What is UGC and how can you build a community around your brand?
User-generated content, or UGC, is all of the stuff written, photographed and shared about your company that you didn’t write, photograph or share (and that you didn’t pay someone else to). It’s the buzz, the reviews, the testimonials, the selfies and the Instagram posts that tag you. And the main part - it’s a signal to potential customers.
UGC helps you out as a business (if it’s positive stuff) by building credibility, improving conversion rates, driving traffic, giving you more content your own staff can use, and engaging with your customers more. This stuff really works. For example, one study found that repurposing user-generated content increased click-through rate for Facebook ads by 300%.
If it’s not positive stuff yet...well, you’re getting super valuable feedback.
Big Picture Trend
UGC is more common because of a general shift in media. In the Early Days, most media was broadcast. A company told everyone that would listen about their product (whether it was the news or their catalogue). In a broadcast world, there’s very little room for informal feedback.
These Days, the rise of social media shows we are more interested in having a conversation, heavy on the feedback loops, that allows for more voices to be heard when information is being shared.
This extends through to business. Instead of taking what a business tells us at face value, we are looking for feedback and information from other users.
This leads us to the hand-in-hand bit:
I don’t love this term, because to me it sounds like a resident advisor’s job in a college hall. But community management or social media management refers to actively growing your user-generated content and engaging directly with the people who are making it. Building a community around your brand involves leveraging UGC to improve your sales.
Community managers help build UGC in several important ways. They can:
Create a particular image or perception of your brand
When your brand’s perception is left entirely to the hands of the public, there’s no real telling what will happen. By carefully paying attention to how people talk about your brand, you can see what promotion avenues are the best ones for you to explore, and what social channels might need some active branding. This can be done by highlighting particular reviews that work well for your business and posting photos that are relatable (especially user-generated ones).
Win loyal customers
Managing your community can help you turn an average customer into your #1 fan. A huge part of this is customer service. If you’re showing that you’re paying attention to your social media channels, giving kudos to people who share content about your stuff, and interact directly with people talking about your brand (even and especially just to thank them), you’re well on your way to being remembered positively. Your customers are also your best resource for referring their friends - you can run campaigns or loyalty programmes that encourage them to do just that
Address good and bad feedback
Building your community includes building your brand as a credible and trustworthy one. You want people to write reviews and testimonials - and that doesn’t always work in your favour. But that’s ok - 72% of customers in one study say they trust brands more if they have negative feedback on their site. It makes them more real, and the transparency wins them over. This increases accountability and trust, makes you seem real, and helps people make their own decisions about whether or not they want to buy from you. When they do (and like your stuff), they’ll feel even more positively about you.
Build a feeling of membership to a club
One thing community management can do is help instill the feeling in your customers that they’re part of something. By buying your brand, they’ve gotten the chance to join something special. There are a few ways to do this. Some businesses, for example, are using Instagram Stories to give special offers or information to their Insta community. Others have actual VIP programmes that people can pay their way into. Newsletters that aren’t too salesy can help establish you as an exclusive information source rather than just a business. Apps for members with challenges and community meetings are awesome at building up a brand (think Nike + and Strava, for example). And, hosting events where people show up in branded gear can make people feel like they want to join in.
Partner with other brands
No company does anything by themselves. Rather than seeing everyone around you as competition, look for opportunities to partner with like-minded and complementary brands. You’ll be able to share base customers and influence. Headspace, for example, has partnered with Spotify to offer free membership for those on Spotify Student premium accounts. They figure there’s a big market of stressed-out students, millions of which are using Spotify, and that they’ll get hooked and go premium themselves once they’re graduates. Meanwhile, Spotify is able to add value to their premium memberships by including an app that’s relevant to their members - making it more attractive to stay with Spotify rather than move to a competing music streaming service.
Add interesting stuff to your site
Companies that add a dedicated page for social proof, testimonials and other user-generated content see a huge increase in conversion - one study showed 166% increase.
Send more traffic to your website
User-generated content is also a huge win for Search Engine Optimisation. With customer reviews that are indexed by Google, you have lots of new opportunities for keywords and other organic traffic-drivers. In fact, companies that added indexed reviews saw a 48% increase in web traffic.
Need a hand building your community?
Yotpo is our go-to for anything UGC. It integrates super easily with Shopify stores and can help you encourage your users to write reviews, post about you and make media content you can use. Find out more about using Yotpo here.
Elkfox is here to help! We can help you design a UGC strategy that integrates with what you’re already doing. Got any ideas or success stories about how you’ve built up your community with UGC? Get in touch with us.