As the holiday season arrives, brands everywhere are taking advantage of the most profitable time of the year to drive new revenue and introduce new products. However, the framework for the 2022 season is looking rather different compared to recent years. Brands must now promote their products against a backdrop of both inflation and a shift in consumer behaviour. While reports show more than half of consumers still turn to social media to help decide their holiday purchasing choices, who and what influences consumers online is starting to change.

A recent study revealed that 85% of consumers no longer find social media influencers to be authentic and relatable and have stated they are more likely to trust a brand that uses content from actual customers – better known as user-generated content (UGC) – than paid influencers. What’s more, 77% of these consumers also state they would be more inclined to purchase a product or service from brands that utilise UGC across their social media and online platforms. This shift in consumer preference towards UGC is largely due to the removal of the transactional element. While there is still value in influencer content, influencers are paid for their content which decreases their authenticity and trustworthiness while UGC offers an unbiased and unpaid take on a brand.

Due to this change in digital marketing preferences, brands hoping to stay competitive and have a successful holiday season will need to immediately begin integrating or increasing UGC within their campaigns. To help brands properly utilise UGC this holiday season and into the new year, here are some concrete steps brands can take:

Establish a loyal and long-lasting community

The holidays offer brands the perfect opportunity to establish a community and generate content, as there will never be a busier time when people are online, reuniting with families, shopping, etc. It’s been reported that 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than they do advertising and what better way to spread a brand’s message than when consumers are gathering at the dinner table with relatives they haven’t seen all year? When consumers see themselves and other people who are just like them on a company’s social media and marketing materials it helps create a real connection between customer and brand.

To help gather user experiences during the holiday bustle, brands can encourage consumers to leave reviews or provide feedback from their own experiences. This can help retain and attract customers, considering nearly two-in-three consumers between the ages of 18-44 would be more loyal to a brand if they requested and used their content in marketing initiatives. To help keep experiences positive, brands can stay ahead of the curve by providing answers and information that potential customers may have about the product/service or examples of the product/service in action.

Utilise past UGC to encourage future content

For brands who already have UGC in their arsenal, they should prioritise its usage over influencer content in their holiday marketing materials to not only meet consumer demand but also encourage other customers to share content. Companies can ask customers to share their experiences directly with the brand via an upload widget on their website next to other UGC or via social media. As the average consumer will most likely need a little coaching to ensure the content they’re submitting aligns with the brand’s message and quality, brands should also provide clear direction and tips for consumers who are new to taking photos, videos, etc.

Brands can further push for content by also offering incentives such as discounts or additional brand swag. By promoting UGC across their platforms, brands will produce a snowball effect that will inspire more consumers to upload content in hopes of being featured. Not to mention, brands are also able to give consumers a voice, cultivating a great sense of trust and loyalty that will go well beyond the holiday months.

Look towards a management platform to streamline acquisition

In order to keep up with the fast pace of the holiday season and manage a large amount of content being both submitted and pushed out, brands will need to have the ability to archive, organise and manage the content. One of the best ways brands can maximise the use of UGC this holiday season is by turning to a management platform that allows companies to easily store, search and retain the rights to the content. Taking it a step further, brands should also look for platforms that have the tools to share content with third-party vendors securely, reward creators, and ultimately help facilitate creator relationships with one-to-one communication to keep relationships alive after the hype of the holidays has receded.

It’s no question that the holidays offer brands a multitude of opportunities to increase sales but only if marketers understand where their customers are turning to when deciding their purchases. This holiday season provides companies with the perfect opportunity to transition their marketing initiatives and acquire user-generated content that can be used as more consumers continue changing their online preferences. the coming years.

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