User-generated content (UGC) encompasses images, videos, testimonials, blog posts and other content posted by unpaid contributors (in our case, travellers) to online platforms. These assets serve as aspirational content for other travellers, and are generally regarded as trustworthy, truthful and authentic since they are created without agenda.
UGC can serve as a key tactic in your marketing strategy by facilitating engagement with people sharing content about your destination or business and giving you the opportunity to re-share positive stories as a genuine representation of your offerings.
Based on recent studies, authenticity and reliability have emerged as key factors driving customer decisions to complete a purchase. People are wary of brand-owned content (content shared by companies about their own businesses) and tend to place more trust in their peers when they validate business offerings. In short, UGC is social proof for your business.
Combining UGC and brand-owned assets establishes trust, educates consumers and helps people make well-informed decisions along the path to purchase. Studies show that UGC is 20% more influential than branded content alone and can improve conversions by 64% when placed directly on product pages.
UGC offers an entirely new source of visuals to complement your existing stock and business photography. Ask for user permission to incorporate imagery across your website, social media accounts, paid ads, print marketing, blog posts, case studies and featured reviews, and remember to ALWAYS credit the original source.
Through UGC, people choose to share reviews of your business with their followers. Positive reviews can broaden the range of your marketing, opening your business to a new audience.
Ditch the expensive photoshoot, which can cost between $500 and $10,000. Your visitors are already sharing beautiful, engaging content that can be reshared and repurposed – with their permission, of course.
Did we mention that you MUST obtain permission before repurposing UGC? Generally speaking, people love to have their content shared with appropriate credit. Plus, asking people if you can use their content makes them feel seen and heard, and opens a dialogue with fans of your business. You can track and file permission requests through various software programs – see below for suggestions.
People learn to shut out ads. UGC helps to re-engage your audience with content that is genuine, not sales driven.
Share your hashtag and track growth. Use at least one branded hashtag regularly across all social channels, so you can track the number of posts tagging your business on a weekly or monthly basis.
There are a lot of assets out there! In order to track, filter and engage with the most shareable content, it’s best to have a platform in place that helps you aggregate and curate content. See below for suggested tools.
Create a workflow where you ask permission to use a photo and track the response before posting; your automated UGC tool can help with this.
Once you’ve received permission, post the photo and mention the photographer by username/handle (@ [username/handle]).
With permission from the user, you can incorporate UGC across all marketing channels, including social, web, blog and other collateral. Note that some users may request compensation if their content is used in marketing materials outside of social media.
Make sure to add new content on a regular basis to keep photo galleries fresh and users engaged.
85% of people (and 97% millennials) have indicated they would share a positive travel experience on social media. Furthermore, nearly 52% of consumers say they post at least once per month about a new product or service they’ve tried. There is an incredible opportunity here to engage in online consumer conversation, build brand advocacy, and aggregate the rights to assets you can use across your digital marketing portfolio.
Widely share your hashtag, run social media campaigns, and actively share UGC across your social channels and website. People love to see their work in business promotions!
Giving credit to UGC encourages others to share their content as well.
Many companies set up contests as an incentive to share photos. Even a small giveaway (for example, a branded towel or t-shirt, or a free drink onsite) can inspire travellers to share their content.
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