How to leverage user generated (UGC) video content for your brand

01st November 2015

User generated content has been on marketers’ radars since the launch of YouTube 10 years ago, and with mobile phones allowing people to share home-grown visual content on the move, it’s not going away. A recent study found that 51% trust user generated content more than a company’s website (16%) or news articles (14%). (Crowdtap/Ipsos

Brands may feel wary about UGC worrying that they will lose control. But you can’t stop fans talking about you – and in fact word of mouth drives your brand forward so it’s worth engaging in these conversations to develop long-term relationships and loyalty. UGC won’t replace your high quality brand film, but it’s an effective way of connecting with your fans, encourages social sharing and builds brand trust.

User generated content is only one step in your video marketing plan, but if you know how to solicit, curate, repurpose and integrate it with your own content, UGC can boost your marketing efforts. Read on for our tips…

What is the aim of your UGC campaign?

It’s not branded content in the traditional sense, but a UGC campaign must align with your core messages and values. It’s another way of promoting your brand – through your biggest advocates, your customers.

Set out your metrics at the beginning of the campaign in order to prove ROI:

  • Raise brand awareness (increase in reach, fans, brand mentions)
  • New product launch (product mentions, visits, video views)
  • Engage with a new audience segment (increase fans on relevant social networks, email signups)

Which social media platforms?

Where and when are your audience online? Which social media channels are they using? This will help you focus your campaign and target the right people. Do you have the resource to run the campaign across platforms or is it focused on one channel? Whichever social platforms you opt for, ensure that your campaign works seamlessly across devices and platforms.

Incentivise your fans to share

It takes more effort to create content – even if it’s just sharing a photo – than pressing ‘like’ or retweeting. Ask what’s in it for your audience to create UGC? Why would they feel compelled to get involved? This incentive could be as simple as recognition by the brand or the community to an exciting prize.

There needs to be a low barrier of entry; it should be easy for fans to get involved in the campaign, and your landing page should have clear instructions on what you want, and how they can take part. If there is a prize and competition involved, ensure that you comply with any legal guidelines. Test out if you can share the main messages of your campaign on Twitter or Instagram? If not, try to simplify it.

Curating content

Curation is an important aspect of successful UGC. Set up a hashtag so that you can easily track brand mentions, which should be monitored and responded to. All content creators should, if at all possible, be thanked for getting involved and engaged with. Seek the highest quality content to RT, and curate. Here is an example from Calvin Klein which has curated “My Calvins” mixing UGC with branded content.

Let’s see UGC in action…

New product launch

Costa took advantage of social media’s growing love for video content with its Shake Up Summer campaign to launch its new ice coffee shake. They asked fans to upload social videos of themselves shaking the drink to Instagram with the hashtag #ShakeUpSummer.

Remember to submit your video showing us your shake to win all these great prizes! ☕️ #shakeupsummer

A photo posted by costacoffee (@costacoffee) on

The coffee brand followed this up with their #Comeoutandplay campaign which invited users to post what ‘little white lie’ they’d told to be able to get out and enjoy the sun. It’s a fun idea, which allows people to get a little creative, but with low entry and the incentive of winning a gift card. UGC was integrated onto their own streams as well as featuring on a curated landing page.

Shake Shake Shake #shakeupsummer A video posted by costacoffee (@costacoffee) on

Create a brand advert from UGC

Fan content can also be used to create a more traditional brand advert. Coca Cola sourced teenage fans’ content to produce the first UGC ad:

This ad combines the best of both world’s – the high quality editing and brand control combined with the authenticity of UGC.

It is important that your content is integrated and that you create branded content to use alongside UGC. You’ll probably be aware of Snickers’ – “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign. The campaign is five years old, and it has been integrated across their channels, with vloggers as well a celebrity-filled TV ads, and an UGC contest. They asked fans to share photos, videos and memes related to the strapline with the hashtag #eatasnickers. The winning submission was screened as a banner on Snickers YouTube channel and a 50K prize.

Obviously it’s an amateur video, and you would not want this to lead your marketing output, but as part of the whole package, it adds authenticity to your brand.

Use fan stories to tell your brand story

Over the summer UK charity, the National Trust, ran a campaign inspiring its fans to get out and enjoy the coast – #Lovethecoast. It enlisted the well-known punk poet, Dr John Cooper Clarke to write and perform a piece inspired by the coast and then asked its fans to help them complete it by sharing why they #lovethecoast through stories, images and videos.

The campaign reinforced brand values by inspiring people to help protect what they love, but the choice of John Cooper Clarke also helped change perceptions of the charity. It was a low barrier to join in (as simple as taking a pic at the seaside) but also open enough to give others the chance to get more creative. The campaign allowed the charity to create new stories and the UGC was curated on a landing page and repurposed throughout the campaign. At the end the poem was completed and 17 of the 11,500 who shared why they loved the coast appeared in the video below.

A regular feature of your everyday marketing

With UGC, it’s easy to incorporate it into your regular social media content plan. For instance:

  • Look for content related to popular memes such as #ThrowbackThursday.
  • Tie into ‘moments’ and events such as #GoProMusic which mixes brand content, with fans photos and footage at music events.
  • Ask for reviews of your product, and offer incentives for them to share via social media, e.g. a 10% discount on your next purchase if you post a photo or video of you wearing or using it on Instagram.
  • Unboxing videos, where people open and review their latest purchases on camera, are not just for Christmas. Food and drink, fashion and style, and mobile phone unboxing videos have seen 42%, 90%, and 200% growth in popularity, respectively since 2013. (Google Research) Some brands have created unboxing videos themselves but it may be better to share, curate and repurpose UGC content – with permission – which will retain authenticity.

User generated content and beyond…

Interested in creating awesome content for your brand? Get your hands on our content marketing guide today.

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