It has been said that word-of-mouth is the most powerful marketing tool, and with this ability to share thoughts with millions across the globe in a fraction of a second, it could not be more true. Customers have this inherent urge to share their product and service experiences online via reviews, blogs, or social media posts. Such content is referred to as User Generated Content (UGC), and has the capability of aiding marketing teams in a number of ways.
Potential customers tend to shy away from blatant advertising, knowing that the advertisements are designed to show the best possible outcome of a product or service. However, customers want to know what to really expect; thus, they turn to UGC. Online users who write positive reviews seldom earn incentives for doing so. What makes customer reviews authentic is the assumption that the writer has nothing to gain for writing a positive review, therefore, it must be honest. Although some businesses offer discounts or a reward for writing a positive review, that in turn tarnishes the authenticity of the user’s review. In order for you to take advantage of UGC and build trust in the online community, you must maintain UGC authenticity and avoid bribing users for positive feedback, which would in turn be empty and faulty.
Honest and Helpful Feedback
Reviews are a common form of UGC that can easily be found in a quick Google search of your business. Granted, you want your customers to go online and post rave reviews about your business. Then, you will want to use that UGC and show it off on your website and social media channels. However, and this is bound to happen, you will get those reviewers who write less than stellar reviews about your business. Although an immediate thought would be to try and hide such horrendous reviews, the best way to handle such posts would be to provide a sympathetic response and offer a solution. Not only will that help make the reviewer feel valued, it will also show other readers that your business cares about its customers.
Furthermore, these reviews and other forms of UGC provide you with invaluable insight you can use to improve your product or service. When most negative reviews revolve around the same issue, you will know that by fixing that issue, it will improve the customer experience. Utilize customer feedback as a sort of “cheat-sheet” for determining what aspects of your business attract customers, and what aspects repels them. Then, make the necessary changes.
Increased Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Site Traffic
Websites that allow UGC have an increased amount of content than those who restrict users from posting on their site. When you open up a space for users to converse (to either ask/ answer questions, or write reviews), more content is added to your site, which creates more target key phrases, which then increases your site’s search-ability. Additionally, with a free space for users to utilize, your site becomes more interactive. With a more interactive, user-friendly site, visitors spend extra time either contributing to the forum or reading the UGC. The longer a visitor is on a particular site, the better, for it is more likely for the visit to convert into a purchase.
Another beneficial aspect of user generated content is that it’s free! Customers want to feel that their opinion matters, and often wish to share their thoughts with others. However, some businesses may struggle to convince customers to create online content about them. If you find yourself in such a situation, we have an article that provides you with 5 Tips That Can Encourage User Generated Content. Integrating UGC will not only provide you with media you can share on your own sites (with expressed permission by the poster), but also provide your online image with a sense of authenticity.