• Kate Nguyen

USER- GENERATED- CONTENT: DOs & DON’Ts for BRANDS

Today, thanks to the Internet and technology, people are swamp by ads. An average person is now estimated to encounter between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day. To avoid the risks that your brand was lost to competitors, communication with customers is way more demanding than ever before. Your customers ask for authenticity and true value. One of the most beneficial marketing methods that satisfy these requirements is User-generated- content (UGC). But not all UGC Campaign is a hit. Businesses and marketers need to understand what they should do, and of course, should avoid to turn their marketing efforts into success.


WHAT YOU SHOULD DO?

Ask for permission from users and provide credit

Legal problems related to re-upload the User-generated content is still in gray area. Some brands use hashtags to collect the contents and assume that they have the right to use those. However, some users may mistakenly use your branded hashtags without realizing that their contents will be reposted. As a result, asking for permission before using is a great way to prevent any legal problems in the future.


Moreover, asking for permission can arouse exciting feelings and connect with your audience on a personal level. This gesture makes them feel being part of the brand community and valuable, which will lead to brand loyalty.


Take the example of the campaign #yespetsmart by Petsmart. By reaching out and ask for consent with the hashtag, Petsmart had successfully connected with its audience on the personal level, captivate the attention of the public. And of course, proving credit is a must.

Source: Instagram

Give your audience a reason to involve

Because of its benefits, UGC has been cultivated by thousands of brands all over the world. Before introducing a new UGC, you need to ask: Why should the audience join with your brand?. “Reasons to believe” should be a criterion in the integrated plan to ensure the success of the UGC marketing campaign.


The heartfelt campaign run by Disney and Make-a-wish on Twitter had become a huge success because of its noble cause. With every picture with Mickey Mouse Ears posted on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using the hashtag #ShareYourEars, Disney would donate $5 to Make-A-Wish Foundation. The results were insanely incredible: more than 1.7 million photos were posted,420 million media impressions on social media, 15% audience increase on Facebook, and a 13% audience increase on Instagram. Disney even made roughly $150,000 in revenue from selling mouse ears. Most importantly, over $1 million has been raised.


Offer rewards

Your audience needs something to motivate them to join your UGC program, either it is tangible or intangible rewards. The reward system should be crafted carefully to deliver your campaign’s purpose and enhance the customers’ loyalty.

You can see the scheme of rewards that Apple provided for its UGC “Shot on iPhone” was clearly stated on the website. The winners will receive a licensing fee for use of such photos on billboards and other Apple marketing channels. It is such an attractive package, especially for anyone who loves photography. Who doesn’t want their pictures will be displayed by Apple?


Optimize the power of social media platforms of the target audience

Yes, social media is powerful, but not all social media platforms are the right choice for your brand. Therefore, when planning a UGC campaign, you should decide which platforms you are after based on your market segment, potential audience, and go with it. In this case, social listening is a must. For example, if your brand would like to captivate the attention of the Chinese market, then Weibo should be used instead of Facebook or Instagram.


Provide a clear guideline for the participants

Your UGC campaign should have no barriers to join to create buzz on social media. If your brand would like to generate the right content from the public, then you have to provide a simple guideline for them to avoid any misunderstanding. Don’t be afraid of specific instructions. The more details you tell with your customers, the more content you can collect from the participants and make your IGC go viral.

Before introducing the #whitecup contest, Starbucks must explain the rules in both written documents and posts on social media to prevent any misunderstanding in the future.


You should avoid at all costs the following mistakes.


Give customers too much power

It is true that an ideal UGC campaign should generate the most engagement and involvement from the customers. However, it doesn’t mean that your audiences are given too much power in the campaign. For example, your brand will decide the name of the new products based on the votes (likes, share, or comments). This can lead to many fake engagements because some people knew the method to automatically increase the fake engagement. Your marketing effort will become an epic fall.


Force customers to love your brands

You cannot force the audience to love your brand/ product just through the hashtag. This failure was reflected in the case of Walgreens- the second-largest pharmacy in the USA. Their #ILoveWalgreens campaign on Twitter in 2003 had created an adverse effect. Because of this campaign, people started telling reasons why they don’t like Walgreens and use the #ILoveWalgreens hashtag.


To make the matter worse, people found out that they paid Twitter a huge amount of money to make the hashtag become trending. The problem here is, they seem too desperate for love from the public.

Source: Twitter

Lack of authenticity

The reason why UGC is welcomed by the audience because it delivers authenticity and faith, unlike other traditional advertising methods. In other words, the content needs to be presented in the way a normal customer would engage. However, some marketers failed to demonstrate that trust in their UGC campaign by using only perfect images from the influencers and celebrities. What customers want from the campaign, is how a real customer consume the product/ service from the brand.


Another trap of authenticity is using automatic reply tools to the users’ posts. If your customers find out that the interaction or the comments in their posts from your company is actually made by a robot, their excitement to engage with your brand can be lost.


Do not moderate the content

The platforms for the UGC campaign are mainly social media. Therefore, the marketers should oversee all of the possible chaos from their campaign and have a proper plan to respond. The submitted content should be managed to avoid spam or any violent actions that caused harm to the community. The main target of this moderation activity is to keep the spam off the conversation. You should understand that moderation doesn’t mean delete all negative comments because “content that is too pristine is just as bad as content that offends”.


Final checklist for marketers:

  • Ask for permission from creators and provide credit to the original post

  • Validate the campaign

  • Tap into customer’s motivation to join through rewards

  • Explain the rules clearly

  • Provide your participants with a moderate amount of power

  • Don’t force the love from the audience. If your brand is good enough, people will naturally talk about it.

  • Authenticity is a must

  • Control the spam

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