If you have not been using User Generated Content(opens in a new tab) (UGC) in your marketing strategy, now is as good a time as ever to get on it. Perhaps the most popular example of UGC is someone posting a photo or video related to your brand, and tagging your account or using your hashtags in the caption. Reviews and testimonials are technically UGC as well, but some other examples could be blogs or contests with users. There are even a few points as to why, now more than ever, the benefits of UGC can help your tour operation in a big way. Before going into those, it is important to first touch on why UGC is even a fantastic opportunity in the non-pandemic, normal travel industry.
For starters, Statista(opens in a new tab) estimates that there were around 3.6 billion users across social media platforms in 2020. That’s a little under half of the world in case you were wondering. On top of that, it’s projected to grow up to 4.41 billion by 2025. At the base of any argument in favor of UGC, these numbers are key. While you may not be able to interact with every single social media user (although let’s hope you can get 3.6 billion minus your competitors’ accounts) there is an entire ocean of users to explore and interact with! Unlike the world’s waterways which are shrinking, the “ocean” of people for you to interact with is only getting bigger.
On top of the potential to interact with a gigantic user base, keep in mind the trend that customers trust reviews by other customers more than anything else! While this is most likely currently reflected on your websites via testimonials, using social media can take it a step further. Instead of seeing content from random strangers (even though most customers seem to already trust them), getting UGC is a great way to be exposed to your customers’ friends and family via their social networks. Seeing other’s interact causes a chain reaction which encourages and motivates more users to do the same.
Real People, Real Opinions
The best reason to use UGC is simple: authenticity(opens in a new tab). When your marketing content is coming from someone outside of your company, people often find that content more authentic. Think about movies for a minute. When you see trailers and some voice-over is saying “it’s the best hit of the summer,” you wouldn’t automatically agree and pay to see the movie. A few days later you hear your friend talking about how great the movie was, however, you are now more likely to consider buying that movie ticket. This additional human account makes a huge difference in validating the experience, because this person giving a review or sharing content is doing it on their own accord. The idea of bias can be strong when customers are considering what to spend their money on. Would you trust the voice-over that is being paid to say it’s a great movie, or would you trust your friend who is simply giving you a real opinion based on their experience. Success stories with UGC are not hard to find, but here are a few of our favorite UGC successes(opens in a new tab).
As Recommended By Locals
Apart from the base reasons to take advantage of UGC, the pandemic situation has created an opportunity to leverage its benefits. Companies like Phocuswright and TripAdvisor(opens in a new tab) continue to highlight with their travel research that domestic travel will be the most popular style of travel for the near future. Now is the time to interact with your local market – and UGC represents a fantastic tool to do so. Many tourist sites began to act on local initiatives with campaigns like #staycation hashtags. Take advantage of this by promoting and interacting with any of your destination hashtags or social communities. If your tours visit some local shops or markets, using something like #shoplocal or #localpride can be great ideas as well. Of course, the whole point of UGC is to encourage people to share posts on your hashtags, so make sure it’s visible. Place it on your website, your social bios, and don’t be afraid to reach out to followers and remind them to use it as well!
The same Phocuswright and TripAdvisor White Paper that predicts a domestic travel trend also showcases how visitors are more concerned with a destination’s safety when they think about booking. Hint: UGC can help you out with this one too! Specifically, the natural trustworthiness and authenticity of UGC can be extremely helpful in declaring to customers that your destination is not only awesome and full of great photo ops, but also that it is safe. As safety is now a primary concern of many travelers, make sure to promote the safety of your operations, and the safety of your destination as a whole.
Ultimately, while you may be doing a great job at promoting your tours, and posting fantastic photos on your social media, UGC is an additional tool that builds confidence amongst your potential customers. If they see other people who have taken the tours having a great time, so much so that they posted about it, this will certainly encourage them to seek out the same memorable experience!
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