Before we can answer the question of whether or not UGC (user-generated content) is even worth our time, we need to define what UGC actually is. User-generated content is a fairly self explanatory term. It is the term used to describe any form of content such as video, blogs, discussion forum posts, digital images, audio files, and other types of media created by consumers or end-users of an online system or service and is publicly available to other consumers.
UGC is a way to have your customers contribute to your marketing, often without the use of a digital marketing agency. Many consumers have said that they are more likely to pay attention to the words and opinions of their peers rather than typical marketing or advertising messages. While the use of user-generated content is no longer at its peak, it is still a valid digital marketing idea.
First, let’s discuss one or two times that UGC was effective for a large company. Starbucks launched a campaign in 2014 called “Starbucks’ White Cup Contest.” Starbucks enlisted the help of its consumers in order to create art on Starbucks cups. Starbucks received 4,000 entries in only 3 weeks. This campaign allowed customers to feel like Starbucks valued their opinions and created positive publicity for Starbucks through social media avenues.
Another UGC campaign that you are likely familiar with was launched by Coke in 2011 in Australia, then later in the UK and United States. Coke made bottles and cans with customers’ names on them in order to increase their visibility on Twitter. Customers shared pictures of their personalized bottles and cans all over social media. Coke attributes its 2% increase in sales to this social media exposure by its very own consumers.
There are three important things to consider when you are looking at UGC as part of your digital marketing plan:
- Would UGC be valuable for your particular brand or would you rather invest in staff-generated content? Think about your story and the message you want to put out there. Is this a story that only you can tell? If so, UGC is not the best starting point for your digital marketing plan.
- Test the waters. Consider allowing your customers to submit reviews and stories about your product or service on social media sites. Be upfront about how the content will be handled and approved and remember that not all content submitted in this manner will be valuable. Try adding a unique twist and letting customers submit video testimonials, too.
- Be willing to share the stage. Start by using Facebook embedded comments in order for people to engage with your company. Then move on to building your own forum.
UGC is one of many topics to discuss when you are thinking about hiring a digital marketing agency and developing your marketing plan. Check out 10 successful UGC campaigns according to our friends at Hubspot. Other tools, like social media can be useful for your business and can help increase your site traffic. Having a website that is prepared for optimal results from a digital marketing plan is key.