Stop thinking short term with UGC

Stop thinking short term with User Generated Content… 3 tips for extending the life and value of UGC campaigns.

We see it every time we look at our social feeds – incentivised social media contents, asking people to upload a photo or video in return for a sparkly prize of some description.

But in the majority of cases, these tactics can often be short-sighted – focused purely on building loads of noise over a week or two, with little thought given to what long term and strategic role user shared content can play in a brand’s business.

After all, if we look at leading ‘sharing economy’ businesses such as Air BnB or Uber, it’s not the actual real-time experience that acts as its currency, it’s the ever-lasting user generated reviews and ratings that act as the backbone to the whole business.

The short term nature of UGC social competitions is further compounded by the ever-shortening lifespan of the content, with Tweets for example, having an average lifespan of around 16 minutes. With this trend only set to continue, here are 3 thoughts from me on what brands can do to maximise the value of UGC initiatives.

  1. Look for the utility

Along with the ‘sharing economy’, brands providing utility to their customers is also a growing trend. But what if you could marry the two? Before asking customers to upload content (be it text, videos or photos), pause to think about how their knowledge could be useful to others and how you as a brand could re-package that information to provide utility.

For example – if you’re a travel company, don’t just ask people to upload a photo of their best sunset. Instead:

  1. Research (using search, social and content tools) what content travel content gaps exist online, and tailor your contest to helping fill the void
  2. If your research revealed a lack of content about budget travel in Europe, tailor the content to crowdsourcing ideas on this topic
  3. Reformat the content into digestible, click-inviting and engaging formats, ie, 10 tips on budget travel in Europe
  4. Distribute across paid, earned and owned channels

This takes the “we’ll hero user posts by reposting” strategy to another level.

  1. Take it off social

With the lifespan of social content so short and the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and increasingly Instagram profiles becoming private – find another home for your content.

Taking the above example of travel content; while social is the right home for engaging people and sourcing content, repackaging and housing this content on an brand’s blog or interactive map will ensure content is searchable and potential customers, trackable. Better still, integrate Instagram content onto your website’s product pages like Free People did.

Content aggregation services like Stackla or Spredfast have technology that allows you to do this easily, but ensure that the site that sits around the code that they provide is tagged up correctly for retargeting.

  1. From competition entrants to your CRM database

While, as social media professionals, we’ll always breathe a great sigh of relief when we get quality entries to a competition, take time to look at which of these are from people who dedicate their days to winning social competitions Vs those that are of real term value to your brand.

For all the tools we have at our disposal, this is a largely manual process – assessing the number of followers, what brands have they posted about recently, can we track whether they’re an existing customer, etc.

With this data we can start to use UCG campaigns more effectively; either hero-ing advocates by giving them access to exclusive content and new products or as a way to data capture new potential customers into a CRM process.

With clear process and strategy in place, suddenly, what once appeared as a spammy contest clogging up your newsfeed, quickly takes on a much smarter life of its own…

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