The nature of trust is changing and, with it, the nature of brand loyalty. The change is especially evident in the insurance industry, where trust and emotion are front of mind when people are making their decisions.

Insurers, we know – earning and keeping trust is tough. It’s something we discussed at length in our webinar in May.

However, we’ve seen an encouraging sign: the role of user-generated content and its ability to fast-track trust and social proof.

Changing trust and the rise of people

Have a read through the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report and you’ll see that the currency of trust has shifted in marketing.

With each passing year, the degree to which people trust so-called ‘experts’ and celebrity endorsers lessens. Thanks to a few recent scandals and lawsuits, the average consumer is skeptical of commercial agreements and branded messages in general.

People have turned to new sources of information that they can trust.

This has given rise to the growing influence of ‘regular folks,’ unpaid, unaffiliated consumers like themselves whose opinions don’t come tethered and poisoned by an ulterior corporate motive. They want recommendations, not endorsements; they want personal experience, not marketing talking points.

This is why user-generated content (UGC) is so powerful for building brand loyalty.

How insurance companies should use UGC

The most obvious, and in reality very effective, form of UGC is user reviews. Personal testimonials let potential buyers know what to expect, and whether or not to trust a specific brand. When it comes to insurance – an industry built squarely upon the foundation of trust and security – loyalty and trust are all but interchangeable.

Admiral is one UK company using reviews well. See its version of UGC here.

But there is much, much more insurance companies can do besides just reviews. Insurers can use UGC to build a relationship with customers, which is the first and most fundamental step towards building brand loyalty. Because of the uniquely personal nature of insurance, customers are often very willing to talk about their experiences. Inviting your customers to do so in a coherent campaign, and creating a space to allow a community of users to develop, helps establish meaningful brand loyalty.

Insurers can use UGC to build a relationship with customers, which is the first and most fundamental step towards building brand loyalty - Highlight to share -

We’re seeing some forward-thinking insurers willing to let their customers tell stories for them. People insure the things they love – it’s no surprise that they’re willing to submit pictures, videos and more without incentives. Whether it’s a car, a pet or a house, the unifying theme is that the brand has earned their trust by helping them protect it.

Honesty is key

It’s vitally important that brands seeking to use UGC to their advantage do so authentically and transparently.

Trust and loyalty, built up over years and years, can be dashed in an instant. Trying to pass off artificial content as user-generated is a death sentence for trust.

The more the lines of communication are untarnished from one user to another, the more positive impact a brand will be able to generate from it. In fact, the more a brand is able to stay out of it altogether and let their customers do the talking, the better.

The more your brand is able to appear as a like-minded moderator, rather than a curmudgeonly gatekeeper, the more vibrant, authentic, and advocatory the content you gather will be.

The insurance industry, perhaps more than any other, is uniquely poised to use UGC to enhance brand loyalty. Brands who understand this can reap the most valuable reward of all: trust.

Want to know more about UGC in insurance? Check out our Admiral case study.

How insurers can encourage brand loyalty