User-generated content (UGC) is not a brand new concept in the marketing industry. However, most digital marketers rarely treated UGC as an exciting way for engaging with consumers, building brand awareness, and gathering customers’ loyalty. With the recent acquisitions of multi-million dollar content companies like Instagram and Tumblr, major names in online business are further demonstrating the enormous value of content today. In a January 2013, over 700 digital professionals identified content marketing as the single most significant trend in marketing today.
So, what’s the position of contents in today’s digital era anyway? Content, in short, is king, so it’s incumbent upon brands to make good use of it. However, it’s never as simple as it sounds. With its many shapes and forms, identifying the right content to engage your customer and doing it at the right time on the right channel, requires strategic planning and resources.
One possible solution is to allow consumers to create content for your brand. The rise of social media and mobile technology has made every consumer a potential broadcaster. It is easier than ever for brands to solicit, collect, promote, and analyze content that comes directly from your customer base.
Nowadays, user generated content is easily accessible for both brand marketers and consumers because of the prevalence of smartphones and tablets. These gadgets make it easier than ever to take photos, make videos, draw pictures, and otherwise broadcast our thoughts and opinions instantly through numerous social channels. When done right, UGC campaigns that make it easy for your consumer to market on your behalf will lead to higher levels of engagement and provide actionable consumer data. Here are four tips for digital marketers implementing user generated content.
1. A Clear Call-To-Action
Although UGC can be easy to accumulate from consumers, it is important for brands to present a specific call-to-action that identifies the objectives of your campaign and outlines the desired contributions you are seeking. It is also critical to recognize that many participants in your campaign may initially just be there to view content, and don’t intend to contribute to it. An inspiring call to action or value proposition will help convert those who were simply bystanders.
Also, you must realise that there are many different levels of contributions you can reach, and each type of content has a different target audience. For example: it is far easier for a user to give a “like” or submit a picture than to create a video. Target the masses with simpler requests. On the other hand, target a passionate community of enthusiasts with things that take additional time and effort like video creation.
Your call to action should include two things: 1) very clearly state the type of content you are soliciting, and 2) provide users with an incentive, such as the promise of status/fame, a prize or exclusive discounts, in order to participate.
In addition, you should use the thrill of competition to get customers excited and their competitive juices flowing. You can also increase the volume of participation and engagement by making it easy for participants to share the campaign across their social channels.
2. Maintain Your Quality Control
One potential risk when opening your brand to contributed content from customers is the potential for your usual quality standards not to be upheld. This is why it’s essential to set clear parameters and expectations at the outset of a user generated content campaign. Offering incentives for winners will also place a premium on quality content by tapping into people’s competitive nature. This is good for consumers because it helps them elevate the quality of their submission, while also preventing results that are off-brand.
3. Depth vs. Breadth
One of the biggest ways for marketers to drive results is by taking steps to ensure their user generated content campaign provides widespread marketing value. Therefore, a key question to ask when planning a campaign is how it can be valuable to more than just those who actively participate.
While you will naturally receive fewer entrants in a contest that asks users to prepare an entry, the entries you receive will likely come from those who are more passionate about your brand or the reward opportunity. This is might happen because the majority of people participating in your campaign will simply view or interact with content rather than actually preparing and submitting their own entry, it is important to incentivize both content submitters and content viewers.
Do you know that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family and 70% trust online reviews, while the vast majority view paid online advertising with deep suspicion? This trust factor is one of the most important selling points for a UGC campaign. It’s imperative for marketers to make it authentic and consistent with the brand’s persona. And due to the wealth of information and content available in today’s digital world, authentic content is celebrated and more meaningful.
Authenticity shines through in the entries as parents share details on everything from a simple smile that brightens their day to community service projects that can make a big difference. Harness a more authentic and meaningful experience for your customer by driving a two-way conversation throughout your campaign — from the submission stage, to social sharing, voting, and beyond. However, be keenly aware that transparency is critical as any problems in the experience can be broadcast instantly by digital consumers across social media.
Good content always drives good engagement. User generated content campaigns are not new, but with the rise of mobile and social tools present even greater opportunities for marketers to increase engagement among a passionate group of consumers. When done well, these campaigns will lead to significantly increased brand engagement.