With the COVID-19 crisis at large, learn how brands can engage their online community with authentic UGC

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With the COVID-19 crisis at large, learn how brands can engage their online community with authentic UGC

Over the past weeks, brands across the world have been dealing with a major blow to their daily business models: the COVID-19 crisis. 

To prevent further spread of the disease, the global community has been asked to stay indoors, meaning brands across industries have also been made to close the doors of their brick and mortar stores and instead look towards eCommerce. Due to this major change, brands must adapt to a new style of working remotely while continuing to reach customers – all from within their own homes.

As potential customers are spending an increased amount of time online, seeking out interactions that they can no longer get from the outside world, brands are presented with an even more potent opportunity to engage their audiences through online social interactions. To overcome the barrier of reaching customers at home, brands must embrace social media as a way to stay in contact. 

This challenge has many brands turning to the already tried-and-true method of engaging customers that has only grown in effectiveness with the crisis: User Generated Content (UGC)

With the potential of an extended quarantine period, learn how your brand can make better use of this time by using the UGC strategy to improve engagement with customers on social media, while increasing your online conversions. 

Use this time at home more wisely 

It’s no surprise that the world’s media consumption is drastically changing in the wake of the COVID crisis. With the inability to connect in-person with friends, family, and co-workers on a daily basis, people are turning to the networks on their phones, tablets, and computers to get the social interaction that they crave. 

This can be seen across the globe with expected increases in social media time allocation at 58% in Spain, 39% in the United States, 32% in the UK, 39% in France, and 53% in Italy. One study found that 62% of people in Spain are generating content during the crisis, which is 30% more than before COVID-19 (see below). 

This crisis is forcing our daily interactions to move online, specifically to social networks, meaning that brands have the opportunity to leverage this outlet to enter the quarantined lives of their customers. 

Not only that, but you actually have more time to focus on genuinely connecting with customers on social media. And, moreover, they have more time to respond by taking cool pictures and videos featuring your products and sharing them with you. 

This is the key to a winning User Generated Content strategy. As customers are posting content featuring your products, you not only have that engagement on social media to show for it, but you also have new content that you can use on your website to help increase online sales. 

This is especially useful for industries that traditionally struggle to generate User Generated Content for example consumer goods, groceries, food, office supplies, or even online schools for cooking, music, yoga, sports, etc. 

Products of this nature are in high demand in the age of COVID, plus consumers want to show off their interactions with these products on social media. As a brand, you can leverage this increase of interest by asking your customers to share content that they create with you to improve your eCommerce buying experience. 

Once you’ve started generating this content, it’s time to use it to improve your eCommerce experience. 

Get your eCommerce to stand out while everyone is online

What we’re learning with the COVID crisis is that it’s not only important to acknowledge the situation – but to do it in a smart way. People these days don’t need a brand to pretend like everything is okay. They want to see you as humans that are living through the same surreal experience of staying home just like them. 

That’s another reason why a User Generated Content strategy is so valuable for eCommerce brands. It’s giving a face to the people who are using your products while in quarantine and showing that the brand is right there beside them through this entire experience. 

Plus, this kind of content can help improve the connection between social media (where customers are spending a lot of time right now) and your online store, helping your eCommerce to stand-out while everyone is online. 

As the public is pushed inside, eCommerce has become the crucial link between brands and consumers. And this has meant an increase of online purchases for many industries. 

One study on the eCommerce sector has found that the Corona outbreak is speeding up the shift from physical retail to online stores, a change that was expected to come eventually but has now been turbo-charged. 

According to CC Insight’s data map that compares eCommerce behavior from the last 7 days (data sample taken April 6, 2020) with the same period in 2019, many countries are seeing an increase in online revenue including the US (+37%), Canada (+41%), Australia (+54%), and much of Europe. 

Poland for example is seeing a +127% increase in eCommerce revenue as compared to the same time last year. 

In another extensive piece of market research on the effects of COVID, we see that Spanish consumers, for example, have increased their online purchases for entertainment products at home, with another study from Doofinder showing that the online traffic for nutrition, sports, pharmaceutics, and pet care have increased profoundly in this region. 

The same market research within the UK shows an increase in online spend for groceries and household supplies. While the US has seen an increase in online spend for food, entertainment, books, personal care products, and household supplies. Plus, an increase in remote learning, wellness apps, and delivery of groceries and meals. 

And even for the industries or regions that aren’t seeing the same level of results, there’s something to be said about being the brand that can manage to stand out despite the situation. 

So how can brands do this with UGC?

When customers post content featuring your products on social media, your brand can collect this content through a UGC platform and then immediately upload this into your eCommerce store. This content can then be made shoppable, meaning that the customers on your site can make a direct connection between the social image and the product within it.

Just like jeans brand Salsa Jeans is doing on their site with their COVID-19 specific carousels. 

As Europe’s largest visual commerce, we’ve already seen how this method helps eCommerce brands across industries. But now, more than ever, brands have the opportunity to leverage this strategy during the crisis. 

The public wants to see the human side of the brand. Show them by leveraging UGC into authentic visual reviews that paint a picture of how your brand is just what they need to get through this. 

Visual reviews that allow customers to visualize your products when they can’t see them in the store

One of the main concerns of the COVID-19 situation is whether or not buyer confidence will have an impact on eCommerce sales. For example, one study found that 58% of online brands believe that the Coronavirus will have some impact on buyer confidence, with 22% saying that it will have a significant impact. 

While this is a justified fear, there are ways to build confidence in your products even through this unstable period.

By integrating User Generated Content into home or product pages, these images and videos become virtual reviews, which demonstrate that, despite the crisis, your brand is still valuable, trustworthy, and something that’s helping people cope with the crisis. 

It also gives customers a better idea of what your products will look like in real-life since they don’t have an opportunity to see it in store. 

If someone sees one of your happy customers enjoying your product at home, they’ll feel more interested in doing exactly the same. Plus, they’ll be able to gage how the product will fit, how well it works, or if it will match their home, depending on the product. 

See how United Colors of Benetton uses this strategy in their eCommerce store below. 

When a customer lands on your site, it’s more important than ever to get them to convert. You can do so by giving them a concrete idea of how much customers love your products with UGC. 

How Bronx Shoes is using this strategy during the COVID crisis

Bronx Shoes was already leveraging a UGC strategy in their eCommerce store to positive results. So when the crisis hit, they knew they wanted to up this strategy to continuing engaging with customers. 

With their new hashtag #StayHomeWithBronx, they encourage their customers to post content featuring their high-quality shoes to be used within their eCommerce store. 

The brand is also sharing videos and other interesting online content to keep their audience engaged and interested in interacting with the brand. 

It’s a smart tactic: as customers join their digital events, they’ll surely share pictures on social media with the brand’s hashtag. Then, this content can be collected through the Flowbox platform and integrated directly into the UGC examples and carousels on their website. 

Leveraging UGC in your eCommerce during COVID

Now it’s your turn to try out this strategy within your own online store. Whether you’re just starting out or you already have content posted by customers on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, a UGC platform will help you achieve the results you’re looking for. 

If you’re interested in seeing how this would look in your own store, request a demo of the Flowbox platform. We’ll explain to you exactly how this technology will help your brand improve your eCommerce performance, despite the current situation. 

Remember, now more than ever, it’s important to convert each and every visit to your website. So use the best, most innovative tools and strategies to ensure your success.