With the number of people on social networks continuing to explode (according to eMarketer, there will be 114.5 million user-generated content creators online by 2013), the opportunity for brands to leverage content created by consumers in marketing efforts will continue to grow.
Especially when backed by the evidence that millennials are more likely to both share brand experiences online and are more likely to have purchasing decisions influenced by both anonymous user-generated content and word of mouth from people they know, the importance of integrating user-generated and social content into marketing campaigns and websites is going to be paramount in the coming years.
>>See which brands are getting it right in 5 Best Social Media Campaigns with User-Generated Content
Building Brand Communities Online
Social media marketing strategist and co-founder of DreamGrow Digital, Priit Kallas, predicted that 2012 would be the year we’d start to see more and more corporations integrating social media into their websites.
According to Kallas: “Big brands will use social media to connect and user generated content to get closer to customers. This will help them get most out of true fans and brand advocates by linking their web properties to conversations.”
In fact, moving forward, mixing premium content with user-generated content and social experiences on owned sites will be crucial in providing the social proof and community customers have come to expect.
Doing so also helps you establish your brand. As Frank Strong writes in “Why Content Marketing is the New Branding,” brands are built over time by “third-party validation communicated through third-party content.” A brand is not built based around logo or advertising or taglines, but rather by what OTHER people say about your product or services.
Incorporating UGC into Company Websites
So, what’s best way to accomplish establishing a brand through third-party content and influencers?
One option is to run marketing campaigns that solicit third-party content from your fan base and brand advocates- and then incorporate the resulting UGC and social community back into the company website.
UGC can be seamlessly incorporated into the company’s website content: a product page may include a feed from an active user forum, select customer ratings and reviews can be used in multiple pages, or hashtag content from Twitter and Instagram can be incorporated into a campaign microsite (see how brands like Flirt Cosmetics and Keen Footwear have done just that using Postano).
Easily adding UGC to and alongside product pages allows brands to incorporate consumer content and perception of the brand alongside ecommerce actions. Using Postano, social communities can be deeply integrated into a brand’s website, allowing a consumer to easily view social content while remaining on the same site and in context – while also allowing those site visitors to share content to their own social networks without leaving the page.
In addition, adding social media and socially relevant UGC can also help drive conversion. Integrating social media into websites encourages users to engage and share, amplifying the brands’ presence in third-party social networks. This tight integration between social media and owned properties provides continuity that builds the relationship between companies and their users in the digital space.
Drive Consumers to Engage on Your Own Site
Company websites are the center for digital marketing efforts, as it is not only where you drive your social messages, but also is ultimately where conversion takes place. In addition, a recent Nielsen study also stated that the company website is where customer trust is highest and where a brand has the biggest control and impact.
Another study done by Incyte found that consumers who wanted to learn more about a product were 4x more likely to visit the company’s website than the Facebook brand page- even after originally learning about it through a social network.
In “How to Build an Interactive Brand Ecosystem,” author Nate Elliott writes:
“Nearly every audience we’ve studied says it trusts a marketer’s own site more than any other marketing channel – including offline advertising and social media. Use this trust to build a site that shows users what your brand stands for. And rather than just deliver content here, pull social experiences (like blogs, communities, or Facebook Connect) into your site to make it more interesting and useful to your audience. This will be the place where your brand makes its biggest impact.”
Examples of Brands Incorporating Social Media and UGC into their Websites
>>Learn more about how Nine West is using Postano.
>>Learn more about how Owens-Illinois is using Postano.
>>Learn more about how Oregon Film is using Postano.
>>Learn more about how Tommy Hilfiger is using Postano.
University of Oregon Ducks
>>Learn more about how the University of Oregon is using Postano.