The biggest challenge many dealerships – or businesses for that matter – encounter when developing strategies to capture the attention of their audiences is how to do it.
We sit back and watch while the Oreos, GoPros and Old Spices of the world continuously pump out content that quickly goes viral. Are these companies employing genius marketers, or simply getting lucky?
Well, what these successful companies have in common is that they consistently leverage content about their brand. This content happens to be the type that costs no money, takes no time and that they don’t have to create – user generated content.
The 2015 Content Marketing Institute Benchmark Budget and Trends report revealed that 78 percent of Business to Consumer (B2C) businesses plan to leverage user-generated content in their marketing strategies. And, amazingly enough, user-generated content didn’t even appear on the 2014 report as a trend! That’s a huge growth in just one year. If you’re asking why the skyrocket in popularity amongst marketers, it’s because it works.
What is user-generated content, you ask? Quite simply, it is any type of content that is created by your audience. If your audience types, posts, takes a picture of, or makes a video about your brand, that’s user-generated content. This content tends to be highly popular with other consumers, as it’s perceived as genuine. Consumers feel that they can trust the content – that it’s not just another sales message being pushed at them. This content resonates with and engages your audience, both amongst each other AND with your brand. People are generally more trusting of companies that they see others are engaged with and trust.
Think about the importance and weight most consumers place on online reviews. While these are certainly pieces of content that you should encourage, the only downside is that oftentimes they are met with skepticism. Turn that review into a video review, however, and it becomes an even stronger message. Now a consumer can see that the person talking about your business is real, that this is true user-generated content. These types of reviews can strongly affect whether or not a consumer chooses to do business with you.
Dealerships have been using user-generated content for years in their marketing… perhaps without even realizing it. Have you ever taken a review that was posted on a review site and used it on your website? That’s leveraging user-generated content. Most of the time, however, that content is simply utilized in the same manner in which it was created. A text review may elicit some text content on your website. A picture on Facebook posted by a recently sold customer can be commented on by the dealership and perhaps shared to the dealership’s Facebook page.
However, the most effective use of user-generated content is when you take it a step further and share it on multiple platforms. Repurposing content is easy — but to create the best response it takes a little creativity. If someone posts a cool comment on your Facebook page take it and add an eye-catching image and post it on Instagram. Or take an excerpt from an online review and make it into a cool soundbite and add a snazzy pic of a hot piece of inventory and post on Facebook. Don’t just box content into the platform that it was originally posted on.
“This content happens to be the type that costs no money, takes no time and that they don’t have to create – user generated content.”
If posted on Facebook you can share on Facebook but also expand your reach by also tweeting that content. Take that user-generated content and use it across multiple platforms. The minute they have posted it, it is pretty much fair game to use those words.
It is also very important to constantly pay attention. Or, you may miss some of the best content your customers post! To begin leveraging user-generated content, first you have to pay attention to make sure that you are discovering it. Chances are that there is a ton of content about your dealership that exists outside of review sites. This content could be on Facebook, pictures on Instagram, videos on YouTube, or tweets being sent into the Twitter-verse.
If you never see them, however, there’s no way to use them. Set up Google alerts and leverage social media monitoring software that will actively seek out and notify you whenever your brand name is mentioned. Twitter searches can easily be done to regularly catch any consumers tweeting about you. Facebook will notify you anytime your dealership is tagged, or a customer checks-in at your dealership. By paying attention, you’ll be one step ahead of the game and ready to seize the moment whenever someone shares anything about your business.
Now that you have your listening ears on, you’re ready to rumble. The key to successfully leveraging user-generated content is to think outside the box. Imagine seeing a tweet that talks about how great a particular salesperson was in their car buying experience. It’s simple to take that tweet and overlay it on top of a picture of the salesperson! Now you have an excellent Facebook or Instagram post! The same is true with a picture posted to Facebook. It’s simple to take that picture from Facebook and repurpose it into a piece of content for Pinterest or Instagram!
User-generated content is so powerful for the simple reason that your audience is sharing your brand message for you. You should have no qualms about sharing and repurposing this content. Just like an online review is public domain, so are social media posts. If the consumer didn’t want you to see it, they wouldn’t have made the content public. You don’t have to get a customer’s permission to retweet, or share a public Facebook post. The same principle applies in repurposing content in your social media marketing strategies.
User-generated content will supercharge your content marketing efforts at little additional cost to you. In addition, you’ll find this content outperforms any that you could possibly have made yourself.
GoPro has made itself the video powerhouse it is today – and one of the most recognizable video camera brands – through almost exclusive use of user-generated content.
This trend can be seen in industries ranging from travel (think Southwest and their humorous flight attendants), to hospitality (think Airbnb) to cosmetics. In fact, according to Forbes, 99% of both CoverGirl and Revlon’s YouTube video views come from user-generated content! And this trend is pretty consistent across the board.
As marketers continue to seek ways to engage and emotionally connect with their audiences, user-generated content is easily leading the pack. Rather than creating content for the sake of creating content, it works better to seek opportunities to motivate and encourage your audience to create content on your behalf.
In our digital world, user-generated content is very simply the natural evolution of word of mouth advertising. In the past, word of mouth advertising may have been limited to neighbors, family and friends. Now, with the growth of technology and social media, the exponential reach of each and every person has been transformed into something that can be a very powerful and effective marketing technique.
So, go out and discover what people are saying about your business. I promise it’s out there waiting to be discovered.
Author: Paul Moran
Paul Moran is President and CEO of Vboost, Inc., the first proactive process to create positive viral marketing in the retail automotive space. He has over 28 years of experience in creating digital marketing programs and introducing dealers to effective technologies. His expertise covers all aspects of traditional, digital and social marketing.