The potential of UGC — or why you should use earned content

Who doesn’t have an account on one social network today? 
 Or at least is being pushed by friend to have one? 
 I mean, I subscribed to Facebook because I was tired of my friends who kept complaining about the fact I didn’t have it.
 
 Anyway, the world is clearly getting more social. Especially on the internet. Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr… are being embraced as new ways of communicating. People get together in digital communities and massively create and share online content with their peers, ranging from status updates, newspaper articles, pictures, video’s to memes or gifs. This created content or user generated content is of big importance.

UGC more consumed than television

It has gotten a term, so it must be important! And indeed, UGC takes up a lot of the free time of my generation and undoubtedly for the generations to come. Because a study of Crowdtap and Ipsos MediaCT showed that millennials spend almost 30% of their media time with this user generated content. While the use of traditional media, such as tv, print and radio takes up just 33%. Moreover, social media that demand creating content, are the most popular within this group. Snapchat (71%) takes the lead with an astonishing 71%, in comparison to Tumblr (53%) and Vine (51%).

When I found these numbers I tried to apply it to my own life. And indeed, I hardly watch any television (in comparison to 5 years ago), or read printed magazines. Instead, I kill my time with Facebook, YouTube and yes… 9gag.

Source: Recode.net

On all these networking sites users communicate with uploaded and shared content, also on 9gag. That content gives also rise to conversations which are partly about brands and brand experiences. Now, I if a friend tells you to buy (or absolutely not to buy) a product you weren’t really sure to buy, you’ll probably buy (or won’t buy) it now. Everywhere consumers tell their peer consumers how they perceive a product or a service in a way that is natural to them: word-to-mouth.

The era of online word-to-mouth

Online it’s pretty much the same. As a study of Nielsen showed, earned media is trusted more than all forms of advertising by 92% of consumers worldwide. Next to that, 96% of the consumers consult reviews before making a purchase decision and 86% consider them indispensable for such a decision. Millennials aged 18 to 36 too, trust UGC 50% more than traditional media and find it 35% more memorable.

Another study revealed that 70% of the people consult three or more channels and 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase. And even 40% of the savvy and self-aware Generation Z, the so-called centennials, aged 13 tot 18, says to never buy a product online if the webshop doesn’t feature pictures of real people using it.

The effects of UGC on your sales

Now, anyone can say what he wants of course. All recipients in these studies admit that they are being influenced by UGC, but how can we be sure it really has a positive effect on them and on the sales of your brand? Not a lot of research has been done to the immediate effects of UGC on consumers. But last year, Crowdtap compared the impact of UGC with that of standard digital ad units on key brand metrics. And not surprisingly, the outcome confirmed everything we imagined. UGC that is shared by a friend exceeded the digital norms across all the metrics measured, in comparison to content shared by a brand or media property.

Source: iab.com

Think about these toothpaste commercials on tv, where ‘ordinary’ people tell the viewers how this brand helped them whitening their teeth or solved their sensitive gums. Do you believe them? Maybe you do. 
 But what if a friend of you, or just someone you know, tells you or posts something about that toothpaste? It makes it even more reliable, right?

Brands get closer to their fans

So, brands no longer need to rely on the messages they send out. Their message gets shared and spread online by their fans too, spontaneously. And companies can use this UGC, because it’s more powerful than you think, since the group of digital natives keeps on growing, together with the online content they create. They are about to become the most powerful purchasing group of people.

But just starting to collect UGC at random won’t help you any further either. Because where do you start? Imagine yourself, scrolling down every social network trying to find interesting posts.

Booo-ring…

Luckily there are a few online tools to help you find and collect relevant social shares. One of them is Flowbox and and with this tool you can among other things, display the found UGC on your website to strengthen your brand image and engagement of and with your fans.

So what are you waiting for?

By: Elke Ramsdonck