April 27, 2017

The shopping experience and purchase behavior for millennials has shifted dramatically since the explosion of social media. Most products that consumers would normally find in a local shopping mall are now advertised on Instagram next to a picture of your aunt. This process, known as social selling, has invited brands into social networks, interacting with users while making a profit. Combine that with user-generated content (UGC) solutions, and you have the most effective online marketing and advertising channels possible.



Implementing a UGC solution into your social selling strategy involves repurposing content created by your brand advocates as a direct conversion point for prospects. For example, if our customer, Cheap Caribbean, earns the rights to an Instagram photo of a family at an affiliated resort in the Bahamas and adds that image to its Facebook page with a link to buy a vacation package, that is social selling with a UGC solution.


Traditionally, marketers viewed social media as a tool just for building brand awareness. While this was the initial use for most brands, the ecommerce landscape has changed so much in the last five years that it’s foolish at this point not to sell on social media. Billions of dollars are spent every year through this medium, both on the advertising and consuming sides, for good reason. According to Business Insider, shoppers that interact with UGC are 97 percent more likely to convert with a retailer than customers who do not.


Consumers view UGC as social validation of your product in a familiar medium. Marketers and advertisers are pressured to prove ROI; using UGC for social selling is a low-cost way to boost sales. The data sold by social media platforms is also good reason to invest. Just recently, Facebook announced it would provide marketers with more precise user-data, making social selling an even more ideal e-commerce medium looking forward.


The methods that companies utilize for selling socially with UGC are developing rapidly. A recent innovation we’ve seen is through the Instagram story feature. Influencers can now attach links directly to their story so those viewing can purchase the item being promoted without ever leaving the app and manually searching. Check out @amberfillerup’s page for examples


Ikea also uses UGC to promote products on its social pages:

The question posed by Ikea is rhetorical, but it evokes a thought, engages the community, and encourages further participation. These three effects are at the core of any social selling strategy and are only more effective by adding UGC. The user generated photo adds a layer of trust between the consumer and company, in a way saying, “Hey look at this person similar to you they like our products and can use them creatively. Can’t you?” Generating rhetorical conversations with your audience will always lead to more clicks.


Why has there been a shift?

Many old school marketers might wonder what has changed. Traditional methods were working nicely before, why change it? Much to the chagrin of the company, the buyer is now in as much control, and just as knowledgeable, as any salesperson. Companies now have to level with the buyer and meet them where its community spends time: social media. Younger buyers do not hang out in malls like they used to. Why drive there when you can lay on your couch, and make purchases while watching Netflix and listening to Spotify.


Additionally, the contemporary marketer prefers the social shift. With all the trackable information provided through social media—likes, shares, and clicks— marketers can now validate their work in a comprehensive and accurate way.


Using UGC only validates the shift towards online purchasing. People like to be recognized, and when brands repost images or videos that a consumer uploaded, it encourages others to create their own UGC and share it.


Best Practices When Selling on Social


Before delving in, it’s important to understand the two ways to use UGC solutions for social selling:


  1. Through the brand’s account. This involves posting pictures and statuses and has more of a marketing tone to it.

  2. Through paid advertisements. Ads on social include those displayed on the right side of the page on Facebook or in your Instagram feed. Often these are algorithmic-based and pay to play.


Social Selling Tips


Always include an image

You will have a tough time catching someone’s attention without an image. The picture accompanying the post should be product specific—not your brand’s logo. Keep it simple too. A distracting background can take away from the value of what you’re selling.


Don’t try to sell a concept

Sell one particular item when posting on social. If you have a product you believe is perfect to promote, spend time finding a user generated image of that product, then post it. Posts with multiple products or links usually distract users when scrolling through their feed. One person that clicks when they see a specific item will be much more likely to convert than ten people who clicked on a generic homepage link. The more navigation your consumers must do, the less likely they are to find the product you’re selling.


Depending on your audience, you might want to consider different methods of linking. For older audiences, pasting the raw link might be more visually guiding, whereas, younger audiences, they might want to see subtle hyperlinks.


Keep copy short, let visuals do the talking

No offense, content writers, but social media is not your time to shine. Keep your social selling posts to a max of three sentences: what you’re selling, who is wearing it, and where can people find it. Anything else is superfluous.


Engage your community

Expecting the community to engage you is a poor strategy. It’s like meeting new people at a party—you can’t just stand around and expect people to start conversations with you. Reach out to your audience, and they will react. A simple way of doing this is liking and commenting on posts. This adds a human element to company profile pages and reminds users that a real person exists beyond that company logo.


Engaging with your community will also help your team understand the language, humor, and tone of your audience. If your audience consists of teenagers, feel free to employ contemporary slang in your copy. Don’t get carried away though. Consumers can spot a fake from miles away.



Why Use a Tool?

Incorporating a UGC solution to your social selling strategy is a fantastic plan, but you must have the right tools to legally make it possible. Remember that using content for commercial purposes requires more legal scrutiny. Not all platforms take this into account though, so when researching, remember how important it is to clearly follow copyright rules.


While manually scrolling through social accounts is still a viable method, implementing a UGC-specific tool will get you where you need to be much quicker. This then allows the marketing department to be more effective and efficient, making you and your team an invaluable resource.


How can a UGC platform help marketers/advertisers sell?

A UGC platform will expedite the process of finding the right image to promote your product. Some allow you to search for a post by time, location, and tag, making real-time content sourcing a simple task.


Other platforms even create galleries on a brand’s website for those looking to add a visually appealing and inviting section of user pictures and videos. Check out the gallery created for a hashtag contest for “The Secret Life of Pets.”



A contest like this generates awareness of the movie, while also inviting people from all walks of life to participate in a fun contest. When it comes to marketing events, nothing has the dollar value of a successful hashtag contest.


Looking for a UGC platform?

ShareRoot is the most legally secure UGC platform on the market, and it is the only platform that automates the legal agreement process for acquiring rights to user photos and videos. If legal is a major concern hindering your UGC efforts, contact us today to learn how you can quickly legally access rights to user-generated content.


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