The power of User-Generated Content

February 5, 2020

Brands try to sell their products or services through content that is interesting, relevant and valuable to customers. Content marketing, instead of being the unwanted pusher of marketing messages. Conversely, marketers are also confronted with content that the consumer creates himself: user generated content (UGC). What can marketers do with this? Can you take advantage of UGC within content marketing, or is this an outright no-go?

Not all marketers are convinced of using user generated content in content marketing. On the one hand, there are marketers who think you should not use UGC, such as Edwin Vlems (marketing manager of metal wholesaler MCB). In his article he explains why with UGC as a company you do not build relationships with customers: companies come in between friendships, which makes them undesirable. Carl Mangold (video productions at Prachtiger) approaches it even more negatively by UGC 'user generated crapand 'pure dredging', content that is of no use to you.

Organic reach is dead

On the other hand, there are also marketers who advocate UGC. Arjan van der Knaap (communication strategist and owner of Inspiration Factor) states - in a response to the Vlems blog - that marketing is about activating and stimulating the target group, and that it is therefore desirable to ask your customers for a creative contribution. In addition, Inge Terwindt (client solutions associate at Percolate) rightly observes that organic range is 'dead' and that companies need people to get messages to their target group. In this article, I demonstrate with four scientifically substantiated reasons that UGC is necessary for content marketers.

1. UGC: informative and persuasive content

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If we have to believe science, we can say that UGC is a good idea in content marketing. from research into the impact of UGC on consumer behavior shows that UGC has more influence on buying behavior within brand communities on social media than marketer generated content (MGC).

UGC contains both informative content (content that is provided with factual data) and persuasive content (content where the focus is on positive points of products with the aim of convincing). These are two important components in influencing sales.

MGC, on the other hand, consists mainly of only persuasive content. UGC adds to the message of marketers, so it is a positive addition to MGC. It is therefore good if content marketers use UGC if increasing sales is the goal of content marketing.

2. UGC is more credible, which increases the purchase intention

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UGC contributes to the credibility of information, and credibility plays a role in brand attitudes and purchase intent. Brands can make all kinds of praise for their own products or services, but who do consumers believe now? Brands or fellow consumers?

from research into the influence of opinions others have shown that consumers who are quickly worried about their purchases see bloggers more like themselves than brands. As a result, they find information from bloggers more credible, which in turn leads to more positive attitudes towards the brand.

Other research the credibility of UGC and purchase intent shows that when the perceived credibility is higher, people want to buy a little earlier. Thus, for some consumers, UGC is more credible than MGC, and credibility has positive effects on brand attitudes and purchase intent.

3. UGC provides new information

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Now I hear some marketers who are reading this think: "Yes, all nice and nice, but I lose control over the content with UGC, that can not be right?" "On the first point I agree with you, it is indeed the case that marketers with UGC have almost no control over the content. However, this does not automatically mean that it is not good. As consumers produce UGC, other consumers once again find information that is new, unknown or specific, it appears research (pdf) about the role of UGC in making decisions. For example, consumers can provide more concrete information by experiencing products in practice, and this can help other consumers make decisions.

4. Negative UGC offers opportunities for dialogue

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"Yes, but that UGC can also be negative and also reach the target group." "That's right again. The great thing is that a new opportunity is created here. This is because companies can respond to negative UGC by entering into a dialogue with the target group, which is very important for managing brands on social media. Of course there are also risks involved, because companies need to know how to tackle this.

Companies can tap into negative user generated content by entering into a dialogue with the target group.

An example of a company that faced negative UGC, but responded well and entered into dialogue is McDonald's. On July 1, 2016, YouTube appeared video in which a vlogger showed that McDonald's customers are 'scamming'. In a medium drinking cup would be as much drinking as in one large drinking cup. He tested this and captured it on camera. Indeed, there seemed to be little difference in the contents of the cups. The video was viewed nearly 1 million times and it included AD paid attention to it.

However, McDonald's responded very well to this negative UGC by inviting the vlogger and offering him a peek into the kitchen. McDonald's comment was then also captured on camera by the vlogger, and proven otherwise. There is certainly a difference in the content of medium and large drinking cups, so McDonald's is not a scammer. So there are indeed risks associated with the use of UGC within content marketing, but these companies can - if they do it right - use these as new opportunities.

UGC optimally utilized in #HNHolyGrail campaign

Still not convinced? Then take a look at the latest campaign Holy Grail from the luxurious fashion and beautyDepartment store Harvey Nichols. Although the campaign has only just ended, the results seem impressive. The brand invited five beauty experts to review a variety of products for five weeks with the aim of finding the ultimate beauty product in its category.

The campaign has created informative content that is most likely new, unknown, and specific to many consumers. That helps in making decisions and purchasing products. For example, the reviews contain concrete information about the product properties, such as the quality, the intensity of colors and the ease of use, and the content will have been more credible for certain consumers and also have reached a very large group of beauty fans.

370,000 views on YouTube & 13,000 likes on Instagram

During the campaign, Q&A sessions were also held where consumers could ask all their questions to the experts. This stimulated the target group and the brand actively engaged in a dialogue with consumers. It is not yet clear what the campaign actually yielded. But the reviews of Dina Torkia alone have generated more than 370,000 views on YouTube and more than 130,000 likes on Instagram. This makes Holy Grail's campaign a successful example of how a brand can use UGC.

In addition to this UCG campaign, there are many other successful UGC campaigns to be named, such as the IKEA Pinterest campaign or the white cup contest from Starbucks. So, content marketers: UGC is a good idea to use in content marketing. It stimulates the target group, ensures greater reach, supplements MGC with new and valuable information, is more credible for some consumers than MGC and, above all, offers many opportunities, including active conversations with the target group. UGC and MGC together form a complete one brand story.

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