User Generated Content: what it is and how to incentivise it
In the quest for greater brand loyalty and brand reputation, User Generated Content can make a difference
User Generated Content (UGC) can be an important part of fashion companies' marketing strategies. After all, just as in the real world word-of-mouth is always effective in defining a brand's reputation or pushing sales, in the digital world UGC plays the same role.
The keyword is authenticity. For 90 percent of consumers, brand authenticity is key in their purchase choices. However, less than half believe brands are authentic. Therefore, 60% of them consider UGC as the most authentic way brands can present themselves.
What is User Generated Content?
User Generated Content is any type of content created and posted online by users/customers, who are not paid by the company their content is talking about. On the contrary, these people are often fans of a brand that they spontaneously promote.
Some types of UGC are:
- customer reviews on an e-commerce website,
- tweets about a new collection launch,
- blog posts about styling tips,
- photos and videos of the user wearing a new garment or visiting a store and posted on Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok,
- unboxing videos and live streaming on YouTube.
Indeed, social networks are full of User Generated Content, ranging from simple comments to elaborate stories.
One example of great use of UGC is the "Share a Coke Campaign" by Coca-Cola
In 2011, Coca.-Cola put thousands of bottles and cans on the market with the most common names on them. At the same time, through traditional ads (e.g., with displays in stores), the company asked customers to find a bottle or can with their own name, take a picture, and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #ShareaCoke. The response was massive. Users had fun posting all kinds of photos, from the simplest to the most creative. In this way, the company gained authentic content and was able to interact more with its consumers.
An example of the use of UGC in the fashion world comes from the reselling platform ASOS. In 2014 ASOS created the special "As Seen on Me" section on its website to collect all the photos of customers wearing clothes bought on ASOS. The idea was born from one of the major trends on social media, namely #OOTD, Outfit Of The Day. Customers can upload their photos directly to the site or to Instagram using the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe.
Why is UGC so important for fashion companies?
To establish themselves in the market, fashion brands need to win consumers' trust, increase their brand awareness, and build a good reputation. These results are neither easy nor immediate, but User Generated Content can prove to be an extremely powerful tool. Let's take a closer look.
User Generated Content and trust
User Generated Content plays a crucial role in building trust and credibility among customers. That's because of social proof, that is, a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people observe others’ behaviors and use them to inform their own decision-making process. It is based on the idea that people look to the opinions and behavior of those around them in order to determine what action to take or how to feel. Social proof can be seen in different forms, such as customer reviews, ratings, recommendations, endorsements, or public recognition. It can also be observed in crowds making similar choices or participating in similar activities. By displaying UGC prominently, it helps customers feel more confident about their purchase decisions by seeing others who have already experienced positive outcomes. Social proof also has the potential to drive more conversions as customers see what other people are doing or saying before they make their own decisions. Simply put, when a customer reads or see positive content posted by other users, it makes them more likely to believe and trust the company.
UGC and brand reputation
Apart from building trust, UGC is also an essential tool to create and maintain a good brand reputation. All the activities of sharing experiences and opinions about products, services, or companies contribute to the overall perception of the brand online. We have said that social networks are packed with User Generated Content. Indeed, they are the perfect place to build relationships with customers, but unfortunately, they are also dangerous terrain where one wrong step can cause serious damage to the brand's reputation.
UGC and brand awareness
User Generated Content also helps fashion companies to reach wider audiences. Each user who posts a UGC on their social accounts can reach numerous users, many of whom are off the company's official communication radar but, at the same time, could be new potential customers. This viral effect can it be a powerful tool for reaching more and more people.
UGC and market insights
UGC has become an invaluable resource for brands wanting to gain insights into their target market and the behavior of their customers. In fact, it is considered to be one of the most powerful sources of market research available. It can be used to gain valuable feedback on product design and development, marketing strategies, customer engagement efforts, and more. Through UGC, companies can find out what customers think of their brands, products, services, marketing, and the general customer experience.
These insights help companies to improve the quality of their offer while keeping users engaged in conversation. In fact, UGC enables fashion companies to interact with their audience by responding to comments or questions that may arise concerning their products. It helps them understand customer preferences and needs better and make sure that everyone who interacts with their brand has a positive experience.
How can fashion companies encourage users/customers to create & share UGC?
Sometimes, to encourage the creation of User Generated Content, companies simply have to ask. Most consumers are quite willing to leave a review if it is suggested to them. The important thing is that this action does not require too much effort. This applies even to more complex UGC, such as creating and sharing photos and videos. Many users look forward to creating new things, especially if it involves entering a contest, even when there isn’t a prize.
Beyond that, here are some tips on how to encourage UGC creation:
Leverage social media: Social networks are an invaluable tool to spread User Generated Content. Platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and Tik Tok have become essential tools for brands trying to get noticed in the crowded online space. Companies should make sure that their social profiles are up-to-date and attractive to followers so that they feel encouraged to engage with the brand and create content about it. Additionally, companies should use the right hashtags when posting content in order to encourage more people to engage with the brand. Finally, it is important to interact with customers on a regular basis, ask them for feedback, answer their comments or queries, and ensure that customer opinions are taken into account. This helps fashion companies to build trust and create a more positive reputation.
Utilize Social Media Widgets: Brands can add social media widgets to any website, blog or e-commerce store, allowing customers to quickly and easily share their purchase experiences with others.
Invest in paid advertising on social media: Companies should look into launching campaigns with interesting stories and visuals that draw users in and inspire them to create content.
Provide incentives: Companies can rely on discounts, free samples, VIP experiences or exclusive access to events. The incentives should be relevant and attractive enough for the user but not financially unsustainable for the company. Additionally, companies can run contests, or set up a digital loyalty program, where users receive points for creating and sharing UGC. This strategy is also useful for increasing the customer engagement.
Connect with influencers: Influencer marketing has become an increasingly important tool for fashion brands. By partnering up with influencers or creating special collaborations, brands benefit from the reach and credibility of the influencer. Companies should also think of creative ways to use micro-influencers. These people have relatively small but highly engaged followings, and are great for spreading word-of-mouth recommendations and increase the reach of User Generated Content.
- Leverage connected products: By transforming their garments into connected products, fashion brands can give users a quick way to share authentic UGC. In fact, connected products can automatically associate the content with a specific product. This way, anyone who sees the UGC can be sure that that product was tested by a real consumer. The sharing system is immediate, as is the cataloging of the content on the product page within the e-commerce or on the site. In this way, the product becomes immediately social.