Leveraging UGC or user-generated content is one of the most cost-efficient and highly effective SEO strategies. It effectively drives traffic and increases conversions. Conversions are a crucial gauge if SEO strategies are working. You can have the most amazing website, well-designed, and teeming with content, but if it is not SEO-worthy, it will not be discovered on search engines, and therefore will not convert.
According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92% of consumers trust organic UGC, more than paid ads or brand-generated content. Brands do not pay for user-generated content and are generally received as unbiased and authentic user experiences.
Since UGC is consumer-led, it is also more personal than brand-led content. So, brands need to strategically have a balanced mix of both kinds of content to hit the right pitch of content that helps brands to get leads and drive conversions.
User-Generated Content Defined
User-generated content (UGC) is also called user-created content (UCC). In whatever form, be it images, videos, blogs, forum posts, and the like, as long as it is user-authored, organic, and unpaid. Users can share content via social media platforms or open-source websites like Wikipedia that allow UGC/UCC.
Social media platforms are responsible for the rise of the UGC. Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist’s John Doerr calls UGC the “next wave of the web.” On Instagram, UGC posts get more likes, comments, and reposts. These engagements improve SMO or social media optimization for brands.
Just in the first quarter of 2020, amid the global pandemic that upended our lives and pinned us at home, UGC also surged. The spike in user-generated content is due to stringent lockdown rules across countries. Work, business, school, and other social activities were suspended. The home became workspace, school, and pandemic shelter all in one. Most activities shifted to online, and people have never been this active on the internet as before.
In fact, TikTok became a phenomenon with 115 million new downloads in March 2020 alone, making it an 800-million-strong social media platform. It is currently the leading social media platform. It is not just a channel to entertain but has become a useful tool for brand-building and an effective avenue for CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities.
3 Key Benefits of UGC
1. UGC Creates Trust and Brand Authenticity
People tend to gravitate towards peers in their niche when it comes to brand insight. It is why peer reviews and user recommendations are integral in your website as they improve SEO rankings. It is especially evident in the eCommerce website, where 60 percent of shoppers trust UGC. Brands should allow users to post their photos of concerning their experience around the product or service. Users must be able to leave comments, reviews, and ratings. Consumers typically look for these trust elements before making any purchase decisions.Aside from being able to establish trust with customers much easier through UGC, this type of content is also easier to consume than brand-generated content. Seeing other consumers’ ideas, feedback, and experience have a familiar and relevant feel for other consumers. Regardless if consumers are following an influencer, startup business, or an established corporate brand—users trust content from fellow users seven times more than what brands say about themselves.
Amid disruptive and inauthentic marketing rampant today, UGC comes as a refreshing alternative to get product insights in a more personal, authentic, and trustworthy level.
2. UGC Boosts User Interaction and Engagement
User engagement is critical because it adds to the metrics needed for SEO rankings. The more you get your engagements up, the more you get to convert visitors to subscribers and paying customers.
You also get relevant insights about what the market is currently raving about or searching for on search engines.
Ever wonder sometimes why your favorite TV series suddenly changes plots, and maybe even drop characters at off moments in the storyline? We probably have UGC to blame for that. Media networks are known to adjust shows based on UGC like forums, comments, and reviews. Some fans will even go further and produce UGC via reviewer videos, unboxing videos, and the like.
3. UGC Drives Traffic, Conversions, and ROI
Optimizing UGC on your SEO marketing strategies drive traffic, conversions, and ROI.
UGC improves clickthrough rates and gains influence ten times stronger than influencer-led promotions. If you are collaborating with influencers for brand building and promotion, do not lose the authenticity, reason for UGC’s success.
3 Ways to Optimize UGC
1. Create brand desire through UGC
By optimizing UGC and integrating it with your digital marketing campaigns, you spark brand desire and strengthen brand awareness. Tourism, lifestyle, and food brands use this technique.
A recent campaign by Airbnb called ‘Experiences’ took over Instagram. The brand launched curated experiences from their users that were so enticing you cannot help but save it, share it, and book it.
The captivating campaign span across Airbnb’s IG feed, IG Story, Story ads, TV, print, and several other social media platforms. Check some IG posts and a video posted on YouTube, that was all part of the campaign.
2. UGC helps showcase and inspire brand loyalty.
Loyalty-building among your customers means you nurture relationships for the long-term, that will lead to repeat sales over time.
Your most avid fans and followers turn into brand ambassadors and become your biggest user-generated content creators. UGC optimizes your users’ positive reviews around your product or service, to promote the brand organically—that means you did not have to pay for these users to endorse your brand. They recommend you out of loyalty that resulted from good CX (customer experience).
Regardless of your sales model, sharing UGC can help build brand loyalty by showcasing how much you care about the customer experience.
Netflix has several hit shows that have gained much popularity and a loyal fanbase. Bird Box’s reputation, for instance, spread like wildfire because of word-of-mouth referrals and UGC. We have seen this happen with Stranger Things as well. UGC helps create a buzz around these shows and promote upcoming episodes, seasons, or simply the perpetuity of viewership even after the series or movie has ended.
3. Build a Content Library
Keep encouraging users to send their comments, feedback, ratings, and UGC content. Build your content library and choose among the UGC content you receive for relevant content you can share at the moment.
These are some examples of different Starbucks UGC campaigns through the years that helped keep Starbucks one of those top-of-mind brands when it comes to coffee:
Another campaign that is still trending is the #stayathome hashtag campaign you see all over social media, across different platforms. Images and videos flooded from frontliners themselves, urging the public to stay safe by staying at home.
Conclusion: Put the Power of UGC to Good Use
UGC is an essential factor of any digital marketing strategy that optimizes the experience of satisfied customers and incorporating them into the brand’s content or campaign.
Recently, nations have been shaken because of a worldwide catastrophe. As the world continues to fight back, bounce back, the internet and social media have become more valuable in terms of keeping us together as we heal as one. Now is a great time to be visible in the community to let your consumers know you are in support of them and thinking about their welfare. Continue to build and nurture relationships, so you know how you can help your consumers through the content you produce. Beyond that, encourage your users to share their stories amid the pandemic. It is good to provide users as much channel as possible to be heard and stay connected, so they know they are not battling this tragedy by themselves.
Do not underestimate the power of UGC to encourage people, bring people together, and create an atmosphere of resilience and hope. Aside from SEO, those two need to increase at this time too. Start using the power of UGC to good use.