What is UGC?
UGC stands for User Generated Content. UGC is when your customers are essentially your content creators.
There are a million potential advocates (or critics) of your brand equipped with smartphones, ready to opine on your service. And a whopping 60% of your customers trust this UGC more than the advertisements your marketing team produced.
It should be clear to you that UGC has a serious role in reputation management. We’re going to discuss it today and how you can use it to benefit your business.
The art of crowd-sourcing content
Your customers aren't shy about sharing their experiences with your brand, and that’s something you should capitalize on. Even so, encourage them to give reviews.
Throw in some interactive elements like quizzes or contests on your social media channels. The more interaction you can create, the more of a treasure trove of UGC you'll have to use. And don't forget the influencers in your niche — they're like jet fuel for your UGC efforts.
The best situations to use UGC
There probably isn’t a bad scenario for using UGC, but there are moments when UGC shines the brightest for your reputation management:
- Product launches - A prime example of an ideal scenario to use UGC to the max. User-generated reviews or experiences can fortify your product claims and provide some serious credibility. It’s also a great way to heighten anticipation for your new product.
- Crisis situations - Sincere testimonials and reviews from real customers can save you from total ruin. An example could be a temporary issue with product quality. Trust you’ve earned from your customers could see you through it by bolstering faith in your ability as a company to rectify it fast.
- Community building - User-generated content is a great way to foster a sense of community. For example, running a photo contest with a specific hashtag encourages customers to share their experiences and engage with each other's content. This can strengthen connections with your brand.
Strategic implementation of UGC
To truly tap the potential of your UGC, you’ll need to dedicate some time to strategizing and adapting. Digital platforms and user behaviors continuously evolve. The only way to remain relevant and effective is to stay abreast of these changes - constantly refresh your knowledge on changes to your industry and the platforms you use.
While you approach UGC as an opportunity for constructive interaction and receiving feedback, you also have to be sure you’re not falling behind on implementing changes to your products or services. It must be a continuous virtuous cycle of customer feedback and product improvement.
Be sure to keep track of your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), as a change in these can show a weakness in your feedback-improve cycle. An example of a KPI that you’ll want to track could be conversion rate or social media engagement.
To determine the most useful feedback, compare it to your brand story. The feedback that best reflects that will be the most useful and give the most benefit for your marketing efforts.
UGC trends in 2023
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) user experiences are becoming all the rage. Consumers are sharing their perspectives like never before. It's an immersive dimension of UGC, and it can add some serious depth to your testimonials.
Plain old user reviews aren’t going anywhere, of course. Even with the newest technologies, a large part of the mainstream is going to be slow and apprehensive about jumping on board, so user reviews will still have persuasive power for the foreseeable future.
Let's not overlook the power of podcasts, which are surging in popularity. The podcast realm is ripe for exploration. There are a ton of ways to capitalize on it, from sharing brand experiences to in-depth discussions about your products.
When considering trends, remember that the main key to reputation management is still an honest dialogue. While you embrace UGC, keep engaging with your customers. Let them have a say in your brand's story. Your customers are your biggest cheerleaders and your harshest critics. If they detect inauthentic communication, you will lose them.
How to use UGC to perfect your customer service
Your customers will be talking about their experiences with your business in every way they can. It's your opportunity to listen actively to them and engage.
Your customers also crave instant gratification. They want their voices heard and their concerns addressed. UGC isn’t optional for this. Monitoring and engaging with UGC lets you check the pulse of your customer satisfaction levels and can help you provide timely (and personalized) responses.
For example, imagine that a customer shares a less-than-stellar experience with your product. It sounds like a negative situation, but it’s a goldmine of constructive criticism. Yes, it stings, but it allows you to up your game and make improvements. If you get rave reviews, you can thank them for their kind words and build stronger brand loyalty.
Managing your UGC
While you’re encouraging the flow of UGC, you must set some guidelines and moderate the content. You’re going to have to deal with inappropriate content and outright misinformation. You also have to maintain a space where your customers feel comfortable enough to share their opinions.
It’s all about transparency. You have to be able to welcome constructive criticism but be able to detect and deal with harsh or destructive criticism responsibly.
UGC and the future of reputation management
When it comes to reputation management in modern times, UGC is a tool that allows you to connect with your customers on a more personal level, understand their needs and wants, and turn potential crises into opportunities for improvement.
Every customer has a voice, and every voice has the potential to shape your brand's narrative for better or for worse. How you engage with this content, whether authentically and intelligently or not, determines whether your brand story gets read or left on the shelf.
Make UGC a central part of your reputation management strategy. Done right, it can lift your brand above others. In the end, it's all about the people who use your products and services. Your customers are the stars, and UGC is the stage that lets them shine.