What type of content truly rules the internet today? Why is it that 64% of consumers today now actively seek out user-generated content (UGC) before making a purchasing decision? Does structured, precise firm-generated content (FGC) no longer have a place in the online marketing sphere anymore?
There are many questions to be answered surrounding the creation of great online content. Especially when it comes to the type of content which yields the most influence over consumers. Which is better: UGC or FGC? Most importantly, how do we make the preferred type work in favour of our own brands? Let’s find out, shall we?
What Is UGC?
The internet is a pretty busy place. The volume of content available online and the traffic being driven to this content is truly staggering. With this trend only set to continue!
Every internet user – from professional content creators to the average social media user – has the ability to contribute content. Consumers can effortlessly upload their own online commentary on any topic they like at any time of the day. Ultimately creating what is known as user-generated content (UGC). UGC can discuss anything and everything. From the football score to political events to a brand’s most recent ad.
Not only that. They can do this through a variety of digital means. Whether that’s through a simple tweet, a scorning TripAdvisor review or a full-on personal blog post. Meaning that UGC is widely accessible and statistics show it is just as widely received. With 71% of Millennials engaging with some form of UGC every single day.
There’s no escaping the engagement potential of UGC for your brand today. If the majority of internet users – and potential customers – are actively searching for and absorbing UGC daily. This content has a great influence over the information consumers take in. Therefore, it has a unquestionable influence in their decision-making processes. Meaning that if UGC relating to your brand is mostly positive. It can act as an invaluable tool in boosting your brand’s perceptions and performance.
Why Is UGC So Popular in E-Commerce?
In a nutshell. Consumers want to know everything they possibly can about a product or service before they purchase it. They want this information to be reliable, comprehensive and impartial. In order for them to make the best decision on where to spend their money.
For the vast majority of internet users today, this comes overwhelmingly in the form of UGC. This is, of course, a very logical trend. People are far more likely to trust the opinion of a friend over the company trying to sell to them. For the precise reason that the friend has minimal stakes in their final purchasing decision. Typically meaning that their advice and opinion is perceived to be more trustworthy. As is the case with UGC.
UGC, therefore, acts as the ultimate form of digital word-of-mouth marketing. With 68% of Millennials reporting that they consider UGC a reliable indicator of quality. Ensuring that UGC has a considerable influence over their brand perceptions and purchase decision. Perhaps far more than any other form of direct or indirect marketing today.
Where To Find UGC?
A quick search on Google or social media on any product, service or brand offers users hundreds of results. These results often being a combination of FGC and UGC. With the latter often times outnumbering the former by quite some margin. So, even if your brand implements key digital marketing strategies across both search engines and social media. If there is a lot of negative – or even middle of the road – UGC to be easily found. This can counteract these usually highly effective tools. Strategies like Google and Facebook Remarketing, SEO or Conversion Rate Optimisation can become ineffective.
On the bright side. If your brand has a lot of positive, encouraging UGC. This can be hugely influential in your brand’s performance. Especially considering UGC has been found to be 35% more memorable than any other media. And 50% more trusted. Meaning consumers’ top-of-mind recall is more likely to feature your brand.
Ultimately, it’s safe to say that UGC can kill or cure any brand. So, how do we ensure it’s a cure?
How Do I Capitalise on UGC?
The first step to making the most of UGC is to locate it. You have to target and encourage UGC through the platforms which your consumers tend to create content through. This is almost certainly through social media.
In the UK alone, over half of the population is active on social media. With 30 million of us scrolling through the platforms every single day. The social media phenomenon is a multi-faceted beast and can have enormous implications for brands. With so much content being added to social media every hour of every day. It is vital that brands are on top of brand-related or industry-relevant discussion online.
In other words. Brands need to be ready to build momentum on positive content and quash negative stores as quickly as they appear. They need to meticulously active across all social media channels where their consumers gather. Something which can vary hugely between brands.
What is Online Community Management?
Successful social media monitoring is all about community management. Brands should strive to have a team in place to consistently monitor and act upon online discussion unfolding. Particularly as they expand and gain more traction and engagement online.
Now we all know that negative reviews and opinions are inevitable. There will always be someone who isn’t your brand’s biggest fan. However, this negativity doesn’t need to be detrimental. If a consumer were to post a less than pleasant review on one – or all – of your social media channels. The manner in which your brand responds to the dissatisfied consumer can speak volumes. If handled considerately and in a way which aligns with your brand’s values and principals. Brand loyalty should not be affected. In fact, it could even improve as your followers are impressed by and relate to your response.
The trick is to catch them quickly! Social media moves quick and brands have to be even quicker if they want to survive. Bad press can gain traction so quickly online as people jump on the bandwagon. However, if a brand can get in there and resolve the problem immediately. Then other social media users are less inclined to contribute as they see the issue is already solved.
Learn more about online community management here.
Is FGC Relevant Anymore?
Firm-generated content will always have relevance to consumers. The content which a brand personally publishes is a key touchpoint with its target audiences. It communicates your brand’s personality, objectives and values. Ensuring that the content is congruent, meaningful and establishes a distinctive tone of voice for the brand. Allowing consumers to get a true sense of what your brand is and what it stands for. Straight from the horse’s mouth!
Furthermore, when it comes to finding out accurate, technical information FGC remains hugely influential. Particularly when it comes to more expensive purchases. For example, if someone were considering the purchase of a new car or laptop which requires in-depth research.
In this case, consumers will often navigate towards the brand’s own channels. Alongside extensive UGC research. For very specific, product or service-related information. Therefore, it remains hugely important for brands to continue to produce professional, relevant content regularly.
Ultimately effective content marketing is about mastering balance. Brands today have to maintain relevance and engagement through producing regular, effective FGC. However, they can no longer rely solely upon this to drive growth. Brands must also monitor, respond to and encourage UGC relating to their products, service or company as a whole. They have to infiltrate and engage with online discussions. Inserting themselves into the minds and narrative of their target market. With the objective being that by doing so, they increase their likelihood of purchase.
Get in touch to discuss how we can help your brand make the most of their online presence today.