User-Generated Content (UGC) is a powerful content marketing tool and an incredibly rich source of material for brands to use in their campaigns.
The benefits of UGC can be huge, especially within social media marketing. Personal stories connect people with each other and with a common cause. People also trust in messages from real people. They want authenticity and to see that something has had a real impact.
With the rise of smartphones and content platforms such as Instagram, YouTube etc, the power to be a content commissioner lies in an individual’s hands. With the increase of live streaming platforms such as Periscope, Facebook etc it also means that anyone can be a broadcaster. This tool is already being used by news organisations to gather content through ‘citizen journalism’, and it also enables anyone to broadcast their story to the world, at any time.
Content generation and distribution are also key in maintaining a message that gets out to your audience. With the ever-growing arena of social media, regular content production and release is a key way of engaging an audience with your brand. Content is key, but not everyone has the time to constantly put out new messages, posts, photos etc. How can you get people to talk about your brand and engage with stories of lives affected, without having a 24-7 newsroom?
This is where the real value of UGC steps in. User-Generated Content is an often untapped resource that enables you to connect with your users and use their experiences and stories to connect with others like them.
What does this mean for your brand?
Ok, so we now know that everyone can create content. But how can this be harnessed by brands to share their message? And, how can the effective User Generated Content be identified from the noise?
It can be a bewildering arena. But, it can be helped by asking yourself a few key questions:
Who is your audience? (also known as your customer personas)
What platforms are they using?
How do they choose to communicate?
What kind of things do they choose to post?
By tapping into what your audience is already doing, it helps your message to go further and on the right platforms.
User-Generated Content Case Studies
One great case study where this has been used effectively is seen on the NHS Organ Donor Facebook page. Organ donation is a notoriously difficult subject to engage the public with and yet the NHS has found a way to encourage and curate UGC that reaches out to others ‘like them’ to engage with the cause. A marketing post written in the third party talking about the need for donors may sound rather away from the issue at hand, but, a post of a young child who’s only alive because of the organs of another really brings the message home.
Another organisation who’ve effectively harnessed and mined UGC for their own promotion is National Geographic. Through their #WanderlustContest competition they encouraged their audience to share inspirational photos from their travels. This gave them access to a previously untapped mine of content, and also created a wave of engagement and a buzz with and around their brand. The incentive for the competition? A prize of a photo holiday to Yosemite Park – a prize which played directly into the passions and interests of their desired audience.
This tactic has worked for more than NatGeo, in fact, our team have been encouraging travel brands to connect with backpackers and holiday-makers by sharing their travel stories, photos and videos since 2011. This tactic has seen large growth to their websites visits, even doubling the unique visitors on some of our clients’ sites, as well as a considerable increase in engagement across social platforms.
With more and more platforms emerging and the tool kit expanding, user-generated content is an often untapped mine of stories and content that can effectively help build your brand, with very little work.
If you’re unsure how to navigate this, why don’t you speak to one of our team to consultants to find out how we can help you?