For centuries, businesses have used advertising to tell people how great their product/service is on every kind of marketing platform/medium available. Yet, to this day, one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to get a message out about something is via a satisfied customer’s word-of-mouth. If someone has a great experience, they tell their friends and family about it, who in turn do the same.

Although, if someone has an awful experience, word-of-mouth can share that news too, just as fast and just as loud. In many cases, a word-of-mouth experience doesn’t even come from someone you know. Think about the last time you shopped on…tell me you didn’t read the reviews on the product or note the number of stars the seller or product was rated at…it’s human nature…people are more likely to trust a person over a business. It’s a reason why Amazon has the icon noting a ‘verified purchaser’ in their reviews. It gives the buyer’s opinion credibility, and Amazon doesn’t have to pay those reviewers a dime.

This word-of-mouth terminology has now been expanded upon in the world of social media and shared in order to get its own name; user-generated content (UGC). UGC is defined as any written or visual content people create that is used to promote a business online. For example:

  • Social media posts featuring pictures or videos of real people using a product
  • Video testimonials of customers talking about their experience with your product
  • Reviews of a business posted on Facebook, Google or Yelp, etc.
  • Videos showing real customers doing an unboxing of your product

The trend of utilizing user-generated content as an arm of one’s marketing plans will continue to grow and expand as many companies have built their brand reputations on customer advocates. Now, don’t confuse ‘user-generated content’ with being an ‘Influencer’. While they share a few similarities, UGC is more organic and isn’t usually compensated like an endorser/influencer is, or at least to the extent they are.

So, how do you get your customers to help you with user-generated content? Let’s go through some easy-to-follow steps:

  1. Make it easy for customers to leave an online review. Have a place/link on your website to do it. Hand out postcards to store customers with easy-to-follow instructions, including a QR code they can scan and complete a review before they leave your store. Include them on a receipt. Heck, put a wall poster up with a big QR code at your exits to scan and direct people to a Google review page.
  2. Ask satisfied customers if they would film a testimonial video for you. Offer to do the filming and give them guidance in what you’d like in their presentation but let them express their experience in their own words; it needs to be genuine. Keep it short and simple. And best of all? Try and snag them when they are happiest with their purchase, as this customer experience emotion will work wonders for you.
  3. Offer incentives to customers to make UGC, This can include special discounts to customers who review you. Do a social media contest requiring photos of customers enjoying your product with a special hashtag for a chance to win. Engage with the customer so they engage with you back and feel included.

With some pre-planning and effort, you can make a noticeable impact in your awareness and branding, as well as increase your customer base with UGC. The words of strangers sharing their experiences with a product someone is interested in can tip the scales in your favor with minimal effort and expense. It’s worth it. If you’d like some help in getting user-generated content for your business, contact us today, we can help!