Confession: I like to shop. Clothes and shoes are my preferred purchases, but buying all of the “necessary” stuff can be enjoyable too. Like most millennials, I like to do some research before making a purchase in-store or online. With so many user-generated content (UGC) sources, including social media, peer reviews, blogs, and discount code sharing websites, it would be silly for me not to look into these before purchasing, right? Right.
Given that engaging in UGC is common practice among most millennials, brands are challenged to keep up with UGC by staying in the conversation. Earlier this year, Ipsos MediaCT released a “Social Influence Research Paper” about the media habits of millennials and how those habits affect purchase decisions. Millennials spend 18 hours a day consuming media. Not surprisingly, 30% of those hours are spent with UGC – primarily social media, but also email, text, chat, and discussions with others about brands. UGC gives marketers the opportunity to have greater access to millennials’ time by delivering memorable brand content through a trusted channel. This combination makes UGC incredibly influential on millennials’ purchase decisions. I mean, you wouldn’t go and spend $300 on a pair of boots unless you heard they were well made, worth the money, and saw how great they looked on your favorite blogger, right? Right.
But how do brands get involved in these conversations? “Social Influence Research Paper” offered up the following best practices to effectively drive social influence:
- Create conversations over content: Leverage social platforms and listen to the conversations occurring about their brand. By listening, brands can get a sense of what sparks support of the brand and use this to drive additional conversations that will ultimately influence opinions of those talking about the brand. Oh, your followers are talking about how they are in love with your new fall line? Invite them to share photos of their favorite items!
- Source influence from people that love the brand: Tap into existing brand advocates and engage them with programs that will inspire their UGC creation that they will share with their own followers. Notice an up and coming blogger proclaiming their love for your handbags? Invite them to be an insider and include them in programs that can inspire their future blogs.
- Think long-term, not short: Build long-term relationships with consumers, because influence is a long-term proposition. This will create a long-term advocate of the brand who will come to a brand’s defense if ever needed. You wouldn’t want a one-time shopper or short-term brand advocate – so make sure to continue building the relationship.
- Invest in your influencer relationships and reward them thoughtfully: Influencers should be recognized for the time they put in generating UGC. This can be done through VIP programs, events, product samplings, and free products. The thoughtfulness of the brand will go a long way. If someone is spending the time to write a review about that new coat they just bought, offer them 15% off their next purchase or even an exclusive sale invite. It’ll go a long way and your costumer will feel appreciated.
With U.S. millennials expected to have $1.4 trillion in spending power by 2020, brands need to ensure they are stepping up their UGC game. Although it can be challenging for brands to give up control of all messaging, the upside is worth it. Right? Right!