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User Generated Content Strategies That Actually Work

If you’re not taking user generated content seriously, you need to. Now.

How many times have you heard ‘content is king’? There’s a reason for that. I’m sure you can remember some brilliantly executed ads, but that’s exactly the point: you know it’s just an ad.

Consumers are savvy about content marketing. But when user-generated content (UGC) comes into the picture, it changes how consumers understand and respond to messages. This is powerful for creating what we all want: conversions.

It’s no secret that relationships are built on trust and conversation. The best way to enrich your brand communication is to elevate your following into communities and create social proof of a brands quality. Involving your no.1 fans means you can enhance your reputation and simultaneously extend your reach to wider social networks on the web.

This is where the potential for UGC to disrupt traditional lead generation is hiding.

It’s all about visual engagement

I love playing around with video and images. For most of us, this is the most engaging part of any visual content and we all want things to be beautiful.

It’s no surprise to anyone that your average Instagram account is flooded with brand marketing, from boutique retail to large-scale technology companies. No matter how big or small, running an Instagram image contest is a great way to drive UGC. Competitions let fans post your brand to their followers and audience, with the added bonus of personal trust. An endorsement from one friend to another.

But there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you dive in.

Make Your Instagram Competition Stand Out

First of all, use a hashtag for the competition. One that’s short, sharp and on-brand. This will connect Instagram accounts, Instagram posts and Instagram stories. Integrate this with your other marketing campaigns and social media strategy to further your engagement with your customers.

An exciting competition means there will be incentive to engage with your brand over social media platforms. Collaborate with other brands to create a unique first prize that compels customers to enter. If you let your customers get creative and put their own spin on your product, you’ll find yourself with more entries, greater reach, and better engagement.

One of the best: Starbucks Cup Contests

I’m totally guilty of going to Starbucks when I’m in a new area or travelling overseas – it really is more than coffee.

Although their presence in Australia is low-key compared to overseas markets, Starbucks also has some of the best user-generated content out there. Why? They absolutely nail the Instagram photo competition.

Here’s how they make it take off:

  1. It’s easy to enter! If you’re drinking coffee, you’re probably on your phone as well.
  2. It’s creative. They let customers breathe with the brand and make it their own.
  3. They can run it as a yearly, seasonal campaign. People get excited about the cups!

Importantly, it’s got the Starbucks logo as the most prominent feature. There’s no ambiguity as to what Instagram users posting about on social media platforms!

Their 2015 campaign was so successful that 24,000 Instagram users shared photos of their Starbucks cups with their followers, all within 5 days. For free!

Photo: Snapchat

 

Know What’s Next: Snapchat Context Cards

I live and breathe social media, and so do most marketers in content marketing. Knowing what works today is great, but what’s even better is anticipating what will work tomorrow.

Snapchat is something I use constantly, and it’s expected that its Australian market is going to increase. Fast. With this growth, everyone’s waiting for Snapchat to release Context Cards, a feature currently available in the US.

So, how are you going to use this to your advantage?

Well, users are able to attach their own snaps – their own experiences – to businesses and locations. This means that others viewing it will get a first-hand account of brands and products, which could very well be your own.

Snapchat marketing is the most perceptively authentic UGC out there, and people are going to be listening and watching. Remember how we were talking about trust between followers and audience?

Written reviews are great. But seeing something with your own eyes is hard to beat.

A few things to keep in mind

Creating visual user-generated content for marketing campaigns is exciting, but getting a few things right before you start will pay you back several times over.

1. Don’t isolate your efforts, integrate UGC with your wider social brand campaigns.
2. Get as much data as possible by setting up analytics before you launch.
3. Create terms and conditions that will allow you to use UGC in future marketing campaigns.
4. Have participants follow, share and like brand pages on social networks for competition entry.
5. Charity-based campaigns get great user-generated content and also support worthwhile causes. Invaluable!

Now’s the time to start thinking about how visual UGC, like user-generated video and photos can enhance your marketing strategy and work with your customers, rather than apart from them.

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