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How to build a community around your brand with user-generated content

Growth Secrets|30.03.2016

Earning a loyal following is one of the most important aspects of running an e-commerce business. Your biggest fans and most dedicated customers are one of the most valuable marketing resources you have.

They will spread the word about your brand, direct shoppers to your site and give you a glimpse into the role your brand plays in your customers’ lives. 

To reap the benefits of having a dedicated following you first need to create a sense of community around your brand. 

Here are three easy ways to do so with user-generated content.

Create a Relatable Brand Image

User-generated content such as customer reviews and user-generated photos elevates an online store’s existing resources. 

It builds a community of shoppers and customers who provide social proof for the brand’s products and for the company as a whole.

Such communities break down barriers between individual online shoppers, which in turn leads to conversions and increased trust in your brand.

For example, including user-generated pictures in customer testimonials increased Basecamp’s conversion rate by 102.5%.

Customer reviews and pictures build a shopper’s confidence in a brand by providing relatable information and authentic answers to questions that may otherwise keep someone from buying.

Shoppers are more likely to buy when they see photos taken by actual customers wearing or using your products, as opposed to seeing only professional product pictures. 

Providing immediately visible social proof by including authentic customer reviews and photos on product pages and in social ads allows you establish a relatable brand image and brings more shoppers to your site.

Highlight Customer Experiences

Today’s shoppers are used to getting more information more quickly. 

One of the major pain points of buying online is the uncertainty shoppers feel about buying something based on product pictures and descriptions alone. 

A recent study reveals that concerns about size and fit are main factors negatively affecting the online shopping experience.

Clearly displaying verified reviews on your site provides shoppers with the information they want and the confidence they need to convert into buyers, especially when a past buyer addresses the exact pain point concerning a given shopper.

It also shows reviewers that their engagement is valued and therefore encourages them to contribute again in the future.

Shining a spotlight on customer experiences via user-generated reviews is an opportunity to feature your store’s customer service. 

Responding to negative reviews on your site shows that you care about your customers and their relationship with your brand. You can also get existing customers and current shoppers talking to each other by referring questions to past buyers.

Establish Feelings of Exclusivity and Membership

Posing questions and open challenges to your customers and brand fans gives them recognition for their loyalty and makes them feel engaged. 

Such user-generated content campaigns show your followers that they are part of a select group that your brand candidly communicates with, and gives them a creative outlet to express their connection with your company.

The customer content created for these UGC campaigns gives you a glimpse into how your customers use your products.

IKEA did a great job of this when they ran an Instagram campaign asking their customers to submit photos of their favorite pieces.

The campaign gave IKEA information directly from customers about which products they like the most and how they use them, while also providing the company with user-generated content that could be repurposed across marketing materials.

Including customer content in your social media accounts by using designated hashtags or UGC campaigns gives contributing customers a feeling of exclusivity and membership when they are featured in your brand content. 

Repurposing this user-generated content increases click-through rate for Facebook ads by 300%.

Your customers and followers can furthermore be a product development goldmine. If a particular style, color, location or activity shows up throughout your followers’ social media content, you can pick that up and use it as inspiration for your product line.

Takeaways

UGC is a fast track to building a community around your brand. 

It puts your customers front and center, which makes them feel valued, makes your brand attractive and approachable, and creates a strong two-way relationship with your customers.

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