Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year and it’s just around the corner.
The festivities usually begin the moment people finish their last bite of Turkey, but this year things are slightly different, and with many major stores keeping their doors firmly shut this Black Friday, it’s more important than ever for brands to stand out online.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in the number of people favoring online shopping, which means we’ll see more online shoppers this year than last. This provides ample opportunity for brands to attract new audiences and convert one-time buyers into life-long customers.
One of the easiest and most powerful ways to build trust and nurture existing customers is through user-generated content (UGC). Leveraging it this Black Friday will create an authentic presence amid the flurry of deals, provide social proof for on-the-fence buyers, and generate a buzz around your brand.
Why User Generated Content is Key on Black Friday
Think about the sheer volume of brands that will be clamoring for custom this Black Friday.
Along with the obvious struggles that this year has thrown at retailers, an increasing number of brands have opened up online stores, and have seriously implemented an online strategy this year.
Read: There’s more competition than ever.
Standing out will be difficult, but it’s also never been more important to be trustworthy and credible - especially if you want to take advantage of the swathes of new online shoppers (who, let’s face it, are probably more skeptical than most if it’s taken them this long to venture online).
UGC not only attracts new buyers, it also engages your most active and loyal customers, which can instantly give you a competitive edge.
These people are your biggest advocates, and given consumers are far more likely to listen to their peers than brands themselves, this is a crucial stepping stone to Black Friday success.
The authentic engagement driven by UGC instinctively builds trust - not to mention customer content is far easier and quicker to collect than creating your own.
Basically, sharing an influx of raw customer stories will likely have a better effect (and create more of a buzz) than painstakingly creating one well-polished piece of content to share over and over again.
How to Leverage UGC on Black Friday
1. Create a Designated Hashtag to Collect UGC
Hashtags remain a great way for shoppers to find products they’re interested in. They’re also great for creating mini-feeds of customer content that focuses on your brand.
Remember, Black Friday encourages shoppers to try out new brands, and social media is the perfect place for them to discover new products and incredible deals.
Tap into this flurry of social activity by creating a hashtag specifically for your main deals, or even for specific products (like your bestsellers).
The more times consumers see your hashtag popping up in their feeds, the more curious they’ll become - which means there’s a high chance they’ll hop over to your site to see what you’re all about.
Encourage shoppers to use the hashtag in the lead up to Black Friday by sharing their past experiences with your brand, and continue to encourage them on the day itself. The more customers that share their photos, reviews, and stories, the better.
Top Tips for Making the Most of Your Black Friday Hashtag:
Reach out to existing customers and invite them to share their experience using your designated hashtag
Choose a hashtag that’s memorable, but that also ties into your brand
Add your hashtag to emails, social media profiles, and other key hotspots to maximize its exposure on the big day
2. Share UGC on Social Media
Once your hashtag has picked up traction, you can start curating the UGC you’ve received and sharing it across your social channels.
There’s a high chance your existing customers and new potential buyers will be hanging out on social media during Black Friday so they can make the most of the available deals.
Leverage this by being where your customers are.
Stay front-of-mind by regularly sharing UGC - whether that’s customer photos, reviews, or videos - throughout the day to keep interest piqued and the buzz circulating.
Take a leaf out of outdoor brand Rei’s book - they encourage customers to use their designated hashtag and then share relevant, high-quality UGC captured on their Instagram feed.
Top Tips for Sharing UGC on Social Media:
Thank customers for sharing their UGC and ask permission if you can use it before resharing
Spread UGC throughout the day to reach customers in different time zones and to keep the spark alive
Use a platform to find, organize, get rights to, and reshare content that customers have posted
3. Reward Customers That Share UGC
Who doesn’t like being rewarded? No one, that’s who.
Your customers have taken the time to create their own content about your product and brand, the least you can do is say thanks.
And, to tie into the giving nature of Black Friday, you can take it one step further by offering a tempting reward for customers that do share their photos and videos with you.
Not only does this give a much-deserved “thanks”, but it also encourages customers who haven’t yet provided their own UGC to do so.
You might decide that an extra discount for customers who share UGC is apt, or maybe you send them a free product to say thanks.
Tower Cookware does exactly this. They invite shoppers to unlock a 35% discount code if they leave a review.
Top Tips for Rewarding Customers That Share UGC:
In the spirit of Black Friday, offer a discount to customers that leave a review or share a product photo
Send an email to existing customers highlighting the reward they can get if they participate
Don’t go all out - a simple discount or a small gift is enough to get the ball rolling
4. Include UGC in Product Listings
Your product pages are a crucial part of the buying cycle on Black Friday.
While social media and well-timed emails might mark the start of the discovery journey, your product listings are where shoppers will end up.
These people are already in buy mode. They’ve made it this far, what’s to stop them hitting that all-important buy button and making it all the way to checkout?
The answer is usually poor product listings.
Without high-quality photos and a compelling description, it’s easy to lose customers to competitors that have provided engaging listings.
There’s a simple solution though - Enhance your product listings with UGC. This can be particularly effective on deal pages and on your best-sellers.
Fabletics does a great job of this. It uses both customer photos and reviews on their product pages to instill buyer confidence and give on-the-fence shoppers the nudge they need to make a decision.
Top Tips for Including UGC in Product Listings:
Use a combination of UGC, like photos and reviews
Prioritize your best-sellers and any deal pages created specifically for Black Friday
Use UGC to tell a story about your products
5. Sprinkle UGC in Product Recommendation Emails
Shoppers receive a lot of emails on Black Friday, most of which are touting top deals and promoting best selling products.
The problem is, most of these emails are the same and, as a result, they get buried or overlooked in busy inboxes.
Don’t let your products go to a metaphorical early grave.
Instead, enhance your product recommendation emails with UGC (according to research by TINT, UGC increases email click-through rates by 73%).
Incorporate customer photos and reviews to drive more sales and increase buyer confidence.
Every little helps, and adding UGC as an engaging element to your emails will make sure yours stand out.
Take furniture brand Article, as an example - they incorporate UGC into their pre-sale email on Black Friday.
Top Tips for Adding UGC to Product Recommendation Emails:
Incorporate product-relevant UGC if possible
Personalize product recommendation emails based on shoppers’ past purchases for an extra layer of engagement
Make UGC the focal point of your product recommendation emails to ensure they stand out
6. Incorporate UGC in Cart Abandonment Emails
Black Friday shoppers are generally impulse buying, but they might not always make it to the checkout stage.
In fact, there’s a high chance they’ve left a load of half-filled carts in their wake.
Instead of tagging these as lost customers, use it to your advantage - after all, these shoppers showed enough interest at some point to add products to their cart.
Cart abandonment emails are your golden ticket to boosting sales on Black Friday. They remind customers about products they were initially interested in and bring them back to your store.
These emails provide the perfect opportunity to add an element of FOMO through reviews and customer photos.
No one likes to see what they’re missing out on, but UGC like this also increases trust, which might ease their mind if they’ve never bought from you before.
Cali Fabrics is a great example of a brand that does this. They include multiple positive customer reviews in their abandoned cart emails, as well as a further discount for customers to claim.
Top Tips for Incorporating UGC into Abandoned Cart Emails:
Highlight your best reviews (and make them product-relevant if possible)
Offer a reward for customers that go back to their cart, like an extra discount or free shipping
Inject abandoned cart emails with some personality to stand out and generate trust
Power Black Friday With UGC
As you can see, UGC can be an effective tool for increasing conversions and sales, and there are many ways to leverage it. But, if you try to do it all manually, it’s either near-on impossible or, at the very least, way too much work.
That’s where the right UGC platform comes into play.
Doing this will build trust, instill buyer confidence, and help turn one-time impulse buyers into long-term customers that continue to come back for more.