Digital-first marketing has been vital to brand growth for decades. With almost 4.57 billion internet users, businesses need to have a strong online presence if they hope to compete. But in today’s world of social distancing, brand value has changed. Brands must be able to communicate with their customers in a tactful and agile way.
If you aren’t careful — especially during a global crisis — consumers could see your brand exploiting the current situation for profit, which could permanently drive customers away from your business. One of the best ways to demonstrate your brand’s value and grow without looking tactless is with user-generated content (UGC).
Use UGC to Quickly Create Optimal Customer Experiences
Agile business practices have become a hallmark of modern marketing organizations. Specifically, agility in content. This is best aligned with user-generated content, where branding is in the hands of the most agile of creators: influencers, customers, and even store employees. Customers expect digital experiences to change as frequently as current events. By working with influencers, brands can respond to changing customer demands almost immediately and test new ideas with a nearly instantaneous feedback loop.
Brands can use UGC and dynamic display to optimize the best content in the customer journey. For example, Limecrime makeup is able to show before and after ‘looks’ of their products through these compelling user-generated content videos. These videos highlight the products used to recreate the same look, which adds brand value beyond a lowered cost. It also works to give people the in-person experience they’d seek when looking to try on makeup at a store because these videos showcase real people using the products.
Putting the Customer at the Center of the Conversation
UGC provides substantial value to customers because it puts them at the center of your brand’s conversation and messaging. It adds personalization to the customer experience and helps you build a community around your brand. Customers will associate your brand with a sense of belonging instead of seeing you as just another marketer.
Additionally, when combined with a conversational marketing strategy, UGC shows your audience that you’re listening. Customers will feel as if you’re there to help them first and sell to them second. You can use their feedback to improve your business and provide even more value to the customer.
Customer-Centricity from a DTC Brand
Direct-to-consumer brands are a masterclass in using UGC across the customer journey to create brand value. One of the most prominent examples of customer-centric UGC is HYLETE. HYLETE leverages UGC on their product pages to help customers with their purchasing decisions. Once you select an item to view, there is a gallery of content shown for the exact item you are looking at. This can help sway the customer’s purchase by seeing people in real-time wearing the product, and since Hylete is a performance apparel brand, it helps their customers see what the item looks like “in motion”, which adds further value even online.
With this gallery on their product pages, Hylete created a customer-centric experience that helped increase customer retention. Even more, it built a sense of community by asking customers to share their photos on social media.
Next-Level Digital Communities
Maui Jim’s “Aloha at Home” campaign proves that creating brand value and a sense of community through social media is not only possible, it’s also highly successful. The goal of this campaign was to inspire and keep the community engaged while being at home, sheltering in place during Covid-19. They asked their customers, “How are you staying connected, healthy, and positive?” and customers posted a lot of high-quality photos showing how they are not only staying healthy but enjoying their “staycations” at home.
But this is just one example of community building in the digital world and the value it can add to a business. There are so many examples of highly engaged digital communities, and they don’t just serve B2C models. For corporations with large staff numbers, internal branding is as essential as external.
As our world changes, businesses have to adapt their strategies in order to thrive. Today’s customers are more skeptical and have higher expectations. UGC provides a golden opportunity for companies to build brand value and accelerate their marketing efforts. When you have a steady stream of UGC, you’ll never run out of compelling marketing content because a lot of your marketing will come directly from your customers. They will demonstrate your product’s capabilities to other customers, which helps you to spread awareness and build trust. By including UGC in your marketing efforts, you will not only build a community of loyal customers, but you’ll also create a group of advocates for your brand.
Frankie Wallace is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She writes about a variety of topics, and spends her free time in her garden.