Creative Ways to Get More and Better User Generated Content

If you’ve stumbled into this article then you probably already know what UGC is, but let’s go over it real quick, just in case. UGC stands for user generated content; images, text, videos, among others that are created and then uploaded to the internet (and sometimes printed onto custom t-shirts as well). What sets it apart from other types of content is that it is created by regular people, just like you and me, rather than a brand or company. And the reason why it has been on the lips of every marketer as of late it’s because it has proven to be as or maybe even more effective than regular advertising.

Customers have gotten savvy. Due to years of false promises and/or saturation, people are not attracted by old school marketing so easily anymore. Studies show that consumers trust more the opinion of a friend or family member rather than those of the current spokesperson on the screen. Brands have taken notice and have planned strategies around it. The answer was UGC – content created by and for the consumers.

So, how do you get in the action? You don’t need to be a big company in order to run a successful UGC campaign, all you need is a bit of imagination and research. Let’s talk about creative ways to get more and better user generated content.

1) Investigate

Browse the internet, go on. A little procrastination won’t hurt you  Once you’re done checking the latest falling-on-their-face video, or your friends statuses on Facebook, you may want to put the Sherlock cap on and look for clues.

  • What are people talking about?
  • What type of content is being shared?
  • What kind of pictures are they uploading to Instagram?
  • Where are they?
  • What are they doing?

Asking yourself these questions might help shed some light on current trends and call-to actions that might work for your campaign.

2) Know your audience

In order to run a successful campaign, you need to know who you’re targeting to. If your clients are mostly middle aged, a campaign that runs on Tumblr may not be your best bet since that’s a platform that’s mostly geared towards teenagers and young adults.

3) Pick a Theme

Is your campaign going to be inspirational? Funny? Heart-warming? Tear-jerking? Most UGC’s rely on pictures of their clients using their products, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be your case. Videos are quite powerful, as well. American retail store Target released a UGC campaign which consisted of reaction videos of kids getting their college acceptance letter. Needless to say, the campaign was a success and on top of that, Target made a big donation to education programs across America. Picking a social issue as a theme is completely fine as long as it’s treated with care and respect.

4) Choose your media

With so many social networks out there it can be hard to choose which is the right one for the specific campaign.

  • Twitter is great for engagement with customers
  • Youtube is perfect for reviews
  • Instagram does well with product pictures (duh!)
  • Facebook can do a little bit of everything 

Whichever your medium will be it is important to keep it to just one (two, at the most. If it’s necessary). In order to make a real impact you want your content to be in a single place. It will also be a lot easier to measure if it’s on the same channel.

5) Make it easy

As one very unfriendly HR lady once told me during a job interview ‘The last thing people want is more work’. Make it easy for your audience to participate in your campaign. An upload and a simple hashtag should do the trick (I didn’t get the job, by the way – I knew I shouldn’t have worn a velvet jacket).

“The last thing people want is more work.”

– Unfriendly HR Lady

6) Make sure you have an incentive

Are you going to reward the people who participate? Contests can be really strong campaigns, but an incentive does not necessarily require a price. Most of the time, recognition is enough.

7) Recognise your users

Most people want to feel like they’re part of something. Acknowledging every single uploaded picture or comment may be impossible, but you still have to find a way to show you care about your followers. It goes a long way. If people don’t get some sort of feedback, then they just might as well throw their content into a black hole. A cool idea is to recognise the participants on your website. Seeing comments or pictures of real users can also make your homepage feel more approachable. Don’t forget that an UGC campaign is also a great opportunity to create a community. The internet makes it easy for users from all over the globe to join under a single cause, brand or product.

Putting it all into practice…

Often times, it’s easier to learn from real examples than a bunch of ideas. That’s why we’ve collected 10 of our very favourite user generated content campaigns. They’ve all done something a bit different.

Burberry

UGC examples

When Angela Ahrendts became the CEO of Burberry in 2006, part of her job was to make the old-school brand seem young and fresh again. Where better to turn than online? The clothing line created a website called The Art of the Trench, where owners of their famous trench oats could upload their outfits and people could comment on them. You could sort it by time, whether the photos were of men or women, the colour or style of the coat and even the weather. The result? A 50% increase in online sales year-over-year.

Coca-Cola

It feels like every time we do one of these things, Coca-Cola pops up somewhere. They’ve really got this marketing thing down! They made a cute campaign called “Share a Coke”, where you could get a Coke bottle personalised with your name or your loved one’s name. Then, they got people to share pictures of their personalised Cokes online tagging them with #ShareACoke. People started sharing everything from happy birthday wishes to a wedding proposal!

GoPro

Lots of brands do something similar to this — they have their followers submit photos via an online form or by using a hashtag, then they repost their favourites. But we picked GoPro because their videos are just so cool. You really can’t take videos like this with just any camera, and having real users generate the photos rather than professional photographers does an excellent job of showcasing that. Users also love having their photos shared, too, so it’s a clever way to get lots of buzz online.

Lay’s

UGC examples

The popular crisp brand ran a campaign called “Do Us a Flavor“, where people would send in their ideas for new and unusual crisp flavours. The three final flavours were actually produced and sold. Then, users could go online and vote for their favourites. The person who came up with the winning flavour not only got their dream crisps sold long-term, but they also got money and were featured in the ads.

In case you’re curious, the flavours were Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha – chosen out of 3.8 million submissions!

Lego & Belkin

Who doesn’t love Lego? These cases created by Lego and Belkin were “builder cases” – meaning you could pop your own Lego creations on top of them! They were the perfect product to have people share the creative things they came up with for their cases online.

Old Spice

Do you remember “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”? The ads were quirky and fun (and still make me laugh after seeing them a bunch of times). This was a fantastic use of an insight they found  — that a lot of the time, it’s actually women who are buying men’s body wash products. The user-generated bit came in when the actor featured in the ads responded to fans on Twitter and Facebook in real-time. In other words, they managed to get people participating in what had been a more conventional form of advertising.

Sephora

UGC ideas

It’s always hard to guess what a makeup product what might look like on by just seeing images of the bottle or a highly edited photo of a model on an online store. So Sephora’s Beauty Board is pretty genius. It’s a curated collection of photos customers submit of themselves wearing Sephora products. Beneath their photo, it lists what products they’ve used so you can get the look yourself.

Starbucks

starbucks ugc

The White Cup Contest was perfect to attract creative coffee lovers. The idea was that they would draw on a classic white Starbucks cup and then show off a picture of what they came up with. The winner would get their design printed on limited edition Starbucks cups. In three weeks, they got 4,000 entries!

T-Mobile

T mobie UGC

The guy in charge at US T-Mobile, John Legere, isn’t afraid to be controversial, and T-Mobile’s ads are often the same. They ran an ad encouraging customers of other networks to write a break up letter to their provider. In exchange, T-Mobile said they’d pay any early termination fees. Guess how many people submitted letters? 80,000!

Not only did it create a humorous conversation online, it also gave T-Mobile tons of insights from customers into what they didn’t like from their providers (a.k.a things they could avoid doing).

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We’re Printsome, an online t-shirt printing company, helping clients with anything from screen printing to DTG, and delivering in the UK from Milton Keynes to Oxford. We love writing about t-shirts and creative types.


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