You’ve created it. Your friends have created, and you’ve seen it all over social media whether you know it or not. We’re talking User-Generated Content (UGC). User-generated content is an affordable and inexpensive means of building credibility for your business. It’s about showing your customers that you care about their needs and it helps foster a human connection. UGC can prove very beneficial for your business. Why? Because your offerings are being praised by your audience’s peers. It can take the form of a nice comment on Facebook, a curated photo of one of your meals posted to Instagram or a rave review on Yelp. Think of it as word of mouth but digital.
Now that we know what UGC is and how beneficial it can be, the next step is to determine the type of UGC you want and strategize towards it for the best results. Here are some tips to help you devise a UGC plan for your business:
Engage Your Audience:
In order to engage your audience, have them interact with your brand and provide you with UGC, you need to put a focus on engaging content. A simple way to do this is by asking questions in your social media posts. For example, if you’re a restaurant, you can ask what everyone’s favorite dish is. You can also encourage people to leave reviews on Google, Yelp or Facebook. If you want to amp things up a notch, you can partner with micro-influencers or you can host giveaways where an entry requirement is to leave a review, comment about what they love about your business, etc.
Selecting the Best UGC:
Not all UGC is created equal. When selecting which content to share or repost, first look at things like grammar, quality of any visuals and overall shareability. Then, once you’ve compiled some options, strategize on how to get the most mileage out of these posts. To put this in context, pretend you’re the owner of a clothing store and you have a pair of jeans that are about to go on sale. Say you also have a great review of these jeans. Instead of just randomly selecting content, use the review of the jeans to also highlight that they’ll be going on sale.
Post Branded Hashtags:
Hashtags are a secret weapon for optimizing user-generated content. Consumers can easily look up content through branded hashtags. Try to keep your hashtags short, simple and unique to your business. Look at your competitors’ hashtags and think strategically about phrases and words that best describe your offerings.
Sponsored and paid advertisements on social and digital have become redundant, and consumers may have a tendency to scroll past them. The right UGC strategy can be just what your business needs to create a connection that’s meaningful, engaging and profitable.
Your website backend is properly configured. Your contacts are listed and tagged. You have digital ads running to drive new traffic and engage with existing users. What’s next? It’s time to tie it all up and put everything together utilizing what you’ve set up.
First, you’ll want to design a specific content series on a topic your audience is interested in. Say, for example, you’re a marketing company that focuses on small businesses. Perhaps you could create a blog series on the topic of small business marketing covering the specific topics of branding, digital marketing and thought leadership. Your contacts would be tagged according to actions they have taken on your site or completed in your newsletter – maybe they read a branding blog or clicked through to an article about digital ads. So you know this is a topic they care about.
Then, you’ll want to create some sort of lead capture to draw people in to the series. This could be something like a downloadable resource or guide – something that people find valuable and will input their information to receive. Once someone submits their information to download your guide, they will automatically be entered into the content series and tagged appropriately.
Your digital ads now serve two purposes. You can use a retargeting ad to engage with users who have submitted their information and shown they are interested in your topic (creating custom audiences based on their site activity may prove useful here). You can also run ads to drive new traffic to your site and push your content series out to a broader audience who might be interested.
So a user’s journey might go something like this: I’m a small business owner looking to grow my brand. I’m wondering about custom audiences and doing some online research when I see a digital ad directing me to an online resource guide for small business marketing tips. I see one of the topics it covers is – aha – custom audiences! I click the ad and am taken to your lead capture page where I enter my information in order to receive my downloadable guide. From there, I am automatically entered into your content series where I also receive emails about other topics I may find interesting (branding and automation, perhaps). Based on my tagging, I also often see retargeting ads. This leads me to click through to your website, decide I like what I see, and reach out asking for more information. Ta-da!
If this still seems like a bit too much, or you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t despair, contact us for a free assessment or to inquire about our simple stack install package.
After you’ve properly set up the backend of your website and carefully curated your contacts, you can utilize what you’ve set up to really get in front of people using digital ads. Read on for the basics in beginning to use digital ads to both drive new traffic to your site, as well as engage with existing users.
Driving New Traffic
Digital ads can be used to drive new users and increase overall traffic to your website. One way to do this is by creating a general ad to get in front of new audiences that do not already exist for you. Not sure who to target for your first ad campaign? Start with the data you already have. A great strategy for targeting new users is to create a look-alike audience based on the data of people who have already been on your site. This will allow you to cast a wide net, but with parameters by targeting people with similar features or attributes as those who have already interacted with your brand.
Also important to note – you should exclude from this particular ad the audience that has already been on your site. The message to people who haven’t engaged with your brand will be different than the messaging you want in front of people who have previously interacted with your brand.
Engaging With Existing Users
Digital ads can also be used to engage and re-engage with people who have already been on your site. You can create these ads to be more specific based on users’ activity while on your website. Remember those pixeles we talked about setting up? That’s how certain ad platforms track activity. You can now use that data to create an ad to specifically target people who have viewed a particular product or read a certain blog on your site.
An important step to keep in mind here is that these two types of ads (driving and engaging) should be run concurrently. This is important because it will allow you to get initial engagement, and also to send those new contacts through your retargeting systems. Now when someone in your new audience clicks through to your site, the brand will be reinforced in front of them as they convert over to an existing user.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t despair, contact us for a free assessment or to inquire about our simple stack install package.
Interested in the digital aspect of marketing? Read here to learn about contact curation, the other side of marketing.