Your brand's online presence has come along way since you first started. You now have a website, blog, social media pages, and even a killer content strategy to attract and engage with new potential customers.
It looks like you've got everything figured out, but what if we told you that you're forgetting about one of the most effective resources for promoting your brand? We're talking about.....(drum roll).....user-generated content!
What is User-Generated Content?
User-Generated content is any piece of content created by users of your products or services that promotes your brand. This content can be in the form of photos, videos, written articles, social media posts, or anything else that features your brand. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have made it easier than ever for fans to share branded content and engage with other fans!
Okay, I get WHAT User-Generated Content is but WHY should I care?
The average consumer is exposed to an estimated 3,000 brand messages every day. This chaotic environment has taught us to tune-out advertisements and be skeptical of what brands have to say. We think "all companies are just trying to maximize their profits so why would we trust everything they tell us?" We would much prefer to get our information from a third-party source.
Let's say you are thinking about buying a new laptop. Of course, Apple is going to tell you that anything besides a MacBook is a foolish decision. Dell will probably tell you that MacBooks are overpriced and you can get customized PC laptop for a significantly lower price. HP would probably have an even different answer for you.
You get sick of all these brands giving you their biased sales pitches and decide to consult your uncle who works at a computer repair shop downtown. He tells you that an Acer laptop is the best bang for your buck right now, and even helps you find a refurbished one for a reasonable price online. You look up some user reviews of this particular Acer model, and you see mostly positive reviews.
You hadn't even heard of Acer before this conversation, and suddenly your credit card is out of your wallet! This example illustrates how consumers see other consumers as more credible sources than branded messages.
That was a lovely example, but how can that relate to my digital strategy?
You can apply the concept above to your brand by convincing your user to create and share photos, videos, reviews, or other types of content involving your brand. Someone might post an Instagram photo of them drinking Starbucks, or upload a Facebook video of their friend dropping to one knee and chugging a Smirnoff Ice. Both would be examples of user-generated content.
The beauty of user-generated content is that you don't have to spend time, effort, and the creativity required to produce each piece. Your audience will voluntarily share this content online, and other users will likely engage with it.
You can then share this content on your social media page or website and use it to gain even more exposure. Potential customers will see this content as credible, and will be more likely to purchase your products and services if the user-generated content they see glows with positivity!
That sounds great, but how can I actually convince my users to create and share content for my brand?
There are many ways to encourage your users to share branded content. You can offer a coupon off their next purchase for leaving a review, hold a product photo contest on Instagram, or simply ask your users to share photos, stories or other content involving your brand. Users might already be sharing content involving your brand, so it's important to keep an eye out for social mentions of your brand!
Another great tip is to share content that promotes other non-competitive brands that you work with. If you own a local bar, why not publish an Instagram post featuring a seasonal beer from a local brewery?
If you run an advertising agency, why not showcase your clients' success stories on your Facebook page? Businesses that you work with will see that you're a team player and will be much more likely to return the favor in the future!
Can you give an example of a successful user-generated content campaign?
Apple never seems to disappoint when it comes to marketing brilliance, and they know how to implement a user-generated content campaign with the best of them. After learning that customers weren't satisfied with the iPhone camera performance, they focused on improving camera quality on upcoming iPhone generations.
When the newest iPhone was released, they launched the "Shot on iPhone" campaign. This campaign encouraged users to take photos with their iPhone and post them on Instagram and other social media platforms including the #shotoniphone hashtag. Apple then gathered these photos and used their favorites to create iPhone ads.
The "Shot on iPhone" campaign is an excellent example of the power of user-generated content and positively impacted public opinion on the quality of the iPhone camera.
A successful content strategy is made up of many parts, but luckily you don't have to create every piece of content by yourself. Learning how to drive user-generated content and repurpose it for your brand is a valuable skill to have in your repertoire. Do you have any ideas for encouraging users to create content for your brand?
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