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5 Tactics To Drive Sales & Traffic using User Generated Content

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In the digital age, almost every person in America now carries a powerful camera and video recording device in their pocket. And Millennials, in particular, are not afraid to use them.

In July of 2015, users were uploading 400 hours of video every minute. That was up from 100 hours per minute just two years prior. By November, that number was up to 500 hours per minute. Needless to say, people are creating a lot of content that they are eager to share.

All of this user-generated content (UGC) can be a gold mine to businesses if you know how to harness its power. Here are 5 tactics for driving sales and web traffic using UGC.

1. Create and use hashtags

Most people are familiar with the concept of hashtags, but may not fully understand their importance or how to use them strategically. Hashtags can significantly raise your profile, expand your content reach, boost your SEO, amplify your brand to your target market and get your content found.

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There are actually two types of hashtags you want to utilize:

  • a brand hashtag
  • and campaign hashtags.

Your brand hashtag will either be the name of your business or a tagline. Candy bar manufacturer KitKat uses a variation on their famous tagline as their hashtag (#HaveABreak), whereas daytime talk show queen Ellen DeGeneres uses the very simple #Ellen as her main branding hashtag.

Campaign hashtags will change and will help raise awareness of certain campaigns. Beauty bar brand Dove, in particular, has made a science of campaign hashtags, with campaigns ranging from their one-day #SpeakBeautiful Twitter campaign to their long-lasting #InMyOwnSkin Instagram campaign.

Hashtags are simple brand messages that also stretch across all platforms to tie your marketing together and create one seamless community.

2. Create contests and giveaways to generate and gather content

The likelihood is, your users are probably already generating content about your product you don’t even know about. Since this is the age of the selfie, if your users are using your product or service, there is a good chance they are already posting, Tweeting and Instagramming about it.

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That is called marketing.

What you want to do is to harness that marketing for broadcast to a much larger audience.

Instead of hiring a marketing agency to create content, you can use new tech and software solutions that will help you make such processes easier. For instance, you can use software that will help you create a contest, and it will automatically gather user-generated content. This will take you far further in your user-generated content marketing efforts.

The truth is, as much as we might want to deny it, human beings have a serious herd mentality. We want to do what other people are doing, go where they are going and buy the things “they” are buying.

Yes, models, celebrities and other notable figures are people and if you can afford it, you can pay them a lot of money to get them to get their followers to buy your product. Or, you can go the easier (and cheaper) route and harness the power of the masses to do the same thing. One person may certainly be an influencer, but the herd itself might be an even bigger one.

3. Embed reviews on your website and product ads

A Local Consumer Review Survey compiled by BrightLocal showed that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. It also found that 85% of consumers read up to 10 reviews and 72% say that a positive review will help them trust a local business more.

web traffic

When making a major purchase such as an appliance, a smartphone, or even a car, a study showed that 67.7% of respondent’s purchasing decisions were significantly influenced by online reviews.

No matter how much money you spend on marketing, it will never have the impact that consumer reviews do on purchasing decisions. Consumers trust reviews more than they do advertisements or branding messages.

That doesn’t mean you don’t actually need marketing, it just means you can turbo-charge your marketing efforts by pairing it with customer reviews. Marketing will gain you visibility, but reviews gain you credibility.

4. Feature their content on product pages

There are many reasons social media is so popular but one of the main ones is that it gives “normal” people the opportunity to gain some level of celebrity status. Numerous studies have shown that one of the big reasons we are so addicted to social media is that every time we get a “like” or some type of recognition, our brain releases a small hit of dopamine.

web traffic

In other words, the attention we get from social media is quite literally addicting.

There is no doubt that customer loyalty is important. It is far less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to gain a new one. But creating customer loyalty isn’t simply about BOGO offers or points-based awards.

It’s about giving something back to your consumer.

It’s about making them feel like they get something for their loyalty.

By featuring user content on your product pages, what you give them is a platform to be noticed. You give them recognition and attention. In the end, that may get you far more loyalty than a free drink on their birthday.

5. Use AI and machine learning to find it

Depending on how big your brand is, there is a good chance that your users are already posting about it. Yes, you can create numerous channels for them to send it to you directly, but that may only garner you a fraction of the content actually available. AI and machine learning, however, can help even the smallest of businesses find content that is already being posted about their brand.

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NVIDIA is a company that creates graphics processors for gaming systems. They also use Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to scour the web looking for UGC.

First, they create Boolean queries to scour the web for any mention of their company or products. Then they use Natural Language Processing to determine “sentiment.” Machine learning is capable of picking out certain emotions from posts, such as anger, sentiment or joy.

From there, the program will label the post as either being positive, negative or neutral. Needless to say, a large, global company will sometimes encounter thousands of posts a day referencing their business or products.

Machine learning and AI helps them narrow down which ones bear looking at by a human eye to determine usability. While NVIDIA is a large enough company to hire a team to use AI and machine learning to accomplish these tasks in-house, the options for using AI and machine learning for even the smallest of businesses are also growing by leaps and bounds.


Gathering UGC to support your marketing efforts adds value to your brand on a number of levels. People trust other consumers more than they trust the brand itself. Which just makes sense, when you think about it.

When you consider hiring an employee, what they say about themselves is important of course, but may pale in comparison to what others say about them. Very few employers would hire an employee without checking their references, and consumers do the same thing.

Just to give you some idea of just how successful UGC campaigns can be, GoPro created a special video channel on their website for users to post content shot with their GoPros. Up to 6,000, GoPro tagged videos are uploaded to the channel every day.

User-Generated Content Works!

Jasmine Williams on FacebookJasmine Williams on Twitter
Jasmine Williams
Jasmine Williams covers the good and the bad of today's business and marketing. When she’s not being all serious and busy, she’s usually hunched over a book or dancing in the kitchen, trying hard to maintain rhythm, and delivering some fine cooking (her family says so).