User generated content (UGC) is emerging as the new must-have of marketing campaigns. It is that one tactic that has proven to deliver high converting results as compared to any other. Marketers from both B2B and B2C industries are embracing UGC and those who are not, are missing out on a big opportunity to hit the market.

Why?

Because, people trust people more than they would ever trust a campaign of yours. No matter how much you personalize your ad campaign, it will still never be able to beat that ‘recommendation’ from a friend!

Think about it. You are looking for a luxury pen to go along with your suit and tie at an event – you want to look good, but you’re also seeking practicality. If you search on Google, you’re probably going to come across luxury pen brand names that you haven’t even heard of before. Either you would go through each one of them, check their reviews and make the purchase with your fingers crossed; or you would call up that one friend who you think could be using such pens and ask for a suggestion.

Well, we definitely lie in the latter category. We don’t just want to save our time, but also ensure that we don’t make the wrong choice and waste our money just for an event!

So what happened here is that we overrode all the campaigns and promises that the brands had to make, and went by another person’s word.

Word. That’s the power of UGC for you and the reason why marketers need to make it a part of their strategy.

What is user generated content?

For those of you who aren’t aware of it, here’s a quick introduction to user generated content – any form of content that is created by a person from the target market on social media or any other digital platform. This could be in the form of a blog, an image, a quick video, audio files, tweets, Facebook post or similar.

Sounds like you have seen it?

Of course you have! Last year when Coca-Cola launched their ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, you practically saw the internet flooding with pictures of people with their customized bottles. They were all over FB, Twitter, Instagram, blogs and where not!

Here’s our Instagram search for #ShareACoke , for instance..

share a coke - instagram

And here’s just one of the many tweets from Twitter for the same hashtag..

share a coke - twitter

We’re not even going to get started on just how many posts there were and still are being shared on social media for that campaign!

Why is user generated content important?

So if you haven’t already figured, here’s taking a look at the top 3 reasons your marketing strategy needs to include user generated content.

1. It’s everywhere already (and there’s lots of it)

The good thing about UGC is that it is available in abundance. People are so active on their social channels that there is a high chance they are talking about your business – be it through a status, a review, a picture or some other for of content.

According to a study by Bazaar Voice, about 64% of millennials feel that businesses should give them more chances and platforms to share their opinions on their products/services online. The example of #ShareACoke, that we gave above, is proof of that!

2. It’s unique to the core

Every customer is different and so is his way of sharing his opinion on your business’s product or service. This ensures that each of the UGC pieces shared digitally are one of their kinds and unique to your brand. There is absolutely no other brand that can claim that content piece as theirs or use it in any way.

UGC is authentic to the core and businesses can leverage from it as their online media. For instance, do you think Pepsi would ever be able to share any of the content from the #ShareACoke campaign? Nope.

3. It’s highly scalable

Each customer of yours has a huge circle of his own. He not be an influencer to have a set of people who follow them closely and trust everything they have to say. This makes user generated content really easy to scale.

Your customer’s social presence gives a boost to your reach as well. It gives them a free hand at passing on your brand’s story as they seem fit. And the chain just continues to grow with happy customers one after the other.

How to do you garner user generated content?

If all the above has inspired you to create a marketing campaign that encourages your audience to contribute content to it, here’s how you should get started:

1. Know who your customers are

The first and foremost step to creating a UGC campaign is to know who you’re asking to contribute content. This will help you personalize your messages better and keep them engaged with better strategies. It will also give you a sense of direction when framing a campaign.

2. Make it easy

Make it easy for your customers to contribute their content. Be it a specific hashtag that they could add to their descriptions or a tag that they could make to let you know it’s up. Keep it simple and let them know you’re always looking forward to more content from them.

3. Incentivise the activity

The one way to ensure that maximum of your audience and customers participate in your UGC campaign, is to incentivise the activity. Offer something like a shout-out, a special discount to the first 100 or something else depending on your marketing budgets in lieu of a share!

4. Keep it social

User generated content is meant to be shared. So make sure you are promoting the campaign on all social channels. Let your audience know what people are sharing by giving a few users shout-outs every now and then. Who doesn’t like being featured on a business page!

For example, Starbucks shares one of their customer’s pictures as a cover picture and gives them a shout-out as well. Here’s a collage with pictures from their users for the #WhiteCupContest:

starbucks facebook

5. Think outside the box

The thing with UGC is that you really need to think outside the box to nudge your customers to contribute. This especially holds true for businesses that don’t have a UGC – click worthy – kind of product. In that case, create a campaign that focuses on the customer’s experience instead and makes them want to share something related to it.

For example, Lay’s campaign is all around their customers spending time at the beaches! After all, it is the summer season. And here’s how people are sharing their custom packets with the hashtag, #LaysSummer on Instagram:

lays instagram

Over to you

Marketing is becoming extremely challenging. Businesses don’t just need a well laid out strategy and a marketing budget to remain on top of their market competition, but also constantly remain in the eyes of the customers in one way or the other.

It is important to understand that marketing today can’t end at an acquisition, it needs to include retention strategies and word-of-mouth for a sustainable business growth.


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Vanhishikha Bhargava

Content Marketer at Exit Bee. Most of the times found trying to create compelling copies for blogs and digital campaigns, keeping a watch on what's happening on social media or ranting on Twitter. At all other times, not found.

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