The modern consumer has become skeptical of direct marketing messages, meaning that brands have been challenged to create content that fosters a more trusting – and positive – relationship with their customers.
User-generated content (UGC) might be the solution to this problem – as real-life consumers become marketers, advocates and influencers to their friends, families and followers. ‘Users’ are constantly creating a stream of photos, videos, reviews, social media posts and more, that can be cleverly incorporated into a marketing strategy.
Consumers are showing a preference, and greater trust, for reviews and information from their peers (54%), compared to information that comes directly from the brand (20%). This means that UGC supplies your brand with information and messaging that is deemed to be highly trustworthy. And on top of that, it has been created at no expense to your business.
There is a three-step plan to any UGC strategy. First, there is a ‘call to create’, which is backed up with channels for sourcing and collecting submissions, and finally, a plan for moderating, sharing and using the content in your marketing. Below we take a further look at each of these steps, to help you to incorporate UGC as soon as possible:
‘Call to Create’
Some brands may find that their consumers are already creating content that is suitable and on-brand, however, if this is not the case, then you need to inspire them to do so. It is important to find the middle ground between the type of UGC that a brand requires and the type that ‘users’ are already making.
Keep in mind that consumers share content for their own personal reasons, and understanding these may guide your UGC strategy. CoSchedule conducted a survey that found that:
- 49% share content to inform, influence or inspire action around the products they care about.
- 68% share to give their networks a better sense of them as a person.
- 78% share information to stay connected with those on the periphery of their network.
- 69% share information because it makes them feel that they are participating.
- 84% share to be supportive of initiatives, brands or causes that are important to them.
The best way to collect UGC is to create a branded hashtag that can be used across platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. Add the hashtag to your call-to-create, as well as in the social media bios, thank you emails, package inserts, the website and poster/TV ads.
Create different hashtags for each campaign, as well as for each audience/user – for example, one hashtag for first time buyers, one for merchants/stockists and one for employees of the company.
Giveaways and contests are a great way to encourage UGC, and to get people to participate and engage with a brand. Make it clear to the audience what type of content your brand wishes to receive – perhaps even showing examples of the type of image/video that is best – and then select the best pieces of content to publish.
Other tips include setting up Thunderclap, which acts like crowdsourcing, but instead of backing you with money, the audience can support you with their voice and social media presence. Make sure to ask for UGC in your ‘Thank you’ email that is sent as part of the after-sales service.