Written by Tina Vanderlinden.
It is not secret we live in a world run overrun by tech causing more and more people to crave connection and see through the traditional marketing techniques that bombard them daily. This new online landscape favors community and influence. People no longer want to buy from brands… they want to buy from people! As we scroll our social media feeds today, we see more and more Founders showing their faces on Instagram stories, influencers giving us a peak into their favourite product and daily routines, and popular authors opening up about their recent divorce and the hardships they faced writing their new book. Real is back! Consumers are smarter… they see through call to actions and are looking for brands to hold themselves accountable for being authentic in their values and offering real value in user experiences.
UGC is a common 3 letter word that should be at the top of our minds as marketers… used as much as “LOL” in our text conversations. UGC stands for User Generated Content and is defined as content used by contributors who want to represent your brand, mainly as a result of the associations it has and values it holds. In the world of #marketing, who doesn’t love people providing content and promoting your brand for you?
Give the People What They Want: Social media has created space for two-way communication between brands and people. I’m sure you’ve heard over and over again that Millennials value experiences, and that’s why it is more important than ever for brands to invite their target audience into their daily goings-on as they converse and form relationships outside of buyer-seller agreements. Gary Vee is a content machine! Offering free value-added content to consumers to invite them into his world and get them hooked on his inspiration and advice. Brands are being forced to be more intentional with posting providing consumers with in-depth captions and perfectly branded visuals. But the real impact is to emphasize their values and get consumers involved, whether voting on new flavours, entering contests, or sharing feedback.
Consumers want to feel a part of something bigger. Facebook began its shift away from the newsfeed to Facebook groups in 2016 after the US Presidential Election. Since then, groups have taken off and have now become a new way of marketing to consumers online. A way to foster or create an audience and understand their needs before you even build the product. AND an added feature to product offerings, the opportunity to become a part of an exclusive private community for support and discussions. Many Facebook users are now engaging with more content from groups as part of the social network’s shift toward more meaningful customized communities. Not to mention the organic reach is much higher!
Give & Take Relationships: Social media follows the golden rule of the 80/20 principle. 80% of content should be giving; providing the target market with something they want to see and engage with which also compliments your brand values. 20 % should be selling; this means posts promoting specific products or services with a strong call to action. People do not want to be sold to all the time, they want to see content that is beneficial to them providing a laugh, a deep thought, motivation, or educational information. People want to see real things and share experiences that connect with your brands values. Why do you think Coca Cola struck it so big with their “Share a Coke” campaign?
This brings me to my next point…
You Can Do It, Put People Back Into It:
People add authenticity; consumers are more likely to trust third party reviews as opposed to self-advertising brands. This is another reason why UGC and influencer campaigns have become increasingly popular amongst brands, not to mention the positive implications with pay to play social algorithms. Building genuine trust, engagement and respect is going to be what makes or breaks your strategy in the long run.
Nowadays, people share everything on social media from where they’re going, what they’re doing, to what they’re eating, their green smoothie recipe… the list is endless. People are more willing to promote a brand if they feel a connection with it and it aligns well with their values. Going back to the Coca Cola example, you can only imagine how many photos there were on social media of people with a can of Coke that has their name on it. Brands create memorable experience and opportunities for consumers to engage and build relationships with their brand while keeping track of it all with branded hashtags.
Instagram has picked up on this trend and has included an array of features to include your audience in the conversation.
Tagging Brands in Stories to Reshare: Brands can share users’ temporary content in their own stories if the user mentions them in their IG story. This is a great way of sending subtle authentic reminders to your audience that other people are buying and loving your product or service. Third party promotion instantly plays into the ‘Stephanie’s Ponytail’ notion: people want what other people have or are using. Social Media has made it easier for Millennials to look to their network for recommendations before making purchase decisions.
Polling or Questions: What better way to create a product or service your audience would buy than asking them what they want directly! Give your audience a chance to curate their own experience by offering a series of questions or choices to understand their pain points, wants and needs to internalize the data and build a more user centered experience.
Chat: Once you add the “Chat” Sticker to your Instagram story viewers can request to join. After accepting you can all chat together in the DM’s. It’s the same as creating a group chat in your DM’s with the only difference being a chat started directly with people who are watching your stories. This allows you the opportunity of 2-way communication in real time. Perfect for people wanting to learn more about a sale or upcoming program of yours.
UGC and community go hand in hand and are extremely important to modern day marketing. This type of content also caters to new entrepreneurs or businesses who do not have a lot of money for ad budget or may still be in the phase of collecting data to form their new offerings. With so much noise from advertisers in the online landscape consumers have a lot of skepticism and veer away from traditional sponsored content. This leads to our newest shift of marketers bringing people back into the equation showing their real and raw selves to reach their desired audience. User generated content helps brands break through the noise, creates brand awareness, increases organic reach, and the ultimate success of building a strong loyal community.
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