The best 12 tips for creating or improving your user-generated content campaigns.
Many individuals innately distrust corporations. After all, the point of any business is to make money.
Sometimes companies are fair, or even more than fair, in their prices and operations—but they can be greedy. Therefore, people always put more stock in what other individuals tell them about a business than what the enterprise says about itself.
Word-of-mouth advertising and user-generated content campaigns are two ways that individuals spread this information.
A user-generated content campaign, when done right, can combine the power of word-of-mouth advertisements with the far reach of a digital content campaign. This allows businesses to simultaneously increase their brand awareness and build customer trust.
Challenges of User-Generated Content Campaigns & How to Overcome Them
Creating and running a successful user-generated content campaign can be difficult. Traditional content campaigns, where a business makes and distributes its own content, have a few challenges.
Running a content campaign where companies rely on their customers to create and share content is far more complicated, and an unsuccessful campaign can be extremely costly.
The benefits of user-generated content campaigns make them worth the trouble, however. Many businesses recognize the power of these marketing tools to build customer loyalty and make their companies more approachable.
The success of real-world user-generated content campaigns can teach us a lot about how they should be structured and executed. Here are some of the best tips for creating or improving this marketing technique:
1. Start with research.
Before you begin your user-generated content campaign, do some research into what customers are already sharing about your company.
Search your brand’s hashtag(s) or that of products or services you offer. Check for photos taken at your business’ physical location. Cast a wide enough net to find anything that directly relates to your enterprise; for example, not everyone will mention your brand by name.
2. Examine recent consumer trends.
What are the most popular forms of user-generated content at the moment? Where are people posting the most pictures or having the most conversations? Examine your own customer base: who makes up the core of your business? Find out where and how your customers are most likely to create and distribute content, and plan your campaign around that.
It’s always important, however, to be genuine. Tapping into a consumer trend is an excellent way to take advantage of popular topics, but if they’re irrelevant or people can tell you’re just jumping on a bandwagon, it may have the opposite effect.
When creating a user-generated content campaign, it’s important not to oversell your brand. Remember that the campaign may be about you, but it’s also about your customers. If they feel too pressured to “sell” your brand, they’re less likely to participate.
4. Publish selfless hashtags
One successful user-generated content campaign strategy is the “selfless hashtag”. These companies use hashtags that incorporate, relate to, or play off of their brand name but aren’t obviously all about the brand. Examples include: Wet Seal’s #WSonMe and #WetSeal4Me; Urban Outfitters’ #UOONYOU and #UOAROUNDYOU; and Forever 21’s #FSxME.
5. Call readers to an action
Placing calls to action (CTAs) in the right places is key to promoting a user-generated content campaign. Your customers need to easily see and understand what you want them to do. Put CTAs are prominently on your website, spread across social channels, and through digital and print catalogs.
If you use Instagram for a campaign, you can insert CTAs in the company’s bio, the location tag, or the photo caption. Signage in your physical stores is another fantastic place to insert CTAs.
6. Host an event
Hosting an event is one way that companies can take back a little control in a user-generated content campaign. This allows a business to regulate the environment in which users are creating content: better lighting for photos, unmarred products, ensuring your brand is the only prominent one, etc.
An event also adds immediate scale to these campaigns and ensures customers are creating and spreading content. Goodie bags can keep the campaign running high even after the event ends.
7. Tap into influencers
Learn who your influencers are before starting a user-generated content campaign. These are the people most vocal about your brand or the leaders among their social circles. If you can find these influencers and inform them of your campaign, they can spread the word for you.
8. Give away prizes
People love prizes, and companies can tap into this by running their user-generated content campaigns in the form of a contest. This requires knowing what type of contents your users are interested in, what skills they’re likely to have, etc. Announcing a contest will draw plenty of attention and makes it easy to induce users to create and share content.
9. Reward your users
Another way companies can encourage their customers to create and share content is by offering rewards. Again, user-generated content campaigns are about the company and its customers, so they should be mutually beneficial.
Rewarding customers for partaking in the campaign can go a long way toward ensuring its success.
People love to play games. “Gamifying” a user-generated content campaign is another way to reward customers and recognize their participation. Gamifying can encourage users to complete more difficult tasks then they might otherwise.
Companies can use game concepts such as points, high-scores, leaderboards, achievements, levels, and badges to encourage users to complete hard tasks and share their accomplishments.
11. Lower your entry barrier
If your company doesn’t want to run a contest or gamified user-generated content campaign, arrange for a low entry barrier. Making it simple and easy for customers to create and share content will ensure that they do so without the need for lots of encouragement.
For example, user-generated content campaigns that allow for text-only content see 900% more submissions than those that require photos or videos.
12. Publish the results on your main page
Rather than keeping user-generated content on a third party site such as Instagram, incorporate them into your business’ main website.
Whether you put all user content on your website or only choose the best to showcase, featuring user-generated content directly on the brand’s website makes customers feel more invested in the company and campaign.
There are many strategies for creating and running a user-generated content campaign. The ones listed above are some of the best ideas that can be found online, but companies need to feel encouraged to be unique in creating their own campaigns.
After all, their customers will be more likely to participate in something novel than in something they’ve seen before.
Learn your customers, reward them for participating or give them incentives, and remember that a user-generated content campaign is more about the people than the brand.