The landscape of social media has changed so much in recent years that deciding on a strategy can be challenging. As well as figuring out what role platforms such as TikTok will play in your social media strategy, you also have to adapt to the changing nature of the existing platforms (Facebook, YouTube and Instagram) and the ways that their changes can impact your reach.
In recent years, Facebook especially has made it much harder to reach potential customers and engage with fans of your page. Despite this, one thing we have noticed in the time that we’ve been managing our clients’ social media accounts is how well user-generated content (UGC) performs, especially for dealers and OEMs.
But what is UGC, and more importantly, how do you use it to your advantage? In this article, we’ll give you an overview of UGC and offer some suggestions for how you can incorporate it into your social media strategy to get the greatest benefit.
What is User Generated Content?
User-generated content is any content created by a business’s customers (instead of the brand itself) and usually refers to photos or videos of the customer using the product. UGC can come from anyone, from a customer posting a photo of their new caravan on Instagram or sharing a YouTube video of their latest trip.
Why is UGC Important for Caravan Dealers and Parks?
Several advantages to UGC make them well-suited for use by caravan dealerships and parks.
- Authenticity and Trust: UGC acts as a form of peer recommendation. When potential customers see real users enjoying their caravan purchases, it paints a genuine picture of the product’s quality and usability and acts as social proof of its value.
- Cost-Effective Marketing: Sourcing user content can significantly reduce content creation costs, making UGC a budget-friendly marketing tool.
- Increased Engagement: Posts with UGC tend to have higher engagement rates. Customers who see their content showcased are more likely to share and comment on the post, expanding its organic reach.
- Native feel: Social media platforms at their heart are meant to be “Social”. UGC can feel more natural – one person connecting with another rather than slickly produced ads, which feel more like ads and raise people’s mental barriers.
While UGC content can cost less than arranging photo and video shoots, it still costs time. There are some tools and software to help automate the process.
While there are tools you can use to scrape content from platforms like Instagram, it is much easier to search for hashtags related to your brand #brandname or #modelsnames. Don’t stop there. Industry of lifestyle-specific hashtags, #vanlife, for example, in the caravan industry, can be a treasure trove of user-generated content.
Using a hashtag while posting can encourage owners to use your official hashtags (e.g. #Brandname), which can help increase usage of your #brandname and give you more content to use.
An extension of this is running a specific campaign to prompt owners to post photos and videos using your product with specific hashtags. Offering rewards and incentives can drive engagement and help generate more UGC. This could be in discounts, freebies, or promoting the user on your social channels.
Facebook groups (especially owner groups) are a fantastic place to find UGC, as they have highly active communities where members share many photos.
Youtube can often be overlooked in social media discussions, but Youtube is a social media platform loaded with high-quality UGC.
The easiest UGC to collect and use can be reviews.
Reviews and Testimonials
Positive feedback from real customers builds credibility. 90% of buyers trust what others say about your brand more than your messages.
Encourage satisfied customers to share feedback on platforms like Facebook and Google Business Profile (GBP). The GBP should be prioritised for a dealership or Local Business as these reviews will make the dealership more visible on Google searches in the local area. You can read more here:
Positive reviews can then be reposted to your social platforms, acting as further social proof and allowing potential buyers to hear what current owners – in their own words – value about your product.
Your Google Business Profile has a link that can be shared with or sent to buyers. The link can be found in the “ask for a review” section
When asking for a review from your customers, ask them to include an image. This has 2 benefits:
- Creates a collection of user-generated content for use in other marketing efforts
- Google prefers reviews with photos, so this positive review will be visible longer on the GBP
Video testimonials can be more impactful than written ones.
Google Business Profile reviews tend to be requested by dealers at the time of sale. They are typically more of a sales process review (see the reviews of cheap car insurance companies; the sales process reviews are four and 5-star reviews, while the claim reviews (product use) are mainly 1 and 2-star.)
Returning to your buyers or reviewers 2 or 3 months after purchase can be a very effective way to get actual product reviews.
Several platforms are specifically designed to capture these reviews via video. They ask the owner to leave a video review and open the camera on their phone when they agree so they can start shooting immediately.
Integrating UGC in Your Marketing Strategy
People consume content differently, and incorporating UGC into the mix of brands’ content helps with the diversity of content and building trust, credibility, and engagement with your audience.
Be sure to also have variety within the UGC Shared, including written, video, or audio, and from various customer backgrounds and experiences.
Regularly feature customers’ stories, focusing on their adventures and experiences with the vehicle. Buyers are influenced differently on the various stages of the purchase path. Early in the journey, the influence can be more benefit-driven, while later in the journey, it can become more feature-driven (ideally, tie a feature to a benefit if possible).
Featuring customer stories not only gives recognition to the customer but also provides potential target audiences with real-life use cases and can hugely influence purchasing decisions.
As a dealership or OEM, you can encourage customers to create content that talks to these various stages by running contests where users submit short (or long) clips.
The best videos can be featured on the company’s YouTube channel or Instagram stories, website, edms, trade shows etc. etc.
Collaborative Content Creation or Influencer marketing
An influencer is an individual who has established credibility, expertise, or a significant following in a specific niche or industry. They can impact their audience’s opinions and purchasing decisions due to their perceived authenticity, knowledge, or charisma. Partner with influencers or regular social media users to co-create content. This has several benefits, including:
- Audience Reach and Engagement: Influencers often have a large and dedicated following within specific niches or demographics. Partnering with influencers allows vehicle manufacturers to tap into these engaged audiences, reaching potential customers who might not be reached through traditional advertising methods. This can lead to increased brand exposure and awareness.
- Credibility and Trust: Influencers are seen as trusted authorities within their niches. When they endorse a vehicle or share their experiences with it, their followers are more likely to trust and consider the recommendation. This can help build credibility for the vehicle manufacturer, especially if the influencer has a strong track record in the category.
- Authenticity and Storytelling: Influencers often excel at creating authentic and relatable content. They can provide a more personal and humanised perspective on a vehicle, sharing real experiences and stories. This storytelling approach can connect with consumers emotionally and help them visualise themselves using the product, which is crucial for a high-involvement purchase like a caravan, bike, car etc.
- Targeted Marketing: Influencers can help vehicle manufacturers target specific market segments more effectively. By selecting influencers whose followers align with the manufacturer’s target audience (e.g., off-road enthusiasts, eco-conscious consumers, luxury travel enthusiasts), the marketing message can be tailored to resonate with those potential buyers. This precision targeting can lead to a higher conversion rate among the influencer’s followers.
- Cost: When potential buyers research a vehicle purchase, they consider,” What will this look like when I own it?”. Getting photography and videos of vehicles in the wild can be very costly, so having a few influencers in different locals can be a very cost-effective way of getting quality content in different environments and settings.
Enhancing Your Use of UGC
Don’t limit UGC to just one platform. If an owner posts a great photo on Instagram, consider posting User Generated Content on Facebook, Twitter, or even in a monthly newsletter. Doing so will give it the greatest reach and also ensure that you present a consistent feed across all of the brands social media platforms.
Using UGC in Paid ads
As well as incorporating UGC into your social media strategy, you can use it in your ad campaigns instead of the usual graphics. Most people are okay for brands sharing user-generated content as a post so long as they are tagged and acknowledged. If using the UGC for paid ads, it’s best to seek permission from your customers.
Once you have made UGC part of your regular social media posts, you can turn the UGC posts with the highest engagement into ads. One way to identify which posts can be successful as ads is by engagement rate. We find any post that has an engagement rate of 5% or higher is a good candidate for becoming an ad.
In addition to offering social proof and building trust with potential buyers, UGC ad campaigns intercept high-intent prospects at a crucial point of their buying journey and show them what their life could be like if only they had your product.
Embrace Handover Posts
Another option, though, and one which we find to be a strong performer are Handover Posts. Although they are not technically UGC (as they aren’t user-generated), handover posts remain one of the highest-performing types of content in terms of engagement and reach. They are also one of the easiest to generate, as all you need to do is have a team member take a photo of the buyer with their vehicle once the handover is completed.
The buyer usually likes and comments on these posts, which seeds the post in their network as their friends and family also comment. This is a good strategy for building awareness and endorsement of your dealership with the network of your customers.
There are tools specifically for this purpose. They capture the handover photo, encourage a review on the Google Business Profile and then allow a dealership or business to post the photo with the review as the caption across social media platforms.
Using the language of your Customers
UGC doesn’t always have to be images and videos. Using the language of your customers is very powerful. This can be picked up in reviews on the GBP, Comments on social media posts and reviews on 3rd party platforms such as productreview.com.au.
Using your customer’s language to speak to them in their own words creates a connection between them and the brand and helps land the brand message better.
Using UGC on the Website
User-generated content marketing isn’t just limited to social media. Consumers trust content created by people like them, and UGC is incredibly powerful for building that social proof and influencing purchases.
The Vehicle Details Page (VDP) is where purchase decisions start, and this page can be a fantastic place to house UGC. Use your customer’s words, images and videos to influence them. Ecom sites can be very good at this.
Let’s look at a page by Boom! by Cindy Joseph and how they use reviews particularly well.
On this page https://www.boombycindyjoseph.com/products/boomstick-color the first bit of text is a review, followed by a total review count.
This is followed by 2 videos of users:
And the page ends with more reviews.
The vast majority of the content on this page is users and user reviews
Unlock the potential of UGC in your marketing strategies.
UGC offers authenticity, cost-effectiveness, and higher engagement. It Boosts credibility and influences purchase decisions. Can you afford not to use UGC?
Contact us today to elevate your brand’s credibility and boost engagement with our expert digital marketing strategies.