2020 was the year of pandemic and it is not a surprise that it left businesses with tight marketing budget. Many businesses struggled with content creation too because due to lockdown creative companies were not able to create professional contents for their clients. Thus, businesses were forced to refrain their online marketing.
As a result, savvy marketers turned into user generated content (UGC) and employee-generated content (EGC). This not only fixed their problem of content creation, but also nurture their audience better.
Why is UGC so Powerful?
It is quick, cheap, easy to create, and authentic.
UGC’s popularity was on the rise before the pandemic, but the Covid outbreak and the lockdown accelerated it.
As brands were unable to create high-quality content, they shifted to UGC instead because it was less expensive, quick, and easy to create.
Authenticity has become more important than ever for customers.
According to TINT’s recent survey, an overwhelming of 93% of marketers agreed that customers trust more on content created by customers than created by brands. (TINT, 2021)
The same survey revealed that 75% of marketers knew that adding UGC to their marketing makes their brand content more authentic. (TINT, 2021)
UGC Best Practices
One of Stackla’s surveys revealed that content created by consumers had impact on 60% (and 70% of Millennials) of surveyed consumers’ purchase decisions. (P., Cassidy, 2017)
According to the same survey an overwhelming 90% of Millennials said authenticity is important when choosing brands to support.
UGC opportunities are endless. There are many ways to creatively use it for business purposes. Here are some ideas.
Partner with Nano and Micro Influencers
Follower base between 1k – 10k
They are often expert of a particular field
They have stable and loyal follower base and high engagement rate
Follower base between 10k and 50k
Their authenticity is high
(Influencer Marketing Hub, 2020)
Image Source: Pixabay
Nano and micro influencers have seen increased popularity in the recent times. Although, these influencers have less followers, their follower base is more stable and loyal. Micro and nano influencers show the highest engagement rate (7%) among all of the other influencer types. (A., Hutchinson, 2021)
(Learn more about the ins and outs of influencer marketing)
Micro and nano influencers are often expert in a particular field that make them trustworthy in the eye of their followers. They have very close relationship with their followers. These influencers are actively participating in conversations, replying to DMs and sharing honest personal reviews and recommendations to cultivate their relationships with their audience. (Influencer Marketing Hub, 2020)
To simply put: people trust people.
We have a natural desire for human connection. This desire has strengthened during the months of isolation. As a result, authentic contents have become more important than ever.
Although, lockdown has been eased and we are now allowed to socialise again, authenticity will continue trending.
Looking for long-term relationships with influencers instead of ‘one-off’ projects is a hot trend in 2021.
Because brands realised it takes time to generate sales. Even influencers with the highest engagement rate need time to achieve the goals set. (Influencer Marketing Hub, 2021)
Plus, ongoing partnership increases reach and loyalty.
Celebrating diversity is a great tactic when it comes to UGC. Make your content more relatable to wider range of audience by encouraging diverse range of voices. This allows you to reach a wide range of audience while making your brand more accessible. (N., Canning, 2021)
Employees as Influencers
Who knows better a company than its employees?
Employee-based content is another result of the demand of authenticity. Customers love to go behind the scenes of brands to see what’s going on there. And who could show the most reliable picture of how it is like working for a particular brand than its employees.
Social Media Today’s survey found that contents shared by employees received 8x more engagement than contents shared by brands. (P., Dunay, 2014)
Posts shared by employees receive 21% more likes than a branded social media ad. (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2016)
Image Source: @ladiesandgentlemenbar
Employees not only humanise the brand, but also help push, amplify, and accelerate brand content while bypassing ad-blockers and ever-changing algorithms that prevent organic brand content from reaching a wider audience.
Brands have started leveraging this by launching their employee advocacy programs.
Employee advocacy is not a one-way street though. Make sure you offer attractive rewards in return of their efforts. – warns Dustin Hawley from Viral Nation. (D., Hawley, n/a)
Determine the Purpose of UGCs
UGCs should deliver value to customers. It means, they should always serve a purpose to be effective. That purpose can be a demonstration on how to use a product, give inspiration or honest review of a product to help others making decision.
For example, Maxwell’s Bar & Grill created an Instagram highlight, called ‘Guests’ where they highlight memorable customer experiences shared by their guests.
Image Source: @maxwellscoventgarden
Collab with Other Brands
As a business, you want to stand out of the crowd by doing something different and original.
Why not collab with another brand and create something standout both of you can benefit from?
Cahoots London and Patty & Bun came up with a successful collaboration during the pandemic.
While their venues were closed during lockdown, they created a limited-edition DIY ‘High Spirit Kit Box’ together for home delivery. The box offered pe-packed signature cocktails for two from Cahoots and all the ingredients for 2 Patty & Bun signature burgers to be made at home.
Authenticity is key.
Stackla’s survey revealed that consumers 2.4x more likely to say UGC as authentic. (Stackla, 2019)
According to the same survey authenticity is important to 90% of surveyed consumers when it comes to deciding which brand they support.
Contents that feel too filmy or artificial will not get the desired engagement rate. That’s why brands should choose influencers carefully to make sure honest reviews and opinions will be shared about the brands’ products or services.
Brands should aim to create deeper relationship with their influencers, so the influencers can create valuable contents that better resonate with their audience.
Instead of sharing standard posts, encourage your influencers or fans to share honest reviews about your products or services, organise Q&As or how-to videos. (Influencer Marketing Hub, 2021)
UGC is not just about spreading the world of your brand, but also a great opportunity to build community. Being part of a community, your audience feel they are part of something great and something bigger than just a repost. – explains Nikki Canning in one of Later’s blog. (N., Canning, 2021)
How to build community?
You can easily start building your community by using hashtags. Just think about Apple’s ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign. iPhone users were asked to take photos with their phones and use #ShotoniPhone hashtag for a chance to be featured on billboards in cities such as London or New York. Millions of participated in the contest.
Image Source: @apple
UGC Should Educate, Entertain or Inform Your Audience
The top reasons why people visit social media are:
- Stay updated with news and events
- Find entertaining content
- Research and find products
It means, not all UGC have to be product-related. Make sure you encourage your fans and influencers to share informative, memorable, sharable, or even funny content related to your brand.
The Churchill Bar & Terrace loves re-sharing posts of their customers having fun, just like this one. As we can see, this post has nothing to do with The Churchill’s Bar’s menu or the products they sell.
Image Source: @thechurchillbar
Two Rules to Keep in Mind Before Sharing UGC
- Make sure you ask permission
Send a friendly message to the creator in which you tell them how much you love the content they have created and ask them if they would be happy if you share that content on your platform.
This step is often missed, however not everyone is happy to be featured on brands social media channels.
- Credit the source
Make sure you always credit the original source of the content regardless which social media channel it is.
Image Source: @theknotchurros
Creative UGC Campaign Ideas You Can Integrate Into Your Marketing Strategy Right Now
As we saw it, UGC is a powerful, easy, and budget-friendly way to promote your business. Whether you want to promote a new product launch, brand awareness or customer appreciation campaign, incorporating UGC into your digital marketing strategy can help you drive success.
Here are some UGC campaign ideas you can implement into your digital marketing strategy straight away.
UGC Focused Contests
The best way to encourage your audience to share your content is to host a contest.
Create branded hashtags and ask your audience to use them when submitting to the contest.
Offerpop survey revealed that only 32% customers take part of a contest for the price to win. Instead, they participate (60%) because they want to be featured on the brand’s channel. (Offerpop, 2016)
Plus, using branded hashtags helps your brand create a library of great contents, so you always have relevant materials to share. (C., Newberry, 2019)
Cahoots London created different hashtags for their experiences and then encouraged their audience to hashtag the experience they would like to win. This contest ran on Facebook and Instagram and received thousands of submissions.
Image Source: @cahootslondon
Share Product Reviews
From Trustpilot to Google to Facebook, there are tons of platforms on the Internet to share reviews of a business, products, services, and experiences.
Why not share some of those reviews on your social channels?
The trick is, do not share the positive ones only.
If you received a negative review from a customer but you professionally and successfully solved their issue, showed empathy and care; let your audience see it.
Sharing those success stories not only show authenticity, but you can showcase your unbeatable customer service too. This helps build trust.
Social Channel Takeover
Social media takeover means that you temporary grant your social media posting privileges to someone you trust. – explains Hootsuite in one of their articles. (K., Sehl, 2019)
You can partner with a trusted influencer, expert, or professional to run your Instagram Stories, host your Facebook Lives, or manage your tweets on Twitter for a day or more.
Social takeover has several benefits.
- Your followers can see your brand, products, or services from a new perspective
- It can increase your brand exposure
- You can gain more followers
- It can attract more audience to your online events/lives
(K., Sehl, 2019)
Image Source: @gorillashrimp
Use Branded Templates
Randomly and instantly reposting stories is not the best idea, as they can mess your scheduled stories.
Instead, identify different themes and cluster UGCs around those themes. Use your branded templates and organise story series.
In this way, you can remain organised with your posts, keep your branded look on social media while keeping your posts and stories consistent.
Elan Café London use different shades of pink as a background to customise and cluster UGC contents.
Image Source: @elan_cafe
Retarget Interested Audience with Advert
As UGC is more trusted than business generated content, it is a good idea to retarget your audience with ads. (N., Canning, 2021)
What is more, take one step further and use UGC-based images or videos in your ad.
Ask permission before you use any of your fans’ content. If they are happy with their photos or videos to be used in your social ad, give it a go.
Do not forget to reward your fan you borrowed the visuals from. Offer discount, send a gif card, or offer a complementary piece of cake and coffee if you are running a café shop or a restaurant. They will love it. Plus, it will generate more UGC content, improve loyalty, and build trust.
Measure Your Success
Similarly to any other efforts on social media, make sure you measure the success of UGCs.
Which content received the most engagement? What type of post was that? Which posts showed the least engagement rate? Why? Which branded hashtag of yours received a lot of clicks and shares?
Learn from your metrics and learn how you can better serve your audience. In this way, you can improve your UGC strategy to create even more successful campaigns, while saving time and energy. (N., Canning, 2021)
A., Hutchinson (2021) Social Media Today “Nano Influencers: Who Are They and How to Work With Them [Infographic]” [Online] Available at: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/nano-influencers-who-are-they-and-how-to-work-with-them-infographic/595048/?fbclid=IwAR2fA7xYB0bmWw9X4gSCaZ0GLUi2RYlQCKJ-eHgnM9NKVd3Hd4reKGQSM7g [Accessed 26 April 2021]
C., Newberry (2019) Hootsuite “A Marketer’s Guide to Using User-Generated Content on Social Media” [Online] Available at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/user-generated-content-ugc/ [Accessed 1 May 2021]
D., Hawley (n/a) Viral Nation “Why Are Brands Helping Their Employees Become Influencers?” [Online] Available at: https://www.viralnation.com/blog/why-are-brands-helping-their-employees-become-influencers/ [Accessed 30 April 2021]
Edelman Trust Barometer (2016) “2016 Edelman TRUST BAROMETER” [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kfw759dqUkY&t=87s [Accessed 28 April 2021]
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Influencer Marketing Hub (2021) “13 Influencer Marketing Trends to Watch in 2021” [Online] Available at: https://influencermarketinghub.com/influencer-marketing-trends/ [Accessed 28 April 2021]
J., Goldman (2021) “(More) digital trends for 2021: Influencer- and user-generated content” [Online] Available at: https://www.emarketer.com/content/more-digital-trends-2021-influencer-user-generated-content [Accessed 26 April 2021]
K., Sehl (2019) Hootsuite “How to Run a Smart Social Media Takeover” [Online] Available at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-takeovers/ [Accessed 1 May 2021]
N., Canning (2021) Later “Ultimate Guide to User-Generated Content” [Online] Available at: https://later.com/blog/user-generated-content/#best [Accessed 28 April 2021]
Offerpop (2016) “Offerpop Survey Identifies Gaps between How Consumers and Marketers Think about User-Generated Content” [Online] Available at: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160503005382/en/Offerpop-Survey-Identifies-Gaps-Consumers-Marketers-User-Generated [Accessed 1 May 2021]
P., Cassidy (2017) Stackla “Why UGC Is The Key To Authenticity & Consumer Influence” [Online] Available at: https://stackla.com/resources/blog/why-ugc-is-key-to-authenticity-consumer-influence/ [Accessed 30 April 2021]
P., Dunay (2014) Social Media Today “From Employee to Advocate: Mobilize Your Team to Share Your Brand Content” [Online] Available at: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/employee-advocate-mobilize-your-team-share-your-brand-content [Accessed 28 April 2021]
Stackla (2019) “Stackla Survey Reveals Disconnect Between the Content Consumers Want & What Marketers Deliver” [Online] Available at: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190220005302/en/Stackla-Survey-Reveals-Disconnect-Content-Consumers-Marketers [Accessed 30 April 2021]
Statista (2020) “Most Popular Reasons for Internet Users Worldwide to Use Social Media as of 3rd Quarter 2020” [Online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/715449/social-media-usage-reasons-worldwide/ [Accessed 30 April 2021]
TINT (2021) “State of User-Generated Content 2021 Report” [Online] Available at: https://www.go.tintup.com/state-of-ugc-report-2021 [Accessed 26 April 2021]