Leveraging user-generated content or UGC is a great way to build trust and cement your authority. According to statistics, 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth, recommendations, and earned media – some forms of UGC – more than paid and targeted advertisements. 59% of millennials also depend on UGC to validate their purchase decisions. Simply put, customers trust them, and online stores need them to maximize sales. If you want to integrate UGC for your marketing strategy, here are five things you need to consider: #1. Run a Contest If you already have an established social media following, one of the best ways to generate UGC is to hold a contest. These events can instantly boost your popularity in the social space. Not only can you provide your audience with an entirely engaging and meaningful experience, but you can also run contests to earn UGC. For example, you can run a photo contest asking your audience to post how they use your product. You can select the one with the most interesting concept or creative use of your product, re-share it, and then grant a reward. This type of contest can be done on major networks like Gleam. This platform can help you manage your contest campaign more convenient by creating a widget for your site where contestants can join by connecting to their social media or performing custom actions for their submissions. The responsive widget makes it easier for users to join in the action, whether they are using their desktops or mobile devices. To receive more entries from your audience, the tool’s built-in viral sharing helps you spread the word about your contest using different online channels. One of the many problems of running a contest is the validity of the entrants and their submissions. With this platform, you can screen unwanted participants by verifying their first entries to keep the quality consistent and protect you from fraud. #2. Make it Easy for People to Review Your Products Customer reviews and testimonials are some of the most important types of UGC. Prospective buyers trust them more since they offer insights and buying tips from actual customers who have firsthand experience. That is if your reviews and testimonials are 100% authentic. A simple way to obtain reviews for your brand is to leverage social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Just be sure to encourage your audience to leave reviews with a CTA like: “tell us about your experience!” There are also specific sites in your niche where you can find honest reviewers, but they may not be available for all kinds of businesses. #3. Connect with Other Sellers UGC is all about extending your reach and connecting to a larger audience. To accomplish both, you can leverage connections with other sellers that are not direct competitors. You can then work together and cross-promote each other’s products to a targeted audience. Today, there are sites like MyRealKarma that enable sellers to connect and aggregate online reviews into a single widget. With this tool, you can collect reviews from e-commerce sites such as Etsy, eBay, Shopify, and Amazon and display them in your product or category pages. You can reach out to other adjacent sellers and get reviews from them about your products and services. Once buyers see the seller profiles of businesses who wrote reviews about you, your profile also shows there as well, which could help indirectly increase your sales. #4. Launch a Hashtag Strategy For users, hashtags is a great way to set and follow trends in social networks. There are hashtags for food, moods, gadgets, fashion, and all the things that get shared on social media. For online stores, you can leverage hashtags to promote and generate buzz around your brand. You can also use them to identify consumer trends and find UGC already made by the social community. The first step is to plan a relatable, unique, and partly-branded hashtag. Make sure it is about your audience – NOT about your brand. This is a common mistake that many marketers make, especially those who are trying to promote startups and unknown brands. Just be patient and remember that it takes much creativity to come up with a great hashtag that’s both brandable and relatable to your audience. Also, to promote it, you need to consistently include the hashtag in your content, particularly social media posts. #5. Defer to Influencers Finally, you can tap into the social reach of influencers to obtain valuable UGC. Remember that social networks are filled with these “celebrities” with a large following and a high level of creativity in producing engaging posts. Although you may not obtain a lot of UGC from these influencers, just a single post may reach thousands of their followers. This strategy is quite straightforward. You need to use tools to help identify the top influencers in a particular niche, contact them, and make your pitch. Of course, you need to offer some form of compensation in return. You can choose between commissions, discounts, product giveaways, “shout outs”, and cash up front. Instead of getting your hands dirty by sifting through thousands of influencers before finding the right one for your online shop, you can simply go with an influencer platform like TapInfluence to immediately connect you with authoritative bloggers who can help generate more buzz about your e-commerce site. Using its platform, you can determine the amount of reach and clout that the influencer has before making an informed decision. You can then create a project involving your chosen bloggers to help write content for you and publish it on their blogs, as well as promote it on relevant online channels. While the campaign is ongoing, you can boost ROI and engagement from the platform to get the most out of your efforts. Conclusion User generated content is truly a game changer in terms of getting more sales to your e-commerce site. By learning how to get positive UGC for your online store, you can get access to some low-cost, high-reward marketing strategies. Keep in mind, however, that your plan for leveraging UGC is a sustainable strategy that will help you generate user reviews, testimonials, and content that will help build upon your online brand and increase your recognition in the industry. The tools and tips featured above aim to help you develop such plan to get more customers on board with your e-shop. Images: ” Author’s Own“ ____________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. 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