So, how do the best online brands create a loyal customer base, turn them into advocates and shift the power in their hands to attract new customers? The answer is UGC- user-generated content, often referred to as earned media. This is any content that an organisation doesn’t truly have complete control over. This form of content can branch from your own efforts, for example content that goes viral. It is pretty much anything your consumers create with your brand’s name on it. We are all familiar with and often use: reviews, star ratings, comments & forums before making purchase online. This is because when buying online, the transaction lacks face-to-face contact with the organisation. Who doesn’t want a sense of trustworthiness before popping in those credit card details?
As a fellow consumer, you are more inclined to trust someone who is on the same journey as you, rather than the brand/organisation itself. Despite being in a different country or continent, you can read about, see or even watch the experience of other consumers, both positive and negative. You’re probably asking, well how do we get those positive experiences and stories told? Encourage, motivate, and INCENTIVISE! It is important that you begin by learning about your customers. This can be achieved by listening, understanding and then developing topics, themes & subjects to meet their needs and ultimately building a community.
All good things, take TIME. You will not create this army overnight and there are plenty of challenges that you will face. However, the value of an actively engaged community will compensate for this! Be aware, the lack of control creates room for negativity, trolls who may even be disrespectful and cross the line. This is where the importance of policing and community management comes in.
If you are consistent, transparent & thoroughly prepared, not only will you have a competitive advantage, you will also begin to understand your consumers better. Your brand will be more noticeable online with higher rankings. Use your online community to create new customers, a sense of belonging and over time, more loyal advocates!!!!