MarTech Series – Marketing Technology Insights
There’s no arguing the social media scene is riddled with creators. From constant scandals in the beauty industry to disregarding pandemic guidelines in 2020, distrust towards influencers is steadily climbing. These changes in perception and trust suggest we’re moving further and further away from the traditional influencer model and are focusing more on targeted, engaging approaches to capturing audiences. Many brands think this just means turning to micro-influencers instead, but when they do this, they are missing out on a critical audience of creators – their own customers.
Brands in any industry can benefit from what is known as user generated content (UGC), which is any content created by a general consumer and is used for marketing initiatives. UGC uses an authentic and sustainable approach to gathering customer curated content that is both brand approved and able to be published across marketing platforms. Rather than influencers promoting messages to current and potential customers, their friends and family can instead. In fact, consumers often rather hear from people they know and trust over influencers online. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust earned media, like recommendations from their friends and family, above any other kind of advertising. As the digital marketing world rapidly changes, here are a few ways brands can capitalize on UGC to collect the best quality content for their campaigns.
The digital marketing industry has been shifting away from high-profile social media users to focus more on brand sponsored content to meet the heightened demand for authenticity and representation. However, this is causing the space to become extremely saturated with sponsored content from brands and is starting to wear on consumers. A survey recently found that over half of respondents saw sponsored content almost every time they opened their social media apps. With Gen Z and Millennials, this number is even higher, with 72% reporting they saw sponsored content every time they went on social media. Overall, only 21% of respondents reported influencers positively impact their perception of a brand, meaning most consumers are either not impacted or turned off by traditional influencer marketing. Brands that promote content from real customers are perceived as more trustworthy, and customers are more likely to pursue their business.
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The first step in having a successful UGC campaign is creating an interesting one that customers will want to participate in. Brands can increase loyalty and repeat purchases by offering incentives to submit content. It’s beneficial for brands to reward creators for their hard work and energy to strengthen their relationship with your brand. A few ways to activate followers is through strategies like social media contests or hashtag challenges, give specific guidelines on the content you’re looking for and incentivize followers with low-cost rewards like discount codes or free brand swag that your brand already has on hand.
The same survey listed about found 76% stating they preferred discounts or rewards points as an incentive for creating UGC. Incentives develop deeper relationships with your brand and help loyal customers spread the word to future ones. In the hotel and hospitality industry, brands can offer incentives through social media campaigns, as seen through Marriott Bonvoy’s “30 stays, 300 ways” campaign. In this campaign, Marriott awarded three travelers the opportunity to stay in 30 locations across the globe over the span of 300 days, and moonlight as a social media ambassador. Marriott incentivized the campaign further by sprinkling in perks like airfare, spa services and destination experiences.
Brands need to be vocal and clearly communicate with consumers the type of content they’re looking to receive to ensure it’s high-quality and can be shared across marketing campaigns. Restaurant brands can provide QR codes on menus that bring them right to a submission page, explaining everything consumers need to know about the UGC campaign and provide tips for capturing the best quality content. This can include tips for lighting, camera placement, and ensuring the brand logo is included in the photo.
After users submit or upload their content, brands can then obtain clearance from consumers to use them for future marketing initiatives. Some UGC management platforms automatically grant brands rights for publishing upon a creator’s submission, reward, and search for specific keywords all from the platform. In any circumstance, it’s beneficial to continuously monitor submissions to better organize and manage content.
Changes in the digital marketing landscape are imminent and suggest we’re moving away from the traditional influencer model. As brands are beginning to prioritize their own customers for marketing campaigns, there is an opportunity to strategically utilize user generated content within marketing initiatives, especially as it relates to social media. If brands get creative and are able to effectively activate their audiences, they can collect high-quality content user generated content to use across marketing campaigns.
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Adam Dornbusch is the Founder & CEO of EnTribe, one of the first SaaS platforms helping build a community of creators for brands. EnTribe allows access to fresh content by connecting brands with all the active members of their community and boosts customer engagement by bridging the gap between what brands want and what they share.
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