We as marketers understand word-of-mouth communication is the single most powerful form of commercial persuasion. When consumers talk and their friends listen, information gets passed and decisions are influenced. And with the evolution of social media, consumers can share information/content more freely on numerous channels and in many different formats. This information is better known as user-generated content (UGC).
User-Generated Content (UGC) - any form of content such as video, blogs, discussion form posts, images, audio files, and other forms of media created by consumers or end-users of an online system or service and is made publicly available to others consumers and end-users.
With endless streams of data and information at our fingertips (product information, comparison tools, peer review, etc.), consumers are doing their fair share of homework long before reaching a webpage or store.
UGC campaigns are essential for this reason - they activate and engage the fans and followers passionate about your brand and get them chatting and sharing on your behalf. And because consumers listen to these individuals so favorably, brands are opting for user-generated content (UGC) versus brand-produced content for their marketing efforts. Why? Because the prior is exponentially more authentic and authenticity is vital when influencing buying and staying power. You’re more likely to try the new Mexican place if it's suggested by a friend than you are if you read about it. So let's take a closer look into the value of UGC and when and where to leverage it. Also, be sure to read on for some great examples...
UGC Campaign Benefits:
- Gives sense of ownership to consumers - they're in the campaign's driver seat
- Authentic, peer-driven stories that fans will relate to.
- Pictures, videos, and testimonials are all powerful content pieces that can be used for future marketing initiatives.
UGC Campaign Tips:
- Create a central hub for users to visit and consume content, but drive traffic via other channels to gain traction.
- Incentivize users to participate by incorporating a giveaway or sweepstakes.
- Understand your audience: tech-savvy enough for photo uploads, spend time on social media?
- Make the user experience as intuitive as possible. Larger giveaways and prizes may require input from consumers but don’t make them jump through unnecessary hoops to participate.
UGC Campaign Ideas:
- Conventions and events (entice attendees to share their experience)
- Product launches (peak excitement and anticipation for your upcoming launch)
- New product names (open par to the creative process to your fans)
- Packaging designs (see Red Bull example below)
- Recipe ideas (great for summertime, holiday weekends, July 4th)
Now that we understand the benefits of UGC campaigns, how do we decide where to host one?
Brands have spent years amassing communities across their social channels; countless fans who log on readily to consume, discuss, and share the latest content. And while content is generally garnered from social, there are opportunities for campaigns to physically live there. This has become a fairly common practice with hashtag specific campaigns and Facebook fan pages.
UGC, specifically photos and video, accompanied by brand-specific hashtags are great ways to drive conversation and aggregate content for your brand. If you are a large brand, chances are you have already launched a hashtag-driven campaign of your own. Hashtags were originally designed to organize massive amounts of information working its way through Twitter. Now, they are used by consumers and brands to create conversations, interact with family and friends, and promote products and campaigns to large audiences.
Running a UGC campaign on a Facebook page is a smart tactic as well, especially for SMB’s and mom and pop stores. For starters, Facebook is home to 1.65 billion (!!!) monthly active users worldwide so the opportunity to gather likes and engagement should pile up with even a bit of work.
But receiving likes is not enough to provide a sustainable business. Were Facebook to disappear, how would you contact your new fans? Running a UGC campaign, sweepstakes, or giveaway on your fan page allows you to collect leads! Shortly after, you should have a list of contacts to email once or twice a week with updates and helpful information that leads them to your website, where hopefully they will become customers.
Embed into your homepage
With many of Hyperactivate's blue chip clients, one of the most common objectives is to increase traffic homepage traffic. Hosting a UGC campaign on a webpage, where consumers already go to contact you, make a purchase, or check an order, simplifies the customer journey making the overall user experience more intuitive. If your goal is to indeed boost traffic, purchases, content consumption, etc., this makes for a solid choice.
Landing Page or Microsite
While embedding your campaign into your homepage may help to boost traffic, doing so could potentially harm the overall success of the campaign and here’s why - too many distractions. On a homepage, visitors have lots to digest between navigation panes, tabs, banners, pre-rolls and more and this could contribute to a drop-off in participation. The sole purpose of a landing page is to get your prospects to take a specific, desired action such as downloading a whitepaper/ebook, starting a free trial, subscribing to a newsletter, etc.
Mix it up
Sometimes less is more, and you never want to bombard your fans. But if the strategy makes sense, multiple marketing channels could prove fruitful depending on the objective(s) of your campaign. Because of the embeddable nature of Hyperactivate’s tools, our applications can live on multiple channels and still update simultaneously with the same content. As previously mentioned, it is ideal to have a central hub for your campaign, supported by other channels.
Selecting the right channel for your UGC campaign is essential to its success. And with the ever changing landscape of social media, the opportunities are endless. Depending on your goals and objectives, there’s sure to be one most sensible for your initiative.
What are your thoughts on UGC and UGC campaigns? Have you had success, did one channel outperform another? Be sure to share your experiences and tips in the comments below.
Posted May 17, 2016 by Cameron Hogan (@camhog21)