In 2012, the humble potato chip became the canvas for a global storytelling event. The “Do Us a Flavor” campaign launched by Lay’s tapped into the collective creativity of their customers. This wasn’t just a clever marketing initiative; it was an innovative playground where customers weren’t just consumers, but co-creators of the brand’s narrative.
Each potato chip bag transformed into a mini-billboard, donning a distinct flavour ideated by a fan from around the world. It showcased the personal connections and stories of the people behind the flavours. This is the perfect example of a User Generated Content (UGC) campaign, a strategy that fosters a deeper level of engagement and loyalty by giving consumers the power to be part of the brand’s journey.
Most businesses use UGC as part of their marketing strategy, and for a good reason. 85% of people say UGC heavily influences their purchasing decisions.
If you’re starting with UGC marketing, this comprehensive guide will help you harness its full potential. We’ll explore the nitty-gritty of user-generated content and how to encourage user-generated content to supercharge your marketing efforts.
What is User Generated Content (UGC)?
UGC is content created by your users, not brands. This is not sponsored content or influencer marketing. This is content by your real users who are sharing their authentic voices with the world and talking about your product. Why? Because they want to!
UGC is considered 2.5x more authentic compared to content created by brands.
Why Should You Use User Generated Content?
Remember, people trust people. A whopping 92% of consumers trust organic, user generated content more than they trust traditional advertising.
Incorporating UGC in your marketing strategy can significantly increase your brand’s credibility, engagement, and time spent on your website.
Authentic Content Generates Trust
Content created by users is perceived as more genuine and authentic than brand-produced content. Consumers know that UGC isn’t influenced by a brand’s marketing agenda, making it more believable. In fact, 70% of consumers trust online peer reviews and recommendations more than professional content and copy.
Users Trust User Reviews More Than Ads
As social creatures, we’re swayed by the actions of others. Social proof, especially in the form of UGC, can make people trust reviews more. When your ideal customer sees others using and enjoying your product, they’re more likely to want it too.
UGC Creates a Sense of Community
When customers create and share content about your products, they feel part of a community, enhancing their bond with your brand. Brands that foster this sense of belonging enjoy customer loyalty and increased customer lifetime value.
Guide to User Generated Content Marketing
Ready to whip up your first UGC campaign? Here’s your step-by-step guide for you to leverage UGC in your marketing. Also, learn how to encourage user generated content for brand visibility and organic reach.
UGC is a big umbrella, covering everything from photos, videos, testimonials, reviews, blog posts, and tweets. Each form of UGC has its strengths. There are three different types of UGC content you could use.
1. Photos and Posts
Visual content is the most powerful form of UGC. It showcases your product in action and gives potential customers an idea of what to expect.
Chances are that you already have UGC content available to use in your campaigns.
- Did a customer tag your brand in a post showing them enjoying your product? UGC content at its finest.
- Did they write a post about how useful your product is? You can share the post on your website or social media.
Such photos and posts are visual endorsements by real people. They are authentic, relatable, and carry a trust factor that’s unmatched by brand-produced content.
2. Reviews & Testimonials
Positive reviews are UGC assets. They are not just a review, they also contribute to your overall brand reputation. On the other hand, testimonials are digital equivalents of word-of-mouth marketing. They are affirmations from satisfied customers that help establish trust, create brand advocates, and provide social proof. It’s no wonder that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Harness this content in your marketing strategy by featuring it on your website or sharing it on your social platforms.
3. User Posts on Social Media
Social media is a treasure trove of UGC. Your customers love to rave about your products on Twitter, show off their purchases on Instagram, and share unboxing videos on YouTube. Such content is a boon for your brand as it amplifies your reach, provides validation, and boosts engagement.
Remember, every piece of UGC – whether it’s a post, a photo, a review, or a testimonial – is a vote of confidence from your customers. And there’s no endorsement more powerful than that of a happy customer.
How to Encourage User Generated Content?
Now that you know some of the potential user generated content mediums, the next step is to leverage them effectively. You want to ensure that your UGC fits within your overall marketing strategy, aligns with your brand ethos, and enhances your narrative.
1. Encourage Users to Create Content
The first step is simple. To encourage user generated content, create an environment where your audience feels motivated to generate content.
Encourage them by showcasing the best UGC on your brand’s official channels.
- Make the process fun and engaging. Think of the #ALSIceBucketChallenge a while ago to spread awareness of ALS. The challenge raised an estimated $135 million worldwide, leading to increased awareness and funding for research initiatives.
- Reward users for their contributions. Feature UGC content on your social media channels, email newsletters, or even on your website. This gives the content creator exposure and makes them feel valued and appreciated.
- Stay active on social media to facilitate positive brand-customer interactions with your users. Respond to comments, queries and other concerns regularly to keep the community active and engaged.
2. Design Contests and Challenges
Similarly, you can encourage users to create content around a particular theme by holding a contest or challenge. For instance, if you’re a sustainable clothing brand, a contest could invite users to share creative ways they’re reducing their carbon footprint.
The prizes you offer are just as crucial. If your audience perceives the reward as valuable, they’ll be more likely to participate. Rewards could range from free products and exclusive discounts to shoutouts on your social media channels. The key here is to ensure the content generated resonates with your brand’s message and your target audience.
3. Collaborate with Influencers
Working with influencers can give your UGC campaign a kickstart. Here, choosing the right influencers is important because they are not just going to make content for you, but also act like a brand ambassador for your brand. Choose someone who echoes your brand values and has an engaged user base that resonates with your target audience.
A stellar example of this is the #InMyDenim challenge launched by Guess on TikTok. They partnered with popular influencers who created videos wearing Guess’s new denim line, sparking a trend that took over the platform. Their followers were inspired to create their #InMyDenim videos, resulting in a massive wave of user-generated content showcasing Guess products.
Influencer marketing isn’t just a strategy to widen your reach. It’s about leveraging the trust and authenticity that influencers have cultivated with their audience. With 40% of people making purchases based on an influencer’s recommendation, it’s clear that consumers trust influencers as authentic and reliable sources.
These influencers aren’t merely spokespeople for your brand; they are catalysts who can spark a chain reaction of content creation among their followers, all featuring your brand. With their built-in audience that trusts and emulates them, a nod from an influencer can inspire a domino effect of user-generated content that elevates your brand visibility and credibility.
4. Make Use of Hashtags
Hashtags can be a fantastic tool for rallying your community around a UGC campaign. We just talked about one before. Here’s another successful example of Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign.
The company created unique, brand-centric hashtags that resonated deeply with their audience, encouraging consumers to find bottles with names that held personal significance and then share their experiences on social media using the #ShareACoke hashtag.
This campaign not only fostered a sense of community among Coca-Cola consumers but also made it easy for the company to collect and share user-generated content on its platforms.
This shows the potential of a well-crafted hashtag. It can be more than just a keyword – it can serve as an effective rallying point for your community, streamline the process of curating content for UGC contests, and significantly amplify your campaign’s visibility.
5. Make it Easy to Share UGC
When it comes to UGC, the easier it is to share and link back to your brand, the better your campaigns will be. Make sure that your platforms – from your website to your social media channels, even your email newsletters – are primed for easy sharing.
Let’s take a look at ASOS. Their #AsSeenOnMe campaign encourages customers to share their outfits on social media, with a simple and clear ‘Share’ button available on every product page. This simplifies the process for users to share their content and contributes to an ever-growing stream of UGC for ASOS.
6. Always Respect User Rights
Ask for your user’s permission before incorporating UGC into your brand content. This practice is not only respectful – it’s legally essential.
Consider the approach of GoPro. They run regular UGC contests where users submit their videos for a chance to win prizes. However, they always ensure to ask for permission and fully credit the users when using their content, setting an excellent example of respecting user rights.
By implementing these strategies, you’re setting the stage to unlock the many advantages of user generated content. These benefits include increased brand credibility, customer engagement, and fostering a community around your brand. But how can you quantify these benefits?
Measuring the Success of Your UGC Campaigns
Okay, you’ve created the UGC, but how do you know if it’s working? Tracking and measuring your UGC campaigns are crucial to understanding their effectiveness and making data-driven decisions.
1. Engagement Metrics
Track likes, shares, comments, and views to gauge how well your UGC resonates with your audience. High engagement indicates that your UGC is hitting the mark.
2. User Participation
Measure how many of your users are actively participating in your UGC campaigns. Are they using your hashtags? Are they creating and sharing content? Increased participation signals a successful UGC strategy.
3. Conversion Rates
Keep an eye on how much of your UGC is driving conversions. Are customers clicking through UGC posts to make purchases? Use UTM parameters to accurately track these conversions and determine your UGC’s ROI.
4. Brand Sentiment
Use social listening tools to understand how your UGC campaigns are affecting brand sentiment. Are people speaking positively about your brand? Increased positive sentiment can be a good sign that your UGC is effective.
5. User Growth
Monitor your follower growth across your social platforms. A consistent increase in followers could indicate that your UGC strategy is helping to attract and retain a larger audience.
Some Examples of UGC Campaigns to Inspire You
Every holiday season, Starbucks encourages customers to share their unique red cup designs on Instagram with the hashtag #RedCupContest.
The result? Thousands of posts and engagement, effectively spreading holiday cheer and promoting Starbucks.
Home goods company Wayfair uses the hashtag #WayfairAtHome, encouraging customers to share photos of their Wayfair products in use.
This strategy not only promotes their products but also provides potential customers with real-world examples of products in use.
Loews Hotels’ #TravelForReal
Loews Hotels launched a successful UGC campaign with the hashtag #TravelForReal. They encouraged guests to share their real, unfiltered experiences at Loews Hotels, then shared the user photos on their platforms.
The campaign was a hit, providing authentic visuals of guests genuinely enjoying their stay.
Wrapping it Up
User Generated Content (UGC) is a potent tool for marketing. It builds authentic connections, strengthens your brand’s credibility, and fosters a sense of community among your customers. By actively incorporating UGC strategies, you’re not just promoting your products or services but cultivating an enriching customer experience.
Remember, you’re not just selling a product or service; you’re nurturing a narrative. Your customers are not merely consumers; they’re the co-authors of your brand’s story. Their shared experiences, stories, and voices are invaluable assets to your marketing efforts.
So, are you ready to embrace the power of UGC? It’s time to shine the spotlight on your audience, give them the stage, and let them tell your brand’s story in their own unique, authentic voice.