Encouraging More User Generated Content
Creating content for your brand’s online presence is very important and has multiple invaluable benefits for your business.
However quality content creation often becomes time consuming, expensive and can sometimes feel impersonal.
But what if there is another way to get high-quality content at little or no cost?
What if this content already exists and proves to be more powerful and authentic than all other marketing strategies combined?
User-generated content or UGC is a solution to many of the problems that brands face in building their online presence.
It has quickly become one of the most desirable marketing tools because of its simplicity and what it can achieve.
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What is User Generated Content - UGC?
User–generated content (UGC) is any content—text, videos, images, reviews, etc. —created by people rather than brands.
And brands will often share UGC on their own social media accounts, website and other marketing channels.
Why is User Generated Content - UGC So Important?
Authenticity is more important than ever.
In a world of celebrity endorsements, sponsored posts and paid influencers, consumers crave authenticity more than ever.
Our survey revealed that 86% of people say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support.
This is especially true of younger generations – who now command $200 billion in annual spending power but are the least engaged with brands.
An overwhelming 90% of Millennials say brand authenticity is important proving that younger consumers prefer real and organic over perfect and packaged.
By using your fans’ and followers’ content you can build trust in your brand and nurture relationships with your customer base.
Research shows that 85% of consumers find UGC more influential than content from brands and a separate survey showed that 60% of people say that UGC is the most authentic type of content compared to just 20% for brand-generated content.
So it only makes sense to spend more time curating content from users rather than creating your own.
UGC also allows you to track mentions and conversations about your brand, giving you insights into what consumers think about your products and services and address any issues accordingly.
Last but not least user-generated content helps your brand save money and free up time to focus on other aspects of business operation.
With benefits like these you are probably wondering how to start a user generated content campaigns successfully.
Below we will discuss different ways to encourage more user generated content ideas from your fans and followers.
They are in no order of importance since all of them are equally important to encourage user generated content for the success of your content marketing strategy.
How To Create User Generated Content - UGC?
1. Choose The Right Social Media Platform
For a user generated content campaign to become effective you must already have a strong online presence.
However for brands that have not gained a huge number of followers yet then the very first thing you need to do is to find out where your audience spends most of their time on social media.
You need to have an in-depth understanding of which type of content works best on each social media platform.
For instance Facebook works best for sharing stories while Instagram and Pinterest is the go to for visual content.
Here is what Buffer suggests for user generated content on social media:
- Facebook: Videos and curated content
- Instagram: High-res photos, quotes, Stories
- Twitter: News, blog posts, and GIFs
- LinkedIn: Jobs, company news and professional content
- Pinterest: Infographics and step-by-step photo guides
When asking for content always remember to be clear and concise with what you need.
People are more than happy to share content with brands in hopes of getting featured but without specific guidelines you will end up with a ton of unusable low-quality user generated content on social media.
2. Create Powerful Hashtags
Hashtags are extremely valuable to your brand because they allow you to categorise your content and reach a wider audience.
According to Wikipedia –
“A hashtag introduced by the number sign or hash symbol (#) is a type of metadata tag used on social networks such as Twitter and Instagram and other microblogging services.
It lets users apply dynamic, user-generated tagging that helps other users easily find messages with a specific theme or content.”
Do you remember Coca-Cola’s #ShareaCoke campaign? It is one of the most unforgettable hashtag campaigns ever created that landed Coca-Cola about 25 million new Facebook followers.
Over 500,000 photos were shared and people created 6 million virtual Coke bottles. This encouraged their audiences to participate and generated lost more user generated content than ever.
What should be admired about the campaign is its simplicity. It placed a great emphasis on individual storytelling which sparked organic conversations thus, consumers felt compelled to participate without even thinking that they were promoting the brand.
The user generated content hashtag itself is catchy, easy to remember and includes a powerful call-to-action, leaving consumers flocking to stores looking for bottles with their names on it.
3. Collect Customer Reviews
Independent customer reviews are the cornerstone of every successful user generated content marketing strategy.
According to a recent survey:
- 90% say positive online reviews influence their buying decisions
- 72% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 87% of consumers say a business needs a 3 to 5 star rating before they use them
Reviews are only as powerful as the platform they are built upon which is why it is important to collect reviews from third-party review websites.
This will show customers that you are not manipulating the data. Today’s savvy consumers can spot fake reviews from a mile away and they know better than to trust a brand that scores perfect 5-star ratings all the time.
Reviews either positive or negative will also help your consumers make informed buying decisions.
While you are tempted to wipe away all the negative reviews about your brand but those are still valuable user generated content reviews that provide honest opinions from real users.
Customer feedback can help shed some light on what needs to be improved with your product or service and that is something that not only benefits the next buyer but your business as a whole.
Running a contest can help spark that much-needed buzz about your brand.
Contests help increase the volume of user generated content submissions and increase their quality.
The key to running a successful contest is to make sure that the reward is enticing enough to encourage participation on respective user generated content platforms.
You also have to emphasise that the prizes are limited as this will push your fans to be more creative with their entries.
However when creating a contest – it is important to keep things as simple as possible since you want more people to participate and not scare them away with complicated contest mechanics.
Libby’s the popular fruit and vegetable brand, executed this perfectly by capitalising on one of America’s favourite holidays.
They encouraged their fans to post pictures of what they are thankful for with the hashtags #Cansgiving and #Contest.
They even made the campaign more useful by providing a dedicated campaign page where fans could opt in to receive marketing emails in the future whilst encouraging more user generated content -UGC.
What was beautiful about this contest is that it was simple and consumer-focused.
Apart from rewarding ten advocates with an assortment of Libby’s goodies and $350 towards their Thanksgiving meal, the company even went above and beyond to show their values.
They allowed each winner to choose which among their three chosen charities – City Harvest, Children’s Hunger Alliance and Meals on Wheels America – Libby’s should make a matched donation to.
5. Offer Rewards
There is nothing else that can motivate users more than rewarding their efforts.
Offering rewards for the things that they are already doing ignites an organic and spontaneous response that even the most expensive user generated content marketing campaigns could not easily accomplish.
One of the best things about rewards is that they normally do not require a ton of work in order to be earned.
It often only takes a few minutes to create a quick video, photo or short review so it is quite easy to encourage fans to participate.
Better yet rewards do not always have to be expensive. Unlike contest prizes the reward can be as simple as reposting a tweet or featuring their article on your website.
These simple gestures are enough to provide your most engaged fans the social recognition that they deserve.
This will make them feel that they are a part of your brand and also entice new users to submit fresh user generated content news as well.
Loews Hotels’ #TravelForReal campaign is a perfect user generated content example of a strategy done right.
They noticed that guests were sharing photos of their vacation stays at the hotel and hash tagging them and that they received a lot of engagement when they reposted their guests’ pictures.
Loews decided to get in on the action and celebrate real hotel guests instead of hiring actors or models to promote their brand.
By allowing their guests to share their own vacation experiences brings out the brand’s authenticity and provides future guests a true glimpse of what they can expect without any professional camera tricks or air brushing.
Consumers respond more favourably to images that depict real people and their lifestyle than those recreated by a brand.
Allowing your audience to tell their own stories humanises your brand and makes you seem more genuine.
One way to have an authentic connection with your audience is to support a good user generated content benefits cause that aligns with your brand’s values.
It shows your fans that you do not exist simply to make sales but because you have a greater vision to serve the needs of many.
Plus it encourage more user generated content – UGC from the audience.
Aerie’s #AerieREAL campaign is another user generated content example that changed the lives of many women.
There had been some controversy surrounding excessive photo editing of females in advertising and marketing and its impact on women’s self-esteem.
To take a stance on the issue Aerie – American Eagle’s brand of lingerie and sleepwear pledged $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association for every Instagram user that posted an unedited photo of themselves wearing a bathing suit.
7. Create a Beta Group
The thing about today’s consumers is that they love getting involved and being heard which is why forming a beta group is one of the easiest ways to gather user generated content ideas without much effort.
All it takes is tapping into a group of fans or customers who are already interested and let them know that you have an ongoing promotion for a limited number of individuals.
It could be a coupon code, a free sample or a free trial run if you are selling a subscription service.
This is especially useful if you are planning to launch a new product, service or feature.
Approaching a select few to participate in your beta testing phase before it is released to the public gets those users excited not only because they will be able to test your latest offerings for free but because you are letting them know that their feedback matters.
By welcoming these individuals in you are building a community that you can always count on to provide you with honest insights about any new additions to your product or service.
This allows you to make the necessary adjustments early on and prevent costly mistakes in your user generated content marketing strategy.
8. Always Engage with the Users
Regular engagement gives your brand a personality that your audience can relate to.
Asking for favours may seem out of character if you do not communicate often or if you share very little content with your followers.
You can convince your customers to share their thoughts and experiences about your brand only if you treat them well. This is a great way to encourage more user generated content -UGC.
Participate in community discussions, answer questions and respond to feedback graciously. Be helpful, be attentive and most importantly – be human.
If you just started a campaign then do not forget to thank your fans and compliment their submissions.
If you fail to acknowledge them they might lose interest in whatever it is that you have to offer in the future.
Also remember to post valuable content consistently since this helps build anticipation from your audience.
Today’s savvy consumers know better than to take a brand’s word over other users’ – making user generated content -UGC more powerful than any other brand-driven content.
By capitalising on your customers’ existing content you can build a brand that is personable, authentic and trustworthy in your user generated content marketing strategy.
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