Done the right way, integrating user-generated content (UGC) can be a key element in creating a standout and successful marketing campaign. UGC enables a brand to tell its story using the voice of the customer, and as such, it is becoming a trusted source buyers look to when making a purchasing decision. Consider the following guidelines to successfully integrate fan content into your next social campaign:
Encourage users to share content by creating buzz for your campaign ahead of time, as opposed to launching your campaign and waiting for content. Rodan + Fields effectively did this for a one-day campaign that encouraged women to share "naked" selfies of their faces without makeup using the hashtag #RFGoNaked. By promoting the campaign ahead of time, Rodan + Fields was able to generate excitement that converted into interaction, engagement and participation the day of the campaign.
Leverage your mobile app
If you've spent the time to build a mobile app, use it as part of your UGC campaign. For example, TEDxPortland's theme in 2014 was 'Perfect,' and they created a mobile app to encourage attendees to submit what they considered a 'Perfect' photo. The app then watermarked each submission with the conference branding and was used to create the stage backdrop to ensure a consistent brand throughout the event.
Don't make big promises
Be realistic about the goals of your user-generated campaign. Instead of fixating on the quantity of user-generated posts and setting huge goals, focus on the quality and the creativity of the content your die-hard fans produce. Spend time curating posts in a compelling way as this type of visualization can be especially influential to prospective customers.
Make it easy for fans to participate
Keep campaign rules simple. By limiting the number of hashtags to one, or a maximum of two, fans will be more inclined to participate and interact. Too many complex hashtags can impede on the creativity and passion of your customers and fans, which is ultimately what you want to display. And don't forget to look ahead of time to make sure nobody else is using the same hashtag!
Don't expect the hashtag to do all the work
A hashtag is the anchor that allows you to bring content together. Use the hashtag to build excitement, and apply communications channels to drive the hashtag forward and enhance a strong campaign. Remember, a hashtag is just one tactic in your arsenal to motivate fan engagement.
Provide a prop for the selfie
Selfies are ubiquitous. Without words to identify a campaign, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out the meaning and context of a selfie. Providing your fans with a prop to include with their pictures, much like a step and repeat logo wall, can go a long way in bringing your message home, as other viewers will be able to quickly identify your campaign as they scroll through their social feeds.
Encourage your fans to participate by providing them with something in return. This can be as straightforward as rewarding the best fan contributions with prizes or experiences. Another type of incentive might be to align UGC campaigns with different efforts for social good, allowing your fans to connect directly with the causes that are most meaningful to them.
Engage directly with fans and influencers
Prolong the life of UGC by engaging directly with fans. This can include tactics such as enabling content with shoppable links or simply responding to fans posting photos, videos or any content related to your brand. This direct interaction ultimately leads to higher levels of engagement. It's also important to activate the influencers within your fan base, as their activity can have a direct impact of the behavior of your larger audience. However, be transparent about eliciting their participation to maintain credibility and trust with your audience.
Don't bury UGC on your main website
Some brands worry their campaign will not garner much traction and so they bury it within their website. However, taking the time to curate and prominently showcase the best UGC from the outset will not only encourage participation, but also ensures you will be ready for a high volume of traffic.
Create a gallery for expressive or iconic products
If your campaign celebrates imagery or new products, build a place for that content to be showcased on your website. As an example, Belkin and Lego asked fans to construct their own Lego phone case designs, which resulted in magnificent creations that Belkin then showcased in an online social hub. Similarly, creating hubs for iconic products in different scenarios or settings can be also a fun and engaging experience that allows fans to flex their creativity. Band of Outsiders did this with the Starbucks #Drip Campaign, asking fans to pose photos of its limited edition signature coffee cup in various places and creating a gallery to feature the collection.