How-to: How to use user generated content effectively for your campaign

There are many reasons for integrating user-generated content. With these tips, your followers will soon create content for the next advertising campaign.

© Plush Design Studio – Unsplash

User-generated content refers to images, videos, reviews etc. that were created by users and not by the brand itself. This content is then often used by the corresponding brands as advertising on their social media channels. Instagram, in particular as a visual platform, is at the forefront when it comes to sharing UGC with the community.

That is why user-generated content is relevant

Content created by fans of the brand itself offers several advantages over the branded content. It has been found that the trust in the authenticity of the statements conveyed by other users is 2.4 times higher than in the case of material that is created by the brand itself. Another private individual is more on a par with the consumer and is considered to be more honest. Word of mouth is regarded as a proven image booster, and UGC is nothing else; only the type of propaganda has moved to the online world. In a study on Generation Z, which is expected to be the largest consumer group by 2020, has shown that young consumers are increasingly buying on the recommendation of their friends, family or the people they follow on social media. The integration of UGC can, therefore, have a positive effect on the consumer’s purchase decision.

Higher conversion and engagement through UGC

It also opens up advantages for users who contribute their content. You feel part of a community. Your contribution and the sense of community strengthen the bond with the brand. The engagement increases with user-generated content. On the one hand, by the followers who create the content and on the other side, by the followers who watch it. The time a user spends on a website is also proven to be higher if UGC is on the page.

Many consumers hesitate to make a purchase decision because they fear that the product or performance may not be as shown. UGC can help overcome this fear and increase conversion.

On the side, for the advertiser, there is also the practical advantage that users create advertising free of charge. Advertising that also has to be created otherwise and that is often thought up by the fans of the brand in a more creative, authentic and unique way. Just think of successful UGC campaigns like #aeriereal from the aerie fashion brand, which managed to increase their sales by 20%. In its advertising campaign, aerie refrained from returning work in Photoshop and had called for sharing its unprocessed images in the new aerie swimsuit. For each image shared, a dollar should be donated to the National Eating Disorder Association.

The aerie brand launched a successful UGC-based campaign. © ChinaeAlexander – aerie on Instagram

The battle of the Queensland tourism authority, which wanted to select a candidate for “the best job in the world” some time ago, also attracted massive amounts of UGC. A job advertisement was used to find someone to enjoy life on an Australian island for six months while blogging about it. More than 35,000 applicants made videos or wrote poems to convince themselves. “The response was global, we had applications from Antarctica to Zimbabwe,” said a spokeswoman. For example, the application video of one of the applicants on YouTube alone has 197,188 views. Almost without spending any money, Queensland has made a lot of things known as a travel destination. The actual promotion only started with the blog of the winner.

Over 35,000 people applied for “the best job in the world”. © Best Job In The World – YouTube

“Social Proof” makes UGC so effective

With little knowledge of a product, we trust the opinion of others who supposedly have more experience. For example, customer reviews work on the Internet. The psychological phenomenon of so-called “social proof” uses people’s striving for conformity and influences their decision. The customer is still easy to change in the new decision-making process, so it should be intercepted as early as possible, as long as it has not yet been committed.

The disadvantages are minor

The legal restrictions and the fact that the control over what is posted to UGC is almost zero. But the most significant factor preventing you from starting a hashtag campaign, for example, is the concern: what if no one takes part?

How users post under the desired hashtag

We have put together some helpful tips below to make sure that users like to contribute their content to the campaign.

Serve intrinsic and extrinsic motivations

The motives of a user to create content for a brand are essential, like fun and challenging, and external, like the recognition to be received and possible prizes. Brands that want to stimulate their followers should make sure to increase their motivation when using these points. To obtain photos of users, for example, a small challenge should be installed. One should not be afraid to ask precisely what content is desired. This is how the followers feel involved and will enjoy the problem. Although many of these challenges entail a prize, 60 per cent of the participants in a study stated they participate only for the recognition and the chance to be published on the long side of the brand. In any case, space should be created to display and appreciate the generated content appropriately.

Awaken desire and strengthen loyalty

The next point is probably one of the most important: to arouse customers’ passion for the brand. Igniting the passion for a product has driven Apple to perfection. To understand what products customers want, it must be clear what they hope to get from the products. For this purpose, it is essential to know your target group exactly and to respond to them.

None of the things mentioned can work without the loyalty of the followers. While the desire for a product should attract new customers, the reliability of followers is only achieved over time. To get them, it should be shown how much community contributions and support are valued.

UGC keeps users on one-page longer

The “dwell time”, i.e. the time that a visitor spends on the page, can be seen as a direct indicator of the quality of the content of the page. Only if users find interesting content on the page will they be willing to spend more time there, which can have a positive effect on the SEO ranking. The “dwell time” can increase if UGC can be found on the page. So it is best to offer the opportunity for exchange – forums are suitable for this where fans can exchange ideas and give tips – and provide a place for pictures and videos produced by users.

GoPro fans publish their self-made pictures and videos under the #goprolife hashtag. © #goprolife – Instagram

The best practices for UGC

1. Permission and credits:  Always ask for permission to publish the picture. This is possible on Instagram in the comments or via direct message. To be on the safe side, it is of course also possible to have a permission form filled out, as Airbnb does. When publishing, always give credits to the author, not only as a link on the picture but also in the picture description.

2. Offer reward: Offer something as a reward. The prospect is often enough that your image could be shared across the well-known side of the brand, but competition as an additional incentive has often proven its worth.

3. Clarify expectations: An accurate description of what is being sought should be given. So the users have more fun getting creative, and the results also fit the ideas of the marketers.

4. Lookout:  the hashtag may have made it to other channels. So don’t just search for UGC on the platform where the challenge started. Otherwise, good contributions may be overlooked.

5. Learn from UGC: A lot can be learned about the users from the shared content. What was posted when it wasn’t expected? What was not posted that was expected? So UGC can be a valuable source of inspiration for the next advertising campaign.

Final tip:

It’s easy to start with Q & A’s on the website. Surveys on a topic can be used to test carefully what the engagement of your own followers is. This can be implemented particularly easily in Instagram stories, which you should use any way to increase your reach. Little by little, an enthusiastic community will be formed that is only too happy to take the opportunity to create and share your content.

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