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Nov 13, 2016

Dave Howell examines how UGC can boost your business

User generated content (UGC) has over the last few years proven itself to be some of the most effective marketing any store owner can use.

Using reviews, video, photos or any other content in a campaign can elevate it to speak directly to its target audience.

With masses of content available especially across your store’s social media networks, it can be tempting to simply use this content for marketing.

However, you must ensure you have full legal rights to do so before your campaign goes live. Crowdtap, a social engagement and insights platform, says: “The UGC landscape covers a wide range of creators, from high-reach topical experts to everyday peer influencers who share updates with their close networks via social channels. A reflection of the ‘real world,’ your online community is comprised of individuals who have their own passions, interests and talents.

Ensure your UGC strategy takes into consideration the full spectrum of social influence and accounts for the unique motivations of everyday consumers and professional content creators.”

Power
The power of UGC is the connections and relationships it makes with a highly focused group of customers. Influencers, thanks to social media, can reach their audience easily. Cultivating these influencers is now a highly lucrative means to increase sales and make longlasting commercial connections with customers. UGC supports the recommendation economy.

According to Nielsen, a massive 92 per cent of consumers trust peer recommendations above all other advertising.

The trust that was in the past placed in brands has been eroded. Today, groups such as the highlycoveted millennials need an authentic voice when choosing which brands and retailers to buy from.

Brand advocates then become your store’s key influencers with more power than any marketing campaign can hope to achieve.

“Whenever you’re planning a UGC campaign you have to remember that it is designed around your brand,” Joanna Halton, head of client strategy at myclever Agency, told Sports Insight. “You’re losing some control over the content that comes in because you can only ask people for what you want, you don’t control what might actually be sent in. It is vital that if you’re going to run a UGC campaign that you put something in place to monitor the submitted content and move quickly if it could be damaging.”

Sharing Stories
For UGC to be effective in your store’s marketing it has to connect with its audience. The most powerful UGC tells stories, placing products or services into a real-world context that customers can understand and appreciate. Brand Republic with Trustpilot, in their report into how effective online reviews can be, said: “Consumers demand transparency, and it is the task of brands to match this expectation.
“So-called earned advertising – the recommendation or advocacy of peers – is highly effective, with 84 per cent of consumers globally considering it a trustworthy source of brand or product information.

Today consumers have built highly-effective bunkers around themselves to stop what can be a tsunami of information and ad messages reaching then.

As a store owner this presents a massive challenge when developing new marketing and ad campaigns.

UGC is a highly effective method of breaching these defences.

Audiences
Tim Gibbon, founder and director at Elemental Communications, said: “Audiences and therefore potential customers want to find and interact with interesting content. A lot of the content having more chance of cutting though the noise is likely to be UGC. More importantly, it’s likely to be in environments that are socially charged.”

In a recent Affilinet survey, of 500 representatives of e-commerce retailers, it showed that 24 per cent had worked with bloggers or influencers.

And looking to the future, it revealed that 51 per cent wanted more activity with bloggers, while 67 per cent wanted more activity with social media influencers, described as having very popular accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or other similar platforms.

Influence marketing
Influencers have become incredibly powerful in today’s retail spaces none more so than online of course.

Influencers resonate with their followers who are looking for qualified and honest appraisals of the goods and services they want to buy.

Choosing the right influencers is important to get right, as it is they who can create the most engaging UGC for your business.

Here your research should be detailed and thorough. Does the influencer have a large enough following? What is their reputation?

Listening to social media is a great way to locate the right influencers. What kind of content are they sharing?

What’s being discussed across their networks? With this information in hand, you can then develop these people into creators of the UGC you want to use, if indeed, there isn’t already masses of content to potentially use. UGC has a role to play in your store’s marketing, but care needs to be taken to ensure the right content is solicited and then used in an appropriate campaign.

There is a mass of content to choose from with hundreds of thousands of photos, millions of articles and hours of video uploaded and shared every day.

It’s vital to take time to assess the UGC you want to use and then formulate a marketing campaign that includes your business’s key influencers and advocates.

Cultivate these relationships and your business will see high quality UGC that it can use to deliver the commercial success advertising simply can’t match.

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