Trust has a significant and direct effect on consumers’ intention to buy. Social media, specifically Instagram, is becoming an increasingly strong Direct To Consumer (DTC) sales channel. With more consumers using social media than ever — 3.5 billion to be exact — it’s important to mobilize the marketing power it provides.
Beyond the experience a consumer may encounter with a brand through different marketing touch points, social media is a powerful tool because it provides a voice that consumers deem more reputable and trustworthy than a banner ad or billboard. People follow their friends, family, and public figures like celebrities and influencers that all have an influence on what and why they buy.
As consumers browse social media, the content created by people they follow, begins to inform their opinion and ultimately drives their decision to purchase. Ultimately, for consumers, it creates the sense that they have more control over their own purchasing journey because it feels relatable and personalized.
Given this, brands have two options. They can choose to place paid-ads in their consumers’ newsfeeds, or they can enlist their brand fans to create content that reflects a positive consumer opinion of the brand or product. The choice is clear, given that user generated content (UGC) affects 90% of shoppers’ purchasing decisions. This type of content also tends to be the most engaging, compared to paid-ads.
This is why brands are relying on UGC to support their word of mouth marketing strategies. People trust real people and real opinions. Especially given the rise of the Influencer (and with it Influencer fraud) over the past several years, social media has provided a platform for brands to heavily influence buying decisions using UGC.
With social media quickly becoming a strong DTC sales channel, more brands are deciding to invest in UGC. As more content is created and engaged with, the brands gain more earned media — ultimately the most credible form of content for the brand because it is being created by highly satisfied customers. This content, when given increased distribution via social media, will drive higher conversions than any other paid channel.
According to a study in AdAge, brands that replace their traditional paid media with earned media see their conversion jump from 1% to 5% or higher. Still, many brands are still paying rent to Facebook and Google to drive clicks when they should be focusing on content strategy. Consumer opinion can’t be bought — brands should be investing more in relationships with their brand advocates, as it is ultimately what drives earned media and in turn, deeper connections with the brand and lasting ROI.
UGC is valuable because it broadens the reach of a brand in the most organic way. Consumers want to hear from people with authentic perspectives, who have already experienced a product. 83% of people trust recommendations from someone they know. When a majority of consumers live on social media, it makes sense to engage active users of your product to create and share content about their experience with it — particularly when more than half of these posts are based on a positive experience with a brand or product. UGC humanizes a brand and allows them to create deeper, more emotional connections with consumers and should be used as a way to maintain human touch between brand and consumer.
Ultimately, UGC humanizes a brand and allows them to forge stronger connections with consumers, and word of mouth plays an integral role in introducing those connections. Having a broad reach with multiple voices advocating for a brand allows them to cultivate stronger relationships with their customers. In an age where social media encourages and fosters consumer trust, it’s important for brands to activate word of mouth through their social media channels in a way that resonates more deeply with consumers.