Getting Started with User-Generated Content Marketing
Wednesday Jan 15th, 2020
In an era of fake news and phony influencers, people are starving for authentic content that adds value to their lives. Consumers are craving real encounters with the content creators and products that interest them.
Like the CEO of ApexDrop, Zak Stahlsmith says, “People love to discover. People love to buy, but they hate to be sold to.” Imagine a marketing strategy that allows people to organically discover the products they love; one that builds trust with your target audience, provides value, and still encourages people to take action without the intrusiveness of traditional advertising. While it may sound too good to be true, this strategy exists. It’s called content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing involves creating valuable, relevant media that attracts consumers because of its informative and/or entertaining nature. Brands use this content (be it through blogs, photos, or videos) to stimulate organic interest in the brand or product.
The power of this strategy is amplified when customers create content organically. In other words, people take it upon themselves to write a blog, snap a picture, or leave a review for a product. This user-generated content (UGC) adds both context and credibility and helps to spread brand awareness (hence why many marketers refer to it as word of mouth marketing).
Word of mouth marketing is arguably the most effective promotional strategy. According to McKinsey, it is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.
The problem is, most brands don’t receive enough organic UGC. For this reason, influencer marketing has exploded in popularity in the past five to ten years. Plus, the impact of having a well-regarded industry leader or lifestyle expert endorse your product is powerful. In fact, each message from an influencer has four times more impact on a recipient’s purchasing decision than a message from a non-influencer.
What People Want
Consumers today don't want to just buy from a brand—they want to interact with it, and know that its values align with their own. Fresh content keeps your audience engaged and your brand at the forefront of their minds. Whether you're providing a solution to their problems through a blog or your influencers are producing visually captivating posts on Instagram, content bridges the gap between your company and your ideal customer.
Brand-Created Content vs. User-Generated Content
Creating your own content takes a significant amount of time and resources, and not all brands get it right the first time. In order to create high-quality content that your audience will appreciate and trust, you need to understand who they are. This understanding should be at the heart of your marketing strategy.
Having a real understanding of your audience will not only dictate what kind of content you produce but also where you need to post it. For instance, if your target demographic is Millenials and Gen Z women, you need to be on Instagram where they go to discover new products.
Moreover, the number of people who use social media daily continues to skyrocket. When the Pew Research Center began tracking social media adoption in 2005, only 5% of American adults used at least one social media platform. By 2011, that number rose to encompass half of all Americans, and today 72% of the public uses some type of social media.
Micro-influencers, or people who have a sizable audience (but aren’t celebrities!) on their social accounts and are exceptional storytellers, can weave your products into their content. Great micro-influencers not only produce high-quality material, but they’re also adamant about maintaining a sense of creative control and only endorsing the products they genuinely love.
While the thought of having less control may sound like a hindrance to most brands, it’s what ultimately fosters trust between authentic influencers and their audiences.
People trust other people more than brands. In other words, when a person posts a positive review about a product, it's viewed as more trustworthy than if the brand were to say it. However, today's consumers are skeptical and easily detect inauthentic posts. If posts come across as scripted, inconsistent, or overtly advertorial, people won't perceive them as testimonials, but rather advertisements.
Maintaining Authenticity with Trade Collaborations
One way to avoid inauthentic posts is to participate in trade collaborations. In essence, you trade products for content. Rather than paying an influencer to say something great (and potentially fake) about your products, it's helpful to find influencers who are truly excited about your brand, and secondly, give them the option to create content—or not.
This strategy does come with its challenges. Perhaps the most difficult part is scaling. Imagine working with 100 influencers at a time—selecting them, vetting for fraud, and monitoring their posts. Thankfully, this model can be outsourced affordably to agencies that specialize in influencer marketing trade collaborations.
Should you decide to outsource, it’s critical to find agencies that give content creators an “out” if they don’t genuinely like a product. For instance, premier trade collaboration agencies, such as ApexDrop, create a private customer feedback survey that gives brands insights into how their ideal market views their products.
By doing so, brands set a foundation of trust with their influencers. Moreover, influencers don’t have to risk losing their audience’s trust if they receive a product gift and are not genuinely excited to post about it. Ultimately, trade collaborations protect the valuable, honest relationships influencers have with their audience because money never enters into the equation.
It is equally important to find micro-influencers who are contextually appropriate. For example, if you’re a fitness brand, you should align with influencers who promote healthy habits rather than a self-indulgent lifestyle.
If your brand aims for inclusive messaging, you do not want to use an influencer who posts insensitive content. Equally as important, you want to make sure the influencers selected for your campaigns include a wide range of diversity and inclusiveness.
Get Started with Influencer-Generated Content
Intrigued in working with influencers to create more user-generated content? ApexInfluencersTM are pre-vetted content creators who can deliver results for your brand. Let them tell your brand’s story through the eyes of an ideal customer. To learn more about content marketing and how to connect with content creators, contact ApexDrop today.