User-generated content is a powerful tool for engaging and growing online audiences. A recent study by Ipsos, a global research company, and startup Crowdtap, revealed that user-generated content is particularly important to millennials, with the study revealing this population spends five hours per day with media created by their peers. Further, millennials trust user-generated content as much as they trust professional reviews, also noting it as being more memorable and having a greater influence on their purchase decisions than other types of media.
User-generated content is nothing new. You may remember it as the core component of Doritos Super Bowl ads in recent years. The question is: ‘will user-generated content help my brand achieve its marketing and business goals?’ While there are no universal answers in social media marketing, it is important to understand what matters to one’s target audiences, and, if millennials are important to your business, the answer is most likely ‘yes.’
If you’ve decided to try harnessing the power of user-generated content to achieve business goals, here are a couple of ways to get started:
1. Host a Contest
Are you looking for photos of customers wearing your brand’s apparel collection? Are you curious how customers are repurposing your product for new uses? Perhaps it’s time to host a social media marketing contest. Whether Instagram, YouTube or Facebook are at the core of the contest, the marketing and the metrics are what matter most. You want the contestants to have a positive brand experience, for the process of participating to be fun and for the experience to be memorable for those entering and those judging, voting or just watching. As you begin planning your social media marketing contest, be sure to answer these all-important questions: what are the goals of the contest? How will we (the brand) measure success? How will we promote the contest? How will we inspire and sustain audience engagement?
2. Crowdsource an ebook
Curious what tips existing customers would give prospective customers about using your product or service? Just ask. Something as simple as tweeting out a call for tips or posting the query on a Facebook page can elicit a swathe of responses that can be used to create one’s next whitepaper or ebook. By engaging brand fans as authors, the trustworthiness of the content is amplified and a network of willing content ‘sharers’ are being cultivated. This can equate to more views/increased reach and new fans/likes/follows, among other benefits.
If you decide to engage the voice of your brand advocates and loyal fans to help generate content, it’s important to understand the costs – not the dollars and cents costs, but the brand costs. As we’ve heard countless times, one of the biggest challenges brands face with social media marketing is accepting the notion of ‘letting go.’ For many, the idea of not being able to control every single solitary piece of content that references their product or service can be terrifying. Yes, it is a risk. But it can also yield sizable rewards.
As you evaluate the role that user-generated content can play in increasing the success of your social media marketing and content marketing programs, be sure that brand strategy remains top of mind. It is easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of trying something new and executing a marketing ‘first’ for a company, but at the end of the day, the outcomes need to be measurable, manageable and aligned with the company’s business and marketing goals. If your first endeavor with user-generated content is a raving success, analyze the process, product and outcomes to glean key insights that can help to inform repeat successes. If your first endeavor doesn’t yield the successes you had hoped for, aggregate the lessons learned and use the key findings to hone your strategy for future attempts to harness the power of user-generated content.