For brand marketers, user-generated content (UGC) has been all the rage for the past couple of years. From Doritos' famous annual million-dollar "Crash the Super Bowl" to Sephora's Beauty Board, to the inordinate number of hashtag-infused "media walls," brands have piled on in growing numbers.
UGC-enabled marketing is no longer a trend; it's a core part of any modern marketer's toolkit. And, by all measures, it's only growing.
However, there's an interesting gap between the UGC from B2C and the UGC from B2B marketers: Some 70% of B2C companies say they will make use of UGC in their 2015 marketing strategies, compared with 48% of B2B who say so, according to the 2015 Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends report from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute.
But a closer look into UGC benefits, how they apply to B2B, and a few key examples from major brands should put to rest any question about the validity of B2B UGC.
The Benefits of UGC
The reasons behind the growth in UGC popularity are many. Based on work over the past year with some major brands, I've boiled down the main benefits of UGC to the following five:
- Quantity: An exponentially higher amount of content can be (and is being) produced by consumers than a single marketing team could ever produce itself.
- Authenticity: Although only a small percentage of UGC content is of high quality, the content that is good is REALLY good and connects with consumers in a completely different—and more authentic—way than anything company-produced.
- Diversity: From photos on Instagram to videos on YouTube to customer reviews on Twitter, the variety of UGC formats and styles available will push your brand to new heights.
- Performance: When harnessed for strategic marketing purposes with clear objectives, UGC can far outperform professional content, as measured by engagement and conversion rates. But when UGC is used merely as a quick-hit novelty... well, the ROI will be just that—a novelty.
- Versatility: A great piece of UGC has legs. When smart companies find a compelling photo or video or tweet, they squeeze as much value out of it as possible—on the website, in social channels, in-store, on billboards, in commercials. You get the point.
Why UGC Works for B2B
The large majority of hype and overall activity around UGC marketing has been centered on household consumer brands, such as Bud Light, Coca-Cola, and Disney, but B2B marketers are the ones really pushing UGC to new heights.