Take The Wheel: 5 Ways To Drive Buyer Behavior With User-Generated Content
If you want an engaged audience, user-generated content is key. Columnist Jordan Kretchmer explains why UCG makes a big impact on buying decisions.
Branded communities are emerging as one of the most effective tactics in social marketing, so it’s no surprise that marketers are beginning to invest more resources into building them on their websites and mobile apps.
But growing a truly engaged audience around your own content takes more than just a snap of the fingers or a wave of a magic wand. You can’t just install comments on your blog or add a Twitter widget to your homepage and expect readers to line up at the velvet rope.
Tools like these give your visitors a way to interact with your content, and they often increase audience engagement and time-on-site — but if you stop there, you’re barely scraping the surface of their potential. You need to dig deeper to hit the goldmine. When used strategically, these tools and the content they create as a result can have an impact on purchasing decisions (and leave you seeing dollar signs).
Your website is the No. 1 place consumers go when they want to keep in touch with your brand. What do you want them to do once they get there? Explore? Laugh? Buy? Whatever your answer, here are five ways that user-generated content can make it happen.
1. Build Credibility By Showcasing Existing Customers
Almost 90 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and a recent survey from Deloitte found that three of the five top factors influencing consumer purchase decisions are based on word of mouth.
Give prospective customers an opportunity to hear from your current customers, whether that’s through product reviews, comments or user-generated photos and video uploads. The good ones can act as social proof and influence potential buyers, while even negative reviews — when addressed properly — can boost consumer trust in your brand. That’s a win-win for everyone involved.
2. Drive Product Exploration
The more time a person spends on your properties — whether they’re shopping, researching a product or just exploring — the stronger the relationship between that person and your brand becomes, according to research from Kantar Media. So give your visitors an experience worth browsing.
Southern Comfort’s homepage features dozens of drink recipes from bartenders and fans alike, all made with SoCo-branded libations. Plus, it’s complete with a geo-located map that shows any site visitors exactly where they can buy the most necessary ingredient.
Burberry’s Art of the Trench gallery applies the same idea to fashion, inviting viewers to scroll through beautiful images of real people showing off their Burberry trench coats. It offers styling ideas and proves how the trench coats stack up in real weather. Plus, it’s speckled with calls to action asking viewers to check out the product pages or upload photos of their own.
3. Establish Your Brand As A Trusted Source For Content
What keeps you, me and the rest of the world returning to social networks like Facebook and Twitter every chance we get? The promise of fresh content.
Journalists, bloggers and consumers alike are posting content about, or relevant to, your brand all the time, and we already know consumers trust earned media more than owned media — so why not curate the best of it one place? You’ll earn your community’s trust while also giving them a reason to come back for more.
Autodesk (disclosure: client), maker of manufacturing and engineering design software, wanted to create a central place where its community could stay informed and inspired. So it built a series of Community Portals that stream real-time social content, polls and sample projects submitted by customers alongside its own product tips, news and more. This opens up two-way communication so the company is able to learn from and listen to its community — and vice versa.
4. Reward Your Biggest Fans
Fans of your brand aren’t exclusively motivated by competitions or huge rewards (though don’t get me wrong, those are definitely great motivators). A little public recognition can go a long way, especially if your brand already has a pretty established fan base.
For this season’s “Game of Thrones” premiere, HBO invited fans to submit their Westeros-inspired artwork, photographs, recipes, costumes, song lyrics and conspiracy theories to a massive “Game of Thrones” Compendium. Fans of the show can browse all of the submissions online, but the best will earn themselves a copy of the book with their name listed as a contributor when it comes out later this year.
5. Foster A Community
The mission statements for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and even Tinder have one word in common: connect. They connect people who share common interests.
While it’s certainly important to give people ways to connect with your brand, you can create an even more meaningful experience if you also connect them with other people.
Sears’ Craftsman Club (disclosure: client) serves as a point of inspiration and conversation for projects from metal-smithing to home improvement. Like a manly Pinterest, it allows visitors to sort through thousands of projects from real Craftsman customers, and makes it easy for them to share tips, upload DIY tutorials and answer questions from other aspiring craftsmen.
When you think about it, the experience of online shopping is actually pretty isolating. You can’t see who else is browsing or hear the comments they’re making about the products. You miss out on the social cues that help inform brick-and-mortar buying decisions.
But user-generated content stands to change that. When used strategically, it can put the customer right in the middle of the action — whether they’re on a mission or just window shopping.