User-Generated Content (UGC) is word-of-mouth marketing on steroids: with a finely-tuned hashtag or prompt for user creativity, brands boost engagement, help their customers self-identify with them and build communities. Often exchanged on social platforms, UGC makes a brand feel like a friend to the consumer. As the largest shopping season of the year, the holiday time is a great opportunity to leverage UGC marketing to humanize your brand and connect with both veteran and new consumers on a deeply emotional level. Goals for leveraging UGC for your holiday marketing campaign can typically include:
UGC makes a measurable impact for ecommerce businesses that make use of it. It’s important to remember that if a consumer comes to your store, subscribes to your email list or follows you on social media, they’re already open to making a potential purchase. UGC written by real, average people instills confidence and trust in your product that can push consumers through your sales funnel: conversion rates are boosted by 161% across industries when UGC is present, and 51% of consumers trust UGC over a business website’s marketing copy.
The holidays are great for UGC marketing because they encourage people to come together, reflect on thankfulness and contribute good to the world. It’s the perfect opportunity for brands to humanize themselves by connecting with consumers on an emotional level.
For Starbucks, its yearly holiday cups are a UGC gift that keeps giving. In 2016, the coffee giant crowdsourced cup designs via Instagram, selecting 13 winning designs to feature on the cups. Over 1,000 designs were submitted via the image sharing service, tagged with the #RedCupArt hashtag. The benefits were three-fold: Starbucks had a great deal of free spec-work to adorn their cups with, generated a great deal of buzz on their already popular holiday cups, and extended their social media reach as participants shared their designs with followers and others via the branded hashtag. In 2017, Starbucks is doing something similar: prompting participants to color the cup, adorn it with their own illustrations and share it with the #GiveGood hashtag.
Because different platforms have different demographics and media that thrive there, you’ll need to carefully plan which social media platforms align best with your UGC holiday marking goals. Questions to consider include:
With a complete view of your customer demographics, it should be easy to develop the user generated content ideas best suited for your business, as well as their applicable platforms. Facebook, is great for sharing video content; Instagram is perfect for sharing images toward a younger demographic; Twitter allows for a large reach as well as image sharing; and LinkedIn caters to a more professional crowd that’s perfect for boosting third-party content that aligns with your brand.
You should carefully consider your goals too, opting for easily measurable goals, metrics like: social media engagements, number of visitors to your site, content submissions or email/contact information captured. Paying attention to these stats help you measure the effectiveness and impact of your campaign. Use this data to plan future user generated content campaign ideas.
This time of year, it’s important that you connect on a deep level with consumers in a way that evokes the spirit of the holidays. Here are a handful of user generated content ideas to inspire your next big holiday marketing campaign.
Build a sense of fun and urgency by hosting a giveaway of your most popular products in the form of a photo contest. The Starbucks crowdsourced cup design contest detailed above is a great example of photo-based UGC holiday marketing. As the contest draws to a close, promote it across your channels to build up urgency; for example, highlight in social media posts how there’s only X number of days left to participate, then remind them of other crucial shopping deadlines (last day for free shipping, last day for guaranteed Christmas delivery, etc.).
Once the contest is over, you can continue using the user generated photos (with consent) as marketing content into the remainder of the holiday season.
280 may not allow for verbosity, but calling for a Twitter chat or discussion related to the holidays around a branded hashtag is a great way to connect with consumers and learn more about what’s important to them. Post something heartfelt for the holidays or motivational for New Year’s, like:
The last user generated content example question listed is great not just for getting your followers talking, but for gauging your most hotly anticipated items as well (for example, ask specifically about products from your store or brand that customers are hopeful for—you might even do a good deed and randomly select a holiday gift to grant!)
Once the holidays have passed and your UGC holiday marketing has concluded, curate and share the best of the best to your email list throughout the remainder of your holiday marketing campaign. Whether it’s sharing fans’ heartfelt reflections or celebrating their festive creativity, this content helps to unite your consumers as a community.
Users sharing their content across social media is a great way to expand reach, but during or after the campaign you will want to curate and collect submissions together. If collecting during the campaign, host submissions on your website. The content and links generated by the content will help your website’s SEO, and collecting a selection of submissions in one place can help to inspire new participants.
You may also reuse content in promotional campaigns throughout the holiday season. Because UGC marketing is partly about building consumer trust, it’s essential you get consent from participants before reusing their content. This can be done in the form of the campaign’s terms or rules, or by simply reaching out to the content creator and asking their permission.
When making use of UGC, it’s important to polish it and make it more visually attractive. This requires a bit more investment on your part, but think about it: if you’re a food brand and hosted a holiday recipe contest, for example, you might recreate the winning dishes to professionally plate and photograph them rather than use the customers’ submission images. Then, supply a quote or reflection from the users that explains the story behind the recipe.