Leveraging User-Generated Content to Promote Your Brand

Originally published at www.linkedin.com.

As marketers, we will always need copywriters for our campaigns and larger projects, but we can also find compelling copy and content from our users. This user generated content is free (win), authentic (another win), and easy for your audience to relate to because they share the same pain points (jackpot!).

Consumers regularly base decisions on which products to buy based on peer reviews and recommendations. I have purchased everything from my yoga mat to my car based on reviews of others in my core and larger peer group. The science is there to back this up. According to a 2013 Zendesk survey, 90% of consumers who read a positive review of a product said it influenced their buying decision as well as 86% of those polled who read a negative review.

As a marketer, I’ve used user generated content to promote CPG, SAAS, pharma, desktop app, and mobile app brands. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, user generated content works because it is relatable to the consumer and gives them permission to trust the brand because the brand has already garnered the trust of their peers.

I wanted to learn more about how other brands leverage user generated content, so I spoke with Brian Matson from twosixdigital.com to get his insight. He noted that at TwoSixDigital, they “monitor hashtags for remarkable images and engage with users”. They also reach out to their audience by phone interviews which adds authenticity to the content. This was a real ‘aha’ moment for me. I had done my fair share of copy and pasting user feedback, but this next level of engagement with the user to gain content gives the larger audience a more dynamic and compelling experience. Now the consumer can not only see, but hear their peers speaking about their experience with the brand, whether that be a travel destination, bag of beef jerky, or the latest productivity software.

Brian shared the following formula for how he used user generated content to raise awareness for one of his tourism clients: “We recorded the audio with TapeACall and used PicFlow to put it all together. Of course creating the content is the easy part. There was a very elaborate paid promotion strategy in place for this campaign. The content was also integrated across multiple platforms including blog posts and other social media channels to increase the long tail traffic once paid promotion stopped. We wanted to create evergreen content that told authentic stories and inspired travel to the destination.”

I often wondered about how other brands curate content that aligns with their strategy. Consumers can be fickle or short and sweet with their feedback and user generated content doesn’t always have the ‘legs’ a brand wants to really engage their consumers. Brian gave me a really insightful nugget on how to combat this issue

“People just need to get creative and ask for stories from their customers. They’ll likely be surprised by what they get.”

Say Whaaat! We, as brands, can ask our audience for the type of stories we think align with our strategy. Ok, I’m sold!

It is critical to create an amazing experience for your customers so that they want to spread the word about your amazing product. Once you have these brand advocates, use their reviews sourced by social media feeds, review sites, product forums, etc. and engage in dialog with them to tease out the story of their journey with the brand and leverage and repurpose that content to reach your consumers and positively influence their buying decisions.