This past Super Bowl, we all saw commercials that companies spent months and millions on, all with the aim of snatching the sports viewer’s attentions so their products and services could be sold. These corporations usually have heavy pockets and staying power — small businesses, however, don’t have this same luxury. Not all businesses have the kind of cash to throw around for major marketing projects. As a result, these small businesses have to find less expensive ways to get noticed.
One of the best ways to do this is through user generated content — something we’ve talked about before on the Digital Hyve blog. For new readers, or those who have spotty memories, user generated content (UGC) is marketing content in any form that isn’t entirely made by the brand, but instead by consumers or supporters of a brand. This method of marketing is a one-two punch of cheap and effective.
Credibility and UGC
It’s also a way for business brands to receive a credibility boost. The reasoning? Consumers are used to fake “testimonials” put up on websites from paid actors or simply written up by an intern. If a commercial simply states “customers love us,” savvy consumers in 2017 don’t automatically believe this rhetoric. What they will believe, however, is someone who is a verifiable human consumer saying exactly the same thing.
For example, a new restaurant has arrived in your town. The commercials for the fast food spot tout that their beef is delicious and their fries are super addictive. Is this enough to compel you to try it out?
Now assume that your good friend has already eaten there. They comment to you “have you tried that new burger place? The beef tastes super fresh!” Does this review hold more weight with you?
Nine times out of 10, reviews from friends matter more than what a business is saying. A human person with a face and a life doesn’t have an obvious vested interest in the marketing of a business. Therefore, their opinions are typically favored more when it comes to John Q. Public.
How to Make This Work for Your Business
Some business owners may feel uneasy about using UGC over their standard marketing. It’s a hard pill to swallow, that businesses aren’t as trusted as a random person on social media — but it’s a reality.
A method commonly used for boosting social media UGC is to hold a creativity contest. This isn’t a bad idea — but it also sort of defeats the purpose of natural UGC. The point of UGC is supposed to be that the user doesn’t have a specific vested interest in promoting a business, but this idea goes out the window if they think posting Instagram photos of their brand interaction will maybe win them a trip to Paris.
Thus, it’s important to make UGC marketing as natural as possible. Hashtags and subtle prompts for posting content are always more natural than a blatant attempt to try and profit from user’s content. Many clothing brands, for instance, create hashtags on Instagram specifically for their shoppers. The goal is to market off of a genuine experience: someone goes to Forever 21, wants to potentially be featured on the store’s Instagram and then uses the hashtag #f21xme on their photo to try their luck.
UGC also happens organically all the time, and many brands aren’t looking for it as of now. As mentioned in this article by Convince and Convert, tools like Mention can help businesses keep tabs on when and where they’re talked about. In this context, YouTube videos go up all the time about customers and their experience with brands. Some of these experiences are obviously negative, but many are positive. Giving these users a shout out means you’re in the know, are willing to humanize your business and you’re actively promoting free UGC.
Finally, look at the men’s shorts store Chubbies. Instead of focusing on bulky, hunky male models to show off their shorts, they go for a more natural approach. The UGC they use features real men wearing their shorts. This gives the brand credibility and shows the common consumer that they matter.
Looking for more content marketing ideas? Learn how adding questions to your marketing content can make it more effective.