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How Small Businesses Can Leverage User-Generated Content in 2022

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Change is on the horizon in the ways consumers make informed purchasing decisions and develop affinity for the goods, services, and culture of businesses. With the rise in widespread use of popular platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels, Twitch, and YouTube, the traditional role of marketers to convert consumers to customers has met its match: content creators. Here’s everything you need to know about capitalizing on the branding power of UGC, or user-generated content in the New Year.

The Backstory

While the age of the social media influencer has had a grip on the minds and pocketbooks of consumers for some time now, the pandemic climate and rapid rise of UGC has exploded over the last two years. In this time, influencers have faded to gray while organic content creators have taken center stage thanks to their authenticity and unique personalities. These creators have given us marketers and businesses access to an abounding pool of engaging organic content that fulfills the personal wants and needs of our audiences.

We’ve always known that the spoken word of those we admire and trust informs the way we make purchasing decisions and develop affinity for businesses, organizations and causes. It’s the TV advertisement for heart medication featuring your favorite football player. It’s the all-too-familiar cotton commercial featuring Taylor Swift and her cardigans. These are always the advertisements that we remember – ads featuring people we not only recognize, but people that we trust to promote goods and services.

For us marketers, we’ve long held the belief that the key to success in any marketing campaign isn’t just about the message, it’s about the people who convey that message and make consumers feel something. And truth to be told, us consumers long to feel something in the ads we see more than ever before. We’ve been to hell and back amid the upheaval in the way we live over the last two years. We’re as cautious as ever, but more sentimental than we could ever imagine. Add in statistics showing that 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions and rapidly declining consumer trust in the authenticity of brand-created content (only 19%, yikes!) and you’ll understand why an immediate laser-focus on UGC is necessary. (Stats courtesy of Stackla)

What even is UGC, or User-Generated Content?

At-a-glance, UGC is a chameleon that assumes the form of any media type you can imagine: Facebook/Instagram posts, Tik Tok videos, Google Reviews, Twitch streams, curated blogs, forum posts on Reddit – all generated organically by real people like us with the intent to accurately inform our followers and audiences.

Whether it be a try-on haul of the latest drop from Ivy Park, or a vlog from your day at the local ice skating rink, real people stimulate real, authentic emotion in the media they share. Sure, you can say you sell the best donuts in town, but it isn’t until your friend or local socialite raves about how much they love your donuts on social media until people actually believe you. This isn’t to say that you can’t build trust in your audience using your own organic content and marketing materials, but the word of others has a profound impact on those we serve. Here’s how you can leverage the trusted word of your devout followers in the year to come.

Using UGC in your 2022 Marketing Strategy

The key to success in leveraging UGC in your marketing strategy is only as strong as the pool of UGC you pull from. From sharing favorable Google Reviews to engaging your customers or employees to share their thoughts on your popular products, the power is in the hands of content creators. Here are a few easy ways you can make effective use of UGC this coming year:

  • Sharing Consumer Reviews: The power of UGC all comes down to the sentiment consumers share about your business. If you regularly receive positive reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or TripAdvisor, consider integrating these reviews into your regular social media content or on your website. If you run a local restaurant, consider sharing your customers’ latest tagged post of your food on Instagram or ask for permission to share the photos that accompanied their Google Review. There’s power in the validation of being recognized by a business after a great experience. Channel this power into creating real-time value for your organic audience and prospective customers by syndicating this content on your socials.
  • When in Doubt, Engage: Social listening is an essential practice for any business these days. Be it regularly checking for reviews, responding to engagement on your social media page, or finding new avenues to get your brand name out there, we can all benefit from keeping our eyes focused beyond the walls of our business. For example, if you’re a shoe store who happens to sell the hottest, affordable boots that just went viral on TikTok, why not engage with that TikTok, or boost a post on Facebook to your target audience saying that you carry those shoes. The hype is already there and so is consumer trust in the product, so why not hop on the hype train? UGC is all about being in the right place at the right time, so engage when the iron is hot.
  • Find New Ways to Generate UGC About Your Business: Ordinary content creators make the social media world go ‘round. The crazy thing is that these super-informers are all around us and we might not even know it. The regular at your coffee shop who always orders an iced Americano with almond milk might just be the hottest K-Pop dance creator on YouTube. Your friendly neighborhood dog walker? They’ve gotten 10 million Instagram Reels views in the last month. These kinds of people might just be regulars to you, but they’re likely somebody else’s favorite content creator and could lead to your next sale. Find these kinds of people, regardless of their follower count; the kinds of people who are willing to go to bat for you and your products and let the magic brew. Your name being on the feed of potential new customers holds value that your organic Facebook post simply can’t. And for the many followers who see this UGC who will likely never become your customer, at least your name will be on their mind!

No matter how you try to paint the picture, user-generated content has a viral pull that establishes authenticity and trust in your brands and business. If you’re struggling to find ways to incorporate UGC in your marketing strategy or need help getting in-front of the right audience, you know who to call. (605-341-5226)

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