Whether it is through micro influencers, customer advocates or celebrity endorsers, there has been a rise of user-generated content on social media. You may be reading this and thinking what is user generated content and what is the benefit of it? User-generated content is unpaid content that is created and put out by fans of a product or brand. It can include testimonials, tweets, blog posts, videos, pictures, snaps and more.
User-generated content is nothing new. Way back in 2009 Burberry launched their Art of the Trench campaign, highlighting on Facebook and their website photos of real customers wearing Burberry’s iconic Heritage Trench. The campaign was massively successful, which makes sense when you consider that people trust word of mouth, even when the word of mouth is digitally spoken.
86% of millennials claim UGC is an indicator of brand quality and 68% of those aged 18-24 consider info shared on social media when making purchases. We trust what real people online tell us and we trust the products and services they use. It is called social proof and it is what drives consumers to look at their peers, not brands, for proof of a product’s value. User-generated content shows us real products being used by real people.
Why is UGC Important?
There are two very big reasons why user-generated content is a must do for your business.
- UGC is Authentic
Authentic content is crucial for success because it has been proven to increase engagement and conversions. Customers are far more likely to trust a recommendation from another person than from branded content.
- It is Cost Effective
When thinking about UGC’s cost effectiveness, it is important to remember one of the largest and most effective UGC campaigns even seen. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the best part was ALS did not have to spend a dime of their own money on this campaign. Also they did not even create it.
Time to turn your customers into advocates through user-generated content. Follow these four steps to get started:
Step 1: Choose the Social Networks Most Effective to Your Campaign
It is extremely important to not only be aware of where your audience lives on social media, but where your potential advocates could have the most influence. You do not want to jump straight to Instagram because it is simpler to share visuals from your customers. The social network you choose should be based on your goals and target audience. No matter the social network, a good interaction or positive experience does wonders for your brand.
User-generated content does not have to be challenging. It can be a simple process of asking to repurpose customer content for your brand. Being mentioned or having content shared by brand is often fun and exciting for customers. Their shares not only help you to get to their audience, but you also expose your audience as well. It is a true win-win when done correctly. When starting out, try to see what social networks could have the most impact through user-generated content. Focus on the actual benefits that come with shared content.
For example, Square Space’s approach to user-generated content is to show off its advocates’ talents behind the camera. This makes sense for a brand wanting to connect to more people just like the user here. Many consumers are twice as likely to share user-generated content with friends or family also. People simply trust one another over brands, which means user-generated content often gets more engagement than promotional posts.
What User-Generated Content Works on Each Network
Deciding the social network for your campaign is the easy part. However, determining what type of user-generated content to post on that specific network is another challenge. Rather than figuring out networks for your audience, it is necessary to learn about what content works for each network. Try some of these tips to post better user-generated content to each social network:
Facebook: This network is effective for sharing video content and stories about your brand. Use Facebook to post the kind of videos that are more likely to get more engagements with the possibility of going viral. Facebook’s algorithm is tough for organic reach, but do not rule out posting user-generated content on ads.
Twitter: Despite a smaller character count, you are not as limited on Twitter as you think. Twitter tends to be an effective place for images, so let the visuals do the talking on this network. Highly visual user-generated content on Twitter also benefits brands because of its shareability.
Instagram: Instagram is the destination of user-generated content. It is crucial to know how to regram, use Instagram Explore and find content through hashtags. Seeing products in action makes Instagram a great space for brands to get visual and connect with those who support you.
LinkedIn: As the world’s largest social platform for professionals, user-generated content has to be vetted and relevant to your brand’s goals. This is not the spot just to repost a user’s content because you liked it. Rather, use LinkedIn to promote above and beyond user content that aligns with your brand.
Step 2: Set Specific User-Generated Content Goals
As with any other content strategy, your user-generated content plan has to have specific goals and guidelines to work its best. According to SEMrush, 86% of businesses have tried user-generated content, however GoodVid discovered only 37% have a strategy for this content in place. User-generated content sometimes sparks conversations, increases engagement and builds trust. Although, if used incorrectly, this content will have your followers packing up and leaving.
So you need to define your goals, as with any sort of marketing campaign. Here are some user-generated content goals marketers set in place:
- Higher Brand Engagement: Everybody wants more likes, however setting engagement as a goal is smart during UGC campaigns. Influencers tend to spark conversation with their content. Seeing more comments, likes and mentions toward your channels shows signs of success. However you need the correct social media analytics tools to track your efforts.
- Increased Conversion Rates: Need to reassure consumers’ purchasing decisions? UGC has the power to aid consumers on the path to your product. If you are in an even slightly competitive industry, people will undergo research. Make it your priority to increase conversions with reviews, unboxing showcases and social media takeovers for your campaign.
- Building Brand Trust: Another common goal is gaining consumer’s trust. Whether you have had some bad press or you are starting out fresh, building brand awareness through trust is a great goal. So how do you go about measuring it? UCG establishes credibility with consumers, so try to track keywords or phrases you know are associated with your brand. Then track and measure to see if people are giving more positive feedback on social or even on reviews.
- Educating More Users: Begin by tracking common questions and concerns about your business on social media. By listening to conversations, you can measure whether the same questions are being asked before and after your UGC campaign. Influencers do an efficient job of cutting through and providing a clear answer.
- Save Time on Content Creation: If your team is in need of more social content, UGC can help by saving you a lot of time. By aggregating hashtags, comments and photos, you save time in the creation process.
Step 3: Tell Your Audience What Content You Want
If you are not flat out telling your audience to participate with user-generated content, how else will they know? Make it clear and specific what types of content you are looking for and what aligns best with your brand. Whether you are asking for images or customers’ thoughts, your advocates need the proper guidance. Without a clear goal and ask of your audience, you may confuse users or get a ton of the wrong content.
Try to be as specific as you can with brand rules and regulations toward user-generated content. If you want people to send content to you, more than likely they will. However, how much of it is usable if you did not state clearly what you wanted?
It is crucial not to lose your focus. If you want a specific style of content, do not revise or change your plans after a few short days. Getting people to share user-generated content with you takes time. If you rush it, you could wind up creating a negative experience. What is worse is without good guidelines or content specifics, you are extremely susceptible to internet trolls. Ensure you check hashtags and your guidelines to leave little room for errors. Otherwise, you are giving trolls what they want, a chance to use your words against you. Just be smart and take your time with user-generated content.
Choose a Type of User-Generated Content
There are numerous ways to apply user-generated content to your marketing strategy. A popular way to generate non-branded content is via social media contests. However, this is not the only thing you can do. Another popular type of user-generated content is with campaign hashtags. Hashtags can get your audience involved with your message or campaign.
Although your ultimate goal is to promote your brand, you could do this by simply using a beautiful photo that relates to your brand. This kind of content drives users to follow, engage and send content further down the line.
Step 4: Focus on the Community Aspect & Collaborate
The best part about user-generated content is it generally sparks engagement. That means you have to put emphasis on building your community. As a community manager, you have to create a persona for the brand and connect customers and advocates. User-generated content brings the chance to connect with new people via conversation. Your whole point is to build credibility. If done correctly, you will drive users down the marketing funnel.
Your followers are crucial to your social media strategy, so treat them well. Answer questions, give recognition, be there during product launches and reveal your human side. Users are fully aware there is someone sitting behind the screen, so give your brand a personality that engages. Do not treat social media engagement as a chore, rather an opportunity.
Don’t Take Without Asking
It should go without saying, however far too often, brands think they can simply take images from a site and give credit to the photographer or influencer without any agreement. This is wrong as you need to make sure you are always in agreement with users before sharing their content. It is never fair to take people’s hard work and use it without paying or agreeing on something initially.
This does not mean you need to pay for every piece of user-generated content. However, if someone asks for a payment, you can either work out an agreement or look for users who would be willing to trade for the exposure. Always remember to ask before sharing and do not be shocked if they ask for money.
Do not miss out on a great opportunity to share user-generated content. User-generated content can be challenging, however if you follow these steps you can use it to your brand’s advantage. Take this opportunity as a chance to engage more with your audience and build a better community amongst your followers.