UGC is changing content as we know it

Submitted by on the 1st of September 2016

I first learned about UGC (user-generated content) when I was still an intern in the industry. One of the brands I religiously followed on social media shared a piece of content I had submitted on their page; a heartfelt “thank you” for the awesome customer service I received at one of their branches, accompanied by a picture of the employee responsible for my message. I didn’t expect anything in return, let alone a response, but I was pleasantly surprised at what they did next.

A few hours later, I received a notification that they’d decided to share my post with the rest of their community. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. Something was validating about a major brand engaging with one of their community members in that way. I’d made the transition from being a fan to one of their advocates without being paid for it.

UGC is one of the most powerful tools a marketer has at their disposal. According to Salesforce, brands that incorporate it as part of their campaigns see a 50% increase in engagement – a figure that should excite you enough to incorporate UGC into your content strategy. First, though, you need to understand what it involves, how to do it right and what the risks involved are.

Why is UGC important?

UGC is essential for any social media strategy because it is dynamic and original content created by the people responsible for your presence on social media – your audience. But why does that matter?

One word: authenticity. Word of mouth has always been a trusted sales tool and it’s no different on social media. UGC rewards you with massive engagement and reach. Wouldn’t you want to retain your relationship with your existing audience while attracting a new fan base?

Doing UGC right

Bozboz Digital Content Manager and contributor for Huffington Post UK Sophie Turton, said that instead of creating content, brands should be creating opportunities for content creation from their audience, fostering a space for resonant moments and inspiring experiences that create conversation. Your brand could prompt your audience to create this content to drive engagement (whether you decide to include an incentive is up to you), or provide a specific platform for them to share their experiences with your product or service, with other members. This makes your brand more transparent and accessible.

Huawei’s #OO campaign for the launch of their P9 flagship range was an excellent example of this. The device’s main attraction is its dual-lens camera, so users were encouraged to share photos of the Double-Os in the world around them. They were challenged with submitting their most original and creative photos on Facebook and Instagram. The campaign received massive engagement, resulting in higher reach, more followers, a tonne of brand love and, most importantly, a massive pool of beautiful, free content.

Here’s why the campaign was successful:

  1. Simple and clear calls-to-action: take a picture, be creative, tag us and you could win.
  2. A little help from their friends: the use of influencers can be effective in getting your message out there, especially if there’s a chance that some of their followers may be interested in your product.
  3. Creative use of a hashtag: #OO was not only relevant to the P9’s selling point (the dual-lens camera), but it was also easy for Huawei’s audience to remember long after the campaign had ended.
  4. Foresight: nothing comes without risks and UGC is no different. Of the thousands of entries that were submitted, hundreds of them were downloaded from Google, etc. T&Cs are okay, but your brand needs to ensure that it adequately protects itself from any copyright infringement from their users. Three words: COVER ALL BASES.
  5. Mobile device compatibility: How often do you use your smartphone to access social media as opposed to your PC? Exactly. Considering that the majority of South Africans can’t afford fixed-line internet access, most of us rely on our mobile phones. For your campaign to be successful, you need to take this into consideration.

Have you incorporated UGC into your content strategy? Share your thoughts with us.

Our latest free eBook, The 8 Social Incentives, also looks at using UGC among the tactics for encouraging engagement. Download it here.