COVID-19 has catalyzed vast changes in how we do business. Today, consumer behavior and activity has shifted almost completely to the digital space. eCommerce is up over 100%, social media usage has increased from pre-COVID levels on average 20% across channels, and nearly half of consumers believe that the changes in how they shop will sustain into the future.
While COVID-19 certainly accelerated this “new normal”, these changes had been coming upon us before 2020, which suggests to those watching the trends that the new normal is here to stay, even as the world begins to ease lockdown restrictions.
While budgets have been either preemptively or reactively reduced, and worried consumer bases consciously slowing their spending, marketers have been forced to quickly adapt to an unprecedented challenge with fewer resources. Fortunately, as the above stats show, people are creating and sharing content across social platforms at record numbers, and it’s these candid and intimate brand experiences - commonly referred to as user-generated content (UGC) - that consumers want and trust.
The trust consumers place in UGC is considerable - 90% of consumers reported that UGC has more influence over their decision making process than other forms of marketing, including search engine results.
Looking ahead to a post-COVID-19 world, brands will also need to work harder than ever to earn and fortify consumer trust and the number one way to generate trust with consumers is through common, real experiences. Most customers will need validation that a larger base has re-engaged with a brands’ products or services before they physically step back into stores themselves, whether that means traveling, dining out, or enrolling in Universities. Authentic UGC can be a sustainable, cost-effective, and persuasive source of content that brands will need to help build trust, increase revenue, and strengthen their relationships with existing and would-be customers.
At the very least, COVID has afforded us a glimpse into each other’s lives. We see news reporters speaking from their home offices, we take zoom meetings with VPs at their kitchen tables, and this frankness and candor has allowed us all to communicate more directly, honestly, and openly, with each other and with customers. Marketers, through UGC, can leverage this shift in perspective and online behaviour through the content that their customers are already generating (at historically higher rates). This will not only reduce marketing costs but can also help to facilitate human connection, and will measurably increase conversions.
Meltwater has recently partnered with TINT, a UGC Management Platform to help brands humanize their marketing to build trust and increase conversions along every step of the customer journey. With this partnership, Meltwater can now offer clients the option to publish UGC into any channel including websites, apps, screens, emails, or ads. Brands can now combine owned and earned in a curated way to display publicly across social channels, ads and other media types. Meltwater clients can source authentic user generated content across social media to generate new commercial opportunities and seamlessly handle rights management. And with Meltwater’s award winning AI and social analytics tools, brands can eliminate guesswork and manual processes by using image recognition and audience insights to surface highly engaging content curated to your brand that is most meaningful to your audience.
If you’d like to learn more about incentivizing your customer base to create UGC that you can leverage for your brand, you can register for our upcoming webinar here.