Leave it to Them: the Power of User Generated Content

UGC can serve as the authentic boost your brand needs. Make it easy for consumers to contribute by creating a desirable value proposition

Matt McAllister
November 30 2017

Content is always king, but the face under the crown changes. Consumers trust reviews and recommendations from family members more than brand content, while almost half of Americans think that brands are less truthful than they were 20 years ago. Mary Meeker, in her latest Internet Trends Report, highlighted the potential of user-generated content (UGC) by pointing out that consumers interact with UGC 6.9 times more often than brand content.

More than 70% of brands already leverage user-generated content. But brands will only get as good as they give. For UGC-driven campaigns to be truly effective, marketers must learn how to authentically connect with consumers to solicit content.

Use multiple channels

Instagram may lead in volume of shared content, but there are other platforms that work well for user-generated content, depending on a brand’s marketing goals. For instance, Pinterest users have the highest intent to buy compared to users on other platforms. Kettlebell Kings was able to increase traffic to their site by 50% using photos Pinterest users posted on the platform.

Having one primary channel doesn’t mean your other social channels should be excluded from the campaign. For instance, if you’re asking for photos on Instagram, use Facebook, Twitter, and other pertinent channels to direct followers to Instagram. Use channel-specific creative for your call for submissions, and tap brand influencers on each channel to encourage users to hop over to your primary channel and share content.

Offer valuable incentive

When Pepsi wanted to raise awareness for its “MAX It Now” campaign—which challenged NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon fans to submit content over 24 days—the beverage brand offered lucky winners the chance to win a trip to Martinsville Speedway to meet the legendary driver. As a result, more than 40,000 people visited the campaign’s microsite, spending an average of more than six minutes per visit and generating 16,000 social media posts.

Calling for submissions is not easy: you have to entice your consumer to create on your behalf. Make it worth their while by offering unique rewards you know your audience highly values.

Test your copy and calls for submission

Along with prizes, copy is critical for getting submissions. Depending on your industry, an exclamation point can either raise or lower the replies you receive. Spelling with purely upper-case letters is not recommended, and using a customer’s first name (if communicating over email) can help boost response rate.

Phrasing the request as a question also raises conversions by 86% over statement calls for submissions. Big brands on Facebook like Doritos, regularly asks questions to start conversations and encourage followers to comment, which earns them points on the platform for relevance. If you’re asking users to tag content with hashtags, don’t forget to mention that you will be reposting, retweeting, or regramming their content.

Make it easy to leave reviews, and showcase them on your pages

By including user photos on their product pages, health company Campus Protein raised its checkout rates by 29%. Retail company Argos discovered that products with user reviews were 10% more likely to lead to a purchase compared to those with no reviews. They also found that users are eager to leave reviews, amassing 70,000 in a single day.

Social proof is a powerful persuasion tool for sales. Consumers are 137% more likely to buy a product after seeing photos snapped by fellow customers. Both online and in-store shoppers check product reviews before making a purchase. Brands can facilitate reviews through in-app push notifications or post-purchase emails.

An effective UGC campaign is not as simple as asking for content; it is a partnership of sorts between brands and consumers. To truly receive great and far-reaching content, brands need an effective outreach strategy, a desirable value proposition, and a willingness to allow customers to take the lead.


Matt McAllister

Matt McAllister is the CEO of Fluid PR, Inc. and twenty-year marketing veteran. Matt most recently ran marketing for Tapjoy, a mobile ad-tech platform. Matt also served as VP of marketing and content for High Voltage Interactive, an online ad network that was acquired by Aptimus, Inc. He started his career as an account executive for the PR agency Niehaus Ryan Wong.

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