Insights

User-Generated Content is the New Word-of-Mouth

How to Become Part of the Online Conversation

Did you know that 80 percent of all web content is user-generated content (UGC)? From images on social media to reviews of Google, consumers are dominating the online space.

What does this mean for businesses? Despite having a well-devised digital strategy, it’s consumers who are ultimately building your brand’s reputation. And with over 90 percent of individuals admitting that UGC is useful when making a purchase, it’s a lot more than just your reputation at stake.

But brands should view UGC as an opportunity. Because it’s the businesses that incorporate UGC into their marketing mix who gain social proof. And it’s this external validation and customer advocacy that can influence potential customers.

UGC and Social Proof: The cold hard facts

Authenticity: Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view user-generated content as authentic compared to branded-content.

Trust: Ninety-one percent of individuals between the age of 18 to 34 trust online reviews from strangers as much as personal recommendations.

Decision Making: Nearly 80 percent of people say UGC has a high impact on their purchasing decisions.

Welcoming UGC into your Digital Strategy

Owned Media

Owned media is any digital property that you control. This includes your website, mobile app, newsletter, blog, social channels, brand community forums, and FAQ sections. Incorporating UGC within these heavily-branded channels can help promote authenticity, create a genuine brand image, and instill user trust.

Owned Media Best Practices:

  • Add social media pictures to the image carousel on the product detail page.
  • Add customer reviews to product detail pages.
  • Publish blog posts featuring UGC.
  • Publish guest posts from influencers.
  • Post / re-post UGC on your social media accounts.
  • Create a dedicated page on your website for showcasing your brand-related UGC.
  • Create communities and forums for post-purchase support.

Earned Media

Earned media is essentially all digital communication, including social mentions, post shares, online reviews, media coverage (which falls outside of the UGC conversation), and online recommendations. Creating a UGC strategy will help you better control these online discussions and even lead them in your favor.

Earned Media Best Practices:

  • Include user endorsements in TV and radio ads.
  • Incorporate user images in print media rather than only professional shots.
  • Use UGC in your paid social media ads.
  • Add customer reviews in social ads.
  • Partner with social influencers.
  • Partner with professional bloggers.
  • Leverage affiliate marketing.
How to measure UGC

ROI isn’t just about conversion rates. There are other KPIs that can also measure the success of your UGC strategy.

Engagement

User engagement is one of the best ways to measure success in today’s digitally driven world. If users aren’t engaging, chances are that your content just isn’t sticking. On social media, observe the number of likes, shares, and comments on standard brand posts versus UGC posts. Whereas for website engagement, you will want to analyze the average time spent on page and bounce rate before and after adding UGC elements.

Social Listening

Thanks to social listening tools, you can monitor online conversations and extract any information pertinent to your business, including direct name mentions and conversations regarding specific keywords, topics, competitors, or industry. These tools even provide an analysis of all data collected, so you’re not only measuring UGC, but also better understanding consumers.

Final Thoughts

Businesses used to fear word-of-mouth marketing. The lack of control over what was being said left them in the dark. But, since UGC became the digital word-of-mouth, brands can finally take a proactive approach, making your business a part of the conversation.