Some people are turned off by direct advertising from businesses. They know companies want their money so they’re hesitant to trust that what’s being offered. To break down the barriers built against businesses, e-commerce sites turn to user-generated content (UGC).
UGC is content created by all types of users, be they long-time or first-time customers or simply social media followers. It can be anything from reviews of the business to photos people take with their product or a hashtag in its caption.
There are numerous benefits of using content created by loyal and interested customers. Unless you launch a marketing campaign aimed at receiving UGC, it saves you both time, work, and money. You don’t have to spend money on getting photographers or videographers to create ads.
Another benefit is increasing social media engagement. Toyota boosted Facebook Ad engagement by 440% by promoting submitted photos and videos of street musicians.
This doesn’t mean you should put all the responsibility for your company’s content on your users. But incorporating UGC into your social media posts, blog articles, website pages, email campaigns, and advertisements will create brand loyalty, awareness, and a marketing tactic to attract those who wouldn’t otherwise trust professionally created content.
Fans have a variety of reasons for wanting to help you with your UGC. Some want to be a part of the brand. Others want to receive rewards and recognition. But they won’t just give you it if you don’t motivate them. There are five specific ways to rally customers to submit UGC for your business:
1. Do A Giveaway
One of the easiest campaign to launch to receive more UGC is a giveaway. They’re particularly useful in generating traffic – it’s worth giving away one t-shirt to receive 100s of posts and photos raising awareness for your company. Giveaways are simple and have little to no risk on your customers. They don’t have to spend any money or make any commitments.
And for giveaways aimed at generating UGC, it’s as simple as asking for a social media post.
There a few things to keep in mind as you plan your giveaway to specifically draw out UGC. First is to make it as clear and easy as possible. Don’t have more than 5 steps on how to enter the giveaway. Clearly define the rules for entering – for example, be particular about photo dimensions if that’s important for the content you need. Adding a hashtag makes it easier to keep track of the posts.
Remember, this type of giveaway isn’t trying to get consumers to post a certain referral link on all their different social media profiles. You’re trying to receive content you can use for future ads and your website. Make sure they have to create something you can use in order to win.
2. Hold A Contest
A contest is similar to a giveaway. You ask consumers to create a post and then a few participants win some prize. But a contest doesn’t have to reward them with a free product. It also relies more on skill. Giveaways are about picking someone’s name at random – they might be able to do a few things in order to increase the likelihood that their name will be picked, but they’re still chosen at random.
For contests, you get to judge the content or have others judge it for you. Maybe you just want the most professional looking photo possible of your product. So instead of hiring an expensive photographer, you ask your fans to take the most professional photo possible. Now you get dozens of photos, all of which are attempts at producing high quality content. Your prize for the contest can be a free product, just like a giveaway, or it can be a discount, free subscription, the chance to be featured on your website, etc. Make sure the reward is enticing and worth the work they’re putting into it.
A great example of contests that create UGC are the infamous Dorito Super Bowl commercials. Even if a fan-made commercial isn’t used the night of America’s favorite event, the company has the opportunity to use it later. Most of them are posted on YouTube before they’re even selected, which means they gain attraction before they’re even aired and can be viewed and adored later.
3. Create A Hashtag Campaign
Original hashtags are beneficial for a variety of reasons. They allow you to easily find what people are saying about your company. They also allow your business to get more notoriety and have a chance at trending on sites like Twitter. Some news and blog sites might even cover the hashtag if it gains enough traction.
Make the hashtag about the people, not your company. Companies like Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 use the “me” hashtags #UOONYOU and #FSxME, respectively. These promote the brand as being focused on the customers. Others like Calvin Klein used #MyCalvins, which more directly promoted the brand but still made the customer feel empowered.
The fewer the hashtags, the better. To receive UGC, you’re going to want to limit the campaign to just one hashtag. You can have different hashtags for different campaigns, but having a “one hashtag campaign” gives it a focus and specific direction.
4. Host An Event
This might not be possible for all ecommerce sites, but it’s a good idea if it’s feasible. Putting on a party or similar event for subscribers and fans is a great way to build loyalty for your brand. It allows you to meet the people who love what you have to offer. It’s a great opportunity to get feedback and put some faces to all those numbers.
In addition, you can generate a lot of UGC. Have a booth that’s set up solely for people to take photos or videos of, whether they’re in the photo/video or not. Add a specific hashtag for the event, and they’re bound to post what they’re up to the night of.
You don’t have to have a booth, but what’s important is making it easy for those attending to post something online. Family and friends will see it, but more importantly you’ll have access to photos and videos you can use for social media content after the event. You might not use these ones for advertisements, but you can use them as daily social media posts to maintain and increase engagement.
5. Just Ask For It
There’s a saying that goes “If you want to find the answer, all you have to do is ask.” Don’t get so caught up in trying to indirectly receive UGC that you don’t even bother to just ask customers.
Remember how we said some people are motivated by recognition? Well, people are also motivated by altruism, the desire to help others. Why not tap into both? Ask customers to send in photos of them with your product or their testimonials and they’ll have a chance to appear on your website or pages. Tell them it really means a lot to your company and that they’re helping to make it into something more.
Wouldn’t you be thrilled to be featured on the homepage of your favorite airline, or to have your photo featured on the social media page of a company with millions of followers? Add on top of that being thanked by this company you respect.
Especially ask customers who have made a recent purchase to submit testimonials or reviews of their product. Send an email within a few days of their expected shipping date prompting them to provide a review on your website.
Before using any of the methods mentioned, you need to ask yourself what the purpose of the UGC you want is. Is it for your website (i.e. to make it look more authentic), a social media post, or an actual marketing campaign? If it’s the latter, who are you targeting with this campaign? Understanding the prospective demographic will help you know what kind of UGC you want to receive.
It’s obvious that UGC has benefits, but actually getting quality content won’t be a walk in the park. Remember that people are motivated by rewards, whether those be internal or external. Rewards can be monetary (which includes giving them something they’d normally have to buy), recognition, and fame. Others want to feel like they’re a part of your success, so give them the opportunities to be a part of your growth.
Underneath all the tactics to get UGC is a necessity to have a positive image. Almost all your customers won’t want to promote your business if you’ve treated them poorly, even if they get something free out of it.
Say someone does submit a photo of themselves with your product and they win a giveaway or discount. Their family and friends might congratulate them, but they’ll tell them they only did the contest to win something. They’ll explain how horrible their experience has been with you, be it from terrible customer service or a ridiculous return policy. All the potential referential marketing with them will be lost
Having UGC is great, but it’s nothing if your business isn’t.
How Have You Motivated Customers to Submit User-Generated Content?