Find out how important UGC is for your brand

Aleš Randa

9 min

People are fed up with traditional advertising. Not only are they tired of it, but many of them don't even notice it subconsciously. With the amount of advertising around them and on the internet, it's no wonder. It used to be that even if an ad was annoying, consumers would pay attention to it if it was for a product they needed. Now ads are often invisible to them. They see so many of them that they have become desensitised to them. Advertising has a minimal effect on them.

It's no wonder when they can be exposed to dozens to hundreds of individual ads in the 20 minutes they spend online. The human mind is not built for this, and after prolonged exposure, it begins to perceive it as just distracting noise. On the Internet, where ads are often perceived as spam anyway and the human mind immediately interprets them as unnecessary and forgettable, it becomes increasingly difficult to engage customers organically and authentically. 

A relatively simple solution (at least on paper) is to create organic content to help break through the numbness. Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between what companies consider authentic content and materials, and what customers consider authentic and what resonates with them. Stackel's research shows that 51% of customers say that almost half of brands don't create content they would consider authentic. In contrast, 92% of marketers believe the content they create for brands is authentic, or at least content that customers will perceive as authentic.

How many consumers think a brand creates authentic content versus how many marketers think their brand creates authentic content.

Source: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190220005302/en/Stackla-Survey-Reveals-Disconnect-Content-Consumers-Marketers

This misalignment between how brands and their content are perceived by customers, and how brands think they affect customers, creates a gap between brands and customers. This not only makes marketing strategies and content less effective, but also prevents customers from establishing a real relationship with the brand. If a brand doesn't allow customers to feel loyal to it and see it as anything other than a big, faceless, profit-seeking company, it's no wonder if consumers head elsewhere for their next purchase.
User Generated Content includes photos, videos, reviews, activities, blogs, posts, stories and experiences

How do you build a relationship with customers?   

Enable customers to see your brand as more than just a brand or a company. Humanise it. When a brand shares its customers' UGC, it creates an aura of community. It will no longer be just an anonymous, profit-seeking brand, but a community of people with a sense of connection, united by interests and experiences.  

So give your customers a reason to share their experience with your product and why they should strive to create attractive UGC. Sharing their photos or videos can be a reward and recognition for many and motivate others to try something similar. When a brand shares their material, 51% of customers become more loyal to the brand or more motivated to interact with the brand and become part of its community. 

Buying your product doesn't have to be the end for the customer.

Make your customers feel like they have achieved more than just buying your product. By sharing their UGC content, you can help them feel useful and seen. And in doing so, you create a stronger bond with them. Let them know you appreciate them. 

They took a photo of your product. They wrote about it. They shared their experience. And now they are being recognised by your brand for their work and their loyalty. And because your brand and everything about your product makes them feel successful, they are much more likely to become your loyal, returning customers. 

This process can motivate others to do the same. People like to be part of communities and they like to be appreciated, and when a brand shares their content, it can be appreciation of the highest order. 

People create what they want to see 

Somebody’s preferences, interests, and experiences are reflected in what they create. The composition of the photo, the colours, the captions, other objects, and the environment all reflect their personality and interests. And because this is often the most natural and human thing one can create with your product, others are more likely to respond positively to it in a jumble of professional product materials. They'll finally see something human. Even if it's marketing material.

A customer is more likely to be impressed by something created by someone who's already bought the product than by something created by a professional. UGC content simply resonates with people more than professional content.  When comparing UGC to marketing material, customers are 2.4 times more likely to choose UGC as the most authentic. Marketers, on the other hand, believe their material is 2.1 times more likely to be successful. As a result, UGC content is often under-utilised. Marketers tend to overestimate themselves and underestimate the power of the human authentic experience.

How much more authentic is UGC than branded contentSource: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190220005302/en/Stackla-Survey-Reveals-Disconnect-Content-Consumers-Marketers

Why is UGC the new word of mouth?

Simply put, people spend a lot of time on social media and see a lot of content. And because they are bombarded with so many sensations, their minds are much more selective about what they take in. However, human contact and socialisation get through numbness and defences much more easily, so UGC content carries much more weight for them. That's one of the reasons why we at Testuj.to focus on connecting brands and customers and motivating them to share their opinions, impressions, reviews and photos. Getting enough UGC, especially in the beginning, can be a challenge for companies, but with the right consumer motivation it is doable.   

When it comes to sharing product experiences and opinions, if the customer is satisfied, 84% said they would share their experience with loved ones. They see it as an opportunity to connect with others and have something to talk about. The same applies to social media. When they share their lives on social media, they also share their experiences with a variety of products. The same analysis also shows that 69% of respondents will share their experience with loved ones if they have a negative experience with a brand or product.
How often consumers share their positive experiences with the brand.

How often consumers share their negative experiences with a brand.Source: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/234627835.pdf

The Power of Friendship and Parasocial Relationships 

92% of consumers trust the online content of their friends and family more than any marketing ploy. But social networks allow for the creation of parasocial relationships, where people develop a relationship with the person (or brand) presenting themselves online that is not dissimilar to their normal social habits. This increases the chances that they will perceive this online personality as a friend and someone they can trust. This increases the chances that they will be persuaded to buy a product or engage in a certain behaviour.   

Even if the content is shared by the company itself. When a brand changes its communication style to be more human, it affects how customers feel connected to and trust the brand. Sharing UGC material not only humanises the brand, but also shows it as a company that cares about its customers. Even if everyone knows it's a marketing ploy. In this case, there's no blunting effect like with traditional advertising.  

One of our company's successes is testing for toySimply. The UGC content created by the testers was so great that they decided to use their videos, photos and newly created activities for kids on their website to increase their authenticity and brand appeal. Although the testers' main job is to write honest reviews of the product they are testing, the material they create is natural and therefore appealing to potential customers.

What we and the companies we work with see as an added bonus is the organic reach on social media. This is achieved by the testers themselves wanting to share their experience with those around them, or even with tens of thousands of followers, to show the opportunity that has presented itself. The product and brand being tested will naturally benefit as a result.

This is because content created by marketers and the brand can feel too manufactured and "contrived". Perfectly retouched, professional-quality photos can feel like just another ad. They understand that the brand's intention is to sell, and this increases their cautionThey don't connect with this content because there is nothing in it to connect with. If the content is presented to them online and on social media in an authentic and natural way, they are more likely to let their guard down. Simply because it feels more real and genuine. 50% of customers are more likely to notice and remember UGC content than branded content.

The mere presence of UGC content influences customer behaviour during brand interactions:

  • 53% of millennials say UGC influenced their decision to purchase
  • Repeat visits to a page increase by 20% when it contains UGC content 
  • They spend 90% more time on a page when they see a gallery of UGC content 
  • Customer interactions with a brand increase by 50% when UGC is included in social media campaigns 
  • Customers are 5 times more likely to click on an ad when it contains UGC 
  • A 10% increase in conversions when customers encounter UGC during the purchase process 

On social media, customer behaviour is fundamentally influenced by the presence of UGC content: 

  • People spend an average of 5.4 hours a day looking at UGC content. 
  • 71% of millennials say they are on social media every day, while only 60% of millennials watch TV every day. 
  • Customer interactions with a brand increase by 50% when UGC is part of social media campaigns 
  • 75.8% say they use social media at least sometimes to find products and additional information. 
  • 37.9% say they always use social media to find out more information. 


What percentage of people use social media to find new brands or experiences?

Source: https://www.tintup.com/state-of-social-user-generated-content/

CONCLUSION

People trust UGC more than brands and their carefully crafted ads and photos. The influence of parasocial relationships and the desire for recognition and community can not only motivate them to share their experiences, but also introduce them to marketing materials that are perceived positively. They spend a significant part of their day on social media, follow mostly user-generated content and trust UGC even more simply because it is created by another user. Given the disconnect between what customers and marketers perceive as authentic, it is clear that replicating UGC content authentically is nearly impossible. Therefore, investing in new marketing strategies around UGC content is a safe bet.

If you would like to know more about how to acquire and use authentic UGC content and how Testuj.to can help you, contact us.

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