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User Generated Content: Answering the Why and How

User-Generated Content (UGC) can be regarded as the latest goldmine of Social Media Marketing.

Although there are quite a few marketers that have already started leveraging this gold mine extensively, there are a few who still need some strong convincing.

As per Salesforce:

So, what is it that UGC has that has made it capable of striking such a massive chord with social media users?

Let’s Find out:

Why is UGC so Successful?

(1) The Personalization factor

Personalization is one of the most dominant and effective marketing trends today.

If we widely define personalization in the context of marketing, it will turn out to be something like this:

“Keeping a track of a consumer’s purchase habits, browsing behavior, etc to provide them with products that they are more likely to purchase.”

However, when it comes to UGC the dynamics are quite different:

When a brand invites, its social media followers to create content for them, it resonates with the consumer on a personal level and helps the brand to develop an emotional connection with them.

In other words, Personalization in this context can be defined as:

Going above the “Give and Take relationship” that firms generally have with their consumers”

It’s almost always that a UGC campaign provides a huge scope for the user to showcase his own individual creativity.

Due to this, a UGC campaign can strike a consumer on a relatively more personal level than other mediums like social media posts/videos, etc.

User-Generated Content is definitely a leader when it comes to providing social media users with ” personally relevant branded content”

The more Personally relevant content a brand can create the more positively it can influence its users about them.

In fact, as per an instapage survey, 87% of consumers believe that personally relevant branded content positively influences how they feel about a brand.

(2) Appeals greatly to Millennials:

Millennials as of now are the most dominant generation when it comes to consumer spending

The projected purchasing power of the millennial generation is expected to be around $1.4 trillion in 2020.

Well, I guess from the shocking fact mentioned above, one thing is quite clear:

“Firms that have not yet framed a separate marketing plan catered to the millennial generation, are definitely not playing smart with their marketing strategy”.

Why Millennials Love User Generated Content:

A very common attitude that has been seen among the Millennial Consumers is that they straight up reject any direct form of advertising.

Millennials are also the most brand-loyal consumers out there and always try to carry out their purchases based on trust and long-term relationships.

User-Generated Content is something that caters to this trust factor in a perfect manner.

A UGC campaign offers much more to the consumer than a mere social media post advertising a certain product.

The augmented experience of creating content for a brand is its USP.  It’s due to this that millennials find UGC campaigns to be much more memorable than others.

Creating memorable personal experiences is the key to maximizing engagement from the millennial generation.

In fact, as per Business2Community:

The final outcome:

Since UGC involves creating memorable and personalized experiences in abundance, it has been known to increase Millennial spending by 20% as compared to other media.

(3) Unrivaled reach/customer social sharing

This is arguably the most “ROI Generating” offering of UGC.

Social Gratification, yes that’s the most abundant reason as to why a person visits and uses social media. A hundred likes on our Instagram post easily make our day a hundred times better.

UGC does nothing but add gasoline to this fire of social media gratification.

If a user is making considerable efforts to create content for a certain brand, he is bound to share it with every person he knows on social media.

This massive social sharing can help a brand in reaching out to untapped consumer bases and help in generating new leads.

This is something that would benefit the brand both in terms of brand awareness and generating new leads.


How to Build a super engaging UGC Campaign?

To answer this question, let’s have a peek into two of the most successful UGC campaigns of recent times.

(1) Toyota: Feeling the street campaign


Toyota launched this global UGC campaign primarily aimed at highlighting and celebrating the best street performers of the world.

The Methodology: Over a 6-week period, performers could record their musical performances and post images and videos on social media with the #feelingthestreet hashtag.

Fans could then vote their favorite artists and from the top 40 the community could vote to assemble their “Feeling the Street band”.

Together these selected individuals would embark on a road trip, visiting and performing at spectacular locations around Australia and sharing the whole experience with fans on social media.

The result- The campaign not only met but surpassed the expected results, finally gifting Toyota with a 440% increase in their total engagement for that year.

(2)  Starbucks: Red Cup contest


Starbucks User Generated Content Campaign

Starbucks launched its iconic RED CUP contest to primarily to promote their holiday-themed seasonal beverages, and their red cups.

The methodology – The brand invited coffee drinkers to submit innovative photos with their red cups and win a pricey Starbucks gift card in return.

The results– As of now there are 40000 photos of red cups on Starbuck’s Instagram account and it’s still counting.

The campaign not only helped in promoting their holiday-themed beverages but also skyrocketed their sales during the holiday season.


4 Key Takeaways for Marketers

(1) Nail You Hashtags

#feelingthestreet and #reducupcontest

The above-mentioned hashtags were a bull’s eye when it comes to evoking the maximum response among social media users.

This brings us to the most evident takeaways that can be derived from the hashtags used by these campaigns:

Either create a hashtag that sparks an immediate curiosity among the viewer to click and view its content.

Like in the case of Toyota’s #feeling the street campaign where the brand’s hashtag doesn’t have any indication of what the campaign is all about.

However, it manages to spark enough curiosity among the viewer to click the hashtag and know more about it.


Create a hashtag that can make the viewer immediately associate it with your brand.

As in the case of Starbucks’ #redcupcontest, where people can immediately associate the word cup with Starbucks coffee cups

(2) DON’T promote your brand too much

Something that you should strictly consider is to never promote your brand explicitly throughout the campaign.

User-Generated Content, as its name suggests should be predominantly about the user and not the brand.

Promoting your brand too much while communicating the campaign may lead to the user perceiving your UGC campaign as just another paid ad.

The Smarter Way…

Keep the final prize/reward of the campaign in such a way that the user can immediately associate your brand with the same.

Let’s consider the case of Toyota’s feeling the street campaign in this case.

Toyota made a point, not to show any cars until the final stage of the campaign i.e. the “Road Trip”.

The above video shows how Toyota just provides a few glimpses of its cars in a very subtle manner.

The focus is always maintained on the selected contestants and their performances.

(3) Personalize as much as you can

This is something that can make or break your UGC campaign.

As mentioned earlier in this blog:

“A significant part of UGC’s success is about the high levels of personal touch it has and how it rises above the usual give and take relationships that brands have with their customers”.

Never invite your followers to create content that is way too standardized.

Or that has a very little scope for him to individually show his creativity.

Secondly, you should also ensure that your followers get a chance to create content that is eminently shareable.

In other words, the type of content that you are expecting from your users should have a very high social share value.

Creating content that lacks any social share value would barely generate any interest.

Toyota’s UGC campaign was a perfect mix of these two crucial elements, and this is what generated the humongous response.

Toyota User Generated Content Campaign

Not only did the brand allow its followers to show their individual creativity, but it also ensured that the final content (i.e. the performance), had very high value in terms of social sharing.

(4) Go Omnichannel

Unless and until you are a hugely well-known brand you will always struggle with getting your users to get excited about creating content.

Your official website can be of great help in this scenario.

Create a separate page on your website that has existing photos/videos of your UGC campaign and find ways to promote it.

For example, Starbucks created a page on their official website inviting people to create their own unique designs on their Red cups and share on social media with the hashtag #RedCupArt.

Starbucks User Generated Content Page

This was to promote the Red Cup contest campaign on certain social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) other than Instagram, where the contest was being majorly held.

UGC Galleries

A much simpler and straightforward tactic would be to create a “UGC Gallery” page on your website that has all the existing content your customers have submitted as of now.

You can promote this page on social media channels along with suitable hashtags.

What if you are not able to generate enough content?

This is something that most brands can immediately associate with.

If your brand is not that well established currently or this is your first attempt at creating a UGC it might be difficult to get the wheel running.

Faced with such a scenario, there are two things that you should do:

JUST Ask: If you have created a certain hashtag and asked for submission, its perfectly all right to approach social media users via comment or direct message.

You can either ask for permission from your users to use one of their post or inform them about your ongoing campaign and invite them to contribute.

Create a Few In-house content– This is almost a sure shot way to encourage users to create content for you.

You can always ask your employees, friends, relatives to create content and give your UGC campaign the much-needed push.

Once you manage to create a considerable number of posts on your feed, other users are much more likely to submit their own content.

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