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Grow Your Business Technology

5 Ways to Grow Your Business with User-Generated Content

5 Ways to Grow Your Business with User-Generated Content
Credit: Tulpahn/Shutterstock

No one sells your business better than your own customers. The images, videos and other content they share brings credibility and enthusiasm that may outperform a paid marketing campaign.

According to a BI Intelligence study, shoppers who engage with such content are 97 percent more likely to make a transaction than those who don't. Additionally, brands see a 78 percent jump in conversion rates with such content.

The report also detailed that retail visitors see a 106 percent jump in revenue from visitors who interact with user-generated content compared to those who don't. Stats are one thing, but taking a closer look at the customer experience and seeing how they get their information serves as another useful guide for why this content is so critical.

The best type of content is going to depend upon your product and the type of customers you have. If you have a specialty store that often has fresh inventory or lends itself to visuals, then a platform like Instagram might be best. [Read related article: Instagram for Business: Everything You Need to Know]

Or maybe you like to create zany videos that may go viral or get customers to share a hashtag. Then Twitter might be your best friend. Some brands have a lot of success with Snapchat, given how popular the social network is with younger users. The big, blue behemoth of Facebook also shouldn't be ignored given how well the social network can microtarget users based on their usage patterns.

It's one thing to share stuff about your business – the key is to get others to share. When it comes time for that next Instagram post or Snap, think about whether the item you want to share is something customers will want to send to friends and family. And ensure that the content fits the specific platform you're targeting.

One of the most creative user-driven campaigns came from Coke, which probably had you serving as a brand ambassador, and you didn't even know it. Yes, all of those bottles with first names make them fun and friendly to share. When you see your sister Annie or brother Jack's name on a plastic bottle of Coke Zero Sugar, it seems like a great idea to pick one up.

Before you know it, you're sharing a picture on Instagram of everyone in the family enjoying a personalized bottle of Coke products. Suddenly you're a brand ambassador, delivering free advertising for the Coke family. Hey, it's fun – there's nothing wrong with a little brand love from time to time. In fact, use such scenarios as ways to think about what such a viral sharing campaign might look like for your business.

User-generated campaigns can be fun and an exciting way to promote your business, offering a nice break from the dry. A study from Cohn & Wolfe found that 63 percent of customers would rather buy something from a brand they consider to be authentic. What authenticity means is going to vary widely from one business to another.

For a retail store, it may be featuring products that were made without animal testing or in an environmentally thoughtful manner. Highlight which products meet these criteria and then share them, encouraging customers to do the same. Such a campaign can stand out in a sea of generic competitors.

Ultimately, user-generated content is about what you try and do every day – connect with your customer base. Successful campaigns are really about incorporating the same elements you use to make your customers happy. So get ready to share, and you'll find those that love your brand will start to do the same.

Derek Walter

Derek Walter is a freelance writer in northern California. He is the founder of Walter Media and author of Learning MIT App Inventor. Follow him on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn or Google+.