A colleague once told me that traditional content marketing, more than any other aspect of a professional organization, is like herding cats. (If you haven’t seen the ad, here’s the video. Check that out and remember the last time you were in a similarly frustrating situation.)
Often, team members are busy trying to manage their own schedules and projects. When trying to create branded marketing content that involves multiple stakeholders in and out of your organization, the process can feel so extensive that by the time the content has been signed off on and is ready to publish, it’s no longer relevant.
Attempting to herd cats to create rich content is tough, and it shows an important blind spot in your content marketing strategy. What is it?
Tuning in to reality.
In reality, the branded content that teams work overtime to create and share isn’t the most effective content. According to Beckon Research, a whopping 95 percent of the content brands create is ignored by consumers, and Stackla found that 57 percent of consumers believe less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.
In reality, even the most polished branded imagery isn’t relatable to a real person, because they can’t see themselves reflected in it. Consumers are 3x more likely to say that content created by a consumer is authentic compared to content created by a brand.
In reality, authentic user-generated content (UGC) is the most trustworthy content to your audiences. In fact, 92 percent of consumers trust earned content (like UGC) more than owned media (like branded content).
In reality, herding cats is almost impossible, and a traditional content marketing strategy is no longer effective or sustainable. Instead, tap into the real content that reflects your real customers.
Let your customers be your influencers
Instead of attempting to influence your audience with your own self-serving branding, let your customers do the talking.
According to Influencer Intelligence’s recent report, “The tide is turning, and contrived commercial partnerships are waning in favor of genuine, organic brand tie-ups where there is already some natural affinity or advocacy.”
By interacting with your own audience and trusting in your customers’ content, you emphasize and place stock in the value of their diversity and therefore add to the authenticity of your own brand.
Treating your customers as real people is the most effective marketing strategy out there. Often, marketers get swept up in industry jargon, loading branded content with buzzwords and statistics, forgetting that their customers are people like them who have more purchasing choices than ever before.
In fact, according to IBM’s The New Marketing Reality study, “The traditional funnel no longer works. It assumes audiences are linear and predictable in their behavior. At the same time, it doesn’t take into account the fact that people will act the way they want to act, rather than sticking to a sequence designed by marketers.”
Your customers are naturally influential. Don’t overlook their impact on each other. Instead, use it to your brand’s advantage.
2019: New year, new UGC
It’s the New Year, but we’re not going to hit you with the overdone “New Year, New You” mantra. We’re not asking you to start from scratch and build a completely new marketing strategy, because we know your existing strategy is great. But, we do believe it could be better, more cost-effective and scalable with UGC.
In the new year, start by refreshing your existing content with new, authentic user-generated content.
Adding UGC to your strategy works, too. Since European tour operator, Busabout, transformed their website to feature 99 percent user-generated content, they’ve seen a 65 percent reduction in content costs and a 33 percent increase in bookings. And check out Copper Mountain below, who uses Stackla to feature customer posts in real-time, keeping their website content consistently relevant and fresh.
Curating and publishing UGC across your marketing channels adds new depth to your strategy and saves ample time that would otherwise be spent creating branded visuals that would likely be ignored. Most importantly, it portrays your brand and your product in reality. It shows prospects that your brand is offering a proven solution that real customers are willing to vouch for.
We’ve mentioned it before, but we’ll say it again: 2019 will be #TheYearofUGC. Don’t waste your time herding cats to create visuals that aren’t effective in the end. Don’t allow the real, authentic content that UGC provides to fall into your marketing blind spot.
Instead, forge ahead into the new year with full visibility into the potential of your new and improved, scalable and efficient, UGC content strategy.