Due to redundancy, customers have grown tired of overly branded content, so it is quite easy for them to tune it out. What they cannot help but respond to, however, is authentic content generated by fellow customers.
The average person wants to feel a real human connection to your brand before agreeing to buy from you. Consumers browse through social and digital news feeds on their mobile devices to research new and interesting content. If the content is rich enough to capture their attention, they’re more likely to click on offers or promotions.
User-generated content is basically content related to a brand that is voluntarily produced by its customers. Customers who have good experiences with your brand are motivated to inform their peers by sharing their experiences. Referrals are one of the cheapest and fastest ways to expand your customer base.
UGC provides authentic information about the brand’s products and services from previous customers, saving resources and boosting brand credibility. With an average of 60 million images uploaded to Instagram daily, UGC is among the hottest—not to mention most scalable—ways for marketers to showcase products, celebrate fans and drive revenue on the web today.
Below are four ways digitally smart brands are using UGC creatively:
Put your customers in the spotlight
This is the easiest way to take advantage of UGC. Fashion brands in particular often share photos of their customers wearing their clothes on social media. If you have a dedicated fanbase posting photos or videos of themselves wearing, using or enjoying your product online, take advantage of this.
It’s been found that on video platform sites such as YouTube, UGC fan videos get 10 times more views than brand content.
Making UGC work for your brand is not limited to fashion brands. GoPro, specializing in tough professional video cameras and software, shares customer content to show just how you can put these cameras to good use—from skydiving and mountain climbing to filming the flight of huge birds and rescuing sea turtles.
This kind of brand behavior breeds more UGC. Showcasing customer videos gives GoPro great content and offers professional moviemakers and photographers a non-monetary incentive to keep UGC flowing without breaking the bank. It’s also likely to encourage more purchases, as more than 64 percent of social media users seek out UGC before making big purchase decisions.
Include UGC in your next giveaway
One of the quickest ways to take advantage of UGC is to ask your fans and customers to submit content as part of a competition or giveaway. RYU, a Vancouver-based athletic clothing retailer, ran a marketing campaign through its Instagram account called #WhatsInYourBag to promote its various products with a giveaway. Incorporating a giveaway is an effective way to engage your target audience and spread the word about your brand.
RYU encouraged fans to share photos of what they carry in their gym bags and incentivized them with the chance to win prizes. The company’s engaging campaign generated more than 32,000 posts and likely helped increase its follower count to over 20,000. Just make sure it’s clear in your terms and conditions that you may repost submissions elsewhere.
Competition-based UGC also gives your brand wider exposure, particularly if the winner is decided by votes, as the entrant will share the content far and wide.
Integrate fan photos and videos in your advertising campaigns
One of the benefits of using UGC that can never be overstated is building a loyal customer fan base. This is even better when you share your customers’ content—both photos and videos—within your advertising campaigns.
In 2016, Disney began its #ShareYourEars campaign. Customers were encouraged to share photos of themselves, friends and family wearing Mickey Mouse ears with the #ShareYourEars hashtag.
Disney began by pledging a $5 donation to the Make-a-Wish Foundation for each participant in the campaign, with a $1 million cap. Due to the overwhelming response and amazing support, Disney doubled its original pledge to $2 million to grant even more wishes to transform lives.
Using UGC not only builds a loyal fan base, but it helps your fan community feel like they are an integral part of your brand.
Ben & Jerry’s uses UGC as a source of inexpensive, authentic marketing content. Marketing initiatives can be expensive and time-consuming to produce. Ben & Jerry’s does an excellent job of seamlessly incorporating UGC into its website, social media, blog and newsletter. By using images of its products that were tagged on social media by its customers, the company saves on production costs while getting authentic content that adds to its customer-focused, values-based brand image.
When used appropriately, UGC creates a strong community for a brand.
Enhance your brand experience
Competing in today’s digital landscape is no easy task. Aside from keeping up with giant brand competitors, brands are expected to stray from the norm and break digital ground.
The expectation to be present on multiple channels and serve unique and engaging content has become a standard, not a plus.
UGC has successfully helped brands build an identity and community that speaks to their consumers’ lifestyles.
Brands like Coca-Cola have set themselves apart as leaders with one of the biggest brand communities ever. The #ShareaCoke campaign was one of the best campaigns Coca-Cola has ever designed. The campaign was so successful that in 2017, Coca-Cola relaunched the campaign in the U.K. with a holiday theme. All users had to do was share a picture of the new Share a Coke bottle and stand a chance to win their ideal holiday.
Coca-Cola was able to generate massive amounts of social media content by specifically targeting consumers who use social media to share photos and stories. It gave full creative control and brand ownership to these consumers, prompting people to feel like they were not only promoting the Coca-Cola brand online, but also starting their own social media conversations.
This gave way to multiplatform conversations on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Online conversations became organic, driven by consumers, rather than the brand itself. This integrated the Coca-Cola brand into the homes of its consumers, becoming part of their lifestyles.
The online results of the campaign have been a massive success. More than 1 million photos were shared using the #ShareaCoke hashtag.
Many of these brands collect and display UGC, which is one of the best ways of showing authenticity and winning customer loyalty. Buyers consistently return for more and start the cycle of word-of-mouth marketing because they feel like they are contributing to the brand’s community.
Pius Boachie is a freelance writer and inbound marketing consultant who works closely with business-to-consumer and business-to-business brands on providing content that gains social media attention and increases search-engine visibility. He shares actionable marketing ideas for businesses on his blog, Digimatic.