More than 100 million images are uploaded to Instagram every day, making UGC among the hottest trends and ways for marketers to showcase their brand, celebrate their consumers and drive revenue on the Internet.
But what is UGC? Is it just another passing fad or marketing buzzword? Actually, UGC has been a “thing” for quite awhile now.
Short for user-generated content, UGC describes any type of content, including videos, blogs, digital images, audio files that are created by the consumers themselves, and publicly available to other consumers.
An example would be Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, which involved personalized Coke bottles. As part of the campaign, Coke asked users to post photos of themselves with their personalized bottles. The campaign took off and garnered Coca Cola widespread attention and revenue.
“Customer-orientated businesses are on the rise, because companies constantly have to keep up with the changing trends of their audiences,” writes marketing blogger Jose Angelo Gallego. “In this fast-paced, digitally run world, attention spans can be snapped away with the click of a fingers. If brands aren’t catering solely to their customers, their customers will simply find another brand that is.”
The operative word when it comes to UGC is “authenticity.” In a study by Cohn & Wolfe, 63% of consumers said they would rather buy from a company they consider to be authentic over a competitor.
“Authenticity is so important in today’s online world. Customers are no longer the passive consumers led by TV commercials and billboards,” writes Gallego. “Instead, they’re active choosers of their own fate and want a say in who they do and don’t buy from. But how do they choose who to buy from? They opt for brands that have the same values as them, brands that they can connect with on a human level, and brands that ‘get them.’”
Glenn Packett, who runs Atomic Inc., an inbound marketing company, offered seven ways to utilize user-generated content on webdesignerdepot.com. They include:
1. Make An Effort to Be Authentic
When encouraging your audience to produce content that markets your brand, the first step in achieving success is being authentic in your outreach and engagement. Social media is by far one of the biggest sources of user-generated content, and authenticity is definitely lacking on many social channels. So, in an effort to truly touch your audience and foster the production of quality content related to your brand, you need to go the extra mile.
2. Reward Your Top Contributors
While you may not be stealing the attention of Instagram’s biggest influencers just yet, you will incentivize users to generate more content around your brand if you highlight the rewards they’ll receive in return.
3. Create New Hashtags
The start of this method involves creating a unique, easy-to-remember hashtag for your brand that can be used all over. Encouraging its use can get people in on the conversation and help you track the content your users are generating with greater ease.
4. Give Enthusiasts Early Access
When it comes to building hype for a new release, there is perhaps no better way to do it than to give your brand’s top ambassadors a sneak peek. Not only will this give you a head start with some positive feedback and perhaps even a testimonial that can be used for marketing, it will also allow first-hand use of the product to reach the masses before launch day.
5. Incentivize Your Best Clients to Testify
Customer stories (which used to go by the boring name of “case studies”) are ultra-sharable and, luckily for you, oh-so-easy to create in today’s world of smartphones and social media.
6. Create Customer-Centric Events
Whether online or offline, customer-centric events can help your brand take things to a new level. From a Twitter chat to an interactive webinar or even a promotion at a local trade show, these engaging events get customers to connect to your brand in a whole new way.
7. Find New Ways to Collaborate
Looking to involve user-generated content more often? The possibilities are simply endless.
From asking for feedback and ideas to creating weekly round-up posts and digests, it’s easy to start taking advantage of the great things your users are already saying.