5 ways user-generated content can boost engagement, conversions & credibility

Andy Mallinson
Andy Mallinson

Would you rather look at, click on or interact with a stock image or a photo on Instagram?

Modern marketers are figuring out that 9 times out of 10, consumers are going to choose Instagram images over whatever professional photo a brand has purchased. And instead of fighting this trend, they’re embracing it.

At one point or another, all of us have seen, interacted with, or contributed to user-generated content (UGC). UGC is any content – such as posts, tweets, images, videos, etc. – freely created by consumers on an online or social network, and it has granted marketers with an unprecedented opportunity to mine the vast amounts of compelling, visual customer stories and showcase them to connect with consumers in a more authentic, personalised way.

Here are five ways brands are using UGC to help them cut through the noise to increase trust, engagement and performance.

1. Gamify Your Websites

Who can resist an opportunity to post a vacation picture and get a chance to win a prize? Virgin Holidays regularly ran Black Friday sales for travelers, but “never quite managed to cut through the noise,” according to their Vice President of Customer and Marketing, Claire Cronin. To revamp this annual sale, they decided to harness social media to not only help build excitement and web engagement but more importantly, increase online bookings.

*Image from Virgin Holidays website 

In their “Red is the New Black” contest, they encouraged users to tweet stories and images with the contest hashtag to unlock discounts on the site where users’ tweets were being dynamically displayed. These tweets caught fire online with well over 6,000 tweets posted during the 8 hour contest. Not only were they able to grow their social audience and identify their top consumers, but they also increased bookings by 260% over the previous year.

2. Power Social Ads with Customer Content

Facebook is the leading paid social channel for the majority of consumer marketers, and the social media giant recently reported that UGC drives 6.9x higher engagement than brand-generated content on their platform.

Toyota is a brand that took note of this, realising if they wanted to get 3x the amount of engagement on their ads without increasing ad spend, they’d need to leverage UGC. As a result, they far surpassed the goal of boosting engagement by 300%–achieving a whooping 440% year-over-year increase in engagement. At the end of the day, that was 1.2 million social actions (likes, comments, shares).

*Image from Toyota’s #FeelingTheStreet” Facebook page

3. Add Social Proof at Point of Purchase

Online shopping is often a convenient alternative to in-store shopping, except you can’t see how the styles you’re shopping look in real life. This is where trusted social content can make a huge impact, acting as social proof and validation.

Realising this, fashion footwear retailer Wanted Shoes started integrating social components into their eCommerce website. They quickly found that by augmenting their professional product photography with real customer photos, they were able to increase trust, shorten the path to purchase and improve conversions by 30%.

4. Make Your Emails More Dynamic

Seventy-three percent of marketers say that email marketing is crucial to their business, yet we’ve all received (and ignored) stale branded emails before. We all know inboxes are a competitive place, so innovative brands are starting to put a personal touch on their emails by infusing them with dynamic user-generated content.

Australia’s leading travel group, helloworld, has started integrating engaging UGC throughout all their core marketing channels, and emails are no exception. Not only do these authentic images create more compelling email content, but they also help to amplify the reach and affect of their multi-channel brand strategy.

5. Stand Out at Live Events

It can be hard to stand out at live events with competing brands, but displaying interactive, engaging social content can help draw audiences’ attention in a genuine way.

During London Fashion Week, high-street brand TOPSHOP used UGC across all of its digital channels to help make Fashion Week relevant, accessible, and fun for consumers across the UK. With a front row seat to all the latest runway styles, TOPSHOP turned an exclusive event into a shareable (and shoppable!) moment, letting fans post about and purchase looks from catwalk in real-time.

More than 3.8 million customers engaged using the #LIVETRENDS hashtag on Twitter, and the brand saw a 75% lift in sales on featured products.

Now that you’ve seen how leading brands around the world are amplifying customers’ voices to engage audiences, inspire trust and drive conversions with the genuine content consumers crave, what’s your brand waiting for?

Andy Mallinson is the Managing Director (EMEA) of Stackla – the UGC platform that puts customer stories at the heart of brand marketing. To find out more visit stackla.com 

Written by: Andy Mallinson

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