User generated content (or UGC for short) is not a new marketing tool but nevertheless, it is starting to become increasingly more important as part of a wider content marketing strategy.
This is because social media has allowed us to reach new audiences without having to invest significant amounts of money or tap into tight marketing budgets.
By adding user generated content to your plan, you can grow your audience; attract new customers and add a sense of authority to your brand voice.
All of this combined can help to increase your conversion rate and revenue — no mean feat when you consider how relatively easy it is to do.
In this guide, we will share with you some of our best tips on how to incorporate UGC into your marketing efforts by creating a well thought out strategy.
What is user generated content?
User generated content – or UGC – is described as content that has been created and shared by real-life customers or influencers who haven’t been paid to do so.
User generated content is not the same as influencer marketing, where brands pay influencers to advertise a product or service.
Hootsuite defines user generated content as “any content—text, videos, images, reviews, etc.—created by people, rather than brands. And brands will often share UGC on their own social media accounts, website, and other marketing channels.”
The types of content your customers are able to generate includes images, blog posts, videos, reviews and social media posts — or any other form of media they use to communicate with their peers.
The general consensus by both marketers and customers is that UGC is a more authentic, trustworthy form of marketing — people promote the brand on their blog, social media pages or on their website because they believe in the product or service.
Just how powerful is user generated content?
According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report, 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
And in a survey by visual content engine Stackla, they found that 90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support.
The same survey found that consumers are also 2.4x more likely to say user-generated content is authentic compared to brand-created content. Interestingly, marketers who create campaigns are 2.1x more likely to say brand-created content is authentic compared to UGC.
This means that there is a huge opportunity to start tapping into the user generated content market while leapfrogging over your competitors who may not see UGC as an important part of their content marketing plan.
By carrying out the survey, Stackla also discovered these key findings about UGC that are well worth considering when you come to plan your marketing strategy.
- 90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support.
- 92% of marketers believe most or all of the content they create resonates as authentic with consumers. Only 51% of consumers say less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.
- 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. 13% said content from a brand is impactful and only 8% said influencer-created content would highly impact their purchasing decisions.
- Although consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content when making purchasing decisions, 49% of marketers are planning to increase their investment in influencer marketing in 2019.
How to make user generated content part of your strategy
1. Know your audience
Before you start anything, do some research into which social media channels your customers are most active on.
This will enable you to target the platform that will get the highest amount of engagement.
Instagram is one of the best for sharing images and videos. It is also a good platform for bringing your product or service to life. Plus you have the added benefit of hashtags and reshares.
Facebook is possibly the best social media site if you want your content to go viral. It is also a great platform for storytelling.
Twitter should not be underestimated. This platform has recently done away with word counts so you can create longer status updates without having to be constrained by character length. These are also incredibly easy to share, making your content more likely to trend.
LinkedIn is a useful platform for showcasing your brand’s values. While it may not quite as well suited to user generated content, there is definitely some space for it within the professional industries, if done well.
2. Set a clear objective
Next, have a think about what you want to achieve from a user generated campaign.
Is it to build your audience? Or are you looking for product feedback?
You might want to understand customer feeling around a new feature or product or spread brand awareness.
Whatever it is, your objective will steer your campaign. It is therefore a good idea to spend plenty of time thinking about it.
3. Set a time frame for your campaign
Consider the length of time you want your campaign to run. You might find a few weeks is long enough, or you might need the length of an entire campaign to generate enough content.
It might be that time frames don’t work for you if you’re looking to gain a specific amount of content from your customers. If this is the case, work out how much engagement you’re expecting per week and assign a time frame according to your logic.
Once you set your time frame, it’s a good idea to stick to it to get maximum results.
4. Tell your audience what you want from them
We are not suggesting that you tell your audience that you want them to create content for you!
But you do want to steer them in the right direction. For example, if you want them to post pictures to Facebook or Instagram to support your campaign, tell them what they need to post and with what hashtag.
If this is your first time running a USG campaign, offering an incentive, like FatFace have done below, is a great way to raise your engagement levels.
5. Make sure you ask permission
This step is incredibly important but often overlooked.
Before you share any content, you must ask your audience for permission to do so. You won’t need to pay for their content, but if your audience declines, you’ll need to respect their final word and find other content to use.
Be transparent with how you plan to use the content if you are asked: whether you need it for an email campaign or for social media posts.
If your customer does a good job, chances are you might want to use them again, so be sure to build a good rapport with them.
6. Measure your progress
This should be a given, but it is worth a mention anyway. Whatever analytics tools you use to track your social media performance, now is the perfect time to keep on top of your results.
Even if you didn’t get the engagement you were looking for, you can create a list of ‘lessons learned’ for next time.
Document this somewhere central that your entire team (if you have one) can access it – and learn from it.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses, then give UGC another go with a set of clear objectives.
Looking for support with a UGC plan?
If you would like further help or advice on how to plan a user generated content campaign in 2020, please feel free to get in touch with The Content Marketing Team.
We are a friendly and helpful team and will happily chat about your questions and requirements, without obligation.