How to Use User-Generated Content for Marketing

This is the final post in a three-part series on UGC campaigns. Discover why you should run user-generated content campaigns, and how to launch the most effective UGC campaigns possible.

Social media campaigns are always an experiment. You never know exactly how well a campaign is going to do, so it’s important that you keep testing campaigns and honing in on the things that make a success.

User-generated content campaigns are particularly interesting because the campaigns don’t end when the promotion ends. A successful UGC campaign will leave you with tons of new content that you can then use to continue to market your brand. The extra value provided by these campaigns is also something you should be testing, in order to ensure you’re making the most of all of the content at your disposal.

If you’re not sure what to do with all of that UGC after your campaign has ended, here are three ideas to get you started.

1. Engage users through their UGC

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You have fans, and they care about you—at least enough to participate in your campaign. The least you can do is use their UGC to acknowledge how important they are to your business, and this can be done through simple engagement.

Your UGC campaign proved that you care what your fans have to say. You can drive the point home by broadcasting those thoughts and perspectives across your social channels. Do you want to give a shout-out to fans in a certain region? Remind customers of just how awesome your product looks in the wild? Fashion brands often regram #ootd (Outfit of the Day) photos from their fans that put their clothes to best advantage. Every week has is an opportunity for another Throwback Thursday, where you can share great UGC posts from your latest campaign with appropriate credit. Every week there are dozens of opportunities to celebrate your fans’ creativity. A lot of the UGC you receive won’t be restricted by time; it’s what we in the business like to call evergreen.

As you continue to run UGC campaigns, you’ll learn who your proudest fans are. Who tells all their friends that you’ve been sharing their content? Who thanks you for liking their photo or video? Get to know them, and make it rewarding for them to keep being your superfan. Consider giving them a special offer, especially an exclusive one. It will instill in them a strong loyalty to your brand, maybe for life.

This kind of promotion doesn’t just boost your fans profile, or your own: it also reminds present and potential customers that you run winning social marketing campaigns. This comes in handy when you’re in between campaigns. You can’t run campaigns constantly as you risk exhausting your fanbase. But reminding fans that you are the sort of company that does run campaigns by sharing UGC from previous efforts will keep that spark alive. And when you’re on the verge of your next social marketing campaign, it won’t be too hard to build that buzz again.

2. Study the UGC and learn from it

Learn how to measure social media during this #Social60 online panel

After you’ve run a UGC campaign, you’re going to have a large body of content on your hands. Look at this content and try to identify recurring themes. As your engage with content-creators individually, analyze your content-creators and the content they produced as a group. Which products are most popular? Can you figure out what time of day your fans like to engage with your product from the lighting, or the timestamp? If you sell a consumer packaged good, which products do your fans tend to pair your own with?

Why is all of this information important? We ran a Photo Contest with a Canadian cheese company where they asked fans to take a picture of their favorite recipe using the company’s cheddar. Not only did the cheesemonger get hundreds of UGC photographs, but they also learned exactly what their fans liked to do with their cheese. This information can be used not only to drive future campaigns, but to drive future business partnerships.

And don’t just consider what you are seeing in the images and videos. Think about what you’re not seeing. Are there any types of photos you expected but didn’t get? Are any of your core products being left out in favor of others? The answers to these questions can tell you a lot about your product and your fan base, and guide your strategy moving forward.

The more successful your campaign, the more you’ll be able to learn about your fans and how they feel about your products. That knowledge is priceless.

3. Sell through your UGC

Social Selling

After it’s been studied and celebrated, your UGC can be turned into a social commerce catalog,  letting you turn user-generated photographs and videos into sales. When you put the media into a new Social Hub, you can connect each piece of UGC to the product it depicts on your online catalogue with a customizable ‘Buy Now’ button.

More than anything, user-generated content demonstrates how people can use and interact with your products in everyday life. Paired with your own branded content, that makes for some powerful marketing. In fact, brand engagement rises 28 percent when consumers are exposed to both professional content and user-generated product video.

As you already know, Millennials love UGC, and it’s very influential on their purchasing habits. Eighty-four percent of Millennials admit that UGC on a business’s website has some influence on what they buy. And they’re the most prolific online shoppers. Your average Millennial spends $2,000 online each year.

Social commerce is a rising trend you literally can’t afford to ignore. Social media’s top 500 retailers earned $3.3 billion from social shopping in 2014, and that’s 26 percent higher than the earnings from 2013. That’s money that can and should be yours, and UGC can help.

Now is the time to launch your first UGC campaign! Hootsuite Campaigns can help. Try it today.

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