How to Use UGC Marketing for Your Paid Strategy

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Influencer taking photo for UGC marketing campaign

In the age of social media, user-generated content (UGC) marketing has become an important piece of the paid strategy marketers use for cultivating brand awareness. Part of the trend towards UGC has been inspired by influencers and the extensive network of followers they reach.

Working with niche influencers, and the general public is fast becoming one of the most effective ways to share a product or service over an intrusive advertisement. That’s why 39% of marketers claimed they would increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2019, with a significant portion going towards UGC.

Literally anyone can create UGC but starting with some goals and strategy for a user-generated content marketing campaign will make the user-generated content your influencers create a success. Let’s take a look at how.

What is UGC Marketing and Why is it Useful?

What is UGC exactly? It’s any curated content that’s created and shared by people, not by the brands themselves. The brand may share the UGC on their own digital platforms, but the content is unique to the influencer or person who created it and may include text, images, videos, giveaways, and reviews.

Why should social media marketers care about UGC? There are a number of reasons why, but they all boil down to the same idea: consumers trust and engage with UGC more than branded content. That’s because consumers are 2.4 times more likely to say that UGC is more authentic than branded content. It feels honest, personable, and less like a sales pitch.

Understanding the way consumers think is especially important for marketers eager to raise brand awareness. The rise in UGC marketing’s popularity is due in part by how shareable the content is. Platforms like Instagram make sharing an interesting post as easy as a click of a button. With 72% of Instagram users saying they purchased a product they saw while scrolling, it makes sense why marketers are eager to leverage UGC.

Who Creates UGC?

When it comes to UGC marketing, there are two primary forms of content: that created by an influencer, and that created by the general public. One of the benefits of UGC is the massive levels of engagement that stem from it. In fact,  90 percent of marketers say they use engagement to measure ROI, making UGC a vital part of a marketing strategy. 

With engagement in mind, you want to carefully consider what type of campaign to create for optimal engagement. Here’s a look at some of the differences between an influencer and public UGC.

Influencer UGC

Partnering with influencers to create UGC can be highly effective but requires some different considerations than UGC created by a regular user. Since influencers are already familiar with creating curated content, they will likely have more parameters about working with your brand. Consider the following: 

• Are they curating and creating the content, or is your marketing department?

• Do they need to follow a specific style if they are creating content?

• What is the compensation for the influencer?

• Will the partnership be an ongoing relationship?

If your brand is considering, or already using influencers in marketing strategy, influencer marketing software is a great way to help you manage influencers. It helps you manage the entire process of working with influencers from choosing the right ones for your brand, gaining valuable insights into campaign performance. 

General Public UGC

While influencers make a huge impact on brand awareness, tapping into UGC from regular social media users is valuable in showing a customer-first mentality. One study showed that 90 percent of marketers prioritize customer personalization. That’s because people feel valued when content speaks to who they are. 

Marketers can use the power of the general public in UGC marketing by asking permission to use their content. The public isn’t sponsored to post–they simply post because they like a product. Showing real people engaging with your product in a real way is valuable in showing your brand’s authenticity and personality. 

How to Partner with Influencers on UGC

After you choose who to partner with–influencers or public–it’s time to strategize. The first step is knowing the why behind your UGC marketing: what are your goals? With goals set, you can seek out UGC, or help create UGC that aligns with those goals. 

Define the Goals of Your UGC Campaign

Marketers have a number of different reasons for using UGC. Knowing which one to target will inform the rest of the content and strategy. Here are some common goals for which you may use UGC:

• Increase brand awareness

• Increase traffic to brand assets such as social media platforms, landing pages, or website

• Lead generation

• Increase conversion rates

• Build brand loyalty

With your goals in mind, you are able to better identify the audience you are trying to reach. This is key in choosing which influencers to partner with, you want to ensure that their audience aligns with your brand and goals.

How to Reach Out to Influencers for UGC Marketing

When you’re ready to reach out to influencers, particularly for Instagram UGC, make it personal and authentic. Show your appreciation and address them depending on the nature of your relationship. Generally, influencer outreach emails will fall into one of these categories:

• Starting a new relationship with an influencer

• Introducing your brand to an influencer

• Offering a free sample, then asking for a review and a post about the product

Check out this influencer introduction email template:

Hi [name]!

I’m [your name] from [company]. I work with [mutual connection] who mentioned that you [what mutual connection said about the influencer].

[Mutual connection] said that it would be a good idea to get in touch with you to learn more about [topic] and work on [project] together.

Does this sound like something you would be interested in? If so, I would love to call you some day this week around noon and figure out a way to make it mutually beneficial.

Let me know what you think!
[your name]

With a couple of changes in tone, greeting, and ask, this same general template can be used to address other types of influencers, too. 

How to Execute a Great Influencer UGC Post

You’ve found your influencer, and you’re ready to get going on UGC marketing. What’s next? First, you want to decide who is doing the posting: you or the influencer. From there, make sure that everyone is aligned on imagery, platform, and any other guidelines you or the influencer may have. 

Your Account or Mine: Who Posts UGC Content

There a few different ways to use UGC:

• Repost from an influencer or user onto your brand’s account

• Have an influencer post their own curated content on their account

• Have an influencer curate content and then post on your brand’s account

Choosing which option depends on the goals you define for your UGC marketing campaign. You’ll want to look at what an influencer’s reach is (are they mirco- or macro-influencers), who the target audience is, and what specific product or service you’re featuring. 

Of course, always ensure that you or your influencers are following guidelines set forth by social media platforms, particularly as it pertains to permission for reposting. 

Finally, consider the budget your marketing team set for working with an influencer as that will factor into your overall ROI on UGC. 

Identify the Visuals

Brand identity is important, even with UGC. If you’re using content from the general public, you’re probably going to choose posts that align with your brands’ mission, values, and overall look. If you’re partnering with an influencer, you may go even further and ask them to create content that fits within certain visual parameters.

While 85 percent of users claim that visual UGC is more influential than branded content, you still want that UGC to be reminiscent of your brand. To do that, consider creating a lookbook for influencers to use as a guide for content creation. You can set guidelines for what images, language, and colors you prefer in a post to ensure that it aligns. 

Here’s an example of social media influencer Bri Emery of Designlovefest partnering with Home Depot to create a video campaign on Instagram. With over 700k followers, Bri is a macro-influencer with a strong design aesthetic. She’s spent years crafting a lifestyle brand that appeals to young people interested in design, food, travel, and fashion. Her partnership served to elevate the Home Depot brand to one that is accessible to more than just men.

How to Use UGC Marketing for Your Paid Strategy 1
Influencer Designlovefest and Home Depot partner for UGC on Instagram
Image Credit: Instagram

Choose a Social Media Platform for UGC

There are many digital platforms from which to launch UGC, but Instagram has the highest engagement, with a median engagement rate of 1.60 percent per post from brands. With UGC, that has the potential to increase even further. 

Still, UGC has the potential to reach various audiences on different platforms. As you strategize how you’ll use UGC, specifically with influencers, think about: 

• The type of post. Will it be a review, mention, contest, curated video/image?

• Will you use hashtags?

• How many times are you posting?

• Which platform is your target audience using the most?

Using Instagram for UGC Marketing

Instagram reigns supreme for generating UGC, with 79% of Influencer Marketing Hub respondents saying Instagram is their most important source of influencer marketing campaigns. 

When preparing to use Instagram for any campaign, make sure you have a way to measure results. You’ll want access to Instagram insights to learn about followers, engagement, demographics, traffic, and metrics about the paid activity. 

Asking influencers to use or create a hashtag for the campaign can help to further track the success of UGC. If you’re creating a giveaway or contest, a code will help to track information about entrants and engagement. 

Using Facebook for UGC Marketing

Facebook maintains the most active users in the world, so it’s still a viable source for UGC despite Instagram’s wild success. Forty-six percent of marketers claim to use Facebook for influencer marketing.

In creating content, particularly Facebook ads that contain UGC, you’ll want to consider the way Facebook measures relevancy. The more impressions you receive, the lower the cost to run that ad. Engagement is incredibly important in helping you be more relevant. 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, people want to see more authentic content, whether it’s directly from a brand or an influencer. User-generated content provides that authenticity in a big way. With people blocking ads as they browse websites and scroll social media feeds, the need for personable, engaging content will only grow, making it all the more important to tap into UGC.
Part of a great UGC marketing campaign is finding the best influencers for your brand. With so many options available, it can be hard to know who to target. With GRIN’s comprehensive influencer recruitment tools, you get end-to-end solutions to help you connect with the influencers that really make a difference to your brand! 

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