The decision by Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s competition authority, to rule against Facebook’s plans to merge user data from Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram is hugely significant and perhaps the first step towards the separation of data from the digital monopolies.
User-generated content (UGC) features an array of benefits – it’s cost-effective, is four times more likely to get millennials making a purchase decision, increases customer trust and generates traffic on websites.
But perhaps its most important asset is found in its inclusivity and authenticity. A saturation of overly branded content has made it easier for customers to tune out. The average person wants to feel a real human connection – and UGC is providing the ammunition.
However, some businesses struggle to implement a successful UGC strategy. Or they haven’t quite got the knack of acquiring user-generated content that will engage with audiences.
If you find that your business is having a similar problem, these five tips will get your audience interacting with UGC in no time.
1) Get hashtagging on socials
Start conversations with your audience and encourage them to share their content with the use of hashtags. Nothing gets consumer juices flowing quite like a direct and meaningful interaction with a brand.
Ask customers to take pictures of themselves using your product/service, or encourage them to create visuals around the ideals of your brand.
Use hashtags on your social media channels, with particular attention paid to Instagram, where visual content reigns supreme. Explore the idea of using different hashtags per product if you have more than one to sell.
As other users begin discovering your hashtags, they will see people just like them interacting and taking photos with your product. As a result, engagement rates grow, and you will have a broader access to user-generated content for your brand.
2) Use a UGC marketplace
If you’re looking for access to UGC from a larger pool than specific hashtags, a dedicated user-generated marketplace will cater to your needs. Brands and individual creatives can find authentic imagery taken by everyday people that help build human connections.
UGC marketplaces not only provide access to millions of visuals; they also take care of copyrights around ownership by compensating the content creator. The result means that brands can purchase content without worrying about any potential backlash over copyright infringement.
Content on marketplaces is sourced from a wider spectrum which offers diverse imagery. The images are reflective of the people who take them, which adds a layer of authenticity other visual content struggles to replicate.
3) Give your customers the stage
The ideals behind UGC is to make communications about your audience. Fashion brands have been well known to share images of their customers wearing their clothes. But you don’t need to be in the apparel industry to take advantage.
Images of people interacting with your product/service hold more weight than specific visuals designed for promotion. People will be more inclined to get involved, thus increasing your overall UGC outreach.
It’s also worth exploring the idea of having brand ambassadors who will act as your voice in their local communities, offering more credibility and authenticity. If you are targeting specific areas, it’s worth exploring the idea of having several ambassadors in each location.
4) Use video
It doesn’t stop with pictures. UGC fan videos on YouTube attract 10 times more views than regular video content. More than 500million hours of videos are consumed on YouTube alone each week. Combining UGC with video is a surefire way to create a buzz around your brand.
Just like UGC, videos drive emotions, and emotions drive actions. Explore asking your audience to make video reviews of your product or service and then promote them across social media and on your website.
According to Cisco, by 2021 82 per cent of all internet traffic will be led by video. Brands that have a dedicated UGC video outreach are better placed to build stronger connections with their audience.
5) Keep your eye on the prize
They say that points win prizes, and you can generate your points from consumers by offering them a chance to win. Ask your audience to submit user-generated content as part of a competition or giveaway.
Maximise the competition’s exposure by making it vote based, with entrants obtaining the most votes winning. This will see them sharing entries with their network and increase exposure for your brand. Offering a prize for UGC in return is a way to generate a quick win and create excitement around your brand.
Even if you don’t go down the full-blown competition route, offer incentives to your audiences if they do things like submit product reviews. Also look at creating reward schemes for people who regularly interact with the brand.
Interacting with UGC: make it part of your wider marketing campaigns
There is still a stigma around UGC in some quarters, with people thinking that it’s an occasional approach to marketing. However, marketing professionals need to think of the bigger picture. UGC should be fully integrated into their outreach strategy.
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