Irrespective of your training, incentive or marketing programs, you are not your company’s best salesperson. Nobody within your business is as good at selling as your customers. Shoppers want to hear what other consumers, who are like them and really use brand’s products, have to say. Maybe that’s what propelled Marty Neumeier to utter his famous quote that a brand “is not what you say it is. It’s what they [i.e. the customers] say it is.” This thought sowed the seed of UGC (User Generated Content).
UGC, whether it’s in the form of customer photos, product reviews, questions and answers, videos, or whatever else, adds an authentic perspective to a seller’s site. Consumers trust it twelve times more than content created by brands. While certain kinds of UGC, like reviews, are now a staple of a good site, smart marketers are using more recent UGC innovations like Visual Commerce too. Given that this landscape continually changes, let’s take a look at the most important UGC trends for 2017.
Right now, users as well as marketers have been creating/curating user photos or texts in traditional content formats like videos and images. But we may see a pervasive adoption of immersive media such as 360-degree video and virtual reality by customers as well as marketers.
The reason to believe in the possibility of this, despite it being one of the more outlandish UGC trends, is that both Facebook and YouTube now support these formats. When you couple it with the fact that 684,478 pieces of UGC get generated on Facebook per minute, immersive content formats will be more than formidable. Besides, apart from Facebook, there are other platforms like Instagram that are genetically visual. Clearly, two of the biggest platforms that produce UGC are ready to accept new content formats with a need of a little tweaking in their technical DNA.
Click here to see an example of a Facebook 360-degree video by National Geographic.
Of course, UGC will keep fulfilling the basic expectations of higher customer engagement and it will keep acting as social proof. But its role will enlarge in the future. It will emerge as your most trusted data bank. The fact of the matter is the culture of your core audience becomes evident when you look at all of your customers’ photos and reviews in aggregate. The analysis of those photos or reviews, thus, will enable you to take a note of some of the most important insights which can be helpful to you in a long run. The insights may include…
Once you get to know most of the aforementioned points, you can use them in building marketing or promotional policies. For example, if you know that most of the customers are using your geo-tag while tagging, it means that Instagram will be more appropriate for your all marketing campaigns. Thus, if you properly scrutinize the origins and the volumes of the collected UGC, it can serve as market or consumer research.
The first and the basic commandment of the UGC is that it’s not just about you. It’s about them: your customers. It’s about what they feel about your brand and how they want to relate to it. And remember that hashtags are some of the best ways to make your whole campaign a classic case of personalization…something which may not always be possible with #YourBrandName.
I understand that a UGC campaign is a golden chance to convert social media into a branding extravaganza. But in the era of social media and other means of communication, people get to know that the hashtag belongs to your brand. What is important is making the campaign as aspirational as possible so that people can’t resist participating in it. And as far as marketing ploys are concerned, nothing is more aspirational for a person than seeing the hashtag that deals with his deepest hidden desires or Utopian concepts of happiness, sadness, and joy.
Therefore, in the future, hashtags will become more personal and actionable. Clearly, UGC is going through a transformation and it will see more changes with the changing business ecosystem and society’s way of expressing itself. New content formats will come, new platforms may come to accept them…but what’s even clearer is even in its changed form, it will keep benefiting businesses immensely. For even more on UGC trends in 2017, don’t miss our white paper, “The New Wave of User Generated Content: 7 Concepts for 2017 and Beyond!”
Learn everything you need to know about UGC with our guides: