If you have no idea what customer content or UGC is, don’t worry. It is a marketing industry term. And this article is not only going to help you understand what it is, but why it is important and helpful, and how to start making the most of it.
User Generated Content or UGC as you may hear it referred to, is one of the most valuable brand indicators you will ever get. To explain it simply, it is customers or brand fans creating content about your business and your product or service, and sharing it across their own personal social profiles to their respective networks. So that is an important concept. It is often free and generally, assuming it is good feedback, some of the most fantastic advertising you will ever have access to. You need to know how it works, how you can leverage it and how you can foster it happening. And if you are not quite at that point yet in your audience engagement, then perhaps we can help to bridge that gap.
If you are not reviewing it and considering it, then you are missing key indicators about what your customers and brand fans think about your product or service, and your brand as a whole. More importantly, you are missing a fantastic stream of inspiration and creative queues that could really focus your approach to social marketing.
Regardless of what a brand or the marketing team want to tell as a story, the only real cue you can trust is what your customers really think and why they buy from you. You can do expensive surveys or ask lost of questions, or in a modern context, you can go to social and see what real people under normal circumstances in their everyday life, really think about your brand. No research will be more accurate than this.
As a warning, let’s just give you the heads up that not all social feedback is going to be sweet like roses and honey. When it is anonymous, some customers are really going to let you have it. If you can distill out the haters and the wingers from this feedback, you will find some very useful insights, that you absolutely need to deal with. Then if you look at the great feedback, which hopefully you have a lot of, then you are going to find some real insights into how you need to tell your story and connect with customers and a story that will resonate with them.
Concept 1: How to identify UGC
If you are experienced with social media, even as a user, then you will appreciate that content formats are different across the different channels. So it stands to reason that User-generated Content and how you find it, will differ by channel too. We have detailed articles coming on how to engage and respond on customer content on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, all of which vary greatly and can’t be dealt with in this instance as it would dominate this article.
The most obvious solution is to be active on a function typically called, Community Management. This means you are monitoring your social profile and responding to customer interactions, comments or feedback. Good or bad, you have to be diligent with this task. On Facebook this usually involves customers commenting on your brand page, or tagging your brand profile in a spot. On Instagram and Twitter, it will typically involve customers commenting on your content, or creating their own content and adding your page handle or naming your #brand using a hashtag, both of which can be found quickly using the search function. On LinkedIn, they will just link to your brand profile or increasingly, make use of the new hashtag feature, which you can identify using search. On YouTube, this is a page link or a url link which can be searched. There are more social channels of course, but you get the idea.
This task does take time to be diligent, so if you wanted a simple technology solution that does this for you, you could try Menton.
Concept 2: How to take inspiration from the good insights
There are several ways you can put UGC to good use.
Options 1 is obvious. Use the content to good effect by sharing it yourself and adding your own brand spin to it. Engaging with a customer is a great experience and most brand fans will love it if you engage. If you really like the content and you want to repurpose it for other formats such as advertising, then you will need to get permission, but don’t be afraid to ask.
Option 2 requires some more work, but looking for consistent themes in customer content, will give you an indication of how you should be crafting content or telling your story. The language you use internally is often not the same as the customer experience, so take your queues on this from how your customers consistently talk about your product or brand. Getting that right will really improve your own engagement rates going forward as customers will immediately connect to the idea.
Option 3 may take it to a whole new level. If you notice customer-generated content has significant engagement, then it may be a really hot idea or it may be because that customer has significant influence. Look further to understand why this has happened. If they have a big follower network, then they may be what is referred to as an influencer and may be able to influence your audience or generate significant conversion for you. There may be an opportunity to engage this person to great effect to produce more content or give you feedback about your brand or product. Social is an environment that encourages interaction, so get interactive with your customers and those with influence are a high priority. But beware, they may already appreciate their value and expect to be remunerated, which is a whole other topic for us to cover soon.
Concept 3: How to tackle the bad vibes
Not all customer feedback is good, no matter what channel. The problem with social shared feedback is, it has leverage. Which really means a lot of customers can see it and it can potentially be damaging. That is both a curse and a blessing, as long as you deal with it. Feedback about problems is important, no matter what channel. But if you solve a problem and share your efforts to address the issue and satisfy that customer, via social, then that commitment and service are equally visible and amplified. But you must act, so keeping watch and acting is the best advice we can give you.
Concept 4: How to start generating it if you have none
It would be great if Metigy could give you a one size fits all solution for this. Again, each channel has its specific parameters and actions you need to take to get fans engaged. It is even specific to each industry vertical because the differences between a B2C and a B2B customer is different. The good news, we have a series of articles coming on different industry verticals to help and we even have some product enhancements and product integrations coming to help fire up your efforts and outcomes. So look out for these.
What we can reveal is that we have been working on a product integration to give our e-commerce customers that want to drive UGC on Instagram, which is the fastest growing social channel for e-commerce, an easy start to generating some quality customer-created content. An update will appear here shortly.