If there was any silver lining to last Sunday’s meh-filled GOT ending it’s this: winter is finally over! Goodbye long, cold nights and hello equally long, hot days. As we wrote last week, as the weather heats up, so too does your brand’s marketing opportunities. In today’s post, we’re breaking down the nine best practices for infusing some sunlight into your marketing strategy by incorporating summer-themed user generated content.
Why Your Brand Needs User Generated Content
“But SocialToaster,” you may ask, “why should my brand care about user generated content?”
It’s a fair question. Here’s why.
User generated content (UGC) is hands down one of the most powerful forms of content that can be associated with your brand. Here are just a few marketing stats that back up this point:
- UGC-based ads get 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click than average.
- Videos created by (and featuring) users get 10x more views on YouTube than content created by brands.
- UGC social posts earn a 28% higher engagement rate when compared to a standard brand post.
Not only does UGC earn more engagement, but it also has a strong hand in driving sales and increasing revenue:
- UGC is 20% more influential than any other type of media when it comes to influencing Millennial purchases.
- UGC is shown to result in a 29% increase in web conversions vs. campaigns or websites without it.
- 84% of Millennials say that the user generated content on company sites has at least some influence on what they buy.
Bottom line, UGC can be a gamechanger when it comes to converting a new customer or reselling to an existing fan. No wonder more than 86% of businesses utilize UGC as part of their marketing strategy.
9 Summertime User Generated Content Best Practices
1) Define Your Goals
User generated content campaigns can be a lot of fun, but before you start brainstorming cool prizes and fun contests, you need to first determine your UGC goals.
What does your brand actually want out of your UGC efforts?
And don’t just say something like more sales or more engagements.
Quantify your efforts. If you want to see more sales, state what increase in sales volume you expect to see. Get specific. Do you want to see an increase in sales from new customers? Existing customers? Same-store? Online?
Once you have a clear picture of success, you can begin to structure a campaign that ladders up to that vision. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know how to get there.
2) Craft the Perfect Summer UGC Request
Alright, you’ve got your goal set. Now it’s time to drop that perfect summertime user-generated content campaign. Remember, when you launch your UGC campaign, you’re at the mercy of your users. You’re requesting that they participate, but there’s no guarantee that they will.
To maximize participation, be sure to create a UGC campaign that is:
- Easy to enter (one action to enter)
- Clearly defined (be specific about what you’re requesting)
- Fun (it is summer after all)
Here are some of our favorite summer UGC campaigns to help get you started:
a) Best #SummerLife Selfie
Encourage your customers to snap some selfies that show how they incorporate your brand into their summer life. This campaign framework is a perfect fit for food & beverage, CPG, and apparel brands.
b) Need a Vacation
Ask your customers to share stories about why they deserve a summer vacation. You can collect stories through Facebook or use your SocialToaster program’s built-in survey tool to capture your advocates’ stories privately.
c) Road Trip Reel
Perfect for brands that have customers that are constantly on the road. With a “Road Trip Reel” themed UGC contest, your fans and advocates can share their brand-related road trip experiences with their social media networks.
3) Keep It On-Brand
Regardless of your chosen UGC campaign theme, make sure your UGC requests are in line with your brand identity The more organic and natural the UGC request is, the more authentic it comes across. The more authentic your efforts come across, the more likely your fans are to engage with your UGC program.
If you launch a contest that is completely out of character for your company, you’re going to see a lot of your fans sitting on the contest sidelines as they try to wrap their head around why your brand launched a weird, out of character contest.
4) Pick the “Right” Social Platform
Every social channel has its strengths, and while there’s no wrong or right platform to use to support user generated content efforts in general, there is absolutely a “right” platform for executing specific UGC campaigns.
The “right” platform is the one that:
- Has the greatest concentration of your target audience
- Makes it easy for your customers to act on your UGC requests
- Supports the discovery of any UGC created through your campaign efforts
5) Award and Incentivize
Summer contests means summer prizing. You’ve got to earn participation, and the perfect way is to provide UGC submitters with an opportunity to win fun prizing that can help them get the most out of their summer plans.
Whatever the prize, award, or incentive you roll with for your program, just be sure it aligns with the following two criteria:
- It fits the theme of the UGC contest or request
- It aligns with your overall brand
6) Give Public Praise
Rule #1 when it comes to a UGC program: don’t steal other people’s content!
Yes, the main purpose of a UGC campaign is to come out of it with more content than you know what to do with, but that doesn’t give you the right to flat out steal content. Sure, you can make it crystal clear in the rules and regulations that any content submitted through the UGC campaign is free to use, but you can’t expect your user base to read your rules.
Instead, make it a habit to ask for permission before reposting any UGC (or using any UGC in an advertisement). Further, be sure to credit the creator of the user generated content. Not only does this create transparency between you and the creator, but it also signifies to everyone who sees the content that it was user generated.
7) Cultivate a Culture of UGC
It’s crucial to keep in mind that us humans are creatures of habit.
To cultivate a culture of creation, you want to ensure that you make user generated content solicitations on a regular basis. You also want to be sure to thank your fans and highlight their content. These actions will help encourage your fans to continue to create UGC content for you.
The brands that have been most successful in garnering user generated content are the ones that have been able to tap into this innate human tendency to cultivate habits. In other words, the more you train your audience to participate in your UGC efforts, the more content they’ll create.
8) Lean Into Your Audience’s Preferred Media
The more friction you introduce into your UGC requests, the less likely your fans will turn out fantastic content for your brand.
Tailor your UGC asks to align with the preferences of your audience. If they aren’t writers, don’t ask them to write. If they aren’t photographers, don’t ask them to produce works of art. Keep the expectations and requests in line with their talent and ability.
Also, do yourself a favor and keep your UGC to items that can be produced on your audience’s phones. Not everyone has a sweet studio setup or thousand-dollar cameras, but almost everyone has a phone. Phone’s that they know how to use to create top-notch for their social media networks and (soon) for your brand as well.
9) Host a Summer Event
If you really want to go above and beyond with your summer-themed UGC, you can host an event! This could be anything from a beach clean-up day to a picnic in the park. Get people involved and excited about giving back or spending time together while also getting great content for your brand.
Take your UGC requests up a notch by creating photobooths, exciting visuals, and other Insta-worthy moments to encourage your audiences to create and share content on your brand’s behalf.
Kickstart Your Summer UGC Efforts
For most brands, summer is a perfect time to drive customer engagement. People are just more active during the summer months, which means they are presented with more opportunities to create amazing content on behalf of your brand.
If you’ve never managed a user generated content campaign before, don’t feel like you have to go all out to see the benefit. What’s important isn’t the size of your UGC efforts, it’s that you created a campaign that resonates with your customer base. Start small and start now.
Want some help getting your UGC efforts in order? We’re here for you. Schedule a free demo with SocialToaster today and let’s get started!