In an era of social scepticism, authenticity and building trust among your online audience has never been more important. In this article Carly Stringer, founder Keystone Virtual talks you through why UGC (user-generated content) is key for helping you build trust and those all important sales.
One of the best ways to build this trust is by encouraging and amplifying endorsement from customers and fans. This endorsement can come in the form of photos, videos, reviews or blog posts and is commonly referred to as user-generated content (UGC).
If building trust isn’t reason enough alone, using user-generated content on Instagram also…
But, most importantly…nearly 80% of people say that UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. So, not using user-generated content on Instagram means that you are more than likely missing out on sales.
Now we’ve established that using user-generated content on Instagram is an essential part of your strategy – how can you get started in using it? Let’s take a look…
The first step in using UGC on Instagram is to create a branded hashtag.
Examples of great brand hashtags from independent retailers include:
When coming up with a hashtag for your brand follow these golden rules:
As well as an overarching hashtag that is associated with your brand, consider using more time-sensitive campaign hashtags if you want to highlight and encourage UGC around specific launches, products or events.
So now you have a branded hashtag, you need to start encouraging your customers to use it! Do this by…
Including it in your bio and posts
This one might sound obvious but it’s surprising how many businesses overlook it. Including your branded hashtag in your bio not only signals to users that this is your hashtag, but they will be able to click on it to see all of the great UGC you collate! If you have room in your bio copy, also include a call to action that asks people to use the hashtag when sharing photos/videos of your products.
As well as including it in your bio, don’t forget to also use it in all of your posts! Keep it separate from the other hashtags you use, so it stands out to anyone reading your caption.
Adding it to your packaging/compliments slip
Including your hashtag on your product packaging or compliments slip is a great way to encourage your customers to post about the product as soon as they receive it (and are most excited about it!).
Cross promote your hashtag via your other marketing channels – especially on your website and in your marketing emails. Consider an automated follow-up email on the day your customer will receive their product with links for them to leave a review, find you on Instagram and encouraging them to share their experience using the hashtag.
Competitions can work well to encourage UGC if you make sharing UGC (and using your brand hashtag or specific competition/campaign hashtag) part of the entry mechanic.
These sorts of competitions are generally more relevant for existing customers (as you’ll be asking them to share your pictures of your product) and is, therefore, a fantastic way to reward loyal fans!
Again, this might seem obvious, but it is often overlooked! Don’t be afraid to ask customers directly to leave reviews of your product. You might do this in your email communication, or with a note in your packaging/compliments slip.
Once a review has been left – be it on your website, Facebook or elsewhere on the web – don’t forget to repurpose it for Instagram! Use a tool such as Canva to create graphics with customer feedback that you can share on your feed and in Stories. I also recommend creating a specific Stories highlight to keep your most glowing reviews pinned to your profile so that those new to your Instagram/brand can immediately see them!
Now, this doesn’t mean going back to the drawing board and redesigning your product!
Instead, consider the entire customer experience. For example, are there ways in which you can make your packaging or unboxing experience more aspirational and therefore ‘instagrammable’? Is there an unexpected freebie you can add into the package that customers will appreciate and want to share?
Personalisation also goes a long way in making products more shareable. Remember the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign? By simply personalising their bottles, Coke generated a buzz around their product and made it highly shareable. Personalisation won’t be an option for many products of course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a personal touch to the experience of buying from you – such as a handwritten note in the packaging.
The thoughtful packaging and handwritten notes that are part of the experience of buying from gifting company Don’t Buy Her Flower’s, have undoubtedly encouraged more recipients to share the product when they receive it. These small touches have made the product all that more aspirational, personal and therefore sharable.
As a small business on Instagram, engagement is as (if not more) important than the content you post. And engaging with UGC is no exception.
Each day you should spend time identifying customers who have shared posts related to your product by checking:
Take the time to respond to every single one. It can also be valuable to see who else has commented on their post and responding to them as appropriate. For example, their friends/family/followers may have questions about the product you can answer. This is an excellent way of increasing brand awareness and converting more people into followers and ultimately customers!
So, you’ve got people sharing UGC and using your brand hashtag. Great! But don’t leave it at that!
Share this content on your Feed so that your followers (and potential customers!) can see the positive things other customers are saying about your products. Scheduling tools such as Later and Planoly have a search and repost feature, making it really easy to find and schedule UGC to your feed. Be sure to credit anyone’s content you do repost by @mentioning them in the caption and tagging them in the photo.
Your Stories are also a great place to collate the UGC. Tag the customer – and they may share your repost, getting you even more exposure via their account. Don’t forget to make a Stories highlight of UGC too, so that the content remains on your profile beyond the 24-hour lifespan of the initial Story and is immediately obvious to those landing on your profile.
My final tip is to consider using UGC in your paid Instagram advertising. Customer reviews and images in ads can be just as powerful in converting new customers as they can when used organically. This is especially true when retargeting customers who may have hesitated to purchase the first time they visited your website, and need a little more convincing before hitting that buy button.
Now it’s over to you! We hope you picked up some useful tips to start using user-generated content on Instagram to build trust and increase sales for your business! If you need some social media training, support with your strategy or Facebook advertising, Carly can help. Find out more about her services or find her over in the Small and Mighty Business Community.
Carly is a Facebook and Instagram advertising strategist and social media consultant with over 10 years’ experience in the communications industry. She supports Small and Mighty businesses increase their visibility and sales through social advertising.