If you’re not already using user-generated content for your marketing strategy, the time to start is now. Destinations can gain a massive advantage by encouraging travelers to share their experiences with others.

With that in mind, let’s look at the main benefits of user-generated content and what it means for your company.

What is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content (UGC) is what it sounds like: content created by people who have used certain products or services. 

Here’s an example:

You’re thinking about buying a new TV, but you haven’t decided which brand is best. 

You get onto Instagram and see a friend post a picture of their new LG TV set up in their living room. They rave about the resolution quality and maybe even shout out the store for its helpful employees.

Encouraged by the firsthand experience from someone you trust, you head to that same store and buy the same TV.

That’s how UGC content works! The TV brand and store won your business simply because a past customer shared about their product.

Why UGC Is Crucial for Travel and Tourism Brands

UGC content is more important than ever before. Travelers are wary of overly-produced marketing messages. They’re far more likely to listen to non-brand opinions when choosing where to travel and spend their money. 

Travelers want to know that other real people have visited somewhere and loved it. And they want to see the evidence. User-generated content lets happy patrons display your brand authentically. The tourism industry is one of the best places to utilize UGC for marketing.

With those thoughts in mind, here are some of the most significant benefits of UGC you should be implementing for success.

1. UGC Is a Great Way to Distribute New Content

Marketing strategies depend on the people you’re trying to reach. With user-generated content, you can meet those people where they’re hanging out. UGC content shows customers enjoying your destination in new and exciting ways. In many ways, it’s effortless promotion through the simple power of sharing.

2. Put Your Customers’ Needs and Thoughts First

Everyone has their own story to tell. By encouraging travelers to share their own pictures or videos at your destination, you let their voices shine. And, at the same time, you achieve marketing messages that come from people instead of a brand.

Instead of speaking to your audience, you’re joining hands with them. UGC shows that you are open to whatever conversation your customers want to have.

3. Turn Current and Future Visitors into Brand Advocates

UGC provides a sense of trust and the human connection many people are craving after the 2020 pandemic.  They’ll need to see other people using and trusting your services before leaping to buy or visit.

It gives you a way to speak to your current travelers too, which saves you money over time through repeat business. Through UGC, you can engage directly with your visitors. Rather than simply guests, they can become brand advocates.

4. Create Trust Through Social Proof

Most shoppers have aversions to ads. They might see a sales banner and scroll on past. But another person sharing their experience does not have the same effect. 

Users are more likely to trust a product when they see it in action, shared in a non-salesy way. According to statistics from Status Labs, 79% of online users said they trust online reviews a much as recommendations from friends or family members.

UGC provides social proof of people enjoying your destination and its features. Other users can see the fun in action through people like them. Compared with traditional advertising, this type of content can be incredibly persuasive and trust-building.

5. You Spend Less on Marketing Efforts

Want to get the most out of your marketing strategy? Talk to your marketing company about UGC for your brand. Encouraging users to share their experiences gets people exciting while reducing the direct marketing you have to do.

6. Grow Your Social Media Channels

In 2020, over 3.6 billion people used social media, and that number is growing astronomically. As a result, social media is a fantastic place for destinations to reach past, current, and future visitors through UGC campaigns. And because social media is a happy pastime for many, you can connect with the positive energy that comes from people sharing what they love.

Examples of UGC social media strategies include:

  • Creating a custom hashtag
  • Asking customers to share pictures at your location
  • Starting photo or video contests
  • Taking a poll on Facebook or Twitter

7. Gain Key Audience Insights

Social media stats can tell you a lot about your target audience. For example, you can learn from which location people are sharing, when they’re talking about your destination, and much more. These details can help current and future advertising plans.

8. Boost Your SEO Ranking

Besides building trust and increasing content, UGC can help your SEO. Before buying something, 81% of shoppers do online research. And since UGC brings a constant flow of new content, it’s more likely to show up on search engines.

User-generated posts can also increase backlinks to your website, especially if users post about your company on their own websites or blogs.

9. Be More Than Just a Destination

Companies can’t exist without their customers. UGC gives the people who support you a voice. Rather than focusing solely on traditional ads, you can project the authenticity and humanity in what you do. 

What Can You Learn from User-Generated Content?

User-generated content can help you stay up-to-date on trends that are constantly changing. UGC also allows customers to keep in touch while showing brands what their customers cared about most.

Companies can also learn from their employees with UGC. Get your employees involved and find out what is most important to them about working for your organization.

How to Plan a UGC Content Strategy in 2021 (and Beyond)

If you’re not sure where to start with a UGC campaign, here are some tips. 

Focus

Decide what your plan will focus on. For example, you might aim to get more visitor photos of people at your destination. Use any marketing data you have to figure out what will connect best with your customer base.

Incentivize

Get travelers excited about participating. Ask them to use hashtags and tag your company. Offer free stuff in exchange for sharing their experiences. Post a QR code at your front desk or counter to encourage sharing.

Share, Share, Share

Plan how you’ll display any UGC you get. Maybe you’ll just reshare posts on social media, have a dedicated place on your website, or share content to your email list. If you get video content from visitors, you might turn it into a compilation video.

Pivot as Needed

Remember, things change fast online and in people’s lives. Have a plan, but don’t be afraid to switch things up if needed. Pay attention to trends and what’s happening in the world.

Need help with your user-generated content campaign? Advance Travel & Tourism will help with every aspect of your digital marketing strategy. Learn more about our services and marketing approach here.