After following along with last week’s Coffee with CART discussion, an article about user-generated content (UGC) caught my attention. Although the article focuses on the fashion industry, it points out many facets of UGC that can translate across industries, including grocery.
UGC refers to positive images, reviews or other content posted about your brand online by consumers. Brands, in turn, use that content on their own social media and web platforms as a content marketing tool. UGC is useful because it costs nothing for the brand to produce and provides a more human touch to marketing, as it appears to be more authentic to consumers. After all, consumers trust other consumers more than brands, even if they don’t personally know the other consumers.
The ability for consumers to produce photos and other useful UGC is growing due to the proliferation of smartphones. According to the article, almost 60 percent of the U.S. population currently owns a smartphone, and by 2019, this number could reach more than 71 percent! With their advanced cameras and easy access to the internet and social media sites, creating and uploading UGC takes a matter of seconds. In addition, consumers are much more artistically savvy with the content they create than they used to be as they gain more experience with smartphones and apps.
The article points out how the fashion industry has been using UGC photographs in online galleries and in other formats. Before starting your own UGC strategy, here are a few etiquette tips for gathering and using UGC for your brand:
- As the article notes, there is no shortage of UGC for fashion brands. However, not all industries have this advantage. A great tactic for getting the UGC ball rolling is to simply ask your fans and followers to contribute by uploading their own photos. Make it easy for them by giving them a hashtag to use or reminding them to tag your brand in posts or check-in at your locations.
- Always ask permission before using a photo from a consumer. I was recently on vacation and the hotel I stayed at asked politely to use my photo even though I posted it publicly for anyone to see or download. This serves a great example of how easy this step can be:
- Say thank you. When you use the photo, let the consumer know when and where you’ve used it, and add a thank you. This simple politeness reinforces an additional human element to your brand. It also encourages sharing of the content as most consumers enjoy letting their own social networks know that their content was good enough to be recognized by a brand.
You can catch up on the Coffee with CART discussion each Thursday at 1pm CST by following @AdvancingRetail and #CoffeewithCART on Twitter.