User Generated Content Strategy: Creating a strategy that converts

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User Generated Content Strategy: Creating a strategy that converts

So you’ve heard about UGC and all of the benefits it can bring your brand – when used correctly of course! We’d like to make sure that you’re checking all of the boxes in order to leverage your User Generated Content strategy when working with social media.

Follow along to learn how to create an engaging UGC strategy that will actually help you increase eCommerce conversions like fashion brand Salsa Jeans or furniture brand VOX.

Creating a User Generated Content strategy that converts

Before I further explain how User Generated Content will help your brand, let’s talk about Social Media Marketing.

I don’t think I need to spend a lot of time convincing you that social media networks are a crucial eCommerce tool. The majority of people follow brands on social channels in some way, shape or form. This includes a staggering 95% of millennials.

Mobile web usage has recently surpassed that of desktops, and the numbers tell us that those same users aren’t afraid to spend on their phones. Plus, 75% of people have bought a product because they saw it on a social network.

75% of people have bought a product because they saw it on social

But if you’re still evaluating how well you’re performing on social media platforms by simply looking at your follower count, you may be missing the point.

Here’s what you need to know: modern social media marketing has a lot less to do with vanity metrics such as ‘Likes’ and follower counts than you may think. What’s the point of having thousands of followers if they result in no meaningful leads, conversions or sales?

Focus instead on using Instagram as a way to build an engaged brand community to promote brand awareness. The first step: posting content that resonates with your target audience.

Ahh yes. The eternal struggle: generating content that will constantly interest and excite users. Well, the formula for strong content doesn’t have to be rocket science. It can be as simple as re-posting User Generated Content that you know will spark their interest.

With the added bonus that UGC instantly encourages others to join your community, too.

user generated content

Think about it: if yogurt brand, Chobani, posted a product shot of their yogurt (or even a picture of a model eating the yogurt), it definitely wouldn’t have elicited as much engagement as this picture did. This tells a story about a hard worker in New York looking for the perfect snack during break time. Most importantly, it makes all of Chobani’s target audience want to do the same.

And it doesn’t just have to live on social channels. Your social media marketing strategy can include UGC on your website, ads, you name it (more on this to come!) Plus, Shopify notes that User Generated advertising receives four times higher of a click-through rate versus any other type of marketing.

User Generated advertising receives a 4 times higher click-through rate

An effective social media strategy is rooted in three elements…

  • Responding to the wants and needs of followers in real-time
  • Presenting your brand as a personality (versus appearing robotic or corporate)
  • Boosting content that strikes a chord with your audience.

User Generated Content helps you achieve all of these elements on social media platforms and here’s how.

Showing off your products without turning off customers

According to a study by Sprout Social, approximately 57% of social users cited “too many promotions” as the number one reason they unfollow brandsMeanwhile, ad-block usage is at an all-time high worldwide.

57% of social users cited “too many promotions” as the number one reason they unfollow brands

Yup, it’s pretty obvious these days: constant self-promotion is a predictable way to drop your follower count and tune out your target audience. Brands need to be tactful in terms of how they present their products, or customers are quickly going to move on.

That’s where customer content comes in. Customer content represents a win-win for brands and followers alike – not only does it remove the sales pitch from your promotional posts, it also shows off your products in action.

user generated content

Now, your followers don’t just want a product. They want an experience with your product – just like Heather and her Strawberry Frostino in the sunshine.

Brands should strive to take each and every opportunity to sell beyond the realm of boring product pages. Instead, place products in a real-world setting which is both eye-popping and helps your followers visualize a personal connection with your brand.

Showing off your brand’s personality through social

Speaking of personal connections, consumers today want to put their trust in people, not brands. This is especially true when it comes to the younger crowd.

The only issue is, brands are not people.

But you know who is? Your customers.

When you can encourage customers to take and post pictures with your products on social networks, they can become the many faces of you brand. A great way to get them interested in selling for you is by showing some personality.

user generated content

Consider how small touches of humor, attitude, personality and puns within your Instagram captions or tweets can remind your followers that behind every brand interaction is a real-life person, not a robot.

Of course, not every social media manager needs to (or even can) be a stand-up comedian. But you’re better off showing some human side to your brand voice and image – remembering again that the best human side could come from the humans that buy your product.

Whatever route you decide to go, when it comes to tone and customer content, make an effort to be genuine rather than trying to fake a marketing message that doesn’t jive well with your brand or your target audience.

Get on the level of the followers on your social channels

Part of the beauty of social media networks is the fact that followers and brands are on a level playing-field. Both parties are just an @ away from each other.

The ability to interact with followers in real-time not only serves as means of customer service but also as a tool for curating User Generated Content. When you become known as a brand who responds to your interactions on social media, users are going to give you more engagement.

For example, natural cosmetic brand, Lush, encourages customers to ask about the best products for their skin or hair type directly on Instagram posts.

And, to follow through on the personalization that their brand strives for (on each product that they sell it says exactly who packaged the product for you), they even sign-off their Instagram responses to let the customer know exactly who they’re hearing from:

user generated content

Remember: customers don’t just want responses from brands, they expect them. Although responding to your followers may not seem like a make or break situation from a marketing perspective. 5 in 6 messages in need of a response on behalf of followers are never answered.

As noted by Forbes, 62% of millennials want to get in touch with their favorite brands via social and 60% cite brand loyalty as a factor influencing purchasing decisions. That means they’re thinking about how receptive your brand is to their needs while they make their purchasing choices.

62% of millennials want to get in touch with their favourite brands via social

Taking the time to both seek out and respond to your audience is a small touch point that most brands aren’t willing to commit to.

Don’t be one of those brands. Use social media as it’s intended to be used – as a social platform – and users will respond positively.

Key takeaways of using customer content on your social channels

Over 86% of businesses have some sort of User Generated Content strategy in place. Meanwhile, millennials trust User Generated advertising 50% more than traditional marketing messages.

Millennials trust User Generated advertising 50% more than traditional marketing messages

The “pump and dump” approach to content via social media is dead and buried. Likewise, if you aren’t giving your followers a voice, you’re inevitably holding back your ability to grow.

Getting Customers to Post Content Featuring Your Products

While we can acknowledge that follower count isn’t everything, it never hurts to bump up your numbers. The more followers, the more UGC you’re likely to receive. Then, you can leverage this content to receive all of the benefits of User Generated Content

Thankfully, UGC breeds UGC. Once you start implementing it within your strategy, you’re sure to hit a goldmine of new followers for your feed, all without needlessly spammy posts.

Check out how wildly popular backpack brand, Kanken, uses its #Kanken hashtag to simultaneously promote their products and leverage a user submitted photo to encourage new photos from their followers:

user generated content

If we delve into the images posted via the hashtag, it’s clear that fans are responding in the form of customer content.

user generated content

This encouragement is a win-win for Kanken: their products spread through the social space at no cost and non-followers are exposed to their tag. Brands that know how to create a hashtag also know how to encourage their content to spread like wildfire.

But getting the process started can seem daunting when you’re only beginning. However, it can be as simple as asking for a review or starting a User Generated Content campaign.

Let’s break the process down starting with reviews.

Getting more reviews from your customers to improve your User Generated Content Strategy

Think back to a time when you left a review of a product or a company. What motivated you to take action? Chances are, it was one of two scenarios…

  1. You hated the product or service and left the review to keep others from making the same mistake of buying it
  2. You liked the product or service, and they asked you to leave a review.

The first scenario doesn’t require any action on the seller’s part – you left it on your own will.

The second, however, most often requires them to reach out to you and ask. Otherwise, you may not have been inspired to leave the review despite your good experience with the product.

Here’s an example of how Amazon does this:

user generated content

People tend to talk more about negative experiences than positive ones, so that’s why your customers often need a little nudge to get to sharing!

So, prompt your users to give a review. Send them an email, reach out to them on social media, or call them and ask.

Getting more visual content from your customers

Now you can use this same model when it comes to UGC.

The bottom line is this: Users are already taking and sharing photos. You just need to get them to take pictures while using your products and tag them with your hashtag.

How can you do that?

Here’s a 3-step process:

Step 1: Do an audit to find your current customer content.

If you haven’t been tracking it, there’s a good chance some of your customers have already posted images of your products without you even knowing it. To find them, search for your brand on Instagram using #yourbrand.

On top of that, also search for hashtags that mention your product or where your brand has been tagged; if you have a brick-and-mortar store, search for anyone tagging your store location. (You can even use our visual commerce platform to make this process easier!)

Understanding what kinds of photos people are already taking will help you with the next step, which is…

Step 2: Create a customer content campaign.

Hosting a campaign and giving away products to random winners is the first step in getting loads of customer content. People love associating themselves with good brands (and getting free stuff).

When crafting your campaign, be sure to think about your goal – do you want to generate more reviews which you can use on your product pages or do you want to get your followers to contribute to a hashtag so that you can dominate Instagram?

If it’s the latter, make sure to create a unique hashtag for your brand – whether it’s the name of your brand or something new – make sure that when people post with this hashtag it’s intentionally for you. This makes it easier to collect your UGC in the future.

Once you start encouraging users to latch onto your addictive hashtag, you’ll start to see your UGC coming in.

Step 3: Engage with your customers.

Be sure to respond to their comments. Don’t be afraid to comment on their photos, repost them on your social media accounts, and randomly give them free gifts. They don’t have to be expensive, either! For example, you can send your customers fun, branded stickers which they can paste on their laptops or other gear.

The more you engage with them over time, and they see the rewards of posting a photo or writing a review, the more they will remember your brand in the future.

Want more information? Check out our content on growing your collection of User Generated Content. Full of actionable strategies of how to get customers to post UGC, you’ll be filling galleries on your website in no time:

Read our guide to Consumer Generated Marketing.

Finally, let’s take a closer look at where you can include your UGC strategy to better improve your marketing in general.

Where to Include User Generated Content Marketing

So you’ve started gathering your brand’s UGC and encouraging customers to create more – the circle of engagement, as we like to call it. 

But where is it that you’re actually displaying this content for your customers to engage with it? That’s where visual commerce comes into the picture.

Take accessories brand, Meller, as an example. They collect their high quality content from social media to be spread across their online shopping journey and compel customers to shop. Here’s what it looks like in their site…

When customers visit the Meller site, they get to browse galleries and carousels of real customers using their products. And they were happy enough with the brand to post about it on Instagram.

Not only that, but when customers click on the images, they can directly shop the products displayed with them. This brought the brand a 13% increase conversion rates, and it was easy with a UGC platform!

Here’s what an integration like this looks like in jacket brand, Gloverall’s website. They saw a 19% increase of conversion rates thanks to their integration, plus an average order value increase of 27%.

Now that you’ve witnessed the power of UGC, you may be wondering…can it go further?

Of course it can! You can and should stretch your earned content as far as it can go – and here’s how.

Improving your User Generated Content strategy with email marketing campaigns 

We’ve seen time and time again how User Generated Content helps brands by increasing eCommerce revenue, building trust in Instagram and on your online store, and just creating better branded content.

Why not apply those same principles to your email marketing strategy?

By integrating UGC into your email marketing strategy, you get the best of both worlds in terms of your marketing efforts. Not only do you get to double-dip your social content, but also encourage more eyes on your hashtag campaigns and products.

So don’t save all your UGC juice just for social media. Share the love with your email marketing campaigns! Since UGC has the potential to plug up the holes in your marketing strategies when it comes to conversions and click-throughs, you should integrate wherever you can.

Consider some of the most common challenges of email marketers according to Campaign Monitor:

  • Increasing email engagement rates and encouraging readers to take some sort of action
  • Converting subscribers into customers and keeping those subscribers opted-in
  • Creating a more personal connection with subscribers

User Generated Content can help with easing all of these pain points. And you don’t have to scratch your current email marketing campaign to do it. With a little bit of tweaking and some creativity, you can concoct the best email marketing campaign using UGC for your brand.

In fact, you should be using UGC in your emails to encourage users to create more content for you. With an email based UGC campaign, you’re sure to get more people snapping shots in your products.

user generated content

Plus, your social followers are a resource for the rest of your marketing strategies. Think of your Instagram followers as potential email subscribers – so they never miss a beat of your content.

According to an eMarketer report, email marketing boasts a median ROI of 122%, which is actually four times higher than the likes of social media or paid search. Now add that to User Generated Content conversion power, and you’ve got your reason for integrating UGC into your email marketing strategy. 

The key takeaway here? Email and social media shouldn’t be totally separated. This is especially true as experimenting with UGC through email is so simple.

Whether your goal is more sales via email or leading customers to your shoppable social feed, UGC and email combined are a powerful combination.

User Generated Content Strategy & Social Media ads

Another crucial way to use UGC is in Social Media Ads.

Facebook & Instagram users, AKA most people, spend their time scrolling through an endless cycle of news, pictures, and ads. They get pretty good at spotting an ad and immediately scrolling past it.

But with UGC, you’re more likely to get users interested in the content that you’re sharing because it’s more natural and real – just like the pictures that they expect to see of friends and family on Facebook.

Plus, it cuts your Customer Acquisition cost! Which we’ll go into further in the cutting CAC section of this article.

Facebook ads with UGC result in a 300% higher click-through rate, a 50% lower cost per click, and a 50% lower cost per acquisition.

Facebook ads with UGC result in a 300% higher click-through rate

We’ve also seen similar results on Instagram ads with a 13% lower cost per click. Remember, social media is a space for social content. Leverage that idea by integrating UGC into your social media ads to get better results!

Your User Generated Content strategy

So are you convinced? We’re glad to hear it because we’d love to help you take your strategy above and beyond. 

Flowbox is Europe’s leading visual commerce platform that makes it easy to collect, manage, and integrate content in a way that makes sense for your brand. We even make it easy to get your customer content integrated into ads. With our Media Rights Tool, you can easily request all rights to photos and videos, ensuring that you can use this content wherever you like.

There’s no limit to the potential of your UGC. And we’re here to make sure you know exactly how to execute a winning strategy. 

As Beyonce says: If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Show off your UGC everywhere you can, and start experiencing the benefits of a solid User Generated Content Strategy. 

Why not check out these 10 social media advertising tools to help you gain a competitive edge in social media advertising here.