Are your branding efforts failing to connect with your target audience? If so, here’s a fact worth considering.
No one likes to be sold to, but most of us want to buy things.
This can be a real problem for brands and poses the following questions:
How do you find the right advertising balance and create brand affinity, so consumers choose you over your competitors?
Fortunately, there’s a simple answer:
You show your brand authenticity, this creates consumer trust, and you achieve it by using “User Generated Content.”
To help you do it, here are 8 ways to leverage user-generated content to boost your branding efforts, and all of them work!
1. Create a distinctive brand
Ok, this might seem obvious, but before you can begin to leverage user generated content to boost your branding efforts, you first need a distinctive brand – one that stands-out from your competitors.
There are tools that can help you build your brand image. This is only one part of building an overall brand. You also have to create a unique (and genuine) brand voice and personality.
The key to building a cohesive brand is to evaluate what’s important to you as a business, and what your audience care about. We are talking beyond the products and services you offer – we are talking about the intangible elements.
For example, Airbnb’s IG feed is filled exclusively with images showcasing beautiful views and comfortable homes.
Their brand is geared toward providing their followers the sense of finding “home away from home,” while instilling a sense of adventure and exploration.
Take this post about one of their Superhosts, Kirsten, which both exhibits their brand values and uses UGC to do it:
Once you have your branding nailed and know what sets you apart, and where you will stake your claim, then you are ready to boost your brand.
2. Engage with a #Hashtag Campaign
An excellent way of engaging your customers is by starting a hashtag campaign, especially if you’re promoting your brand on Instagram.
You can drive your hashtag campaign by asking customers to share images containing your brand, quite often just being featured on your brand’s account is incentive enough, but you can add an extra incentive and create a real buzz by challenging your community with a contest-based approach.
All you need is a fun idea that suits your audience, one where both they and your brand benefits, prizes could be free merchandise, membership, or service.
This tactic encourages people to promote your brand through word of mouth advertising and shows them that you are receptive and willing to give a little back, both of which build trust.
3. Let Your Customers Do The Talking
Positive customer testimonials are the fuel that’ll boost your branding efforts, but video testimonials are what’ll send your brand into outer orbit.
Corporate marketing campaigns lack authenticity; consumers know that they’re just being sold to; this is why you must enable and leverage reviews.
As you’re on social media, the great news is this is an easy thing to do.
You can record your customers (who doesn’t like being in a video)! Showing how they use your product, what it’s done for them, and why they’d recommend you. By adding your customer’s voice to your brand promise, you’re showing consumers that you’re the real deal; once they know that, you have lift off!
4. Now Add Your Customers Social Media Posts
I’m guessing you’re using multiple social media platforms, right!
Of course, you are.
Social media is bursting with user-generated content, and if you’ve got a community following on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook, you can use and share their images and posts of your product to promote your brand.
Like video testimonials, this is a powerful and authentic approach, showing real people in action with your product, and all you have to do is share it!
And if you find an image that showcases your brand, you can use it in your advertising campaigns.
5. Your Customers Know What They Want!
Analytics, market research, they’re great, but neither will tell you exactly what your customers want and need; for that, you have to listen to your current and past customers.
Star and score type reviews are powerful, but they don’t tell the full story, but by allowing consumers to add images and content to testimonials, they’re answering numerous questions that your prospective buyers might be asking.
It’s those personal perspective comments that count, ones that answer questions you didn’t even know we’re being asked, and you get them by encouraging your community to share their thoughts. While extremely valuable, such qualitative data is hard to analyze, and that’s where phenomenology comes in.
All of this creates confidence, which leads to trust, and that’s what every brand needs.
6. Build an online community
For any of the previous four tactics to work, you need to build an online community, and you can create one by providing your buyers with a membership site where they can discuss your brand and products and share their thoughts and experiences.
By collaborating with your customers, they’ll, in turn, provide you with the user-generated content that you need to boost your brand, and it’s self-promoting!
Here are some ways your membership site can create content:
- Allow customers to post ideas regarding your product or service.
- Post the video and image testimonials you’re collecting on social media.
- Have a live feed where customers can co-present.
- Provide a section where customers can post FAQs.
- Include a forum where customers can help each other.
7. Users Can And Should Guide Your Content
Now that you’re gathering user-generated content, it’s time to use it as your brand’s voice.
Because by reflecting your customer’s interests, thoughts, and feelings about your brand through your content, you’re creating an organic connection, one that they’ll recognize and trust (there’s that word again)!
Every comment, review, or image posted by your community provides you with the customer research needed for creating valuable content, filled with insights and helpful information that your consumers need. It’s also essential to verify the uniqueness of your content before publication to ensure that your content not only resonates with your audience but also sets you apart as a reliable and authentic source of information.
It’s this type of content that gets shared and liked throughout the online world, and isn’t that the goal!
8. Actively Promote Customer Content
As your community grows, so will the user-generated content. Now’s the time to regularly check on your communities’ posting and promote all the positive things people are saying about you.
By reposting your buyer’s content (check out the Repost app), you’re using them as an authentic marketing tool (always get their permission beforehand and credit them). It’s a great way of generating a buzz around your brand as your followers will get excited about being mentioned, and it encourages others to engage more often.
And don’t forget to look out for stories of how your product or service has made a customer’s life better in some way; this is user-generated content gold, and easily shared throughout your social media platforms.
So now you know how to find the right advertising balance and create consumer brand affinity.
All you have to do is look for and listen to what your customers are saying about you, and if they’re not saying anything, give them a platform and a way to praise you and your brand. Learn more tips from digital marketing experts around the world.