Brief #82: Stop the “salesy” marketing tactics

This content originally appeared on September 30, 2021 as part of the Future of Marketing weekly email series. Subscribe here.

Welcome to Future of Marketing.

Each week, we send you the most relevant trends, resources, and strategies in social and user-generated content (UGC) from leading marketers and brands around the globe. 

Today, we’re discussing…

  • Visuals > Text
  • Using hashtags for social listening
  • #BrandCrush: We’re Not Really Strangers 💘

Visuals > Written Text 

Ninety-three percent (93%) of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by customers more than content created by brands. That’s because user-generated content (UGC) paints a picture by showing your product in use. 

For example, before you purchase something (like jeans), you’ll likely wonder about their size, color, and how they look depending on your body type. “Instead of looking at the written specs, I can see the same information visually and get a much more powerful impression of the product,” shared Adweek.  

In lieu of written testimonials like this:

A text testimonial from a customer on Abercrombie's product page

Brands should use UGC to show visual testimonials – like Rent The Runway does here: 

Rent The Runway displaying UGC as visual testimonials alongside text-based reviews to give users a visual idea of how their clothing looks

Notice Rent The Runway shows photos submitted by customers alongside their text-based reviews. If you click the image above, you’ll see they also display UGC where most eCommerce brands typically show their own product photos. 

But brands shouldn’t stop there. 

Maximize the potential of UGC by repurposing this content across various channels your audience will come in contact with – product pages, social media profiles, paid ads, print materials, and so much more. 

Using hashtags for social listening 

There are several ways to get customers to share content about your brand or product. In fact, fifty percent (50%) of customers wish brands would tell them what type of content to create. 

If you’re not sure what type of content to reshare across your marketing channels, try social listening by scrolling through social media platforms like TikTok – where the average engagement rate for nano- influencers was 15.15% in Q2 2021 (compared to 8.57% on YouTube). 

What type of content is your target audience creating? What are people engaging with or tagging their friends on? Are people mentioning your brand? What formats are they using? What’s trending? Why? 

“If brands pay close attention to what consumers say on TikTok, they can gain valuable insights on product assortment, content creation, marketing strategies, and much more,” shared Jia Wertz, Forbes Contributor. 

For example, the hashtag #Abercrombie has been trending lately – over 100M views on TikTok, to be exact – where users have been tagging the brand across their style inspiration and “Fall wardrobe haul” posts.

UGC from #Abercrombie on Tiktok

The lesson: Brands like Abercrombie can source their hashtag (i.e. #Abercrombie) for UGC – and reuse this content across online channels, in-store, or in other physical locations. This cuts production costs, builds trust with consumers, and gives marketing a more humanized feel.

What we’re learning 

#BrandCrush: We’re Not Really Strangers 💘

Each week in #BrandCrush, we highlight exceptional brands that are channeling their customers' voice to connect more authentically with their audience.

 If you’ve never played We’re Not Really Strangers (WNRS)… you totally should. 

“What started as an Instagram account creating vulnerable and real content that asks introspective, thought-provoking questions, has turned into a card game, expansion packs, and a movement all about empowering meaningful connections,” The Shorty Awards shared

Across their social media, you’ll find WNRS sharing a combination of beautiful, thoughtfully curated content created by fans and the brand. On their product pages, they also blend visual UGC with brand content as their main product images.

WNRS product page showing a blend of brand images and UGC alongside the product description and "add to cart" button

When you research or engage with the WNRS brand, you feel as if a friend is talking to you – which makes you want to become a customer or engage with the brand. 

The truth is, marketers often fall into the trap of creating too much brand content because it feels like the easiest option – but by blending in the voices of your customers, you actually save time creating content… and you take your brand voice from salesperson to trusted friend