Creating content for your brand can be a daunting experience, with so many platforms and channels to post on and not enough time in the day to do it all marketers are turning to the valuable User Generated Content (UGC).
UGC is a form of content created by consumers and end users of a brand. This information is made accessible to the public via social media.
User generated content is everywhere, from paid partnerships with influencers to ordinary people who are just going about their daily life.
I’ve used Instagram as the example platform of where you can find user generated content but, if you get the mechanism right, it can work for almost every social platform.
Examples of big brands who use user generated content:
Instagram harness user generated content regularly through their hashtags such as #2020vision and #thisweekoninstagram, they regularly share interesting posts by their followers which, as a result, adds to the audience of the original poster.
There is no value or benefit for the consumer other than that they might be featured by Instagram and that a lot of new people following the hashtag may choose to connect with them or engage with them on social.
In posts like these Starbucks ask permission from their fans to use their unique photographs with Starbucks branding in them.
Fashion brand boohoo enlist brand ambassadors who are given free product in return for posting content about the brand. The marketing team at boohoo then use the best of this content on their own feeds. Now, this isn’t strictly “user generated” because in one way or another it’s paid for, however, it’s the actions of the influencers that then encourages ordinary consumers to do the same – you could say the act of paying the influencers is simply the brand activating their UGC campaign
This is an example of how fashion brands use user generated content to help prospective customers find their products.
Apple have something to prove – that you can take stunning photographs on your iphone and their campaign #shotoniphone is the perfect way to collect user generated photographs that not only sell their product but look fantastic on their feed.
Car brand BMW can be seen asking users on social media can they reshare their content on their platform and they always provide a credit. They even label these with the hashtag #bmwrepost.
7 Top tips for creating a user generated campaign:
People want to be part of something, they want to “experience” the campaign, not just be passive onlookers. Make sure your campaign is asking people to “do something” or “be creative” it will help garner attention and encourage people to get involved.
Ramp Up Your Brand Personality
You don’t want a campaign that’s boring, dull and flat. In order to get people to “come along” on the journey you may need to ramp up your brand personality and let them see a little behind the scenes or into the psyche of the company before they get involved.
Social media users are incredibly savvy and they will see through a hollow campaign at the swipe of a finger. Show them the authenticity of the brand by being human. Maybe that’s showing an emotional aspect of the company or simply being a little humorous in your posts – whatever it is, make it real and make it relatable.
Don’t Underestimate Your Employees
Think about how you can get your employees involved in your UGC campaign, maybe you could team up with HR and have a separate incentive for employees who get involved with their families etc…or maybe your UGC campaign is all about your employees talking about your company, its culture and the things they love about their job.
Make The Customers Feel Special
You don’t have to be selling high-ticket, expensive or luxurious products or services for people to want to shout about investing in your brand. Take the example of Starbucks vs BMW – very different brands at opposite sides of the scale but both effectively have engaged with UGC. Create a hashtag that lets customers tell the world that they’re a customer of yours.
If your brand has a large enough audience you can create a UGC campaign that centres around a competition prize in return for users uploading their content to their social media. This works brilliantly because of the incentive, however, if you’re a small business with a small audience and no budget to promote this could be a costly tactic.
Collaborating with another brand, service or even a charity can help to bolster your UGC campaign. Just make sure that both brands have equal standing in the campaign and that both marketing teams have bought into the idea fully – you don’t want one brand being able to out-shine the other.
5 Top tips for using user generated content:
In order to really maximise UGC you have to be on top of the game. Social listening is a huge part of the job, even if you haven’t created a specific hashtag keep an eye on your brand’s most popular hashtags and look out for the special posts that sit well with the brand and you feel will catch the eye of your customer.
Unless you have created a campaign that specifically tells people that they will have their work shared on your platform – therefore, removing the need to ask – it is absolutely imperative that you ask permission from the original poster.
Always Tag Creator
It’s best practice to tag the original creator of the post to allow people to check them out if they want – this is, of course, if you aren’t offering to pay the creator. If you are offering to pay the creator make sure you lay out your terms very clearly and offer them a fair price for their content.
Explain Why You Shared
Tell your followers why this particular piece of content was shared, what did you like about it, what did it say, what attracted you to it, why is it on brand? This will help other people who are vying for your attention produce content that suits your brand.
When you share UGC make sure you use it as an opportunity to tell people more about the product or service in the picture or point them in the direction of where they can get more information or buy. If you have more than 10k followers on Instagram you can initiate the “swipe up to buy” function and if you don’t just simply pop a line like “Link in bio” to tell people where to go.
No matter where you look you’ll find user generate content and, for the most part, you won’t be bothered by this unique and subtle way of selling. Think about it, when was the last time you posted and mentioned a product, brand or service without being paid to do so?
Consider what motivated you to post, why did you feel encouraged to do so, how did it make you feel, would you do it again? All these things are absolutely key to creating your own UGC campaign.
When brainstorming a campaign it might be worth bringing users of your product or service into the room who have posted of their own volition – their insights as to their motivations and their whys will be invaluable to you.
3 Reasons why is user generated content is important for your brand?
Extend Your Audience Reach
According to Statista in 2018, an estimated 2.65 billion people were using social media worldwide, a number projected to increase to almost 3.1 billion in 2021. With the invention of reviewing facilities and the ability for brands to get immediate feedback customer opinion matters now more than ever before.
Even if your brand doesn’t have a large social media following utilising user generated content can widen the network of where your content lands.
Finding ways to cleverly hook up and collaborate with other brands, products, services and organisations can only help to maximise the opportunities presented with user generated content.
It Can Save You Money
Promoting your brand on social media can be expensive especially if you have to work with paid influencers or create ad campaigns.
Developing a user generated content strategy you can significantly reduce your costs but it won’t eliminate them. It is advisable to consider putting a little time, resource and finance behind getting your UGC campaign off the ground. Maybe you need to get your staff or wider network of suppliers and/or supporters on board.
Creating A Community
Customers always want to know what other users think about a brand they love. By creating a community of people who equally love and support your product or service allows them to find commonality in their passion. We’ve all heard that one person who was “doing it for the gram” which leads to others following suit – but you have to get it started somewhere.
According to Smart Insights in their blog “5 ways to use user-generated content in marketing”: “Nielsen Consumer Trust Index states that 92% of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising. This is because brands don’t pay for UGC, it is unbiased and created by users because they like the offerings of a business. As a result, UGC is perceived as more authentic and honest.”
Meanwhile ispo.com said in their blog “User-Generated Content: With the Community to the Marketing Peak” that authenticity was key to it all: “The authenticity of content is undeniably one of the greatest advantages of user-generated content. While influencers have come under increasing criticism in recent years because the line between honest referrals and paid advertising has become increasingly blurred.”
In their article “A Marketer’s Guide to Using User-Generated Content on Social Media” the social media scheduling platform Hootsuite quoted statistics by Stackla saying: “Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view user-generated content as authentic compared to content created by brands. That offers brands an important credibility boost, since most people say less than half of brands create authentic content.”
It’s clear to see that user generated content campaigns are absolutely a must in the arsenal of any digital marketer or content creator. However, they do come with a warning. Campaigns like these take time and effort to build, they aren’t short term campaigns, unless you have the budget to push it forward.
When they’re done right, they will feed themselves over a long period of time and become an ongoing part of your business’ marketing activity. Done wrong and they can haemorrhage time and effort for no real return.
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