How to Capitalize on User-Generated Content

 By Noha Abou-Hashima
What is user-generated content? If you haven't already guessed it, user-generated content (UGC) is any content created by 'normal' users online. Normal users involve anyone not part of a marketing team, or a verified brand. Examples of UGC include comments, reviews, user-generated photos, videos, blog posts, and more.

But should you invest in UGC when you have a great marketing team creating content that you pre-approve? Well, if your goal is to have satisfied consumers, then you're probably doing your best to give them what they want. Now, with the ubiquitous popularity of social media, and the global desire for an authentic online experience, consumers expect to have a more personal connection with brands.

Millennials - who are quickly becoming the largest spending group - are not only different in terms of placing greater importance on people and social relations, but also in their shopping habits. 84% of Millennials report that UGC partially influences their purchasing decisions, while 86% said that UGC helps them determine the quality of a brand's product or service. And far more than their ancestors, 64% of Millennials (vs 53% Baby Boomers) believe communication with the brands they purchase from is an important factor for them.

If you've already got a marketing team, then you probably have at least one social media account for your business. You also probably use it to share news about your business, generate content that your consumers will find interesting, and use the platform to promote your products. That's all fine and good, but it may be little different than consumers getting all this information from a one-minute TV commercial.

All this to say: If you're going to step into the world of social media, you're going to need to be social.

Naturally, you won't be the first one to capitalize on UGC. In fact, you've likely seen, or even participated, in a marketing campaign that has utilized UGC. Some successful examples include Coca-Cola's 'Share a Coke' campaign, Starbucks' White Cup Contest, or Lay's' 'Do Us A Flavour' campaign. Not only did these brands execute highly successful marketing campaigns, but they also proved to their customers that they value their input and loyalty.
To ensure a successful marketing campaign that matches your goals, it will have to be custom-made for your brand and your customers. But perhaps the most important ingredient to having a successful UGC marketing campaign is establishing a personal connection with your consumer base.
Here are 3 ways you can utilize UGC to boost your brand:

  1. Personalize

  2. Social consumers don't like when a brand is too obvious with promoting its products. To avoid incurring their wrath, make sure you're being authentic - by not mechanically selling a product to a consumer. One way to do this is to encourage social consumers to engage with the product as Starbucks did with their White Cup Contest. Starbucks served drinks in blank, white cups and asked their consumers to design the cup and share a photo of it online with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. This contest was so popular that Starbucks received nearly 4,000 designs in three weeks. At the end of the contest, Starbucks announced a winner. With this marketing campaign, consumers were given the chance to explore their imagination and share their designs with others online, all the while Starbucks' brand was at the heart of it.

  3. Incentivize

  4. Businesses thrive on the notion of give and take. Consumers pay money in exchange for a product or service. Give them a reason to interact with your brand - offer rewards, or interesting and fun ways to engage with your brand online. Coca-Cola's 'Share a Coke' is an example of a brand that motivates its customers to interact with their product in a way that is different from it's intended purpose. Rather than simply enjoying the carbonated drink, Coca-cola's customers were encouraged to 'share' the product with other consumers via photos, videos, etc. What Coca-Cola achieved with this campaign was more than just stimulate online conversation about their brand; they also introduced a whole new way for their customers to interact with their products.

  5. Socialize

  6. Everyone craves some time in the spotlight. Social consumers go wild for brands that will communicate directly with their consumers - preferably in a humorous context. One of the best example of this is the Wendy's Twitter account. Not only does Wendy's respond with their official account to Twitter users who follow or tag them in posts, but they do so in a fun and humorous way that prompts consumers to like, and retweet the brand's response. By doing this, Wendy's achieves two goals: they promote their brand, and they establish a personal connection with social consumers.
Establishing a personalized connection with your consumers on social media is one example of using user-generated content to help your brand. To learn more about how you can use social media platforms and various online tools used by your consumers to help your business, visit our website.