Boost Trust and Authenticity with User-Generated Photos


Published: December 28, 2020 Author: Jason Holicky - Hometown Design Studio Inc.
Boost Trust and Authenticity with User-Generated Photos

According to Forbes, consumer trust is at an all-time low. We already know how much trust is a factor when acquiring new customers and keeping current customers happy, so we need to take a look at how people are deciding who they consider trustworthy. The answer lies in providing your customers with exceptional service and demonstrating your accountability when things go wrong. 

User-Generated Photos

How, then, can you show prospects this side of your business when people seem hesitant to trust your words? Perhaps the conversation will seem more authentic and dependable when it comes from another customer rather than yourself. By integrating user-generated photos and other content into your marketing strategies, you can achieve the boost of trust and authenticity you’re looking for.

What is User-Generated Content?

In a nutshell, user-generated content consists of photos, videos, and text such as reviews, comments, and posts that are generated by people rather than brands. These people are consumers themselves, and they are not paid or otherwise compensated for the content they post. Their opinions of the brands, products, or services they are talking about are not always going to be favorable, which lends much-needed credibility to their content.

In fact, consumers are 2.4 times more likely to see user-generated photos and other content as authentic compared to what’s created and shared by brands or in stock photos. People do not always want to see polished images and videos with high production values designed to influence their opinions. Instead, they want to see what real people are doing with the products and their genuine experience with services.

What are the Different Types of User-Generated Content?

There are three main categories of user-generated content: text, videos, and photos. How and where these bits of material appear on the web is virtually unlimited and can include things like social media content, reviews or testimonials, live streams, forums, and more. In this post, we’re going to focus on the two most common and useful types of content for your marketing strategies.

First up is social media, a place where people know they can learn how people really feel about a variety of subjects. Social media users share hundreds of thousands of photos, videos, and opinions every day, generally as updates about their daily lives. For example, people love to check in when they dine at a restaurant and include photos of their meals or share a picture of an item recently purchased at the store.

Next are reviews and testimonials. In some cases, you may be collecting these yourself from in-person methods like comment cards or by sending follow-up emails asking for a customer’s input. Reviews and testimonials can also be collected on your social media pages, and sites like Yelp and Google frequently contain photos, videos, and other multimedia attachments.

How to Use User-Generated Content

Integrate User-Generated Content Into Your Marketing Strategies

First, it’s essential to get permission from someone before sharing their content, even though it will often be posted in a public forum and not subject to copyright or other privacy laws. There is a bit of etiquette expected when using user-generated images if you want to get the best results. This includes making sure to always credit the original creator when you’re using their work and tagging their profiles when sharing on social sites. Plus, sites like Yelp have their own rules about sharing content posted to their pages that you must comply with.

Once you have the rules and conventions down, the rest comes down to a bit of diligence and creativity. Along with searching for any mentions of your brand and staying on top of posted reviews, you can also ask your social media followers to submit content, and branded hashtags are a great way to keep this content organized and easy to find. Email subscribers are another group that might be willing to submit content, too.

Contests and giveaways are another way to get your customers to submit content. By offering a little something in return, those who may have been reluctant to share their content may find themselves inspired. From stumbling across the occasional photo to a wave of requested submissions, make sure to keep track of all this content so you can use it now as well as down the line.

What is the Future of User-Generated Content?

People are not likely to stop sharing their photos, videos, and comments as part of their social lives, so the future of user-generated content is bright for brands and the consumers who love them. We can already see where the trends are heading by taking a peek at what’s happening between brands and consumers on TikTok.

Along with a substantial Creator Fund used to financially reward users who generate a lot of attention for the social media site, brands like Colgate, Cheetos, and Fenty have partnered with organic brand advocates who started by simply posting videos of themselves. For example, Ocean Spray has recently enjoyed considerable attention from a skateboarder posting smooth videos of his travels while enjoying cranberry beverages and again from a user who wrote a song about their canned, jellied cranberry sauce. In turn, Ocean Spray rewarded the creators with free products and other goodies.

While we all cannot expect to stumble on viral customer content featuring our products so favorably, what we can gather is that the reason all of these brands got so lucky was because they stayed out of the way. Remember, if user-generated content is needed to bring trust and authenticity to your brand, you must let the users create what they like in a way that is authentic for them and appealing to their followers. You only want to try and work your way into the conversation after the fact.

If you want to put user-generated photos and content to work for you, we can help. We have a proven record of helping brands get more interaction from their customers to boost trust and authenticity among other customers and new prospects. Contact us to get started today.

About the Author

Creative Director Jason co-founded Hometown Design Studio of New Lenox, IL in 2013. He spends his days guiding and consulting industrial clients and small businesses owners on their marketing strategy and projects. Jason enables everyone to be successful and grow their business by sharing his knowledge and experience.
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