Unless you’re somebody who really follows business trends, the term User Generated Content probably doesn’t mean much to you. Even if you’re an entrepreneur, UGC sounds like it’s something for Fortune 500 corporations to worry about, not your small business. After reading up on the subject, though, I’ve discovered something that might surprise you: UGC is something that everybody’s business benefits from – here’s why!
What User Generated Content is and How it Works
UGC is basically any kind of web content, whether it’s text, images, or a video, that’s created by internet users instead of a brand or an advertiser. That means that pretty much EVERYTHING on social media – as long as it isn’t created or sponsored by a brand – is UGC. When someone on Facebook or another social media site mentions a business or brand, that’s when UGC relates to that brand’s marketing strategy.
It’s a great strategy, too: millennials, the tech-savvy generation that makes up about a quarter of the U.S. population, trust UGC more than what they hear on TV or read in magazines. According to a recent survey, 84% of these young consumers rely on the opinions of other buyers when deciding which brand to trust. It’s why customer review aggregators like Yelp have found so much success – online customers put more faith in what strangers say than even their own family and friends!
Why it Matters for Your Small Business
You might be thinking that this only matters for the big brands who need young customers to look hip and relevant. If you run a hardware store, for instance, you might not see the need to go after a millennial demographic if hardworking adults have been relying on you for years. But whether we like it or not, the buying habits of these younger customers are changing the way we do business.
By 2017, it’s estimated that millennials will have more spending power than any other generation. That means that going after them isn’t just about being hip: it’s something every business will need to survive. Moreover, if you have any social media presence whatsoever, UGC is what you’re going for in the first place! If you’re only using your business’s Twitter account to talk to customers you already have, you’re missing a serious opportunity to grow your customer base and to build a firm relationship with the consumers of tomorrow.
The Benefits of UGC
So why do young people trust information that comes from strangers instead of brands? Part of the answer is that millennials value their own opinions and intuition more than they care about what brands say about themselves. That means customers don’t just want to hear other people’s opinions on your business – they want to give their own ones! The people who like your business will write good reviews and be the first to tell their friends how helpful you were because they’re proud of their independent buying habits.
And UGC isn’t just effective – it’s easy! Encouraging people to leave reviews allows your product to speak for itself. Instead of cooking up some big marketing plan or hiring a big-shot advertiser, you can let your products and services stand for themselves. You can also encourage social media contests to show how much you care about your customers’ opinions. For instance, hold a contest to find a new slogan for your company on Twitter, or a contest on Instagram where the best photo with your products wins a prize or store credit. All this puts your customers before your business by letting them do all the legwork for you!
I’ve told you what I know about user-generated content – now it’s your turn to use that knowledge and make your business grow! Don’t be intimidated by the big brands who use UGC every day. Any business can harness the power of UGC because it’s easy, it’s effective, and it really puts you in touch with your customer base. But don’t just take my word for it – start asking your customers what they think and get back to me!