doesn’t have a place. UGC just brings something fresh to the table.
“It’s one thing for us to serve up a reference or a case study, but buyers intuitively know that those are all coming from specific satisfied customers, versus the wisdom of their collective peers.” ~ Julie Perino, Senior Director of Customer Marketing at Marketo
User generated content is still the bedrock of online engagement and the sales cycle. Content that comes from a source outside of the brand most naturally builds confidence in potential customers — whether they are conscious of it or not.
User generated content builds trust better
Focusing on UGC still matters today for one important reason – your target audience is most likely looking for it. User content, like authentic customer reviews, is a crucial element of the sales element.
For example, a poll of nearly 700 TrustRadius users revealed just how much customers use reviews as UGC in their search, evaluation and selection of new software products.
This graph shows that 76% of customers use reviews for the ‘discovery’ stage of finding new vendors. 69% use reviews for evaluation of a product and 43% place weight on reviews in actually selecting the software.
Reviews and other forms of UGC (like a guest blog post or a video from social media) bring something to your brand that even the best marketing content can’t: authenticity. In other words, they build your credibility with your target audience.
Take a look at this list of content types used by brands from TrustRadius’ B2B Buyer Disconnect study.
Customers valued user reviews (one of the most common forms of UGC) second only to product demos. Instead of being last on a list of priorities, reviews and other forms of UGC should be near the top for marketing and engagement efforts. Photos, videos, blogs and social media content are all great ways to build on top of this foundation.
Best practices for user generated content and your brand
The proof is there that UGC is valuable. Brooklin Nash of TrustRadius, a populara community of professionals sharing software reviews and best practices, offers up these three ways to get started if you’re considering UGC:
Encourage reviews from lots of customers. Authentic reviews are important as are reviews from a range of different customers. Make sure you encourage reviews (or submitted UGC) from multiple customer profiles so that you can speak to every persona in your audience.
Work UGC into your content marketing strategy. Treat reviews and other forms of UGC as exactly that: content. You can use UGC on your landing pages, in your email campaigns, with social media posts, and so on. It doesn’t have to be siloed.
Engage in the process. You’re not going to get an abundance of UGC by just sitting back and letting things roll in. Take some time to encourage reviews from your customers, ask for blog submissions, or request photos. Then follow up with your customers thanking them for their participation. The more engagement, the better!