The Re-purposing of UGC

One of the buzzwords that you usually hear a lot especially within social media circles is the acronym ‘UGC’. Most marketers would be quite aware of UGC but I still find that most people don’t really know what to do with it, or how to maximize it. So the below is a little bit to help you out.

What is UGC?

UGC stands for User Generated Content, which basically refers to any content put out there on the vast internet about you and your brand. It can range from tweets to Instagram posts, reviews, or even a mention on a blog. UGC is basically as the name says content produced by the users or aspirational users of the brand, in any stage of the consumption process – dreaming, using, or reviewing.

Where do we get it?

UGC can be obtained from several sources:

  • Social Media – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
  • Blogs
  • Review Sites – Trip Advisor, Zomato, Yelp etc.
  • Reviews – Google & Facebook reviews
  • Emails
  • Surveys & Feedback cards
  • And even if you think outside the box good old traditional offline sources such as handwritten notes

Out of all these sources, UGC is still most commonly associated with Social Media and especially Instagram. As all good content marketers know visual content works much better than text only and is more engaging and effective. Therefore having a large amount of visual content is useful but is it is also the most difficult to obtain, hence a large bank of visual UGC content is always beneficial.

Why is UGC good?

UGC is great for several reasons:

  1. Endorsement – Isn’t it always better having normal regular customers say how great your product is than you doing it?
  2. Credibility – It adds credibility to your brand when your customers say your product does actually what is supposed to do.
  3. Feedback – It is a great source of feedback on how your customers liked the product, if there were any problems, and how it can be improved.
  4. Market Research – By following who is talking about your brand, you can find new uses for your product or even find new markets you were not aware of.
  5. Brand Popularity – By tracking how often your product is mentioned you can get a better idea of how popular your product is and this can be tracked against competitors as well.
  6. New Content – UGC is a great source of new content. Brands invest a lot of time, effort and even money to generate new content which is not always feasible in the long run, therefore UGC is a good alternative source of content which is also free.
  7. Better Engagement – Showcasing real world uses and interactions leads to better engagement from other customers and aspirational users.

 

What do we do with it?

UGC acts as a good source of new content. Rather than a brand always talking about their products, it is always good to post about how users are consuming or interacting with the brand. The content is real than produced and inspires and motivates other consumers leading to better engagement when posted across social channels. The content can be shared or re-posted from their original sources as well as it can be re-purposed for other channels.

Examples include: Creating a video of Instagram posts which can be promoted on Facebook (with permissions of course); Showing Trip Advisor reviews on offer content to encourage positive sentiment; etc.

By showcasing good reviews and good feedback, consumption of the product can also increase which is beneficial for the brand in the long run.

How can you get more?

So if UGC is so great, how can marketers produce more? There are a couple of ways to do that:

  1. Competitions – This is the easiest and most efficient way of generating content. Competitions can be run across social channels where users can be asked to submit visual entries (either images or videos) of people interacting with the brand. The winner can receive complimentary samples, access etc as dependent on the product, but for a relatively small cost a large amount of content can be generated which can be used at a later stage.
  2. Asking Questions / Submissions – Sometimes if you have a strong or loyal brand following, a competition is not necessary, users would be more than happy to tell or show you how they use your product by just asking them. Your customers like to feel appreciated and that their feedback and opinions matter, so they would be happy to share with you their love and admiration for the brand.
  3. Complimentary Trials – If the product is relatively new or you don’t have a large following then you can offer complimentary trials to future users to encourage the generation of more UGC and to gain feedback. This can help promote the product especially when they see others using it.
  4. Events & Activations – Hosting or creating events which is open to the people is another great way of having people directly interact with the brand. When they see an activation taking place or are at the event, most people will generally share their experiences on social media. This combined with a competition makes it more effective.
  5. PR & Media – Having a strong PR strategy is also beneficial to the brand. Through it, greater brand awareness can be achieved via media mentions, blog postings, and social media coverage through press teams and bloggers. Each of these mentions can be connected to a potential story and therefore greater UGC.
  6. Influencers – As highlighted in my previous post ‘Battle of the Influencers‘ influencers are a great way to increasing brand awareness as they act as brand ambassadors. Most influencers will generate a minimum number of posts as part of their agreement which is guaranteed UGC. This content will also be of high quality and will have greater engagement, especially if the the influencer is well known, resulting in greater popularity of the brand.
  7. Media Monitoring – This is the most basic and essential step every marketer must do, that is to set up a media monitoring service which picks up any mention of the brand online. You can choose to monitor on social channels or on media, blogs etc. of course it is better to have both. By having media monitoring in place mentions of the brand can be picked up from the most least expected sources. While most companies have a budget associated for this service which can be used for specialized software the other option for firms with limited budget is to invest in setting up Google Alerts which still does quite a good job.

So overall UGC is a great asset to have and can be quite successful with minimal effort and time.

Do you have any other tips or stories to share?

 

 

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Social Media – PR or Marketing?

Social Media has traditionally been the forte of a digital marketer, but lately there is a growing trend of this channel being handled by the PR department instead of marketing. Social Media in essence is a digital communication tool and is one of the most important channels in the arsenal of a digital marketer. It is used for most marketing objectives, from brand awareness to advertising and sales and forms a big part of a consumer’s attribution journey while driving traffic to the website, but it is also a communication tool which is usually handled by PR. So while both have very good reasons how would a company decide what their direction should be?

First let’s have a look on how PR has changed of recent:
Public Relations has always been viewed in two extremes, a lot of ‘media relations’ and socializing with the other extreme of lots of writing of press releases and their distribution. But in the last few years PR has changed quite drastically and has earned its place at the digital table. About a few years ago, as more people turned to online sources and social media as a source for their news (if it’s not on Twitter it didn’t happen), PR professionals realized that a press release just wont cut it any more. Even if there’s huge brand power behind it, in today’s overly cluttered world of content creation traditional media sources were just not effective in distributing news and building relations. So PR has had to adapt and change and like marketing has shifted to digital to stay relevant. So let’s look at these changes and why as digital marketers we should pay attention to them.

The death of the press release.
No one reads press releases any more. Yes it’s still done because its a corporate statement and needs to be sent to media and published online, but the bottom line is no one reads them. PR has had to change their strategy by changing the way they create and distribute content. Instead of releases they started focusing on stories (sound familiar?) which was then distributed on social media channels by marketing. Content for these stories was usually sourced from consumer & employee experiences and their reviews (UGC). PR started relying more on social media for their content as well as for distribution which meant working closely with marketing. To do this they also had to adapt their overall tone of voice from corporate to social. Tone of voice and language is usually set by Brand marketing which is a big change for PR and to measure the success of PR activities, most have subscribed to a media monitoring service which picks up brand mentions online & offline on media channels. But as more stories are being published on social, traditional media monitoring is only half the story. Any good social media marketer would also have a social media monitoring service set up which can be shared with PR. So you would have two teams trying to come up with original story content to share, relying on similar sources and doubling the expense on monitoring services.

Bloggers & Influencers – the new media
Besides relying on traditional media sources such as magazines and newspapers, PR have turned to sourcing bloggers and social media influencers to also promote the brand. At various media events nearly 25% to even 50% of attendees are prominent bloggers and influencers who are encouraged to actively tweet, instagram and create live content while hastagging and tagging the brand channels.  This comes at a cost where PR can no longer control the actual content, the style in which it is written and the exact terminology but this is how social media works where content is not scripted but natural. Through this PR usually contribute and support overall digital marketing growth and engagement. This has also resulted in a shift in PR audience from media to actual consumers. Usually PR undergo training on how to talk to media. They also train other employees and colleagues on do’s and don’ts and how to speak to media and answer questions. But as marketers we deal directly with end consumers and we never receive such training, which is unusual as consumers are the final decision makers and therefore anyone dealing with them should be taught how, just as anyone in customer service undergoes a certain level of training as well. Instead many social media channels are handled by junior staff or outsourced to agencies who are not familiar with the brand and overall style which is not ideal to overall brand management.

So in the end between PR & Marketing who should actually manage social media?
The answer is both. PR have the experience, the knowhow and the ability to write and create content. They are trained on how to talk to consumers and media and spend considerable time sourcing and dealing with bloggers and influencers. They should be responsible for content creation and community management, but of course with support from marketing. Based on events, offers and overall end goals, marketing can suggest and recommend content and broad topics which PR can then use and work towards. But it will still be the responsibility of marketing to manage KPI’s, drive traffic and fulfill digital marketing strategy. It would be marketing who would advertise on social media and plan campaigns, suggest which posts would be promoted and the targeting of these.

So in conclusion PR & Marketing would handle different aspects of social media and would have to work together to fulfill overall business objectives.

How does it work in your company?