When platforms like Instagram first came to market, it was bursting at the seams with unrealized business and marketing potential. Brands could finally build an online persona to go along with their product and harness the power of the influencers to increase sales and visibility. Branded and influencer content surged in popularity during the subsequent 5-6 years spurring new consultancies, marketing techniques, and a tidal wave of both micro and macro influencers.
Recently, digitally native brands in particular have shifted away from heavily branded content due to oversaturation and their focus is now on authentic content generated from customers or User-Generated Content (UGC).
UGC has become the preferred vehicle for social media sales funnels with smaller high-growth brands and enterprise level businesses alike. Untainted by brand-approved advertising, UGC gives consumers the ability to follow the thoughts, opinions, and experiences of people just like them. The biggest reason for the shift in strategy is pretty simple, UGC converts at a higher rate. Beyond that, younger consumers put a ton of trust into UGC and use social media as a tool to alleviate buyer anxiety when making a purchase.
According to a recent study by Nielsen, 92% of consumers around the world trust word of mouth over any other form of advertising and 86% of millennials say UGC is a good indicator of brand quality.
Customers are constantly uploading branded content and products across all social platforms. Smart brands have learned to collect, track, and optimize these posts. Below you will find some important tips on how to optimize your brand’s UGC and turn it into revenue!
A great example of organic UGC is when consumers post product shots or reviews, but most brands like to encourage their customer base with a hashtag campaign. Beyond this, hashtag campaigns are the easiest way to track and collect UGC, especially from accounts with a low amount of followers. Sometimes, these campaigns are meant to boost brand visibility amongst a large customer base, but if you can properly engage with consumers, these campaigns can bring in serious dollars. One of the most successful hashtag campaigns was Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign, I mean everyone remembers those named bottles in the store. What most people don’t know, is that the #ShareACoke campaign contributed to Coca-Cola’s first growth in sales in 10 years and is being considered as a permanent part of the company’s marketing plan. #ShareACoke was so popular by leveraging customer purchases to create UGC, every bottle that a customer bought was immediate content for posting on social platforms and created a personalized branding experience.
Exclusivity is a great technique for coaxing UGC out of your customer base. Usually just mentioning that you will share a followers post is enough incentive for them to post branded content, but it does help to create the feeling of exclusivity amongst those contributing UGC to social platforms. Whether it’s creating an exclusive “Social Club”, giving early product access, or holding exclusive “Influencer events”, there are many different ways to motivate consumers, especially those that are social media savvy.
Social media marketing is all about connecting with your customer on a level that transcends traditional advertising. Promoting your product takes a backseat to foster an emotional connection with the consumer, in hopes of turning them into a lifelong customer. People love showing support for different charities and social causes, when it is combined with buying their favorite product, it’s a win-win for everyone. Aligning your UGC campaign with a social cause is a great way to encourage engagement and connect with a movement that furthers your brand’s mission, visibility, and customer base.
Micro-influencers have carved out a place in the social media marketing landscape and they are incredibly effective at converting new customers via UGC. An “Influencer” in social media no longer means a celebrity endorser. Many people have built social media followings by posting consistent reviews or helpful shopping tips and become a trusted product reviewer online. According to a study by Curalate, 82% of consumers said that they were highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer. Big time influencers are great for generating product or brand awareness, but micro-influencers are the ones driving conversion rates.
UGC provides an almost endless amount of marketing firepower for social media managers, but the lack of content control makes it tricky to adhere to strict branding guidelines. That being said, it is important to align your UGC with the brand’s vision, message, and overall mood. UGC converts the best when it creates an emotional connection with the consumer, but sacrificing your brand image in an attempt to create this connection is not recommended. Brands avoid this by this by working with influencers familiar with their brand or aligning their campaign with a cause that echoes their mission. Remember that the most effective UGC should feel like a natural product recommendation, not an overbranded paid post by an influencer.
Digitally native brands have been driving most of the changes we see in social media marketing these days. With most of their customers buying through a social platform, it makes sense that UGC has become the most effective way to convert new customers. This focus on organic user-generated content has created a whole industry of micro-influencers and techniques to target their followers, it’s hard to imagine what is coming next!
I would love to hear what you think, e-mail me directly at Matt@SnapShip.it!