A Retailer's Guide to User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) has become a buzzword in the retail industry — and for good reason. Avid social media users are consuming over five hours of UGC per day. Therefore, it's not surprising that fan-powered campaigns have proven to be 20 percent more impactful on purchasing decisions than their traditional ad counterparts.
Since 2006, Frito-Lay has invited fans to submit their own Doritos commercials for a chance to win a $1 million prize and see their spot air during the Super Bowl. With last year's finalists drawing in nearly 100 million views on Doritos' Facebook page — as well as generating an immeasurable amount of media buzz — the strategy was a proven winner. It's no wonder Frito-Lay revisited the campaign for its ninth year running!
Why UGC Works
UGC is a low-investment, high-impact way to generate social conversation between a brand and its fans. It also has advantages over traditional marketing avenues. Reports show that millennials, the demographic that holds the most purchasing power, are 50 percent more likely to trust reviews from their peers than they are from any other form of media.
"Millennials are a generation that wants to co-create the product, the brand, with you," says Alex Castellarnau of the file transfer service Dropbox. "Companies that understand this and figure out ways to engage in this co-creation relationship with millennials will have an edge."
Even if your business doesn't cater to millennials, don't dismiss the idea of UGC just yet. As technology becomes more prevalent amongst older generations, the same buying behaviors and principles will become the norm.
Types of UGC
UGC can be as simple as a blog comment or as technical as a video spot. The type of content you collect is really up to you — just make sure it aligns with your brand messaging.
Some other types of UGC to consider include the following:
- social media posts (e.g., Twitter, Instagram);
- user-submitted photos and videos;
- guest blog posts;
- testimonials; and
- public and brand forums.
How to Collect UGC
Hosting a contest or giveaway is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get fans to create original submissions. Competition-based UGC is a great way to get exposure for your brand, since most entrants will likely share their entries within their social circles.
For example, Starbucks invited customers to decorate their iconic white cups, with the most popular design recreated as a limited-edition reusable Starbucks cup. The #WhiteCupContest brought new eyes to the brand and started a two-way conversation between the espresso giant and its devoted fans.
Photo reviews work especially well for apparel brands. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they see positive feedback from their peers.
Rent the Runway is one such company that's integrated UGC into its marketing strategy. Each item description highlights photos of users wearing the garments, along with fit measurements and reviews, to help prospective customers get a feel for how items look in real life.
Integrating fan photos into the marketing mix is the route that Calvin Klein took when the brand launched its #MyCalvins campaign. Fans of the brand tweeted and instagrammed pictures of their CK apparel to join the social conversation. The campaign helped push the dated brand back into the spotlight and gain awareness from the social media generation.
Aggregating fan content through your unique brand hashtag will allow you to track mentions around the social sphere. From there, you can pull in content from multiple sources in one place using a social media management platform.
Sites like Sprout Social, HootSuite and Edgar are great for monitoring the social pull of your brand. This is important because you want your brand's perception to stay consistent throughout your messaging. Tools like these allow you to moderate fan submissions, enabling you to approve and curate content before it hits your sharing stream.
UGC has been around for years, but only recently become an adopted term by retailers. The tactic has proven staying power, as social media users are both consuming and creating authentic content on a daily basis.
No matter how large or small your business, there are ways you can leverage some form of UGC in your marketing mix. Take inspiration from these big brands to launch your own campaign. And don't be afraid to get creative!
Do you have any examples of brands leveraging UGC? Let us know in the comments section below!
Olivia Dello Buono is the content marketing manager at AWeber, an email marketing software provider.