We all know that word-of-mouth marketing can make or break the success of a brand. Over time, businesses have found a myriad of ways to digitize this concept and bring it into the online world. User-generated content is by far one of the most important.
According to TurnTo’s survey, 90% of customers trust user-generated content when making purchase decisions. However, this doesn’t mean that UGC is the only a way to gain trust and boost sales. If executed properly, a UGC campaign can help your brand in countless ways, from increasing audience engagement to strengthening a sense of community and loyalty.
And if that’s not enough, UGC is an effective and affordable way to generate high-quality content that resonates with your audience.
So how do you maximize the chances of your strategy succeeding? Here are some tips you’ll want to follow.
1. Know Your Goals
Why are you launching a UGC campaign? Do you want to boost user engagement, or perhaps increase conversion rates? Maybe you’re just looking for fresh content ideas to explore further.
Whatever the case, you should always stick to a single clear goal. It will determine the type of user-generated content you’re looking for and details like the campaign’s duration and the channels you’ll use.
Now, some campaigns can achieve multiple goals at once. A great example is Apple’s #ShotoniPhone hashtag that serves as a great source of fresh and unique content. At the same time, it boosts user engagement and fosters a sense of community.
That being said, if you’re just starting with UGC, you shouldn’t aim for such a versatile campaign right away. Make sure each one is aimed towards a specific goal so that you can see how your community responds to different efforts. With time, the data you gather will allow you to launch more comprehensive campaigns.
2. Build Some Hype
In most cases, your UGC campaigns will have a timeframe. The goal, of course, is to get as many submissions as you can. To make this happen, you’ll want to spread the word in advance.
You can promote your campaign in different ways, though social media seems to be the gold standard. Two to three weeks before the campaign starts, you can announce it to gain some traction. You might not want to reveal everything in the first post, as you’ll want to build anticipation. Use the first few days to leave some clues and get people interested, and then make the big reveal around 7-10 days before the campaign launches.
A side benefit of building hype and getting lots of submissions in a short time span is that your UGC can start trending. If, say, a hashtag repeats tons of times in 24h, Instagram will be more likely to push the content it contains to users’ Explore page. This can be an excellent way to boost your brand exposure.
3. Cherry-Pick Content
If all goes well, your UGC strategy should yield lots of content in a short timeframe. That doesn’t mean all of it will be good. If you feel compelled to share all of your audience’s content, you might want to stop and rethink this decision.
This might seem counterintuitive at first. Why would you encourage your audience to create content that you don’t end up using?
The answer is simple, and it’s something you’ve surely heard many times:
Quality over quantity.
Not every piece of content will resonate with your audience or fit your brand. That’s why you’ll want to curate a gallery of hand-picked pieces that will drive the best performance.
This is where social listening comes into play. It’s a practice of monitoring your social channel so that you can stay up-to-date on all relevant conversations happening in your community. There are lots of platforms you can use to do so, and the data they yield can be invaluable to different marketing tactics, including user-generated content.
So take an analytical approach to UGC, and choose the submissions that reflect your brand identity the best. You can still store the ones you don’t use, as you never know when they might come in handy.
4. Support a Cause
Long gone are the days when social responsibility was a nice-to-have. Today, it’s imperative for businesses to act in a way that makes the world a better place. According to research by Porter Novelli, companies that lead with purpose enjoy 76% higher levels of consumer trust and 72% higher loyalty.
User-generated content is a fantastic way to show your community what you stand for. Not only will you show that you care about a cause, but also encourage your audience to participate. And people love being able to make a contribution.
Dove is one of the many companies that executed a successful socially responsible UGC campaign. Their #NoDigitalDistortion hashtag was launched as one of the company’s many efforts to promote confidence and a healthy self-image.
Users started posting photos and Instagram Stories discussing matters like body positivity and social media pressures. So far, the campaign has resulted in thousands of encouraging posts and countless conversations that help Dove’s audience improve their self-image.
5. Avoid Influencers
It’s important to draw a clear line between influencer marketing and user-generated content. While influencers can do wonders for your brand’s exposure and loyalty, it’s best to leave them out of UGC campaigns.
The reason for this is simple – authenticity. Even though people generally trust influencers, they’re also aware that brands pay them for promotion. While there’s a time and a place for your business to do the same, UGC should encourage genuine content from everyday people.
Your audience is more likely to relate to your brand if a piece of content comes from their peer rather than someone they look up to or vicariously live through. They’ll see your campaign as a chance to be seen, which customers greatly appreciate. So put a spotlight on your audience, and leave influencers for other strategies.
Bring Your Audience Together
It doesn’t surprise that brands love UGC as much as they do. It’s fun, effective, and can take your content strategy to a whole new level. Now that you’ve seen what it takes to launch a successful campaign, think of the ways you can encourage your audience to create something amazing.
Remember to be strategic about user-generated content and know exactly what you’re looking to accomplish with it. At the same time, use it as an opportunity to strengthen the bonds within your audience and turn it into a supportive community. That way, you’ll be so much more than a brand.