Struggling with fan engagement? Can't come up with enough content for your social marketing campaign? Don't worry, you're in good company. These are two of the largest challenges in the social commerce world. There are many things that you can do to try to solve these problems - for one thing, you can hire a social media marketing specialist - but we don't want you to have to spend money on that, so in this post we're going to discuss something that you can implement yourself right now (well, right after you finish reading this article) which will help you to overcome both of those obstacles! What is this magical solution that we're talking about? It's a little something called, "User Generated Content."
What is User Generated Content?
User Generated Content (UGC) is anything which is created by the fans and customers rather than by the business itself. This includes anything from product reviews, to pictures taken by your fans, to comments left on social media pages and guest posts on your blog.
How Do You Generate this Content?
There are many ways to gather content from your users (obviously with their permission). You can encourage them with competitions, incentives, or just by asking them.
Have competitions! A very popular one is a "best photo" competition, but you can ask for any other type of content as well - as long as it's related to your brand. You can host the competition on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or on all of them. Cross platform competitions are great because they create engagement on all of your social media pages.
A fantastic example of a competition is Eggo Waffle's "Great Waffle Off." Fans were encouraged to submit their most original waffle recipes along with a photo of their creation. The fan with the best recipe won $5,000. On top of that, Eggo selected a few food and parenting bloggers to be "Chief Waffle Officers." These bloggers provided guidance for the competitors by posting new recipes on every "Waffle Wednesday."
During the competition images were posted on Eggo's Facebook page:
And when the winner was selected, her recipe became the banner photo:
This is the same general idea as a competition, but rather than just rewarding the "best" photo, reward anyone who contributes content. One thing you can do is to offer a coupon or gift card to anyone who submits quality content. Another way you can encourage people (and a cheaper way too!) is by playing on their desire for recognition and fame. Simply tell your customers that if the content they send you is good enough, it will be published on your website, blog, or Facebook page. The idea that their own content might be published under their name, will get people to start sending you content.
The Gap does a great job of this with their "Fan Photos: GapKids & babyGap" photo campaign. Check it out for yourself:
Just Ask For It
Maybe this is obvious, but it's definitely worth mentioning - ask your fans for content! You don't necessarily need to offer them anything. Of course you should have a promotional competitions or campaigns, but when you're not, it can't hurt to just ask for content. Every now and then post that you would love to see pictures of your fans using your products, mention that you are looking for a guest post for your blog, ask your fans to write reviews or case studies of your products or services. Although this might not generate the same excitement as a competition, it is still a great way to get UGC.
Why Should Businesses LOVE User Generated Content?
First of all, obviously, there is the matter of content creation. Instead of struggling to come up with new content to post on a daily basis, tone down your brand generated content a little bit, and start balancing it out with UGC. This will help to alleviate the pressure of constantly needing to find new content.
Not only will it make your content creation a little easier, it will also improve the quality of your content. Fans love to engage with real and personal content - and you can't get much more real and personal than content that was created by other fans just like them. Increased engagement rates will lead to this content being shared around the internet. Once that starts to happen you will begin to see an increase in brand awareness. In addition, the excitement surrounding the competitions, giveaways, and other promos help to amplify this increased engagement, leading to even more brand awareness.
To review, UGC provides an easier way to generate content mixed with increased engagement and brand awareness - what's not to love?
Why Your Fans DO love User Generated Content (and why that's good for you)!
There are so many reasons why fans love UGC, and all of them are good for you as the business owner.
- It creates a personal connection between the customers and the brand. It shows them that the brands care about them, and value them. (To take this to the next level, think about how valued the "Chief Waffle Officers" must have felt during the Eggo Waffle Off.)
- It gives them a reason to get excited about something which they (hopefully) care about.
- It provides social proof. 'If someone else uses these products and likes them, then I will probably like them too.'
- By seeing products being used by a real person, rather than in a posed professional photograph, they can get a better idea of what the products really look like.
All of this is great for you! Fans that feel valued, are excited about your brand, and have more confidence in your products based on social reviews and peer photography, are fans that are much more likely to make a purchase.
An Example From StoreYa
Here at StoreYa we have a weekly competition for our "Facebook Shop of the Week." Each week, the winning shop gets a post written about them on our blog. The post discusses who they are, what they sell, and how StoreYa's services have assisted them with their business. These posts are excellent UGC for us. They are a steady addition to our content creation, create excitement amongst our users, increase our brand awareness - basically, these posts provide us with all of the UGC brand benefits that were already mentioned.
In order to see how our fans feel about these posts, if they are enjoying them as much as we are, we compared the engagement rates of the "Facebook Shop of the Week" posts with the engagement rates of our regular blog posts. We found that Shop of the Week posts on average received 58% more shares than our regular posts and (are you ready for this?) 300% more likes!
So start making the most of UGC, because everyone loves it!