User generated content is not a term that many people are familiar with yet. But in the coming years, it is a term that is going to become more mainstream and play a huge role in marketing. If you own a business or help manage the marketing for one, user generated content should be on your radar, and it should be something to look into if you want to be innovative, unique, and connected to your target consumer and audience. Here are a few questions you may have in regards to user generated content, along with the answers you want.
What is User Generated Content?
User generated content consists of pictures and videos that are taken by the consumers who use your products or services. It shows real people using your offerings in their real lives. Instead of presenting inaccurate photographs simply for marketing purposes -- for example, potraying a children's toy to do things it doesn't actually do or showing a meal that doesn't look like it does when someone receives it in a restaurant -- user generated content shows your products as they are in real life and how they are used by everyday people. This lends more credibility and authenticity to your product, consumers find the pictures more trustworthy, and it helps you to authentically connect with other customers.
Companies often ask users of their products to tweet, instagram, hash tag or caption their favorite photo of themselves with their product. In exchange, some companies offer discounts, freebies or coupons to customers who post a picture of themselves with a product, while others do not. This is the most common form of user generated content, but it is not the only form of it.
Do your customers and prospects see your company as authentic and honest? Learn how to create your visual brand identity with our infographic.
What is the Purpose of User Generated Content?
User generated content serves a few key purposes. First, it lends credibility and authenticity to your marketing campaign. When people see pictures and images of your product being used by real people, they know that they are seeing the real item. They are not seeing an item that has been staged to look one way thanks to creative angles or lighting. They are seeing your true product, and this can be enticing to people who want to see what it is that they are really spending their money on.
Another purpose to user generated content is that you are letting your customers promote your product or service. Your customer base knows what your product is, what it does, and how to appeal to and target other customers who may like and use your product. This is a great way to grow your consumer base and target new customers.
The last purpose to user generated content is that you give your customers a say in your business. Consumers have a voice, and they want their voice to be heard. User generated content allows them to rave, give opinions, and even rant if they need to. Providing an outlet and a venue makes your customers feel heard, appreciated, and valued, and this is important to customer retention, customer satisfaction rates, and ultimately, the customer buying more from your company in the future.
Why is User Generated Content So Successful?
User generated content has already proved to be successful for many large companies. But you may find yourself wondering why this is. The biggest reason why it is believed that user created content is so successful is because users can create and share their photos and videos online. Both millennials and Gen-Z use visual instruments to communicate with each other, which is a driving force behind social media platforms such as Instagram and SnapChat. One photo with your product can be seen by hundreds or thousands of other viewers and followers. From there, it can get shared, and a larger audience can see it. This is a win-win for you. Your consumer is marketing your product or service for you without you having to tell anyone a thing about it.
Why Should You Embrace User Generated Content as Part of Your Brand's Marketing Strategy?
As a business, there are many reasons why you should embrace user generated content as part of your marketing strategy. One of the biggest reasons is that it helps to increase social engagement with your customers. When you ask your customers to send in pictures of themselves with your product, they feel like they are engaging with you. This kind of interaction between you and your customer can help to drive brand loyalty and consistency.
Another reason you should embrace user generated content is that buyers are more likely to trust your brand and your product if they see real pictures taken by real people of your real product. People do not want to waste their money on something that is not what it appears to be in pictures. User generated content tends to have higher conversion rates because consumers trust the images they see that are taken by other consumers more than they trust images that are taken in a studio or by a professional photographer.
The last reason why you will want to embrace user generated content as a business is because the images can be used in a variety of marketing campaigns. The images can be shared on social media, on your website, in commercials, in print mailers, and on displays used in stores. Often times, you have to pay money for a variety of campaigns that are used in different ways and in different places. That is not the case with user generated content, which can be used through a variety of different channels.
User generated content has already proved to be largely successful for many huge companies. Used within a visual brand identity, user generated photos and videos can have a very positive effect on your consumers' perception of your company and its authenticity. To learn more about creating your visual brand identity, take a look at our infographic, "The Who, What and How of Visual Brand Identity."