Traditional advertising has become worn out.
Consumers today just aren’t responding to advertising that brands are putting out there.
And it’s pretty obvious why.
Let’s face it, traditional advertising exists because brands want it to exist. If you take a second to step back, you will realize that everything in traditional advertising is created because brands want to sell to you.
The purpose of traditional advertising is sales.
But, as I said, that just doesn’t work anymore because consumers are realizing this fact.
So what can advertisers and marketers do to break from this rut?
The importance of social proof
Social proof has always had a place in society. Most people can remember a time when they asked a friend, family member, or co-worker for advice about something.
It’s just a comfort to know that someone else is backing an idea or a product. When people are supporting the same idea or product, others tend to think ‘oh, so and so is using it so it must be good’.
And the want for social proof is only growing.
Thanks to the growth of social media, social proof has only increased in status. 90% of consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding on which brands they like.
It’s easier than ever today to join a social community and leave feedback on a product.
There are even products that have been created specifically for feedback. Apps like Yelp have become common and if you’re in tech, you’ve probably heard of review platforms like G2 and Capterra. Most brands nowadays also include reviews on their website.
Social proof is now essential for building your brand, and that’s thanks to the ease of means to acquire social proof.
So, how do you acquire social proof?
While it’s probably obvious that social proof plays an important role in consumer decisions, it’s not always easy to acquire.
Even more so, not all social proof is created equally. A face-to-face interaction might be worth more than a video, which might be worth more than an image, which might be worth more than a plain text review with a white outline of a person with it.
Obviously most brands would prefer to have great word of mouth where each customer tells 10 of their friends and family to go purchase a product.
But if you can’t have that, the next best thing is user-generated content (UGC).
Getting UGC starts with working directly with your biggest product users and advocates.
What is user-generated content?
User–Generated Content (UGC) is any piece of content – including images, blogs, video, and chat forums – created by a brand customer and shared on a digital platform.
They can be created by any brand customer, whether it’s an influencer with a big audience, a creator who’s an expert at creating high-quality content, or just an everyday customer.
All UGC types share a common thread – they are proven to be highly influential in the purchasing decisions of potential buyers.
In fact, 79% of consumers believe that UGC highly impacts their purchase decision. Another 86% of millennials also say that UGC is a good indicator of brand quality.
How to get UGC
Acquiring user-generated content starts by going straight to your product users.
But before you start engaging your users, you might want to check on whether you already have UGC.
#1. Check tagged posts first
You might already have a treasure trove of UGC sitting in your tagged posts on Instagram for marketing. This is a good first step to follow as most image or video UGC for brands is created on Instagram.
I also recommend checking other social platforms as well. Platforms like Twitter and Pinterest are great too.
If you are trying to optimize your time, I recommend only using platforms that users use a tagging feature on like Instagram or Twitter. Otherwise, you’ll spend hours looking through feeds that don’t have any content you need.
Once you find tagged posts that you like, it’s time to start reaching out to these users to ask for licensing rights.
Asking for permission is a key step. If you don’t ask for permission, you could be putting your business at risk.
If you’re working with influencers, Trend is a great platform for finding influencers and creators with licensing and distribution rights already packed in. But more on that later…
#2. Encourage users to share content
If you’ve already checked for existing UGC and are still hungry for more, you can start engaging your product users.
Start encouraging customers to share photos of your products through emails after purchase.
You can also run contests or giveaways and ask customers to share photos to win.
If you really want to get in the weeds for UGC marketing, I recommend commenting, liking, and sharing their content. Surprising your customers can be a great way to let them know they are heard and valued.
By letting your customers know you are excited about their content and hearing their experiences, they will be more likely to share.
#3. Use Instagram influencers to start building UGC
Instagram is already being used as a platform to share UGC by both influencers with big audiences and smaller accounts.
So why not use this platform to your advantage.
By using influencers, you control the narrative of when and where UGC gets produced. Instead of it being a random occurrence, you decide when the content is produced.
So how do you start using influencers?
Finding a scalable process to work with influencers can be difficult. If you’re doing it in-house, you might find yourself being bogged down in spreadsheets and DMs.
Luckily, this has led to the rise of influencer marketing platforms that help you find and connect with influencers with ease so you don’t have to spend hours in spreadsheets.
I will say, most of these platforms are databases. That means once you find the influencers you want to connect with, you still have to message and negotiate with them.
That’s why I recommend using a platform like Trend.
Instead of having to message with influencers and negotiate payments, they pay the influencers and have them apply to your campaigns. You get a curated list of influencers to approve or reject for your campaign, which is easier than hunting down influencers.
They also give you the full licensing and distribution rights to the content to reuse for any other marketing efforts.
Some results from using Trend for UGC marketing
The best part about using Trend to generate user-generated content is that it is scalable.
Instead of spending hours finding and negotiating with influencers, you just let them know how many influencers you want to work with.
This makes it so much easier to manage influencer campaigns and get them completed in a few short weeks instead of spending months.
Even better, their platform only charges per influencer. This means you don’t have to pay a monthly fee. You just pay for the influencers they use.
Trend also takes care of payments to influencers, so you truly just pay a fixed price per influencer (they have two payment tiers standard and VIP influencers) and that’s it.
A case study with a new brand called Moon Ultra has some pretty incredible results.
Moon Ultra used Trend when they launched their brand and worked with almost 50 influencers to produce over 370,000 impressions.
Talk about a big lightning strike for your brand launch.
Using UGC marketing to grow your business
Those results are great but I know the question you may still be asking is how does this produce money for my business?
Producing an ROI from influencer marketing starts by making sure you’re setting up your campaign properly and reusing the content you receive from your campaign.
#1. Use affiliate marketing and codes
You can start driving sales for influencer marketing by telling influencers to include an affiliate marketing link so you can track purchases made by customers. This can also work to reward the content publisher if you want to offer a commission on each sale.
Discount codes are also an effective strategy to track sales. By having your influencers provide a discount code to their audience, you can see how many sales were driven through your influencer strategy.
#2. Reuse UGC on social media, email, and your website
Another great way to produce an ROI from influencer marketing is to use the content you generate on all of your owned media.
While this doesn’t directly drive sales it displays strong brand identity.
When UGC is used on websites, there is a 90% increase in time spent on a site.
They say content is king and it truly is. The more of it you create and the more of it you share, the higher chance you have of engaging with more target customers.
Even though it’s not directly driving sales, it’s a well-known fact that the more a consumer is exposed to a message, the more likely they are to have purchase intent.
#3. Run ads with UGC for explosive marketing results
If you’re looking for the most surefire way of driving sales with influencer marketing, it’s return on ad spend.
As I said earlier, consumers have grown tired of traditional advertising. But they are converting on UGC ads.
86% of Gen Z’ers are more likely to trust an ad if it uses real people and the click-through rate for UGC compared to professionally generated content is four times higher!
Need more convincing?
Trend, who I mentioned earlier, has a client Kettle + Fire that used UGC created on Trend in their ads and saw a 61% improvement on their return on ad spend when using UGC against their previously highest performing ad creative.
Many marketers have also reported seeing a 5 to 1 return on ad spend when using UGC in their ads.
UGC marketing is key for your business
I have given you the inside scoop on how to acquire and leverage UGC to grow your business. Traditional advertising is definitely seeing a downtick which will make UGC all the more important.
Now you have a guide on how to use UGC for marketing and create another strong ROI tool for your business. If you want help generating content and strategizing how to best leverage it, I would recommend giving Trend a try.
Guest author: Jay Desai is the Head of Growth at Trend.io, a software company that enables brands to source high-quality user-generated content and targeted exposure with social media influencers. He’s an experienced marketer with a passion for sports and travel.