With the rise of cool techniques on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Vine, consumers are consistently finding new ways to create, share and consume more content on a daily basis.
Consumer-created content isn’t just popular, it also has the power to influence other consumers.
How many times have you watched a how-to video posted to YouTube by a fellow user to learn how to create a certain design in Photoshop? Or read a restaurant review on Urban Spoon from another patron that ultimately led you to decide to NOT eat there? Or, even just seen a friend’s beautiful travel photos on Facebook and wanted to travel to the destination yourself?
We’ve all made decisions about products we want to purchase, restaurants we want to experience and destinations we want to travel to, based on user-generated content (UGC).
But how influential is it really? Millennials report that user-generated content (UGC) is 20% more influential on their purchases than any other type of media.
And yet, many retailers still aren’t capitalizing on the popularity and influence of social content.
In 4 steps, I’m going to show you how to convert influential and authentic consumer content into sales for your company.
Step #1: How to Build a Library of User-Generated Content
You can capitalize on getting value from consumer content by using one of the most powerful tactics: building your own UGC marketing campaign.
Building your own UGC marketing campaign allows you to use this word-of-mouth strategy to automate the content collection process. You don’t have to reach out to individual consumers to request permission to reuse their content and it collates all of the valuable consumer feedback in one place.
So what are some easy ways to create a UGC campaign?
Start with a hashtag campaign. Make it easy for consumers to enter the campaign with a designated hashtag. The beauty of hashtags is that they’re a common feature across many platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine, which allows your fans to choose how and where they want to participate; allowing you to pull off a cross-platform campaign easily.
Branded hashtag campaigns can be powerful calls-to-action across all platforms, including TV, social and print.
Take, for example, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s marketing campaign for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. They wanted to ‘own’ winter and establish it as Canada’s identity and they did this by creating the #WeAreWinter campaign, the largest ad campaign ever for the COC.
With social media as the prominent platform, #WeAreWinter featured well-known Canadian Olympians (and their social profiles) talking about how winter is at the core of who Canadians are. Documentary-style videos on the re-designed Olympic.ca helped tell the stories of the lesser-known athletes and showcased the drive and determination of the medal hopefuls.
The end result? The hashtag #WeAreWinter was used over 500,000 times on Twitter in Canada, over a million times worldwide, and was trending worldwide on the final days of the Olympics.
If Pinterest is one of your major platforms, consider running a contest on it. Take the Pinterest contest run by Country Living Magazine. They asked pinners to follow the Country Living Pinterest page, launch a new Pinterest board entitled “My Country Living Dream Bedroom,” and pin at least 10 items that represent their dream bedroom (5 of which needed to be pinned from CountryLiving.com), all tagged with #countryliving and #dreambedroom. To submit their entry, pinners were required to comment on the contest’s pin with a link to their pinboard.
Whether you’re holding a Pinterest contest or having fans enter into a cross-platform hashtag campaign, here are some tips to get a UGC marketing campaign on the go:
• Offer an incentive for fans to share & tag their content, whether it’s a prize or a chance to be featured on your home page.
• Promote the contest/campaign inside stores if you have a bricks & mortar presence.
• Put a CTA for the campaign on or inside product packaging
• Include a CTA in your e-newsletters
• Promote the campaign through all of your social channels & share the best fan entries
Step #2: Capturing Data from Campaign Participants
When you’re running a UGC campaign, it’s important that you remember to comply with legal guidelines by having your consumers agree to the terms and conditions.
After having fans send out a hashtag tweet to enter a contest, you can send them a custom response form thanking them for their entry and asking them to accept terms and conditions in order to claim the prize.
Sign up forms are also a great way to have fans grant permission to allow your company to use their content across multiple platforms. You can also use them to capture any consumer info you choose, from demographics to contact info and hobbies. Leverage the data you receive from sign up forms to better understand your consumer base, learn their preferences and to tailor future marketing campaigns accordingly.
Also, by enabling opt-ins for your email campaigns and allowing your consumers to receive updates about future promotions, you can now build an owned audience and create deeper connections with fans on your social platforms and through your website.
Step #3: Turn Your Website into a Social Hub
When you create a cross-platform UGC marketing campaign, don’t forget to include your website. Save the best entries, photos & hashtagged images from your UGC campaigns and display them on a dedicated landing page on your site.
Displaying rich, engaging user-generated content on your website not only drives up web traffic but increases opportunities for users to share their own content, as well as content from other users that they enjoy.
Here are some tips on how to showcase UGC across multiple platforms:
• Create online displays via your website and social media platforms that promote holidays and seasonal offerings such as winter recipes or a summer product line
• If you have a bricks & mortar store, put up a prominent display in store with the site URL
• Ensure that you place reviews and comments on specific products on those product pages
• Pull quotes from your website and use them across the social platforms
• Run a Pinterest board with your favorite user submitted how-tos/styles/photos
• Run an email campaign with users wearing/using your products & drive traffic from the campaign to a branded landed page on your website full of UGC.
Step #4: Drive Sales & Measure the Results
Don’t just display user-generated content, employ tactics to actively drive sales. Associate UGC with product-related content as much as possible across your website, email campaigns and social media platforms, providing a clear path to conversion.
Easy ways to do this include placing a link to the product page behind each photo, making it easier for users to click through and buy or link to pages that display products in seasonal collections or for certain occasions.
By including trackable links with each piece of content, you easily track visits, shares, views and ultimately sales. By measuring the results of each piece of content, you can make informed decisions about what content works and how you can include it in your overall strategy.
Stay tuned for more on content marketing, including a post on how to turn brand advocates into content creators for your company!