There's no question that the pace of social media can be overwhelming, and marketers may sometimes feel that finding the right social content and leveraging it for strategic use can feel impractical and hopeless.
It doesn't have to be difficult, though. In the instantaneous era of Twitter and Instagram, users are doing much of our work for us. Eighty percent of all online content is created by users, and what's more, user-generated content is fifty percent more trusted than any other media on the web. In layman's' terms: consumers would much rather eat at a local restaurant with 5-star Yelp reviews or visible Facebook check-ins from their friends than a new joint down the street that's relatively unknown to their social circle, even if the latter has a strong marketing campaign behind it.
Now that users have increasing autonomy over the content they consume, user-generated content (UGC) is more than just a trend - it's a necessity for brands. Say goodbye to the days of brainstorming brand-specific content because every potential story you could tell about your brand is right in front of you with UGC. Your core responsibility becomes setting the high-level messaging strategy and then connecting those dynamic photos and 140-character thoughts into memorable stories that reflect the values of your brand.
Today, tools are being created that will allow us to string together high quality, brand-centered content living untapped on social channels.
Say it with me: social depth platforms.
Where and how do you start looking for your brand's UGC in the first place? Looking up your brand's hashtag on Twitter and manually scrolling through the feed tweet-by-tweet won't work, and employing a social listening platform just isn't going to cut it anymore. Technology now allows us to go beyond manual filtering and curation. New tools enable you to discover content that supports brand messaging from the largest, most active social channels.
Social depth tools will help you quickly organize, and store UGC. With this kind of platform, you can pull content directly from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and store it for future use, when you choose to make that content available directly on your brand's website and other digital properties to tell your brand's story.
Just because something is online for everyone to see doesn't necessarily mean you can use it. It's imperative that marketers reach out to the user and request permission to use their content. A good social depth platform will have this feature built in, and foster a direct line of communication between the brand and the user.
Publish & Engage
This is the fun part. You can now instantly publish UGC directly to your brand's digital assets and start interacting with your users. UGC for brands is revolutionary because the most powerful image you can hand to a potential customer is their face as the representative of your brand and its values. People want to invest themselves in stories, and featuring a user's content as part of your brand has the twofold effect of getting you the UGC you want and establishing brand loyalty.
Connect with your users! Remember: 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations above all forms of advertising.
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