Marketing is one of the keys to growth. Whether you have just started your children’s activity or education business or you are looking to increase enrollment and scale, getting the word out about your offerings is crucial.
At Sawyer, we work with thousands of educators to start and scale their businesses through best practices, powerful tools, and useful resources. In our articles about marketing for small businesses and social media tips for businesses, and in our conversations with educators, we talk a lot about user-generated content (UGC). However, we’ve gotten the same question over and over: “What is user-generated content and how can it help my business grow?”
In this article, we’ll outline everything you need to know about UGC, why UGC is important, and provide you with UGC examples so you can make the most out of your marketing.
- UGC meaning: What is UGC?
- ~User-generated content vs professional
- User-generated content importance: Why is UGC so important?
- User-generated content examples
UGC meaning: What is UGC?
Before you can start collecting and featuring user-generated content, you probably need to know what UGC is and UGC even means. User-generated content refers to any content that is created by consumers and not the brand itself. UGC can be written reviews and testimonials, photos, videos, affiliate marketing, or any other piece of material created by a consumer.
User-generated content vs professional
When you are creating marketing assets for your business, it is important to use high-quality images that are edited so that prospective parents feel you are professional. (For tips on how to improve your Smartphone photography, check out our guide). This is necessary for content that you create yourself as the brand.
However, user-generated content does not need to always follow those rules. One of the main reasons that UGC is so beneficial to your marketing strategy is that 60% of consumers say that user-generated content is the most authentic form of content, according to a study done by Stackla. And that same study found that 86% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they will support.
Therefore, when you gather photos and videos from your students and their families, you do not need to worry too much about editing them. Yes, they still need to be of a high enough quality that a viewer can see what is going on and trust that your business is a safe and secure place for their child. But, they don’t need to be professionally edited and they certainly shouldn’t look staged.
User-generated content importance: Why is UGC so important?
Now that you know what UGC is, it is time to learn why UGC is so important. As we mentioned above, user-generated content is an incredible selling point for consumers. But why?
UGC builds trust
Consumers are becoming less inclined to support big corporations than they had been in the past. Instead, they are looking for businesses that they trust to put their money and support behind. UGC is a great way to show prospective families that your business is one to be trusted.
Adweek found that 47% of millennials and 36% of baby boomers say that they trust UGC whereas 25% of both demographics say that they trust branded content. Similarly, according to Hootsuite, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know and 70% trust online consumer opinions.
Parents and older children rely on UGC to make decisions
Parents who are looking for enriching and safe activities for their children rely on user-generated content to make decisions.
Jeff Fromm, an expert on Millennials explains that “Millennial parents today are embracing parenthood in an entirely different way than previous generations...parents are more likely to maintain a more democratized household rather than an authoritarian one. As a result, brands must rapidly adjust their engagement strategies to connect with a new generation that is redefining what it means to be a parent.”
That means that user-generated content from happy parents and students is the best way for you to increase enrollment and scale up your business. With both parents and potentially the students themselves (depending on the age of your students) looking online for their next favorite class or activity, strong UGC is vital.
According to a study done in 2019 by Statista, user-generated content outperforms all other digital marketing. They reported that 90% of the consumers surveyed said that UGC influenced their purchasing decisions. In addition, across all industries UGC increased conversion rates by 161% on average. It’s difficult to argue with the facts. User-generated content is a better marketing strategy than any other in your arsenal.
User-generated content examples
UGC sounds pretty good, right? If you are wondering how to get started gathering and showcasing UGC, we’ve outlined some user-generated content examples to help.
Put out a call to families who already participate in your classes and activities and ask them to submit photos via social media of their children enjoying your business. Make it worth their while by providing an opportunity to win something small like a free class or a gift card to Starbucks. Then, you can reshare the photos on social media or collect them to build up a photo library of user-generated content that you can use as part of your marketing efforts.
Create a hashtag for your company that is easy to remember and ask parents to use it when posting photos or reviews of your classes. Hashtags are great because they collect all of the posts under one umbrella so they are easy for you to find later. Plus, prospective parents can use the hashtag to see what others are saying about your business, which will increase their chances of signing up for a class.
Student or teacher takeovers are a fun way to increase authenticity and share your company’s social media accounts with a wider audience. An example of a popular takeover format is a “life in the day of a teacher or student,” giving prospective parents and students a more in-depth look at your company. If you plan to do this, make sure that the students and teachers who are taking over the account share the information with their personal followers before, during, and after the takeover. Plus, make sure they keep it on brand and professional.
Reviews and testimonials
Asking parents and students to write reviews of your classes and activities is a great way to gather and then showcase why people love your business. Whether you get the reviews in a form or survey, as a comment online, or in a video, you can share the quotes on your social media platforms. Check out our guide to learn how to ask customers for reviews so that you can increase your library of online reviews of your business.
We hope this article has helped answer all of your burning questions about user-generated content and how UGC can help increase enrollment and grow your business. If you are looking for more guidance on digital marketing, including Instagram marketing strategies, for your children’s activity business, the resources offered by Sawyer can help.