High-quality User Generated Content (UGC) is the holy grail of social media marketing. Similar to positive product reviews, organic content from your customers can convince potential buyers better than paid advertisements. Content from your fan base can spread the word about your brand genuinely. It can even provide insights into how your product or service influences your customers' daily lives.
UGC is created naturally by your followers, and as such, it doesn’t cost you any money. However, it does require some targeted social media marketing and serious forethought regarding how you will inspire your social media followers to talk about your brand. This article will discuss the top ways to spur conversation about your company online using social media listening tools. This, in turn, will inspire the creation of quality UGC that promotes your brand to new and existing consumers.
Connect with your customers
The best way to get your customers to create user-generated content is simple: authentically connect with them. The benefits of this approach are twofold. The first benefit is nurturing existing customer relationships and sincerely engaging with them.
The second benefit is that these customers are much more likely to mention your company on social media, sharing their stories and positive experiences about your company with their followers. Inspiring your customers to create UGC about your company is easy when they feel engaged with your brand on social media.
Of course, the success of this approach depends on what type of industry you are in. You will have to deeply understand your customer profile and a certain level of cultural intelligence in your marketing approach to engage people sincerely.
It may be harder to create a lasting connection with your customers if you are a company that sells, for example, clothing, rather than a company that deals in something essential but non-tangible such as insurance policies. This approach towards UGC is ideal for companies that want to incorporate involvement with a charity as part of their customer engagement strategy or for companies that already deal with sensitive, personal aspects of a customer’s life.
Aflac, a famous insurance company, showed its connection with its customers by becoming involved in charities for children facing cancer. In 2018, they debuted an award-winning plush robot Aflac duck that comforted young hospital patients. This contribution to a cause helped not only countless children face their fears as they dealt with cancer but also created real bonds with customers. To this day, numerous videos, photos, posts, and Tweets about the My Special Aflac Duck generate a stream of UGC that brings a smile to people’s faces and increases awareness of the Aflac brand.
Brands must find ways to connect with and inspire their customers if they want to create high-quality UGC surrounding their brand. The best way to do this is to start with the customer and link their experiences to your brand, not the other way around.
Ask and offer a reward
If you’re a small company with limited funds, developing a state-of-the-art toy for charity might not be within the budget. However, other ways encourage your customers to share happy experiences with your brand online.
In many cases, you can ask your customers to write a review, share a photo or tell a story about your brand, and they will be happy to do so! Many social media fans are eager to find excuses for a new post or selfie. If satisfied with your product, they may only need a reminder to share it with their friends and family online.
Better yet, you can offer an incentive to your customers to create UGC about your product. You can offer them a percentage off their next order, or even branded merchandise, as a reward. Offering freebies like these have proven effective in marketing to Generation C consumers and other young customers.
Best of all, giving your loyal customers branded merchandise in exchange for UGC creates another marketing opportunity for your company. Your best customers will have your logo on display via the free merchandise you give them, raising further awareness about your brand.
Use social listening to create a dialogue.
One excellent marketing strategy is using your social listening tools to discern which followers and influencers are already loyal to your brand. This is often the best source for UGC because these social media users are already familiar enough with your products to talk about them online. You can learn about new trends, conduct sentiment analysis, receive feedback about new products and gain a lot of customer insight by focusing on users who are already talking about your brand.
Once you’ve located users already talking about your company online, you need to find a way to engage these users further and keep them talking about your brand. You can reply to their posts or stories to show them they are being heard. Influencers are much more likely to mention your product again or even work with you directly if they know your company listens to them.
If you can’t find many influencers already mentioning your brand online, you can seek out popular influencers with your customer demographic. You can then talk about sponsored content or open a conversation about how you can involve them in your marketing efforts.
Encourage users talking about your brand to link to your website, your profile name, or include specific hashtags. Ideally, though, a direct link to your website should be encouraged at every opportunity.
According to the founder of Best Web Hosting Australia, Nathan Finch, top-level domains do not significantly impact search engine optimization. “Given the number of ways Google can analyze page quality — such as traffic, content, and backlinks — you don't necessarily require a .com domain for your business,” says Finch. “Instead, you should opt for a domain suitable for your business or organization, such as .org.”
Having an easy-to-remember website name and as many links to your website as possible can help maximize sales. Your company can have massive followers and attention on social media. Still, if no one is buying the product from your website, the whole reason behind your social media efforts is negated.
Put the spotlight on your fans.
If you are a company that already has a significant social media presence, consider offering “insta-fame” to your followers that create the best UGC. Lots of social media users are hungry for more followers and more likes. If retweeting or spotlighting photos or accounts that support your brand will give users more attention, this can incentivize them to engage with your brand online.
Beats by Dr. Dre put the attention on social media users themselves through the Straight Outta Somewhere campaign, which won several marketing awards. Social media users were given a tool to upload selfies of themselves.
The image would then be converted to grayscale, with the words “straight outta [city/town]” captioned underneath. The campaign was popular because it connected people and stories about the cities and towns they grew up in with the Beats brand. It also shifted attention from their product to the people using it.
Your brand can also work to create a “challenge” involving your product or service. People, especially youth, are usually eager to compete in a challenge that will get them attention online!
The most famous of these challenges is, of course, the “ice bucket challenge.” The ALS Association encouraged users to engage in a fun challenge to pour a bucket of ice on their heads, videotape it and post it online with the hashtag #icebucketchallenge. The ALS Association drastically increased awareness and funding for research to prevent and treat the disease through this campaign.
Engaging in UGC gives companies deeper insight into their customers’ lives. It opens up the door for them to engage personally with their followers. It harnesses the creative energy and unique ideas of influencers already fans of your brand. It also helps companies build a positive reputation akin to a referral from a family or friend. With a bit of research, an active social media presence, and a keen understanding of your customer demographic, encouraging UGC can be a game-changer for your marketing strategy.