Let’s go through a hypothetical scenario. You’re looking for a new CPA to help you with tax preparation for your small business. As if local firms know it, you start getting postcards and brochures in the mail and emails in your inbox, all full of perfectly-crafted copy.
They all look like great options. Your friend hears you’re looking, and refers you to the CPA they’ve used for three years.
Which would you go with?
Most, without any hesitation, would go with the referral.
This is why UGC is so important to our businesses; we’re more likely to trust this virtual version of word-of-mouth marketing that comes from other users than actual marketing material.
We’re going to take a look at the 4 tools that are most effective when you want to increase the creation and sharing of user-generated content.
Hard data actually proves this exact fact; a whopping 70% of consumers trust peer reviews and recommendations (even if they’re from strangers) over any type of traditional marketing material. UGC-based ads also get an average of 4x higher click-through rates.
In order to use the UGC, however, you first need to earn it. This can be challenging, but there are several different types of tools to increase UGC that can help you kickstart your new campaigns.
1. UGC Sharing & Curation Tools
User generated content is only valuable if it’s shared, so UGC sharing and curation tools (which often come as one plugin) for your site is already an important move. Even aside from the obvious benefits this has (including driving sales and increased conversions), this can generate more UGC if the displays are paired with a CTA encouraging it.
TINT and ReadyPulse are two fantastic UGC sharing tools. They both offer content curation (meaning they’ll search for the user generated content for you) and allow you to create, place, and moderate streams of UGC on your website. They can be placed on your home page, on a designated social page, and even next to relevant products.
Always, always make sure to attach a call to action above the stream of social content, prompting users to share content with your specific branded hashtag. This will make it possible for the curation part of the tools to work the way they need to.
2. Contest Software
One of the easiest ways to drive major UGC fast is to host a social media contest. A lot of brands will host contests purely to drive user generated content, and don’t even try to collect leads (though I always recommend getting leads whenever possible). Photo sharing contests and hashtag contests are both great ways to get a flood of UGC.
Contest software can increase the overall success of your social contests. Two great options are Shortstack and Wishpond. They both allow you to create landing pages and widgets you can place on your site, expanding the reach of your contest to multiple platforms. This will drive up the amount of engagement from your contest. As long as UGC is a part of that contest’s requirements, they can help you see major increases.
3. Hashtag Research Tools
Some of the best UGC is posted on social media. Whether you use a content curation tool or go searching yourself, you need to be able to find that content if you want to share it. This is where you need to have unique hashtags particular to your brand, which are searchable on Instagram and Twitter.
Having a catchy hashtag can also inspire the creation of UGC, whether it’s the hashtag you use year-round or a seasonal or contest hashtag. Because of this, it’s important to do your research to help increase its usage. The focus here is going to be on hashtag creation instead of searching for trending topics; that’s another goal for another blog post.
I’ve mentioned Hashtagify before on AdEspresso’s blog, and it’s still a fantastic tool to use for hashtag research.
You can enter any hashtag and see commonly associated words (above, you can see the screenshot of the search we did on #AdEspresso).
This can give you new creative ideas for your hashtag.
4. Review Generation & Display Tools
An exceptionally valuable type of UGC comes in the form of customer testimonials and purchase reviews. Most brands will feature these on their sites because they can significantly help increase purchases. Reviews can also be placed in emails and social media posts to drive conversions there, too. Just like with all other types of user-generated content, however, you typically need to ask users for reviews if you want them to leave one.
Review follow-up tools as essential; you don’t have to manually follow-up, and most will automatically reach out to ask customer’s for reviews at the exact time they’re most likely to leave them. Yotpo, ResellerRatings, and Vendasta are all great examples of review generating tools. They’ll automatically contact your customers to request reviews, which you can then feature by relevant products on your site.
Best Practices to Increase UGC
These 4 types of tools discussed above can all be effective and make a huge impact on helping you increase your UGC. While they can streamline the process and make it more efficient, it’s also important to note that they won’t do all the work on their own. Every brand needs to make an effort to encourage UGC on a regular basis.
Best practices to increase UGC include:
- Feature it often. Share and promote UGC on every platform that you have. Share it on social media, add it to your email campaigns, and place it on your site in prominent, relevant locations. The more you share it, the more you’ll get back. This is why the UGC sharing tools can be so beneficial.
- Use hashtags consistently. While running specific hashtag campaigns that are seasonal or timely (including contests) can generate major conversation quickly, it’s good to always have one key branded hashtag that you promote, too. Users will become familiar with it and more likely to use it throughout the year, with no special event needed.
- Ask for it. If you want users to leave reviews or create and share content on social media, explicitly ask them to do so. Ask them to do it while they’re in your store, ask them through email, and issue CTAs on social media every so often asking them there.
It helps to be specific and to ask them exactly what you want them to share. One study found that 50% of consumers want brands to tell them what type of content to create, but only 16% of brands do. Instead of saying “Share your thoughts with us,” go for “Tell us why you loved your last workout/purchase/spa day/ coaching session.” A touch of specificity can go a long way.
User generated content is an extremely valuable currency all brands should be leveraging.
Finding new ways to not only share UGC but to encourage the creation of it will directly benefit your brand. These 4 types of tools to increase UGC can help brands regardless of size or industry, which is an investment worth making.
What do you think? How do you implement and encourage UGC for your brand? Which tools do you use? Let us know in the comments below!