Social Media Marketing - User Generated Content
User-generated content can be a powerful tool in social media marketing, as it adds authenticity and trustworthiness to a brand's online presence. By allowing users to share their own experiences and opinions, companies can tap into a wider range of perspectives and foster a sense of community.
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Over the past several blogs, we have been discussing social media marketing. In our first blog, we identified the most common mistakes made by social media managers (The Top Fifteen Mistakes that Social Media Managers Make). In the second blog of the series, we shared why organic social media marketing should be a program that every business utilizes (The Case for Using Organic Social Media Marketing to Obtain Sales). Both articles showcased many best practices that can enhance any program. We recommend you read both articles before you begin your journey.
Today, we will start sharing specific social media marketing campaigns, that we have found highly effective with our clients. We are spending so much time on social media marketing, because it matters. Buyers rely upon their social networks to make buying decisions.
It doesn’t matter whether it is a college student, or the CEO of a multinational company, the numbers hold true. Eighty-two percent of people trust social networks to guide their buying decisions (Cresta). When you are focusing only on the degree of reliance by Senior B2B Buyers and C-suite members, the numbers are even greater. B2B buyers leverage their professional networks to help direct their purchasing decisions. Eighty-four percent of Senior B2B professionals rely on information obtained from online social networks in the final stages of the purchasing process (IDC).
While there are many ways to build a social media engagement program, the campaign strategies we are sharing today all involve user-generated content, and each one has been extremely successful. While several of these programs were developed by Prevail Marketing, we were fortunate enough to participate in all of them.
What other people say about you is more important, to the buyer, than what you say about yourself. Whether the comments are positive or negative, they will be deemed more authentic and trustworthy than any marketing material you can develop. User-generated content (UGC) can be expressed in a variety of ways, including blogs, articles, testimonials, photos, or online reviews.
The science, behind the effectiveness of user-generated content (UGC), is based on the psychological principles of social proof, trust, and authenticity. To learn more about the science behind UGC, please read our blog entitled, “The Laws of Influence: The Psychology of Getting to Yes.”
We have used several different strategies for both B2C and B2B clients. During the pandemic, we had clients from both industry segments that fell short of the expectations of their clients and had accumulated a significant number of negative reviews.
B2C Healthcare Client – We helped healthcare providers that had failed to appreciate the extent of care they would need to provide as the pandemic ramped up, and as a result of a number of missed appointments and the failure to deliver timely test results, caused them to have an extremely bad online reputation.
As soon as we were convinced that all the issues were resolved, we initiated a corporate-wide effort to rehabilitate their online reputation with a positive review. This was accomplished using a variety of techniques:
Incentivize Employees – To ensure that the best healthcare service was being provided, we paid every employee, who was specifically mentioned in a positive review, with a bonus. Not only did this help improve the quality of care, but these employees would ask the patient to submit a review at the end of their visit. The number of positive reviews skyrocketed.
Post-Visit Follow-ups – Every patient received a post-visit follow-up call from the medical office. The purpose was to genuinely ensure that they were doing well and answer any questions. If they had not yet responded to online survey requests, they were asked if they would be willing to provide their feedback. Patients were usually impressed with the follow-up care and happily shared their opinions.
Post-Visit Survey – The medical offices used an automated survey request that was sent to the patient after their visit. We strategically timed the text to be sent three hours after they left their office. This was so they had enough time to get back home, or work, but still close enough in proximity to their appointment that the particulars of the visit were fresh.
The survey was presented in two parts. The first was simply for them to rate the overall service on a 1-10 rating system, which would be used just for the office. Regardless of the rating, those that responded were sent a second text which provided them with two options. The first option was to speak to the office manager or doctor in charge of the facility. The second was a link to either Google or Yelp to make an online review.
PRO TIP - When requesting any customer review, it is critical that you avoid the practice of “review gating.” This is where a business either only accepts or encourages satisfied customers to leave a review. This results in misleading the public and is subject to severe penalties and sanctions from the FTC.
Google Reviews – Google will not allow review gating to occur on its platform. If they find that you discouraged negative reviews, selectively cherry-picked reviews, or only solicited positive reviews ALL reviews will be removed.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – The FTC has enacted severe penalties for deceptive review practices. Any found to be review gating can be penalized up to $44,000 per violation under the Consumer Review Fairness Act. In 2022 the FTC showed how serious they were about enforcing this law and issued a $4.2 million dollar fine against Fashion Nova for suppressing negative reviews on Yotpo.
At the end of a 3-month trial program, the client had reaped numerous benefits. The number of positive reviews for their practice dominated their ratings on both Google and Yelp. Those patients who preferred to speak to the head of the practice found their concerns quickly addressed and needed changes were made in the operations. All of those who contacted the office were offered the opportunity to share any feedback on the review sites. Not surprisingly, the ready access to senior staff, and the prompt handling of their concerns, resulted in a 95% positive review score.
Besides all the benefits these online portals created, we further amplified this UGC with a weekly omnichannel social media campaign. Each week, we would share a carousel of several comments and testimonials. We have a UTM-tagged link back to a landing page where a patient can register for an appointment. After this campaign ran for two months, we saw weekly registrations from clients.
B2B SaaS Client – We had a B2B SaaS client that simply had not optimized potential user-generated content. It was not the case of having to overcome negative opinions. Most of their customers were genuinely happy with the product and the company. They simply had overlooked the value that this goodwill could bring them.
While the most treasured online reviews for B2C engagements are Google Reviews and Yelp, for B2B, the most valuable reviews are often found on third-party review sites such as G2 Crowd, Capterra, Software Advice, Finances Online, etc.
We implemented a proactive growth enablement program, where the customer support team was required to add 50 reviews on three different sites each quarter. They took a two-fold approach to reaching out to clients. Any client who had contacted customer support, received a call from a senior manager, after it was resolved, to make sure all their issues were handled on a prompt courtesy basis. Everyone was then sent a link to a third-party review site and asked to provide their honest feedback. Senior management also contacted existing customers who may have not contacted the company since they became a client. They spent time gathering feedback and recommendations. After the call, they were sent a link and request for a review.
The effort generated tremendous goodwill, and the support department managed to meet their yearly target in six months. The customers who were contacted provided detailed comments and testimonials on the review sites and gave an average score of 4.85 out of 5.
The results were amazing. The increase in high-quality traffic generated from the review sites went up by 37%. The badges the client received from these sites were placed on their website and landing pages, offering increased creditability from a trusted source.
We, then, began utilizing all the UGC that the customers shared in the review portals, and the badges received from these organizations, in an omnichannel organic social media marketing program. Every week, we would post content that was format specific to each social media portal, with each instance having a UTM link that would take the reader to a corresponding landing page. It was not necessarily a first-touch contact with the prospect, but, often, brought Sales Qualified Leads back to the site that were ready to engage.
HubStars – One of the programs, in which I was not the architect but a participant, was a program by HubSpot. While very little can be found about the program online, it ran around 2013-2016 and was one of the most effective uses of USG in a social media campaign. This program used gamification to get dedicated HubSpot users to become brand ambassadors. Every week, they would post challenges that included such items as creating a blog or testimonial and sharing it on various social media channels.
The result was an army of advocates who would post UGC, whenever HubSpot wished to pump its social outreach program. While I was never privy to the number of sales that it would generate, I could see the amount of UGC that was produced by this program.
One of the more profound ways that HubSpot leveraged UGC was when a company was trying to decide between HubSpot and one of its competitors. HubSpot would place a call, out to their brand advisor army, to post a reply when the company made an inquiry on a social platform asking which solution was better. Within minutes, dozens of replies were made, all shouting the attributes of HubSpot.
User-generated content can be a powerful tool in social media marketing, as it adds authenticity and trustworthiness to a brand's online presence. By allowing users to share their own experiences and opinions, companies can tap into a wider range of perspectives and foster a sense of community. This organic content is seen as more credible by consumers, as it is not influenced by marketing strategies or paid promotions. User-generated content also encourages engagement and interaction, as consumers are more likely to connect with and trust content shared by their peers. Overall, incorporating user-generated content, into social media marketing strategies, is an effective way to enhance brand credibility and build stronger relationships with customers.