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UGC: It’s As Easy As 1, 2, 3 …

MediaPost's Marketing CPG
By Carol Milliron

UGC: It’s As Easy As 1, 2, 3 …

Last fall, I paused while scrolling through my Facebook feed when I spotted a friend and her family holding a four-foot fork and an oversized blueberry in front of a “pancake mobile” parked in front of her house. Her photo led to her blog post, where she explained how I could tweet the company that was launching frozen pancakes and get some for myself. I searched the hashtag, saw more pictures of folks having fun, and tweeted them to visit me. When the driver showed up, he filled up my freezer after I agreed to share my own photos (more user-generated content) — and my pancakes.

The brand’s use of UGC totally drew me in. It wasn’t a professional photo of fluffy pancakes that got my attention, it was a person “like me” having fun with the product that I found intriguing. That’s the magic of UGC.

Chances are your consumers are already creating content that includes your product or brand. Here are three tips to securing – and leveraging — authentic user-generated content:

1. Crowdsource – ask your consumers for help. Asking your customers can be formal or informal, but you never know what you’ll get unless you ask. Recognize (share, favorite, comment on, follow back) the types and quality of content you’d like to see more of.
Doritos recognized early on that making the consumer the star of its advertising, with clever product integration, rather than the product as star by itself, would drive engagement and sharing. They did this notably with the “Crash the Superbowl” campaign. As a brand that got it early and witnessed the explosion of social media, they realized that they could benefit from a longer-running UGC campaign. With their new Bold 50 campaign, where they are inviting consumers to break records involving their product, they can engage consumers over the course of the year. This will give them bursts of content, social sharing and therefore buzz on an ongoing basis, not just around a tent pole event like the SuperBowl.

2. Make it a win-win. UGC is a win for brands. After all, consumers are more likely to engage with consumer-generated brand content vs. brand advertising. But is it a win for the consumer? As you structure a call for UGC, ask yourself, “What’s in it for the consumer?” It might be an entry into a giveaway or the chance to be featured beyond their own social networks – even the larger influencers value that exposure. L’Oreal Paris asked consumers to watch an influencer video, and then create and upload videos to “Tell the world how you #BlendInToStandOut” to trigger a charitable donation.

3. Optimize It!: Once you’ve got great user content, extend its reach via paid distribution. Insert the UGC into compelling ad units including native and rich media. Research shows that ads that leverage UGC drive higher click-through rates than those that don’t.

Purina followed all three of these steps during their successful #dogthanking campaign. Owners thanked their dogs by using the hashtag and tagging the brand, which triggered a donation to the AKC Canine Health Foundation. Submitted videos, photos and posts were included during the National Dog Show (sponsored by Purina) on Thanksgiving Day.

User-generated content is compelling because it shines the spotlight on your customer while they are engaging with your product. Your customer tends to think about your product in terms of benefit, i.e., how does it make my life better. Encouraging them to create and share these stories and then you sharing as well just makes good business sense.

Got some great examples of UGC? Tell us about them here and/or tweet me @CarolMilliron.