In an age where digital content is king, it is understandable that small businesses are struggling to keep up with what has become a fragmented narration of brand content.
With 1.6 billion people on social media channels sharing their personal experiences and opinions online, the e-commerce business can be an overwhelming marketplace of products. For any company, the best way to break through the start-up barrier and reach new customers and stakeholders is through your current customer base.
A business owner can talk for hours about why their product is the best on the market, but when an opinion is shared by paying customers, consumers are much more likely to trust the objective review – regardless of whether it is positive or negative. Creating this bridge between current and prospective customers is one of the many positives of user-generated content.
What is User-Generated Content (UGC)?
User-generated content is that which comes from everyday individuals who voluntarily contribute opinions about your product or services. This can range from reviews on social media channels, blogs and websites, to personal photos or videos of experiences with the product or services. Most commonly used on social media, the key is to encourage your customer base to want to share their opinion. In doing so, you are capturing the multi-media voice of your brand authentically. It provides a rich and powerful narrative about the product or service that is driven solely by the consumer.
The use of user-generated content has seen rapid growth in recent years, partially because it’s fairly inexpensive to attain, with most users supplying it free of charge. For users supplying content, the process can be rewarding as they feel their opinion matters and has been heard. For possible consumers, the content gives an insight into real data from other people, uncensored by businesses and the media – with no chance of seeing #ad or #spon.
Product reviews, opinions, images and videos in natural environments are becoming the most powerful medium in influencing purchase decisions. According to a recent study, about 90 per cent* of decisions are influenced by user-generated content – as opposed to brand-created content. The right leverage of UGC also closes another gap that is widening in the retail world; the face-to-face relationship between brand and customer. With the increase of digitalisation and online, the opportunity to provide feedback is becoming slimmer with customers revelling at the chance to build a mutually beneficial relationship with a brand.
The key benefits of UGC
Here’s an overview of the key benefits UGC brings to the e-commerce marketplace:
Creates a community and nurtures relationships between existing and potential clients
User generated content enables brands to access and connect with an intentional purchase community (a like-minded community) and understand and join conversations of product opinion and experiences in real-time.
Unlike paid advertising or promotions, user generated content enables a narrative about the product or service to form with minimal or no cost to the business, given it’s based on people’s real-life experiences.
The continuous flow of user-generated content (via reviews and experiences, photos and videos), means the business is producing fresh, relevant and engaging content, which is more favourable for SEO ranking.
Boosts social media reach and growth
User generated content has the ability to boost site engagement, given the content is created by the consumer and therefore is a trusted voice, it’s more likely to be shared and engaged with.
Puts customers front and centre
Customers have a voice that comes first and foremost through user generated content, as they share their own personal insights into the brand or product. There is no opportunity for over embellishment or favourable spin – the consumer becomes the brand’s voice.
Provides proof of product or services (testimonial)
There is no greater testament to a product or service than a consumer review or testimonial, it provides authenticity and validation.
Builds brand trust
User generated content generates trust and brand credibility, given its authentic nature (it’s written by everyday consumers for other everyday consumers).
The power of user generated content is strong and in particular, when it comes to brand loyalty – as consumers are making an active choice to share, review or engage with brand’s content online, therefore creating a strong ROI for brands, without much effort.