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Key Benefits of User Generated Content and How to Make it Work

Customers are increasingly being bombarded with brand messages and they are responding to this by becoming more hyper-focused. They are looking less at adverts and are instead yearning for a deeper, closer and more interactive experience with brands. User generated content is one way smart marketers are humanising brands in an effort to push engagement and sustained visibility.

It’s easy to see why UGC has become the next iteration of word of mouth made more powerful by technology. In one study, 86 percent of millenials surveyed said that UGC was a clear indicator of the quality of a brand. A different study found that 68 percent of social media users between the ages of 18 and 24 based their purchasing decisions on information shared on social media.

What is User Generated Content?

user generated contentWhilst people have been sharing stories about brands for decades, technology has significantly changed how we tell stories today as is evidenced by user generated content. UGC is a type of content created by a consumer and becomes part of a brand’s assets.

Social media followers, expert content creators and influencers can create all sorts of content that a brand can use—this constitutes the essence of UGC.

Why Your Brand Needs User Generated Content

Integrating user generated content with other aspects of your marketing strategy has several benefits:

Boosts greater engagement:  One study found a 28 percent increase in engagement when brands used UGC in their product promotion videos. In addition to trusting UGC more, consumers are twice as likely to share this type of content with those in their social circles.

Improve relationship with consumers:  Over 50 percent of consumers trust content created by other users. Giving them access to such content helps to humanise your brand and create trust.

Higher organic traffic: UGC provides an opportunity for people to link to your brand, which includes your website, therefore serving as a good source of traffic.

Increase in conversion rates:  Findings show up to 4.6 percent increase in conversion rates when consumers interact with UGC during the shopping cycle.

Growth of social base: Brands that leverage UGC typically attract a lot of attention as consumers look out for a good deal, a challenging contest and a place where likeminded people are holding interesting conversations.

How to Make the Most of User Generated Content

While UGC is all the rage, few brands are actually getting it right in terms of seeing results on key metrics such as engagement, conversion and return on investment. Here are some key requirements for leveraging the power of UGC:

Choose the Right Type of Content

Assuming you have laid out the goals and objectives for your UGC strategy, the next step is outlining the type of content required to achieve these brand goals. Content can be divided into the types of channels that will be used to reach out to your audience:

Earned channels: Brands can shape and sustain conversations by inspiring users to create and share content on earned channels.  Examples of such content include theme-specific social media content, product reviews and ratings to be featured on relevant websites or branded content by an influencer targeting a specific demographic (think working with YouTube and other social media stars for product reviews etc).

Lowes #FanFixInSix is a superb example of a UGC campaign run on earned channel. Lowe’s engaged its fans on Twitter asking them to come up with DIY how-to-clips. The result was massive engagement where users sent in compelling content on how they use their Lowe’s bought tools.

Owned media: UGC can be used to humanise your owned content such as social media pages, websites or newsletters. Infuse these owned properties with content such as: videos or photos on your website showing real life customers using your product or services, including consumer photos, reviews and ratings on product pages or curating microsites for specific campaigns where consumers’ stories are featured.

In an effort to attract people to the Great Barrier Reef, Tourism Queensland placed an ad on its website and social media pages asking people to apply for “the best job in the world” as a caretaker of a tropical island in the Great Barrier Reef. The viral campaign saw up to 35,000 people create video applications and then the public voted for the winner. The result? 55 million pages views, 8.4 million unique visitors and up to $368m in media coverage.

Paid channels: These include paid social, print, TV and digital media.  Using UGC through paid channels enables greater reach and content targeting while engaging consumers with content that is highly relevant to them. Content ideas include TV or print ads featuring content created by fan, ads endorsed by a celebrity or paid social media that promotes videos or photos created by a fan.

WCRS created a campaign for Santander UK featuring colorful video footage from users who were asked to record shot clips every day and then edit them into a film around the theme “prosperity is not just about finances; it is also a result of life goals and experiences.” The widely popular campaign was showcased as a 60-second TV, on Snapcha, VOD and as digital out of home.

Set Clear Guidelines for Content Submission

user generated contentJust because consumers are at the forefront of UGC does not mean that you should give up complete control of the process. Afdhel Aziz Brand Director, ABSOLUT Labs recommends that through strategic directives, brands can shape conversations around specific teams to ensure that UGC aligns with the campaign goals.

As you source for UGC, provide your community with examples of consumers created content for inspiration. Be specific about the type of content you want so that you are receiving good quality and relevant content.

Instead of settling for mediocre pictures, videos or audience, take time to source for content that is compelling and that truly reflects your brands.

Partner with Expert Content Creators

In an effort to streamline UGC with your brand image and campaign goals, working with influencers can be a great plus. These content creators have not only established a large following but they also have a knack for identifying and developing content concepts that can catapult your brand in the right direction. Some best practices for successful partnerships with content creators include:

  1. Provide them with guidelines about your campaign goals and your brand essence but give them autonomy for creativity.
  2. Work with content creators whose dominant themes align with your brand story.
  3. Offer them value in return. In addition to monetary compensation, help content creators indulge their own interests as well, for example, by amplifying their brand through your own paid, earned and owned channels.

A key goal of user generated content is building trust, credibility and a sense of community. By offering consumers the chance to connect with new people through meaningful conversations, you are in a better place to successfully drive develop emotional connections and create long term customers.

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