Both positive and negative content is making its way out of your business, and is already influencing the decisions of your future customers. Maybe you have already noticed the ratings, comments, pictures, gifs and videos being circulated online. This content is known as earned media, and quite simply – it is the highest performing type of content that can be secured and used for your business in the travel niche. Think of all other traditional marketing and media as the donut. Your user generated content is the chocolate dip that sells your product!
To compete in today’s globalized marketplace, you need a smart strategy that is low-cost, high conversion and fills up those rooms all year round.
I am excited to tell you that when you focus on social proof as a large part of your social marketing strategy, you invite fast, calculable ROI back into your business. I’m talking real dollar conversions!
A Quick Definition of User-Generated Content
So, user-generated content is where it is all happening these days. Defined, user-generated content ( or UGC for short) constitutes ‘any form of content (videos, blogs, discussion form posts, images, audio files) that has been created by consumers and is publically available for other consumers to use.’
The important thing here is ownership and how it is used in brand promotion. With user-generated content, a legitimate customer experiences your hotel or B&B, and then creates media based on that experience. The result of this media is a consequence you have earned (hence the term earned media) – but one that you have limited control over.
The only way to find user-generated content is to improve your service offering and to institute methods of collecting customer content. That means the way that you and your team interact with your customers will change. You will use the UGC for valid feedback, to zoom in on common issues and resolve them, improving the company with every review. This equates to more positive content!
Pro Tip! User-generated content is not simply ‘content created by customers on your business’ it is also a real-time method of discovering concerns in your business that may be limiting your growth. Use customers posting about your brand online as a real-time focus group for your brand.
Now, the real question is how do you secure UGC to ramp up your social influence?
How To Get User-Generated Content Like a Pro
A savvy digital marketing strategist will tell you that working with UGC can be tricky. First of all, it needs to be integrated into your overall social marketing strategies, and measured for performance. Each campaign must result in a set of benchmarks you can use as a starting point.
In order for UGC campaigns to be financially viable, they need to be carefully tracked and managed, and a dollar amount determined once the first campaign results are in. Plus you need to make sure that you avoid some pretty common UGC marketing mistakes that can harm your brand.
Focus on online reviews. Every conversion of an existing customer into a reviewer is future money in the bank!
Here are some direct ways you can secure user-generated content from your customers:
Innovative methods of encouraging reviews:
- A 10% discount off your products for leaving a great review
- A coupon or free gift for leaving a good review
- An app-based loyalty program created for your business. Points for social posting
- Print signage that contains a hashtag leading to an incentive for a review
- A QR code that results in a reward
- Host customer photos and videos directly on your brand website. Nothing says ‘popular’ like a number of your actual customers having fun inside your hotel or wearing your products. They live it, record it and post it. You choose what goes live
- Incentivize the creation of UGC featuring your products by creating Instagrammable ‘moments’
- Offer loyalty points, instant discounts, free goodies and upgrades
- Run social media contests to generate content from your users. This strategy can be more cost effective, but it has less impact than real-time rewards unless the prize is incredible
- Run Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat contests to source quality UGC!
- Partner with great restaurants, travel experiences and local tourist spots to create unique experiences for your customers that they will record briefly for an incentive
- Use a hashtag to track customer content and feedback on Twitter or Instagram in real time, during tours
- Treat super content creators like rockstars. A well tracked campaign knows the value of each photo, video, tweet or comment. If a customer posts a lot, invite them to a private event, or reward them with a discount code or free items
- Convert excellent UGC creators into brand advocates. These people will become your biggest fans and leaders of your non-official brand promotion team
How To Use User-Generated Content To Influence Customers
There are 2 kinds of UGC, the kind you run through your own brand processes (customer to you) and the kind that you manage online (customer to internet). Any and all user-generated content should be funnelled into your social content strategy, for good reason! All content created about your brand can be used in your content media
A smart social media manager or content strategist will be able to take these content pieces and use them in new blog posts, in advertising, in eBooks, brand videos, sponsored posts, in radio ads, for brand videos and cutting-edge integrated media campaigns.
You will use this content to improve your conversion ratios, by flooding the internet with excellent experiences that people enjoyed with your products or brand. It’s time you began to see UGC as the evidence your company needs to inspire more people to buy from your brand.
Remember, first improve the feedback, then encourage UGC content, then use it to inspire more business! It’s a cycle that works for small and large accommodation brands all over the world.