As consumers battled to get used to the “new normal” in 2020, brands were also faced with finding new ways to stay connected with their audience. Not only that, but the last twelve months have completely destroyed the concept behind big advertising campaigns. Social distancing meant camera crews weren’t able to gather, while many brands faced content production limitations.
But there was one type of content that was particularly pandemic-friendly: UGC.
In 2020, we saw a dramatic surge in customer-created photos and videos, across all different industries. Brands were able to collect and share content under tight budgets, with short deadlines, and without going all out on production. More importantly, they were able to share content that tapped into a growing need for human connection -- which will remain a key element to consider in your 2021 approach.
What is UGC marketing?
User-generated marketing can be defined as any strategy that allows consumers to participate in a marketing campaign. By creating a more interactive and engaging experience for a target audience, user-generated marketing is as much a PR exercise as anything else.
It's a very cost-effective marketing tactic that can transform a business into a brand. A brand could start up a discussion about a popular topic on social media and drive engagement. It doesn't have to be about a particular product or service; the effectiveness of the strategy lies in the visibility of the brand within the conversation.
What makes user-generated content so effective?
Marketers running digital marketing campaigns understand the importance of quality content. Good content attracts people. It makes them more likely to talk about and share your brand with others.
Traditionally marketers would have generated that content themselves, either in house or more often via an external creative agency. Today, that may still be the case for many campaigns. However, with the advent of social media, and hashtag adoption, some of that strain can be taken by UGC.
A new marketing approach -- getting user generated content
You need a strong content plan to be successful with your marketing efforts. At this point, you know who your ideal buyers are, the type of content you will be creating, and your goals. With this knowledge, you can finally start creating meaningful content.
The evolution of content marketing
The importance of content marketing has been increasing ever since it came into existence. Earlier the brands used to created promotional branded content about their products to lure customers and sell their products.
As time progressed, content marketing saw an evolution into delivering more information rather than promotional content which also proved to be helpful but as time changed, it wasn't effective or fruitful as the marketers expected it to be.
As consumers became more aware and involved along with the rise of social media and digital platforms.
Coming recent times, brands and marketers realized that spammy and promotional marketing has led to distrust & unreliability among the users as they saw misrepresentation & unreal content that promised untrue things.
Not just that but the old-age content marketing only allowed one-way communication where consumer engagement was minimum that led to low conversions & revenue.
Given these challenges in content marketing, brands & marketers now looking for solutions that help them build trust, showcase credibility, and enable the user engagement with the brand.
This quest led to the identification of "user generated content marketing" being the most suitable option for marketing that perfectly serves the need of this era.
So, the content marketing that started from being too loud and promotional about the brand has evolved into consumers being the drivers of user generated content campaigns for leading global brands.
The role of UGC in marketing
As you can see, the types of content you can share are endless. It's vital to keep your mission statement in mind when you're deciding which types of content to create. You should also create a content calendar that lays out everything you will be posting to each platform.
When creating a content calendar, it's a good idea to follow the social media rule of thirds. This means that one-third of your content should promote your products or services,one-third should share resources, tips, and industry news, and one-third should be interactive content that entertains your audience and encourages them to interact.
Creating high-quality, engaging content should be your top priority when it comes to your social media strategy. Don't forget to share user-generated content (UGC) that your customers are creating as well. It's also a good idea to create a simple brand-specific hashtag and encourage your customers to use it whenever they talk about your products or services. A hashtag will allow you to track what your customers are saying about your company more efficiently.
UGC marketing advantages for brands
content marketing resorted to the user-generated content to drive results and here we present some advantages that UGC marketing presents for content marketing & brand growth.
Create trust and reliability
First and foremost, when incorporated in marketing campaigns, UGC helps in creating & building a sense of trust & reliability among the consumers about the brand & its products.
It is necessary to build trust among consumers as it is a key metric that influences the purchase decisions of the consumers. Having reliability over brand also ignites loyalty & repeat purchases leading to customer retention.
Showcase authenticity and brand advocacy
Moving ahead with trust, showcasing the real experiences of real customers in your marketing campaigns works as validation to the authenticity of the promotional message that is being conveyed in the campaign.
Besides, it also displays brand advocacy as existing customers become the brand representatives. It enhances the brand images along with evergreen and organic positive word-of-mouth marketing.
Increase user engagement and interaction
The traditional marketing only had one-way diffusion of information from brands to marketers. Social media marketing allowed users to engage with the marketing campaigns, and now UGC marketing takes engagement and interaction to the next level.
With UGC marketing, the engagement is at maximum with users creating content, engaging with campaigns like contributing to hashtag campaigns, interactions through responses & gamification, etc. User engagement is a key metric that marketers target as the level of a user's engagement defines its path towards conversions. Besides, it also enables productive two-way communications, meaningful relationship building, user gratification, reward opportunities, and much more.
Drive conversions and revenue
The benefits discussed above are all key influencers to conversions & revenue. So, starting from user-generated content marketing to the inclusion of UGC in the purchase path can help in increasing conversions immensely.
These facts, such as ads with UGC getting 5x more click-through rates, UGC being almost 10x more influential than influencers content for consumers in their purchase decisions, etc. are indicative of how UGC can drive revenue for the biggest of brands.
UGC marketing strategies
It's worthwhile to take a beat and talk a little bit about why -- from a strategic perspective -- user-generated content is a valuable addition to your marketing repertoire.
At the risk of oversimplification, we'd argue that it all comes down to a single word: trust. Hardly anyone is going to buy a product or a service from a company they don't trust, especially if buying it requires using a debit or credit card online. At the end of the day, earning new customers requires means earning people's trust.
As those stats from the previous section illustrate, consumers trust other consumers -- a whole lot. That's why user-generated content is such an effective marketing strategy. When you use it -- in an Instagram post, in a Facebook Story, or on your landing page -- you tap into the same sentiment that compels consumers to read Amazon reviews before making purchases.
Plus, as an added bonus, curating -- that is, getting a hold of -- user-generated content from your current customers is an awesome way to engage them in your marketing process. The business-consumer relationship isn't purely transactional. Chances are that a lot of your customers feel connected to your business, and curating user-generated content is a fun, powerful way to establish reciprocity in that connection.
These two key benefits of incorporating user-generated content into your marketing assets -- establishing trust with your prospects and reciprocity with your customers -- should inform your UGC strategy going forward. When you're considering a potential tactic, ask yourself whether it will help earn the trust of your prospects and engage your customers.
Begin creating your content by deciding which types of content you will be sharing.
One of the ways to get customer content is to host contests on social media, create unique hashtags and get your followers to contribute to your hashtag. With a UGC hashtag contest, you can encourage followers to share content on social media, along with using a particular hashtag. Users can share content like photos and videos accompanied by a specific hashtag, in order to win prizes.
By using specific hashtags and popularizing them, your followers can push your hashtag to trend. This can help to enhance engagement with your target audience, build brand awareness and, ultimately, boost sales.
Create hashtags that are easy to remember and aren't difficult to spell in order to ensure success. It's also important to use hashtags that set your brand apart from your competitors, also including your branded hashtag in all your posts.
Constant social engagement
One of the top benefits of user-generated content is that it serves as excellent social proof. Seeing content from real customers increases your credibility and brings your brand's promises into perspective.
User-generated content is one of the most powerful tools in today's marketing arsenal. It's proof that you have dedicated fans, products worth talking about, and a social network that will appreciate great content.
Another way to create UGC and engage users is through gamification. In gamification, users are required to complete a few tasks and are then rewarded and recognized for their participation.
Brands use concepts like levels, high-scores, badges, leaderboards, points, etc. to make users complete tasks and share their achievements. You too can give prizes to the winners of the games like offering them special discounts, unlocking badges, making them a part of your VIP club, etc. to increase engagement.
Small incentives inspire users to put extra efforts to do things they otherwise wouldn't. Gamification, therefore, allows you to build a long-term relationship with your clients and helps to transform followers into loyal customers, encouraging them to make repeat purchases from you.
Different types of content:
Trend for UGC marketing
User-generated content can spread awareness about your business and solidify your brand image, enabling you to get a competitive edge. With the above tips, you can leverage UGC to build a strong online presence and drive engagement from your target audience.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to gathering user-generated content to ensure success. Your UGC strategy will be totally dependent on your business goals and the target audience.
By using effective methods, you can give a proper direction to your UGC efforts. So, include user-generated content in your digital marketing strategy and get ready to derive positive results as reliability and authenticity rules the marketing world.