November 24, 2015

User Generated Content: What Is It and Why Should You Care?

Marketers are aware that customers trust product/service reviews and recommendations from fellow clientele (i.e. Yelp or Google reviews, Facebook comments, discussion forums, tweets) more so than the content they create in-house to promote their organization’s brand. In fact, according to the findings of a 2014 survey conducted by BrightLocal:

  • In 2014, 88 percent of customers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business—representing an increase from 85 percent in 2013.
  • Eighty-five percent of consumers say they read up to 10 reviews before they feel as though they can trust a business
  • Seventy-two percent of customers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • Overall, 88 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—an increase from 79 percent in 2013.

Indeed, consumers heavily rely on reviews and recommendations in order to make an informed purchasing decision with a brand. At the same time, however, marketers should be strategically leveraging these pieces of original, custom copy in order to create unique user generated content campaigns.

To this end, customer reviews and recommendations have helped drive the concept of user generated content (UGC) — any form of content that is created by customers themselves—for marketers today. While reviews and recommendations are just one of many different types of USG (also consider, for example, customer-produced blogs or podcasts), they may be the most critical for marketers looking to effectively bolster brand awareness, thought leadership and profitability via an engaging and targeted content marketing campaign.

The benefits of reviews and recommendations are plenty for marketers today. Consider, for instance, that they represent a wealth of “free” content that can be contributed to the content that marketers produce in-house every day. Besides the fact that they are free of cost and readily accessible, UGC-centric marketing campaigns also allow organizations to strategically demonstrate their awareness of their consumers’ feedback, as well as stimulate deeper consumer engagement.

In an effort to better understand this unique content marketing approach, let’s take a look at a successful marketing campaign that leveraged user generated content. This is definitely one of my personal favorites:

Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger Love Song Commercial Series

Wendy’s knows that its pretzel bacon cheeseburger is good, but it decided to have its customers tell the world on its behalf—and celebrity Nick Lachey got in on the fun, too. The fast food giant decided to release a series of commercials in which Lachey, former 98 Degrees front man, belted out tweets from real customers about the newest addition to the Wendy’s menu. Some tweets that Lachey sang to a romantic melody included:

  • “Bro. That @Wendys Bacon Pretzel Burger looks incredible. I need one now.”
  • “mmm...that pretzel burger is too good to be understood.”
  • “Wanna know how to win my heart? Buy me a pretzel bacon cheeseburger from Wendy’s. It is literally that simple.”

For Wendy’s, using the recommendations and reviews its loyal customers decided to create for its benefit was literally that simple. You can watch one of the commercials in the series below. 

So, what do you think of user generated content and the role it can play in your content marketing campaign?  

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