When was the last time you left a review on Yelp about your favorite local restaurant? Perhaps just moments ago you shared on Instagram a photo you took of a beautiful sunset during a recent vacation.
These common actions take place millions of times a day all over the world. What else do they have in common? They are all examples of user-generated content!
When it comes to businesses, user-generated content (UGC) takes on a slightly more intricate meaning. For brands, user-generated content is content created by internet users and brand fans outside of the company, on behalf of the company. Recently, “user-generated content” has become a marketing buzzword, and for good reason. Check out the following statistics:
- According to Comscore, user-generated content posts shared to social channels see a 28% higher engagement rate than standard brand posts.
- User-generated based ads get 4x higher click-through rates, according to Shopify.
- MSL Group found that brand messages are reshared up to 24x more when disseminated through employees versus published to a brand page.
- A study conducted by Nielsen found that 77% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company when they hear about it from someone they trust.
Pretty impressive! The numbers prove that user-generated content is not just a passing trend, but a marketing strategy that is here to stay. While many may believe these statistics apply solely to B2C companies, user-generated content is also a very effective way for B2B businesses to increase interest in their products and services and improve marketing ROI. The best part? You probably already have some form of user-generated content available to use, so you can begin implementing this effective marketing method immediately!
User-Generated Content for B2B Vs. B2C
It’s important to keep in mind that for many B2B companies, user-generated content requires a different approach than it does for B2C companies. In general, B2B content has a more formal tone. Therefore, while a lighthearted social media photo contest or humorous YouTube video may work well for a business that sells cleaning products to consumers, it may not be the best fit for your B2B brand. As with any new marketing strategy, it’s important to research your target audience to make sure that you choose the most effective avenue when creating content. Identify what type of posts, articles and stories your followers are sharing on their social media platforms and how well those posts perform.
Let’s dive into UGC that has proven successful for B2B.
Types of B2B User-Generated Content:
Industry Events as User Generated Content
Industry events, such as trade shows and conferences, are common for B2B businesses, and luckily, they provide a great opportunity to create user-generated content. This is because they provide a convenient way for B2B companies to interact and gather content from their target audience. One easy way to collect user-generated content at industry events is to create a hashtag that combines your company name and the name of the event, then use a hashtag aggregator to track it across multiple social media networks. Later, scroll through all posts that have used your hashtag, and share them on your social pages. Another useful event strategy – take a moment to record quick interviews with event attendees or exhibitors. If you have an interaction with a business that is a fan of your products or services, ask if they’ll do a quick video testimonial discussing what they like about your company and why. Then share that content on your website and social media platforms. Trade shows and conferences don’t have to just revolve around networking, they can provide your business with valuable evergreen content!
Use Surveys and Polls to Increase Engagement
Surveys and polls serve as a very effective way to not only collect UGC, but also gain insightful information from your target audience that could help your business make changes that lead to improved customer loyalty and appeal to new customers. They also elevate your company’s position as a thought leader and improve SEO by increasing website traffic and inbound links as people link to your research. There are two types of surveys your business can consider:
- Controlled survey- A controlled survey is the most traditional type of survey and uses controlled factors to provide more accurate data. These surveys require thorough preliminary research in order to draft questions that will uncover the answers you seek. Once the survey has been conducted, it’s important to promote it with a mix of methods, including on your website, via email, on social media and on your company blog.
- Social media survey- While this type of survey may not be as accurate as a controlled survey, social media surveys are a quick, easy way to connect with your customers, increase engagement and gather additional UGC through public comments on your social media platforms.
Importance of Online Reviews and Testimonials
Online reviews and customer testimonials are one of the most effective methods for gaining credibility for businesses. In this day and age, the informed buyer trusts the experience of their peers, and uses that information to act accordingly as the following data proves:
- Research from Northwestern University shows that 95% of shoppers use online reviews before making a purchase.
- A product with five reviews has a 270% higher likelihood of purchase than a product with zero reviews.
- 97% of B2B customers cited testimonials and peer recommendations as the most reliable type of content, according to Demand Gen Report.
As today’s business landscape grows in complexity, savvy B2B buyers are relying on the opinions and expertise of colleagues, peers and trusted networks when researching and making purchase decisions more than ever before. While B2C purchases may, at most, reach thousands of dollars, B2B purchases usually have a much higher value and can affect hundreds or thousands of employees. Therefore, the opinions of other businesses that have used your products or services carry much weight.
- Encourage your customers to submit testimonials by providing links to pages that allow customers to give feedback about your company, such as Google My Business, Angi, Manta and the Better Business Bureau.
- If you notice a standout testimonial, reach out to that customer and ask for permission to feature the testimonial on your website.
- Finally, don’t ignore negative reviews. Thoughtfully respond to those reviews, state your customer satisfaction policies and reach out to the customer to find a solution – this demonstrates that you appreciate all feedback and are willing to take necessary steps to keep your customers satisfied.
Case Studies for B2B Brands
Case studies are slightly different than most forms of user-generated content because they are typically written and created by the company being discussed. However, the content itself is still user-generated because the story highlights the experience of the customer. Case studies are an effective tool to increase sales and drive conversions because they showcase a real-life example of how your brand helps customers reach their goals.
When writing a case study, pick a success story that will resonate with your customers, and that showcases how your business solved a common, relatable issue your customers have encountered. Also, utilize the power of storytelling in your case study. After reading your case study, the reader should have a clear understanding about the customer in the story, their problem, their goals, their needs and how you satisfied those needs. Finally, make sure to use clear, direct numbers in your case study. Now is the time to show off, so don’t be vague! Concrete numbers instead of ambiguous terms such as “doubled website traffic” help your business stand out.
User-Generated, Customer Approved!
User-generated content has proven to be a great marketing strategy for B2B companies. It fosters a sense of community with your audience, which in turn builds trust and loyalty, and it enhances the authenticity and credibility of a brand as customers are 50% more likely to trust content created by their peers than other forms of paid marketing methods. You’ve worked hard to create a successful, quality brand – now is the time to let your customers help you gain more customers!