User-generated content (UCG) is increasingly gaining significance in B2B marketing. Turn your business customers into brand ambassadors and generate useful, free content for creating authentic campaigns. We reveal how and why you can use it to boost engagement and your brand.
User-generated content: definition
User-generated content refers to content which is created by internet users and brand fans coming from various internet services, and not from the advertising company itself. User-generated content can be images, videos, reviews, comments or entire blog articles. A sub-form is employee-generated content. In this case, the company’s own employees from various departments produce personal content for social media or the company’s website.
User-generated content: relevance and advantage for B2B advertising campaigns
User-generated content has been viewed rather as a B2C marketing measure to date, but it is increasingly gaining significance for B2B brand communication. In times of advancing personalisation and sinking credibility of branded content, more and more B2B brands are seeking authenticity and direct relations with their target group. The advantages of UGC campaigns are clear when it comes to business relations between companies too, as user-generated content from consumers is seen as being more authentic and credible. The latest Nielsen Consumer Trust Index confirms that 83 per cent of consumers trust content from other customers more than traditional advertising.
Turn your business customers into brand ambassadors and generate useful, free content for creating authentic campaigns.
Content created by employees shows similar results. Analyses from the business network LinkedIn confirm that brand-related content on Instagram is shared proportionately more when it is published by employees “privately”.
What’s more, according to studies, UGC has a positive impact on buyer behaviour. Engagement increases as well. Content producers feel they are valued and turn their viewers into brand fans and users, too, in best case. And a strong brand is extremely important in the B2B segment. At the same time, user-generated content is more or less free of charge – without a doubt, another advantage of this content form.
On the flip side, UGC requires a higher amount of controlling effort, as the risk of a strategy flopping or even a shitstorm can never be completely ruled out.
Efficient channels for UGC: Instagram, forums and business networks
According to the definition above, user-generated content also works in the B2B world – granted companies offer the right channel for the pre-defined and identified target group. As a visual-based platform, Instagram is the absolute star of user-generated B2C campaigns. Especially the Stories format offers a whole range of options, for instance to collect content from various accounts.
Depending on the industry and the product, the photo community is also suitable for B2B campaigns. For example, hashtag campaigns like #createyourstory on Instagram have proven to be successful for the Adobe brand, in which numerous professional users uploaded samples of their work which they created using Adobe products. But companies with “bulky” software products such as Hootsuite or Buffer manage to come up with creative approaches, like a call for a workplace photo, for turning business customers into brand ambassadors.
Business networks, too, such as XING and LinkedIn, are efficient platforms for communicating messages to the target group and animating them to interact. A huge campaign doesn’t always have to be launched to achieve this. Helpful customer reviews can do the trick, or identifying these in the social web and sharing them in the suitable groups or channels, also across platforms.
Another option is support forums, where customers support each other. The user experience from others often helps more than FAQs or the customer service provided by companies.
Create concrete incentives: animating business customers and employees to produce content
To motivate customers to generate useful content, companies have various options to choose from:
- A popular variant within B2C campaigns are UGC competitions. Such hashtag campaigns, also known as challenges, have premium prizes on offer for the winner with the best UGC upload. This also works in the B2B area, without such a high incentive – especially among popular brands like the above-mentioned Adobe campaign.
- B2B companies can ask customers for quotes for product reviews or concrete user scenarios – possibly in exchange for a kick-back or with a customer discount.
- Surveys via Instagram Stories or the creation of a user-generated FAQ list is also suitable for producing user-generated content geared towards providing added value.
The important thing among all these formats is to clearly communicate the conditions of the deal and the content desired, as well as to get permission to publish the user-generated content.
Some employees can be turned into brand ambassadors even easier: either a simple request to create content is enough or they can be animated to generate content with the help of perks such as prizes.
Best Practice: User Generated Content
Liebherr: Tower Crane World
With the Tower Crane World, the construction machines manufacturer Liebherr launched a community in 2016 for crane operators and fans. The community lives from user-generated content. The users have the chance to upload their crane photos, comment, like and share them. Whether pictures from the crane’s cabin or of the crane itself – all the posts end up directly on a map. In the process, an ever-growing world “from above” develops bit by bit: the Tower Crane World. It is not just a Liebherr world only; competitors’ machines can also be shared here.
The biggest advantage for the company: it can start up a direct dialogue with users and fans. They are provided with the latest product information from Liebherr as it comes in. The result is a huge community created by manufacturers, service technicians, crane operators and fans.
After just one year, the website recorded more than 50,000 visitors, who uploaded 1,500 pictures from 1,000 different locations. The success of Tower Crane World was honoured with the German Award for Online Communication 2018 in the Metal & Machines industry.