What’s so magical about user-generated content (UGC)?
It’s no secret that UGC typically receives the most engagement throughout all social networks.
It’s also no coincidence that successful Facebook campaigns are structured with UGC, nor is it surprising that “content created by the audience” works wonders in driving conversions.
Did you know the Coke page on Facebook was not created by Coca-Cola itself but by two guys (Dusty and Michael) from Los Angeles? Here’s their story:
It all comes down to the influence of this form of content.
Social media audiences are proficient at recognizing relatable stories, and UGC is the key element required to attract their attention. Research points out that social media audience consume more than 5 hours of UGC per day and campaigns with UGC have 20 percent more influence on their purchase decisions than any other form of marketing/media promotion.
Also, users (not brands) are the reason behind the exponential growth of Instagram and Pinterest. These platforms just did one thing – tap into the natural behavior of audiences – and the growth came itself. Check out these numbers on the explosion of UGC by EngageSciences:
The kicker: The best way to promote your brand is by demonstrating how real people benefit from using your product/service (by drinking it, wearing it, or just simply enjoying it).
So how can you inspire your Facebook audience to create influential content that contributes to stellar branding and reduces the work for your creative and copywriting department? Listed below are 6 strategies to help you get started:
1. Feature individuals who live your brand
The first thing you should do is make people who live your brand the face of your company. It’s a unique way to bring their experience into your social media community. That’s because highlighting these individuals will make others want to live your brand as well. You can do this by asking top customers to:
- Send images that showcase your brand values
- Start a hashtag trend
- Make a video demonstrating how your brand is a part of their daily consumption habit
Consider yourself as the casting director and the top customers as the actors. Forever 21, the fashion brand, has been doing this for a long time.
They frequently post images of people who live their brand by curating their looks from Instagram. This inspires every member of the Forever 21 Facebook community to dress well in the brand’s essentials and reach out to them with their look, resulting in more content overall.
2. Build a UGC album
Every brand can collect user-generated content from their Facebook pages, but only few implement new ideas. One of these ideas could be to re-use the content and establish an entire album of fan-created content. This content can be kept on the Facebook page for the long-term as well as used for websites, offline campaigns, etc.
When someone looks at this album, they can see the story of your brand through the eyes of your customer. There’s also an option to redirect users to your landing page or website in order to generate referral traffic. Treasure this album so that future audiences are inspired to submit content in an attempt to have a place in the album timeline.
Belkin, for instance, received submissions from individuals who were asked to show off their creativity by personalizing the back of their phone case with LEGO bricks.
The brand made a separate album for these creations. Anyone who wants to join the #LEGOxBelkin trend can see the entire album. Like this, you can have your very own Slideshare-style presentation of UGC.
3. Run a niche/industry campaign
A cost-effective and easy way to collect user-generated content is to run a campaign for your niche/industry. For example, you could collect and share the inspirations of eCommerce businesses by starting a hashtag #internationaleCommerceday or do the same for another niche (#smallbusinessweek, etc.).
Leave a comment or ask a question after you publish fan-submitted content to spark a conversation in the comments section. If the audience is being guided in a certain direction (being informed that they can be a part of this campaign), it could be easier to get the ball rolling. You can also tag friends who’re a part of the industry featured in the campaign.
Here’s how Planters Bank celebrated National Small Business Week:
They collected and shared inspirations of small entrepreneurs, and invited feedback from other fans. The post has decent numbers in engagement considering the small community of the brand.
4. Host an event
Social and live streams from company-hosted events are becoming popular among users as they get to share their favorite moments. Big brands can host/sponsor events like festivals and concerts while smaller brands can organize something as simple as a meet-and-greet.
Smartphones and tablets mean your content feed can be filled in less than a minute. After you arrange the event and it goes live, you need to participate in the hype by republishing fan submissions on Facebook and other platforms while responding with real-time comments.
Pro Dive Cairns from Australia hosts three-day live-abroad dive trips and enables attendees to create sharable moments. Their UGC goes on their Facebook feed almost every other day.
The crew celebrates the start of the dive trip and encourages the entire group to tag their friends and family as well as comment on the images.
5. Stoke the passion of your audience
Don’t take a personal marketing dive without this critical step. Asking for UGC is a thin-line, so you don’t want to be too pushy; otherwise you might end up sounding off as desperate. A better approach would be to focus on the passion of your audience so that they’re encouraged to create content without asking “why”.
At the same time, you want to make it fun for the audience. The key is to make the fans feel they’re in control – that’s when they’ll brainstorm and unleash their creativity. Their passion gives them the power to do something unique and educate others.
One theme apparent in the user-generated content published by GoPro is passion. The audience (GoPro users love creating unique images) is the reason why the brand shimmers on social media.
GoPro taps into the passion of its customers and connects with them on a level that’s deeper than the level tapped by other brands in the same industry.
6. Partner with an influencer
Sometimes your audience may be more inclined to contribute content when someone recognizable in their community asks them to do so. There are platforms that connect you with the right influencers based on their social media reach and relevant experience.
After you’ve found the right match, it’s time to equip them with assets. Their feelings, emotions, and interactions will tap into the perspective and passion of consumers you’re targeting.
The Shelf’s infographic highlights there are influencers in every industry, and one of the things they’re good at is inspiring their followers to create content.
Boxed Water worked with influencer Alyssa Milano to spread the word about their campaign “The Retree Project” (started in collaboration with the National Forest Foundation).
This allowed the company to create fun engaging posts surrounding the cause as well as collect user-generated content. The influencer made it easy for the fans to get involved and insert their own creativity into the campaign. Nowadays, the Facebook page of the brand is home to a variety of fan-generated content.
As Facebook has become cluttered with several forms of content being published in massive quantities, UGC is a proven strategy to stand out. The tips mentioned above show there is a pool of techniques available to inspire fans to promote your product/service and improve brand positioning.
What are your thoughts? How do you encourage fans to submit influential content for your social media pages? Feel free to leave comments.