In the world of social media marketing, there is one sentence that is mostly used than others when speaking about stronger integration of social media, and that is User Generated Content (UGC for short). I have dealt with two schools of thoughts: one that focuses on soliciting direct UGC from customers (or audience), and the other that monitor the web for content. This blog discusses both approaches.
Before I discuss the two approaches, I want to discuss quickly what is UGC. Social Media users love to share content about products everyday. They share pictures of themselves wearing their favorite brand, comments on their favorite show, and post a videos of themselves hanging out in their favorite restaurant. Sharing UGC by brands allow them to share positive stories about their products. This provides stronger brand image and lead to better brand loyalty, not to mention increase in buzz about the brand online, leading to better conversion rate and brand awareness.
UGC consists of many formats: text, pictures, and videos. In my experience, most social media users prefer the text model, as it is simpler and quicker to create content. Pictures is the second most created content, as it is simple to take and does not require a lot of editing by users. Although videos is not as high as pictures because it requires better devices and time to edit, the increase in mobile devices is making it simpler to create videos, which may topple text and pictures in the future. You will probably notice that I did not mention audio, as the use of audio (with the exception to podcasts) is very low in UGC.
The easiest, most effective way for UGC is when it is sent directly to brands. Customers choose to share their content with brands directly when:
Not all UGC is sent directly to brands. Many users choose to share their content privately for three reasons:
As discussed above, UGC is an essential part of any social media integration strategy. Whether to get content directly or indirectly, marketers should always search for this content to enhance the story telling in their marketing campaigns. Direct UGC, however, provides an additional advantage to indirect one, allowing marketers to find content quickly and increase online buzz about their brands. To increase direct UGC, digital marketers should consider the following steps:
The brand image I discuss here is focusing on the social image. Brands must represent themselves as more “social” by providing great content on a regular basis, and having a strong social media presence for customers to interact with.
Simply ask your customers to send you content. Be consistent and creative. The ask has to be simple. As mentioned above, the easiest format of UGC customers create is text. However, there has been many strong social media campaigns that provided a very strong incentive to customers to provide videos and pictures.
This brings us to the incentive step. Customers want to know why they should create content for their favorite brand. Incentive must be creative and worthy of the ask. For example, BMW US created a campaign last year “0 to Desir3 in 5.9 Seconds“, asking customers to create a six-second filmic ad for the new BMW and presented a grand prize of new 2012 BMW 3 Series. More than 2,000 clips were entered, from which 30 finalists were chosen. Giving a coveted prize provided a very strong incentive for customers to create very creative content that created a strong buzz online about the BMW brand and their new product.
Media organizations strive to get UGC on a daily basis. UGC is not only about brand recognition or stronger loyalty for audience; it also allows media organizations to virtually be everywhere, especially when they do not have a reporter. Audience, in this example, is an equal partners in creating the content.
See a UGC example campaign in this other post
For more information on UGC, or social media monitoring, please follow @ahmadaa