For years, we’ve been told that content marketing is an essential part of online branding. Creating quality content and taking steps to make it as visible as possible can heighten your brand’s trust among customers and boost your search engine rankings. Now, user-generated video content has become even more important than brand-generated content. In fact, user-generated content stands to become the single most powerful marketing tool for brands in 2017. Read on for the three core reasons.
1. Customers trust user-generated content
With content marketing, trust has always been a big part of the equation. Creating unique, informative, and well-written content was a way to show customers that your business knew its stuff. Trust is the driving factor behind user-generated content for a different reason. If content marketing works because it builds trust in your brand, user-generated content works because modern customers are inherently inclined to distrust brands like yours.
Before you start cycling back through your most recent consumer interactions trying to figure out why your customers might not trust you, know that this distrust isn’t directly your fault. Due to several factors, the average modern customer enters all brand interactions with caution. For one thing, they’ve dealt with online tracking and targeted marketing—tactics that strike most people as invasions of privacy that need to be avoided. For another thing, so many transactions take place online that it’s difficult to create the face-to-face human trust factor that brands naturally used to maintain with their customers.
Whatever the reasons for this consumer distrust, the fact is that your prospective buyers are going to take everything you say with a grain of salt. That includes social media posts, blogs, articles, email newsletters, and even product descriptions. It’s not that customers assume that the information you provide them directly is false. However, they are going to want to do their own research before purchasing your products, through sources they trust more than your brand’s mouthpiece.
User-generated video content is extremely helpful here. Customers don’t feel inclined to trust brands, but they do feel inclined to trust other customers, whether family members or online reviewers. As such, by implementing user-generated content on your website—like text reviews and video review media—you make it possible for customers to get “second opinions” on your products without leaving your platform. This content keeps customers on your site and increases the likelihood of them purchasing your products and trusting your brand.
2. Promoting user-generated content promotes brand ambassadors
When you enable user-generated content on your website, you give your customers a voice with which to talk about your products and your brand. When you give your customers that voice, you show them that they are valuable and tie them more strongly to your brand. Whether you are responding to each video review on your website with a simple “thank you” message or featuring top video reviews on your homepage or social media accounts, or both, user-generated content strategies make it easy to reward customers for standing up and becoming influencers.
Your consumers see it as a reward to be recognized online by their favorite celebrities and brands. They will talk about those celebrities and brands more with the sole goal of being acknowledged, mentioned, or retweeted. If you start sharing user-generated content prominently, you will promote the kind of brand advocacy that amps up ROI. There is no better way to get customers talking about your brand online, both on your website and on social media.
3. User-generated content makes your customers feel valued
The Business 2 Community blog recently said that “influencers are the new celebrity spokesperson.” While celebrity spokespeople still drive user interest for larger brands, small- and mid-sized e-commerce companies experience similar benefits by getting lots of influencers to spread the word about their brand. Turning your customers into your own “celebrity spokespeople” will positively impact their overall brand loyalty.
Think about it this way: back in your school days, when you were recognized for accomplishing something impressive in one of your classes or subjects, what kind of response did that inspire in you? In most cases, positive recognition and reinforcement encourage kids to work harder in those classes to keep achieving impressive results. It also makes them enjoy those classes more because they feel like they are being rewarded for their input and effort.
A very similar psychology is at work with brand advocates. By giving customers a voice to use to share their opinions via user-generated content and then recognizing those opinions (on your website or social media), you give them the positive reinforcement they need to keep advocating for your brand. Your customers will feel honored and rewarded by the recognition and will continue stumping for your brand with the goal of seeing similar results, without compensation. Best of all, they will feel more attached and loyal to your brand.