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User-generated content fosters trust and credibility for your brand among your customers, and therefore boosts engagement and sales. — Getty Images/master1305

In an age where almost all consumers spend time online, it’s practically a requirement for businesses to have an effective digital marketing strategy. Reaching and resonating with customers, and attracting them to your business in organic, credible ways isn’t always easy — and user-generated content can be the solution to that challenge.

What is user-generated content?

User-generated content (UGC) is any type of content that’s created and posted by unpaid contributors, fans and followers. It is content created by consumers, for consumers, to help promote a particular brand.

While this may seem like a new marketing trend, it’s one that’s been around for a while. A prime example is when Burberry, back in 2009, put together a campaign promoting their trench coats. The brand asked its fans and followers to upload pictures of themselves and their friends wearing the iconic trench coat designs. Once Burberry had all of the content, the brand curated the best pictures and posted them to a dedicated microsite and the company’s Facebook page.

For potential new buyers, seeing satisfied customers creates feelings of comfort and trust with that brand, and encourages them to invest.

[Read: Under Armour Looks to User-Generated Content to Better Tell Its High-Performance Story]

Benefits of user-generated content

UGC can be a powerful tool to have in your marketing arsenal. Not only does it put your customers and fans at the center of the marketing campaign, but it’s also a great way to humanize your brand by fostering a connection with your customers through authentic storytelling. Here are three reasons why UGC is a key marketing strategy you shouldn’t ignore.

It promotes authenticity

People don’t want to be “sold to.” Pushy sales tactics are no longer a match when compared to word of mouth. Hootsuite cited that consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view user-generated content as authentic compared to content created by brands, and 63% of consumers said they would rather buy from a company they consider to be authentic over a competitor. UGC can give your brand a credibility boost over your competitors.

It builds trust

In today’s world where just about everything is available at the push of a button, modern consumers want to know what they’re getting before they order. Keeping your social media channels up-to-date with content, UGC specifically, is a great way to help build trust with your target audience. Ninety-two percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know and 70% trust online consumer opinions. Featuring UGC can help strengthen and build trust with your consumers.

It drives leads and sales

Of all of the benefits of user-generated content, perhaps the most important one is the impact it has on your target consumers’ purchasing decision. If you’re not incorporating UGC into your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on the opportunity to increase leads and sales.

[Read: A Complete Guide to Content Marketing]

Featuring UGC can help strengthen and build trust with your consumers.

Ways to incorporate user-generated content

Here are a couple of ways to incorporate UGC into your marketing strategy:

  • Host contests. To get your target audience more involved in your marketing strategy, you can host a contest for your fans to post their suggestions for event promotion or the upcoming release of new products.
  • Choose product-focused posts. Since people are more likely to trust a friend’s recommendation over business-generated content, UGC can act as “social proof” of a product’s success and value. According to Lucy Rendler-Kaplan, the founder of Arkay Marketing and PR, “People are more drawn to products and brands that they know other people know, like and trust. People are [also] more apt to share once they’ve been recognized [by] a brand they love.”
  • Post visual reviews in addition to written reviews. Aside from written reviews, businesses should try incorporating visual reviews or pictures of customers using your product. Jeremy Ong, the founder at HUSTLR, said, “As brands, it doesn’t matter what we say anymore; it’s what other people are saying about us. Consumers nowadays want validation from peers.”

Incorporating UGC into your marketing campaigns is a great way to ensure the content you post is reaching and resonating with your target audience. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be sure to attract more leads and convert more sales.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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