There is an adage in digital marketing that goes “content is king and consumer is queen”. I would add, user-generated content to this royal family as well. To say user-generated content is a big thing, is an understatement.
Consumers are rightly called co-creators and influencers as the content generated by them holds a high value with brands. According to a study conducted by Reevoo, 61 percent of people would engage with a post if it contained user-generated content. So, it is essential for organisations to track and measure user-generated content around their brands online.
There is a wide variety of user-generated content on brands on the Internet. For starters, there are user reviews on review sites, app stores, e-retailers and social media platforms. Then there is user-generated content on social media platforms about your brand. Forums are a great place to hang out for a brand’s product researcher as users share their experiences and take expert advice. Lastly, there are topic-focused opinion blogs and news aggregator websites that are indicators of online media sentiment towards a brand.
How can user-generated content help a brand?
Consumer, The Co-creator
Consumer feedback on products through primary research is usually expensive, time-consuming and often do not deliver the intended results. The costs will include running surveys on consumers by physically being at the consumer's location, collating data and aggregating for insights. However, with the advent of online reviews, the cost and time in capturing consumer feedback has drastically come down.
Users are giving feedback and engaging with brands through different avenues for free and in most cases, immediately after or in the middle of a brand experience. Review sites like Yelp are some of the top avenues of unadulterated feedback of service businesses. There are product reviews in all e-retailer sites and app stores. Consumers talk about their experience with a brand on social platforms all the time. Feedback from these avenues does not cost labor, time and money like in a primary research project.
Brands should look to tap into this source to get valuable feedback that will help the product teams alter products to suit consumers in turn driving up sales. In fact, there are many successful millennial brands that rely upon online reviews for creating new products. Glossier is one such brand that relies heavily on user reviews for new product creation. Glossier started off as a tangent from founder Emily Weiss's beauty blog - Into The Gloss. At Glossier, products are inspired by customer feedback. Founder CEO Emily Weiss says, after a product launch, she gets “so many DMs [direct messages] from people on Instagram writing to say, ‘Thank you so much for listening; we’ve been waiting for this moment.”
Consumer, The Influencer
Customers armed with mobile phones at all times and sharing experiences in real-time, invariably end up talking about the brands they use. Today, rating your experience of a service (like a Uber ride or an Airbnb stay) is part of the process and this rating goes on to influence other consumers. Consumers trust other consumers.
As people look for authenticity in brand communication, consumers of the brand are a great alternative to celebrity endorsement as influencers. A Mavrck study showed that higher friend/ fan count on Facebook does not guarantee higher influence. It’s the consumers of a brand, otherwise called micro-influencers who are effective in influencing purchase decisions of fellow consumers.
Consumer the marketer
User-generated content for marketing is much more cost-effective compared to studio generated content that lacks authenticity and connect with the consumer. User-generated content is created by your consumers and distributed by them. Brands such as Redbull, BMW rlegram (re-post Instagram posts of followers), user-generated content over 60 percent of their Instagram posts as per the Kleiner Perkins Internet Trends 2017. A Mavrck research also states that UGC generates 6.9x times more engagement than that of a brand generated content. Many brands encourage UGC by running campaigns for best video/picture from authentic users of their brand.
User content monitoring and curating can help product teams and marketing teams across the product lifecycle. From ideas for product creation, feedback on product launch to product user communities, UGC can be relied upon as an authentic source of valuable information for product teams.
The author is a Senior Consultant, at DBS COE, Infosys BPM.