Ready to tap into the power of User-Generated Content (UGC) and revolutionize your social media marketing strategy?
I recorded this episode to flesh out content for a chapter in my upcoming book, so this will also act as a special preview as to what I have been working on.
I'll guide you through the captivating new world of UGC, where engaging TikTok influencers and the rising breed of 'Instagrammable' content creators is becoming the norm. You'll discover why everything from customer selfies to thought leader ads on LinkedIn is now part of the UGC arsenal, and why B2B brands are jumping on this bandwagon.
Ever wondered why 92% of consumers trust UGC more than traditional marketing content? The authenticity and relatability of UGC have a powerful impact on consumers, influencing their purchasing decisions and helping to build meaningful relationships. I've got intriguing statistics to share that shed light on the sway of UGC, and I'll dive into a practical example from the real estate sector to illustrate how UGC can be leveraged effectively in B2B scenarios.
Finally, I’ll share some tried-and-tested strategies to motivate your customers to create UGC, from establishing brand ambassadors to running branded hashtag campaigns. Whether you are a B2B brand or an emerging influencer ready to shine, there's something valuable for everyone in this episode. So, ready to reimagine your social media presence? Let's embark on this exciting journey together in the world of User-Generated Content. Tune in for a treasure trove of insights and actionable advice.
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Imagine a world where you get more benefits of social media marketing without actually having to create any of your own content, where you can focus on engaging with and developing relationships with others in social media instead of focusing on the never-ending editorial calendar of publishing content that is providing ever-dwindling results. That is the way I want you to rethink social media marketing, starting right now with this next episode of the digital marketing coach podcast. Hey everybody, this is Neil Schaefer, your digital marketing coach, and welcome to episode number 334 of this podcast. My name is Neil Schaefer. I am a fractional CMO, digital content influencer, social media marketing author, consultant, speaker. If this is your first time here, I publish episodes that are half solo of me sharing my experiences working with clients, my thoughts to help you improve your digital marketing. With every episode, the other half is featuring guests. These guests are often influencers, content creators, authors, professors, ceos people that I handpick. I mean, I only do 25 interviews a year, if you do the math. I really try to handpick those experts that, once again, can deliver value with every single episode with actionable advice and insight. For those of you that are already a loyal subscriber, I thank you for being a subscriber and listening to my episodes. If you've been listening recently, you know that I am working on my fifth book. I recently spent some time in Berlin with my developmental editor and really, for me, from now until the end of October is crunch time. I'm hoping to actually decide on a publisher in the next few weeks, as I mentioned before in a few of my recent episodes. Specifically, those episodes would be 326, where I talked about the SES framework, and 328, where I talked about marketing containers. In fact, 330, where I talked about IkiGuy. Based on my experience in Berlin, all this content is part of my book writing process. In fact, when it comes to content creation, I want to tell you something that I told the members of my digital first group, coaching mastermind community recently, which is and I'm going to quote myself compared to when I wrote the Age of Influence back in 2019-2020, I am literally swimming in the three years of content that I had been creating. Where I lack content for my next book, I simply flesh out more content by creating a podcast episode on the topic that I can repurpose into a chapter. Being able to one create content and two repurpose that for whatever purpose you might have is the key to success in digital marketing, no matter if it is a blog, a lead magnet, an ebook, a video, a podcast, a photo, get creating. And I want to share that message with you as well, and I want to show you by preparing for this episode. I am in the process of writing a chapter about user-generated content, which this episode is going to be all about, and what I talked about in the teaser is not a fantasy, but a reality for many companies, and it could become a reality for you as well. Now you might have looked in the user-generated content. You're thinking, eh, I'm a B2B company, not for me or for whatever reason. You might not know a lot about it, or you might have rejected it, or you might be using it only for a limited purpose. But the whole purpose of this episode is not about user-generated content, but to help you reimagine your social media presence. In fact, we can go a little bit further back in episode 306, which was published in February this year, where I talked about exponentially improving your social media through authentically social content. That, as well, is going to be repurposed into another different chapter of my book, but that deals with your own branded content. Ugc deals with content created by others about you. So to begin, I think we should go back to the Age of Influence, which hopefully you should have all read by now. It was my fourth book, published in March of 2020, actually the day that California won a lockdown. It's available on Amazon, barnes, noble, wherever fine books are sold, and there are Mandarin, chinese, vietnamese, bulgarian and Arabic versions of the book on sale. I've yet to confirm the Bulgarian and Vietnamese, but I've seen my own user-generated content of the Arabic and I actually have a copy of the Mandarin Chinese in my hand. So in the Age of Influence, I talked about using influencer content to replace your own content as part of your social media content strategy. In other words, leverage influencers not just for the fact that they can help amplify your brand and your content, but also for their content creation skills, as the content that the creators can create is often, if not always, more engaging than what most brands can do in-house. Now, this trend has only accelerated since writing the Age of Influence over the last three years, as we witness the explosive growth of working with influencers primarily for content creation. In other words, not every creator of content is an influencer, but every influencer is, in some ways, a content creator. I'm going to talk about those content creators that aren't an influencer in a second, but every influencer is in some way a content creator is one of the main things to understand about that. Now, on a side note, we've seen a recent trend of brands such as Disney, nerf, olipop, the skincare brand, seravy, take this one step further and actually hire TikTok influencers to become their social media content creators. Regardless, this content created by social media users is called user generated content, or, in short, ugc. Using user generated content has become so popular because it is so effective, spawning a whole new industry that has emerged to satisfy the needs of brands to create it, a new type of content creator who might not necessarily be called an influencer, but it is their full time gig. They are called UGC content creators. These content creators might not be influencers, but they are skilled at creating the visuals that replicate the Instagrammable look or type of viral TikTok video that brands are seeking to recreate in their own feed. Now, a popular data point found online is that as many as 86% of marketers claim they've attempted to incorporate UGC into their campaigns, but only 27% say they had a strategy for doing so. If I were CMO for every company. Both of these numbers would be at or as close to 100% as possible. Assuming the authenticity and quality of the UGC helps tell the brand's story equally or better than you can. Now. You might think, as I hinted earlier, that user generated content is some fringe concept that might only relate to a certain type of consumer brand targeting a younger demographic, but I believe the concept is actually universal and is the most powerful one to understand to see your social media strategy in a brand new light. Let me begin by sharing a few of what I think are the biggest benefits of using UGC, back by some compelling statistics which show the power of utilizing this type of content in social media. First, let's look at some of the benefits around concepts that I think are going to be very, very easy and intuitive for you to understand. So obviously, ugc takes authenticity to the next level. Nothing is more authentic than the voice of a customer. Often, these customers have spent significant time using your product or, in the case of services, seeing what your company is capable of doing. For this reason, people tend to put considerable weight on what their fellow customers have to say, and when they see that in UGC, you can imagine the positive impact that it can have. Here's another one UGC acts as a trust signal. Besides the authenticity of user-generated content, the fact that this content exists shows that other people use your products and that you have actual customers, which is really important if you're a startup or a smaller business trying to increase the number of customers you have. And while some people love trying the latest and greatest thing in the market, many others want to be certain that a product or service is something they can trust. This holds equally true for consumer goods as it does for B2B SaaS products. Here's another one UGC is cost-effective. If you don't have to create the content yourself, then you aren't spending money on content creation for everything you use for marketing right, and if you offer a small incentive like a discount or free product, you can get a larger amount of UGC and repeat business. That's a great ROI for something that often costs less than the actual content creation process itself. Now there's another side to UGC being cost-effective as well. Data suggests that UGC-based ads get up to four times higher click-through rates and a potential up to 50% drop in cost per click than average ads. This means that UGC can also be a powerful and cost-effective tool to get more people to click on your ads, visit your website and ultimately buy your product. Another really amazing benefit of UGC is that it helps increase conversions. Did you know that there's a 29% increase in web conversions when websites feature user-generated content? All you have to do is provide some options for people to contribute user-generated content and then display it to reap the benefits. A common example, obviously, is Amazon, where anyone can post a review of a product on its page, but this is something that many e-commerce sites are replicating and doing well as well. In fact, if you can show user-generated content on your product page in your shopping cart, this is how you can see that increase in web conversions. That 29% is from one data point. It must be 29% and not 28% or 30%, but you get an idea of the potential. We're talking today about leveraging user-generated content for your social media, but it obviously has benefits, holistically speaking, throughout your marketing. Ugc also helps to diversify your content with more creativity. In my book, obviously, ai is going to be an important part of it, and it will include a dedicated chapter on leveraging AI. But, similar to AI, leveraging UGC can help bring creative ideas to your business that you or your staff just might not have thought of. The same is true for your content right. Diversity and creativity are not, and should not be limited to your own internal content creation team. If anything, there's more creativity in your users, your customers, in social media, in general Staff, or if you leverage an agency. While creative generally don't have the depth of perspective and their jobs depend on your company's performance. On the other hand, end users don't view your products in the same way. It's one thing that touts the benefits of your products as defined by the company, and something else to experience the benefits of a user. Users simply have different ideas in your internal team, if only because they're different people with different experiences and having a different perspective on your product. And that's not all. There's a lot of other benefits here. Let's look into a few of these with some popular statistics that are published online Increased brand awareness. If we go in number here and let me just go back a little bit about these various benefits, number one takes authenticity to the next level. Number two acts as a trust signal. Number three is cost effective. Number four helps increase conversions. Number five helps to diversify your content. Number six is going to be increased brand awareness. In fact, the data shows UGC can help businesses increase brand awareness by up to 80%. In other words, you can both get your brand in front of a wider audience and make it more memorable with this type of content, which can lead to increased brand awareness and consideration. Now, brand awareness isn't just about social media, as I discuss in my book when I will talk about the funnel of digital relationships. You'll have to wait for the book to be published to read all about that. Search engines also play an important role in brand awareness and while I want to focus on the social media marketing aspects of UGC in this chapter and on this podcast episode, its potential contribution to improving SEO should also be noted. In fact, one data point suggests that 25% of search results for the world's biggest brands are linked to UGC. This shows that UGC can help you to improve your search engine ranking, both for your branded content as well as for brand mentions. When people search for products or services related to your brand now they are more likely to find UGC about your products. Think in terms of reviews, blog posts, etc. In fact, this reminds me of one of my first social media agency clients. We did a mommy blogger influencer campaign driven by the desire for the marketing team to see more search results appear when looking for their product Brand awareness in SERPs, not in social media. Equally important, let's get back to the other social media marketing benefits of UGC along the lines of the marketing funnel. So, number seven increased social media following. 78% of consumers are more likely to follow a brand on social media if they see UGC. Nobody likes a boring feed. Ugc can help to attract new followers on social media by showing people what other people are saying about your brand and its products or services, and showing it in an engaging way. Number eight increased social media engagement. The average UGC post generates 6.9 times more engagement than a brand created post, and social campaigns that integrate UGC experience a 50% increase in engagement. Those are two different data points. Ugc is simply more likely to be commented on, liked and shared than brand created content. This obviously can help to increase your engagement on social media. In fact, ugc is 2.4 times more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content. If the raison d'etre your reason for being on social media is viral, spread, viral, inciting of word of mouth, you can see how UGC greatly improves those odds. Benefit number nine increased trust, credibility and social proof. Now, this sort of summarizes a lot of what I talked about earlier, but UGC is extremely effective at enhancing social proof because, number one, it is authentic, incredible, created by real people, not by the brand itself. This makes it more believable and trustworthy than traditional marketing messages. Second, it is social. Ugc is often shared on social media, where people are more likely to see it and be influenced by it. Right? The third point is it is relevant. Ugc is often specific to the product or service being advertised. This makes it more relevant to the target audience, more likely to be seen as helpful and, lastly, it is engaging. Ugc is often visually appealing and interesting to read. This makes it more likely to be shared and interacted with, and the stats prove this 92% of consumers trust organic, user generated content or online reviews more than they trust traditional advertising. This is a stat that has been repurposed for UGC online, but I think it's a stat that we should all be familiar with. Another data point 82% of consumers believe that UGC is more authentic than other types of marketing content. 70% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after reading a positive online review and 88% of consumers are more likely to trust a company that uses UGC, and the net net of all of this is that consumers are more likely to believe what their peers say about a product or service than what a brand says about itself. This undoubtedly will help to build trust and credibility with consumers. The 10th benefit and I'll stop soon is increased sales. 70% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product after reading a positive UGC review. There's more data here that explains how UGC can help increase sales 58% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that uses UGC on their website, and another study that suggested that UGC is 20% more influential in affecting purchasing decisions than all other media types. These are some pretty powerful statistics here. Ugc can help to persuade consumers to make a purchase by showing them real world examples of how other people have used and enjoyed a product or service. When people see UGC about your products on your website, they are more likely to buy them. When they see UGC in social media, they are more likely to buy them. This reminds me of someone who mentioned, when I asked them if they were using TikTok or not, said that their daughter taught them to always check UGC content on TikTok before deciding on purchasing a product. In fact, my own children are a testament to the fact that they are doing this. So this is how having UGC or not having UGC can indirectly and directly affect sales in the long run. And last but not least this is the 11th point this might be my favorite is that it helps develop relationships. The act of sourcing and publishing UGC will help you develop more relationships with more social media users that matter Influencers, content creators, customers, fans and, in the case of B2B UGC partners and I'll talk about B2B in a second even employees. If you reimagine social media not as another advertising channel to blatantly promote, but as the ultimate public square to develop relationships with people that matter and enjoy the marketing benefits of UGC that I just talked about, you can begin to truly adjust your social media marketing for a new digital first approach. This is why we are here, and this is why you should be taking UGC more seriously to compliment, if not replace, as much as possible your own social media content if you want to have a more effective social media strategy in the complex digital landscape of today. Now, before we get to my practical UGC strategy recommendations, I want to challenge this concept that businesses must always be creating their own content for their own social media profiles. Yes, your social media profile is a type of owned content, but we need to get back to the original intent of social media, that raison d'etrée that I talked about, the reason for being, which was to encourage the potentially viral spread of word of mouth about our products and company. Remember the old, early days of Facebook pages? Right, we all know that, for a variety of reasons, though, it is nearly impossible today to generate any word of mouth using our own content or by paying to advertise. The question, therefore, that I want to ask you is why is your company investing in so many resources to keep turning that hamster wheel of content that businesses feels necessary to have an optimal social media presence? Think if you could convert that hamster wheel of creation content to a hamster wheel of developing relationships with customers, with fans, with influencers, with content creators. Now, the need to have a social media presence is not in question here. If you remember that episode on the SES framework, social being the third S, the second S, I should say, in the three character SES acronym, is one of the three main components in which we need to engage. There are many ways to engage in it, however, and I want to suggest that you're creating endless blatant or semi promotional content. In trying to maintain an editorial calendar of frequent publishing can begin to easily cost your business a lot of money without showing direct social media ROI. This is the struggle that most businesses have with their social media presence, unless they consider an extension of their PR efforts or only have the objective of generating both brand awareness and credibility. Social media in the funnel of digital relationships is a great way of achieving brand awareness, but my question is does it have to come at the expense of our own content and resources? Now, some of you who have seen me speak might have seen a slide where I talk about this story, because I've been talking about it for a while, but I think it is extremely relevant to this conversation. This is an example that illustrates the points I've been talking about. That comes a decade ago, from Disneyland, as they were embarking on creating their Instagram profile back in 2013, but, believe me, it is as relevant as anything to this conversation today. I will put a link in the show notes, because I am basically going to read a section from an article that was published on Huffington Post. It was called the Year of the Instagram, so if you do a search, you'll find it. Nevertheless, I want to speak word to word about Disney, specifically Disney Resorts, and why they decided, and how they decided to leverage user-generated content for their Instagram profile. So, in considering an Instagram strategy. Disney Resorts analyzed how its guests were engaging through the channel. The social team found that the quality of the photos far exceeded what they'd seen through other user-generated content channels. Many of the photos were clearly the work of professionals, but even the amateur photographers that were publishing content on Instagram were producing content worthy of the Disney brand. To put it into Disney terms, it was nothing short of magical. Disney Resorts also realized it couldn't hope to compete with the combined force and creativity of its highly engaged follower base. To scale an original Instagram strategy of that magnitude would require tremendous resources, and it could never match the authenticity of guests capturing and sharing their Disney experiences in the moment. As such, the Disney social team decided to crowdsource the entire Disneyland Instagram feed from its guests a 100% UGC strategy consisting of re-gramming or reposting of the best guest photos. Now the initial challenge and a challenge that some of you may have after listening to this episode or reading this chapter in my upcoming book is the legal department. How could a brand so conscious of trademark issues utilize user-generated content for its Instagram feed? The answer was simple, actually, they asked guests for permission. Disney implemented a clear and efficient approval process that takes place entirely within Instagram. It starts with a DM, a question, maybe a link, and a signature or a verbal textual. Okay, this is going to depend on the requirements of your legal department. But what Disney did was, through the comments, they asked for permission to re-gram a guest photo. When the guest's comments came back with an explicit confirmation, disney re-grams the photo with proper attribution. Disney announced the strategy in May of 2013 on its Facebook page. At the time, it had fewer than 70,000 Instagram followers. The following day, disney fans posted more than 13,000 photos with the Disneyland hashtag, a 40% lift from the previous day. Since then, and this is six months later, the Disneyland Instagram audience has grown by 360% to more than 250,000 followers At the time. What's more, the photos posted to the Disneyland Instagram feed received an average rate of engagement of 10.3%, which at the time was more than twice that of any other major brand on Instagram and 10x greater than what they were getting on any other social platform. And yet Disney Resorts has never taken or shared a single original photo Ten years later, and 100% of the Disneyland Instagram content is still UGC. Now you probably want to ask me what if my brand is not nearly as popular as Disneyland or I am in an industry where people just don't share information about our company on social media. Let's first look more deeply at the main types of UGC content that exist to begin to answer that question, which I will answer in full momentarily Now. Ugc takes many forms, each of which can be leveraged in more than one way above and beyond social media. But let's first focus on the three major types that can be leveraged for social media, just to make sure that we're all on the same page as to what constitutes user-generated content. I begin with product reviews and testimonials. There is no better way to leverage UGC than through actual reviews of your product or through customer testimonials. After all, potential customers can learn how awesome your product is. In addition, reviewers will often tell readers what problems the product helped them solve. If applicable, you can post reviews in many different places, from a link on your website to an excerpt and advertising. For maximum results, try to get product reviews from a variety of user types, if applicable. This category includes everything from a simple review on Yelp or Google my Business all the way to prepared statements on your website. It could also happen in social media. Reviews influence consumers by providing social proof, often sway in their decision-making process. As mentioned before, that's because people like to hear a less biased opinion about how well your products perform. Customer reviews are some of the most important tools to convert the curious into customers. After all, when there are several options available for customers, they want to know what product or service will work best for them, and they are often going to be searching for information on the internet, including social media. Leveraging UGC will help customers see themselves using your product rather than your competitors. Using your product line reviews can help consumers choose the right alternative. People might also produce these testimonials or reviews for their blogs, youtube podcasts or social media accounts. I talked about user reviews, less even-handed than user reviews. Even a short testimony can go a long way. The main difference between a review and a testimonial is that the former can discuss both strengths and weaknesses of your product, while testimonials are a type of user-generated content that is exclusively positive. Nobody gives a testimony for a product they consider to be flawed right User reviews. Testimonials form one type of user-generated content, one major type. A second major type, I would say, are experiences shared in social media. This is the most commonly known type and probably the most powerful type of UGC Photos, videos, sometimes text shared by users on social media platforms that showcase their experiences with a brand or product that aren't complete and formal product reviews. These experiences influence others and hopefully help people make the right decisions about buying your product or service, but at the least improving or increasing brand awareness in the community of the person publishing the UGC content. Note that this type of UGC also includes those by influencers, brand ambassadors, as well as, potentially, customers that have been incentivized through gifting or other means, which I'm going to talk about in a moment. It is important and I'll just mention this once in this podcast episode. It is important to be aware of FTC guidelines or whatever guidelines your country has for compliant influencer marketing, guidelines that are getting more strict over time. When working with influencers or even brand ambassadors or customers, just make sure that you are aware that anytime there is an incentive to publish content about your brand, there probably needs to be some sort of disclosure made. The third major type of UGC content I would classify as contests and giveaways, where people are encouraged to tag friends, post photos about your product, etc. Etc. You can create a hashtag contest to encourage the creation of user-generated content centered on a product or campaign. Usually you'll have a campaign-based or product-specific hashtag. You've already coined some advice I'm going to give separately in a moment For smaller brands. Anything that's brand specific can work well. Here. You'll give out some prizes, products, swag or a combination thereof to some lucky winners A nice way to give people some recognition. Now, obviously, contests and giveaways are not limited to hashtag contests, but they are one of the most effective ways to generate lots of UGC content in a short period of time. Now that you understand these three most popular types of UGC that exist, let's go through different scenarios and how to implement user-generated content for your social media content strategy. If you're a consumer brand with lots of customers, fans, you have tons of social media engagement. It is going to be by far the easiest for you to implement. You can feel free to fast forward to where I talk about how to get UGC or, obviously, when reading the book, you can skip to the next section in this chapter, but I think it is already intuitive as to how you are going to be able to source that content. Stay tuned for more ideas about it. Now let's say you are a startup consumer brand or you just don't have lots of customers or fans, of social media engagement. You basically need to increase customers and or seed the market with your products. This can be done effectively through influence or gifting, hiring UGC content creators or even seeing if there are any employees that can assist in the effort of user-generated content creation. More on employees and other options in a second. Now I want to talk at length about B2B brands, because you may offer a service and not a tangible product, and you might still be shaking your head saying I don't see how this applies to me, so I get it. It is not as intuitive as having a UGC creator develop an Instagrammable image or TikTok video review in your product. But no worries, the same principles of UGC, I believe, apply equally to B2Bs, but how it is implemented and the content mediums might be different. Now, while not a traditional B2B industry, let me give you an example of the advice that I gave a group of realtors or real estate agents recently. Bear with me as I try to describe the visuals that I displayed on the screen at the time. Now I'm going to talk about getting testimonials and leveraging them for UGC. Obviously, an online review is one type of UGC, but getting a personal testimonial in a visual format can reap benefits not just for realtors, but for B2B brands as well, especially when salespeople are engaged in social selling at their company and meeting with clients in real life. Now, as you can imagine, and as I mentioned before, testimonials are one of the best ways to increase social proof for your business. When potential customers see others talking about how great your products or services are, they are more likely to trust you. You can collect testimonials in a wide variety of ways, but if you meet them in real life and take a picture or shoot a quick video, that might be the easiest way to get that testimonial, as I'll explain here Now. When I presented this, I said in the title slide make every sale a customer testimonial, and I went through a series of images that I saw agents posting on Instagram and giving them advice on how they could be further improving, leveraging that user-generated content, which was a customer testimonial. So I began with someone who used a review user-generated content from a third-party website and it's basically a big quote, using an approved format, of that third-party website, almost like you'd have a red and white square quote with a Yelp logo if this was B2C. So this was a customer testimonial, in the background was a visual of the city which that realtor represented, but it was basically a big quote with a little logo of that third-party site. Now the next example was a customer testimonial with the photo of the realtor. So it was a quote and a person's photo Immediately. A photo of a person makes this testimonial more engaging, I should say as UGC. The next example was someone that said they just sold this house. They had a picture of the house, basically said congratulations, but that said it was a picture of a house and you said that you just sold the house. Now we can take that one step further. I think you see where I'm going with this, where we're getting more visual because instead of a quote, we're showing the actual property that was sold. We go one step further and we have an image of the property that sold together with an image of the realtor. In this case the realtor was using a default footer image with a phone number, but at least now we have a person together with the photo of the house, which I think is going to be more engaging, although the picture is somewhat of a stock photo. Now we have another example of a house that was sold, but also a story that says it sold, because the caption talks about finding a new home for a newlywed couple and next to the house in the Instagram post was an image of the two getting married. The story talks about the house being sold and it features the people that actually bought the house. That is an example of a story saying it sold. The next image I showed was of the two people that bought a house with big smiles on their faces, which basically proves that it was sold in the office of the agent, together with a little logo of the agent that represented them. The picture shows that it was sold. It's not a quote, not a picture of a house, but of actual people with grooming smiles. We have another one where we have a family of four in a house with a backdrop from the realtor. I guess this was probably taken in the realtor's office. Once again, smiling family of four. The picture showing that it sold the caption. Going into more details, we have another one where the couple that bought the house actually held up a prop of the realtor agent with a little cut through, a cut out in the middle where they put their faces. Once again, the picture is showing that it sold and it features the hero of the story, which are the people that bought the house. We have another one that I thought was the best although I thought it could even be further improved which was of the agent standing next to the person that bought the house. Then the person who bought the house actually held up a prop that said sold and had her name on it her name and then first house, with a beaming smile. This is an amazing customer testimonial, right there. Then the testimonial was in the caption. Now I told everybody in the room I thought the more ideal one was you together with the customer that bought the house, but putting that caption as a quote in the text at the bottom of the image so that people didn't have to read the caption in order to see the testimonial. Then it all comes together. You have the testimonial, you have the picture, you're together with the buyer, the happy customer, and then the happy customer is also brave enough or willing to hold up your prop. I think you begin to see creatively. I mentioned this because, as mentioned before, customer reviews and testimonials are one of the three big types of user-generated content, assuming that you're not, as a B2B brand, going to be doing contests or giveaways. You can see how this just might become the most important type of content I know for realtors. It is huge and I believe any B2B brand can learn and be creative with testimonials, with customer reviews. In a same way, this is one type of content with some creativity that B2B brands can definitely leverage. There's another type of content that could be a powerful source of UGC for B2B companies that Bear is mentioning here. This is because user-generated content doesn't just come from customers in a B2B setting. They can often come from employees in the form of employee-generated content, a type of UGC that is not exclusive to B2B companies by the well could come from B2Cs as well. Now, as I have discussed a decade ago, when I wrote Maximize your Social, your employees that are active on social media can make a significant impact in amplifying your social media presence. Obviously, content that they produce becomes an invaluable type of UGC, but, depending on how large your company is, you might literally have an army of nano-influencers waiting to be activated. Let me explain. Online data points to the average CEO having 930 LinkedIn connections. There is no accurate data as to the medium number of connections that an average employee might have, but let's say, for the purpose of this chapter or podcast episode, that an average employee has about 250 connections. That means a company's brand has an opportunity to get in front of those connections through its employees whenever an employee posts content about the brand. But if a company has just 100 employees and only 10% are involved with creating employee-generated content, that is still 10 additional people creating and sharing on behalf of the company to their connections. That means that EGC about the company can be seen by different social connections and exponentially help brand visibility grow. The collective reach of a company's employees, therefore, will often surpass that of its brand. If we do the math, that's 10 employees, each employee having 250 connections. That is potentially well 2,500 people that could be reached with every post, whereas a brand that only has 100 employees on LinkedIn might not have that many company page followers. That's only if 10 of your employees, depending on your industry, a lot more of your employees might be more active on LinkedIn with a higher average number of connections. This is not to mention the added benefit of being able to share that EGC on your own branded socials. Now I'll say and you can go back and listen to my podcast episode on employer branding, which is episode number 284, actually published about a year ago. What is employer branding and why is it important to marketers? But often EGC efforts in B2B companies are tied into employer branding, where sometimes entire social media channels are created and dedicated to this effort. Two examples that you can look at if you're not familiar with this are Microsoft Life and we Are Cisco on Instagram. In fact, egc efforts have become so mainstream at larger B2B enterprises that LinkedIn not sure if you knew this or not actually have a new type of ad called the Thought Leader ad, which allows companies to boost posts from their employees and publish them in their own feed as EGC. Brilliant, right. So if you want to go this direction, I mean, keep listening, but make sure you reread chapter 7 of the Age of Influence the Employee as Influencer. So what are some other types of UGC that B2B brands can leverage? You might ask, above and beyond what I've already talked about, what about live events? According to study by Bizibo, a leading event marketing software company, b2b companies spend an average of 29% of their marketing budget on events. It is a huge source of leads for brands and a great way to reengage with their customers. B2b brands can foster the creation of Instagramable UGC by how they approach live events. From visibility that comes from sponsorship to creative swag, interactive booths that cry out to be photographed, to inviting customers and even influencers, both internal and external, to your events, either as a comp attendee or even speaker. These are all great ways to generate user-generated content. Now, while this is before social media, I'm reminded of when I was in charge of China sales for a Japanese semiconductor manufacturer called Rome that's ROHM, if you were curious. As we were trying to build brand awareness, we exhibited annually at the major semiconductor exhibitions that took place in Beijing and Shanghai. Part of our strategy was swag, and not something trivial like a pen or mouse pad, but a large carrying bag, knowing that attendees were probably receiving catalogs and samples from a number of booths. Now, this large carrying bag was heavily branded and we would also give out our own product catalog inside it. Remember, this was before the advent of the internet, if you were wondering, by the end of the day, almost everyone who attended the conference was slinging a Rome carrying bag, because it was the biggest and sturdiest that was being handed out. If only social media existed back then, one can only imagine the volume of UGC that we could have generated. I almost cry thinking about that. But let's fast forward back to today. What about casual images and videos of customers? Now, you don't need to wait for a live event in order to foster UGC creation. If you're a B2B brand, any interaction you have with any customer at your office or in an employee like a sales person is meeting with one in person gives you the opportunity to grab a selfie and or a video that your customer just might post as well. Even if they don't post it, you still have quasi-UGC content which shows your employees, together with your customers, humanizing your brand and increasing social proof. Now, reviews are also important in B2B right. They help potential customers learn more about your products and make informed buying decisions, just like they do for consumers. You should be encouraging your customers to leave you reviews, which, in the B2B space, are often on third-party sites such as G2, captera, getup and TrustRadius, to name a few. Should they review there, ask them to cut and paste and publish that same review on their social media? Now, even if they don't publish in the social media, you still have a public review on a third-party site that you can repurpose and publish on your social media profile as UGC content, like in the example of those realtors. Now, b2b brands often have case studies, case studies being a more in-depth look at how your products or services have helped other businesses. They can be a great way to demonstrate the value of your offering and show potential customers how you help them achieve their goals. Now, using case studies for UGC marketing is obviously most useful on LinkedIn and in the B2B space. Now why you might not think of these studies as UGC? They do qualify because users report their successes, although usually they are created, obviously as part of a collaboration with the brand B2B Influencer Marketing. Now, in addition to everything else for B2B brands, we have guest blog posts, which we then share on social media. Guest blog posts are a great way to have your customers and partners share their experiences and expertise with potential customers. Your customers and partners can write blog posts by industry trends, best practices or their own experiences with your products or services. Now, evernote is a great example of this. Their blog includes categories for both customer stories as well as those from Evernote experts who might be considered their brand ambassadors. We also have podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to connect on a more personal level with all the people that we hinted at you can collaborate with in creating UGC employees, customers and influencers. You can interview experts in your industry, have employees share stories about your business or simply chat with your customers. Every podcast episode can become a piece of UGC content. While we see a lot of these types of branded UGC podcasts in the B2B space, a great model for this is actually an iconic consumer brand, jack Daniels, who hosts a podcast called Around the Barrel, which generates engaging UGC content with every episode that could be utilized in social media that you should definitely check out as a reference point. All right, we've come a long way. I want to end this podcast with tactical advice on how to get UGC, because hopefully, you're bought in and are ready to get started or expand your UGC efforts Now. I've created a checklist of things you can do to encourage the creation of more UGC from everyone all around you. Let's begin with the easiest way to source UGC for any company. Number one ask your employees. Remember my description of employee generated content. It's time to put ideas into action. Remember, your employees are your biggest fans. Asking them to share photos or videos of themselves using your products or services or from an employer branding perspective. Just experience working at your company, in the office, whether it is physical or remote. Number two once again, any company can do this and this might be counterintuitive, but use social media listening tools. These tools can help you track mentions of your brand on social media. This can help you identify potential UGC that you can use that might already exist without you knowing it. This happens a lot. An overwhelming majority of social media posts about brands are untagged, so unless you're looking deeply at your notifications, you might miss them. Sometimes they don't mention the brand at all in the case of visual content, like on Instagram. So check out my preferred tool to get started with social listening, a tool called Brand24. You can get a free, 14-day free trial by going to neilchafercom. We'll put that in show notes as well. So the above that I just mentioned, these two no-brainer activities that any company should be doing in addition to those I am going to mention now. Now I'm going to divide this into those that have a pretty robust customer base and those that don't. To keep it simple, knowing that you come from all different types of businesses, types of industries, different phases in your marketing Now we're at number three remind customers everywhere to use your branded hashtag to be featured on your social media feeds. You begin by creating a dedicated branded hashtag. This is a simple and effective way to collect UGC. Create a hashtag for your brand and encourage your customers to use it when posting photos or videos of your products or services. If people like your stuff, they should know. You'd love to include them in your social media to that and publicize your branded hashtag everywhere, even on your product, and encourage people to use it. Finally, you might want to state on your social media profile that the use of the tag grants the company permission to use or republish the content, and that will help automate your sourcing of UGC. You can even include a bitly link to any legalese regarding this that your legal department might request, or you can do what Disneyland did, which is go out of your way to get explicit permission through comments. There's more than one way to do this. It really comes down to the requirements of your legal department, so make sure you keep them in the loop. Number four motivate customers to create UGC. So sometimes what I mentioned before alone might not yield results, as it takes time. Now, if you have a really loyal customer base, this is almost a no-brainer. By saying things like support our business by leaving a review, or we really enjoy pictures of people using our product, people can get inspired, and there's other ways of motivating customers as well. I want to share with you a personal story the time that California Pizza Kitchen liked a post that I did on Instagram about a sangria flight that I was in joining with my wife at a local CPK here in Irvine, california. While they didn't need to motivate me to create that UGC, they're engaging with me, and my UGC surely motivates me to mention them more in my content. In a similar way, for some, getting involved in an online community of sharing with others can be a significant encouragement by itself, especially in an era where there's less interpersonal and seemingly more parasocial connection. That was deep, wasn't it All right? Number five incentivize customers to create UGC. So you have a branded hashtag. You try to motivate customers. Sometimes, simple encouragement and free motivation methods aren't enough. In this case, consider incentives or rewards for additional motivation. If you need more UGC, an easy option is a discount code or an opportunity to get a little bit of swag. After all, free stuff is often fun stuff and, as we know, people love to get both. Just make sure that whatever you offer is something they'll want. One brand that comes to mind that I spoke about at social media marketing world many years ago is a Southern California sports bar called Barney's Beanery. That had a program where if people checked in at the time we had four square, but also on Facebook and Instagram to the location of one of the sports bars, they would receive points and they get enough points, they would get a free you know, $10, $20 gift card for the sports bar. So you can be creative, but a little bit of incentive can go a long way and at the time when you checked in, that would often be shared as part of your feed, right, so that was usually generated content as well. The check-in. Don't see as much of that anymore, but it still might be valid as well for those local brick and mortar establishments that are listening to this podcast or reading my book in the future. Number six established brand ambassadors. We can formalize how we incentivize customers by creating a more exclusive program for those customers that we handpick for their content and online influence. As you build a following on social media, look for customers who are passionate about your brand and have a strong online presence. Typically, they interact with both your content and the UGC surrounding it. Often, they'll discuss your brand on their own profiles. Now, these individuals might be great brand ambassadors. In a formal capacity, ambassadors create and share content, promote your brand and help build trust with their followers. Usually, this is a long-term relationship rather than just a one-off collaboration, like you often see with influencer marketing campaigns. Customers contribute to UGC marketing in multiple ways. First, they produce branded content and post it on their social media, which you can obviously repost as well. Second, they help build trust between your brand and potential followers. And finally, often brand ambassadors see their personal brand as growing with yours. A good role model here is Princess Polly, the current default choice for prom dresses, at least here in Southern California, at my daughter's high school, they have a brand ambassador program focused on college students, their target demographic, and, in addition to other perks, they give their college ambassadors an opportunity to be featured on their website when using the hashtag Polly on campus. Number seven. Going back to the reviews, ask your customers for reviews. I'm going to repeat myself here, but obviously reviews provide valuable information, create social proof and influence consumers purchasing choices. Now, depending on the forum, many people are quite happy to generate reviews and a simple reminder is enough. You can also offer a small incentive. The key is that most people won't create social media UGC from a review, as these are often left on third-party websites, if not your own. So you'll want to ask customers to cut and paste a third-party review into a social media post with a selfie and tag your brand for optimal effect, even if very few people go this extra step of posting it to social media. You've already reap the huge benefit of sourcing more reviews for your brand, which you could also repurpose into UGC on your profile. Now, number eight is related to the reviews, is Collect and Showcase Testimonials, which brings us back to the realtor example that I showcased. Now, while reviews are often posted on third-party websites, a testimonial can be a simple reply to an email. They could be requesting a testimonial on social media using your branded hashtag or taking a picture together. Should you meet in person, like at events, be creative in how you can repurpose that testimonial for your social media content, as I talked about with that realtor example. Now, if you're a startup or your company doesn't have as many customers as you might like, you might have been jealous hearing me talk about the many ways that you can source UGC from your customers. Not the fear, as these next group of solutions can help any company, regardless of how many or few customers that you might have. So number nine is run a branded hashtag campaign. This is another great UGC marketing technique. Hashtags encourage users to participate in conversations, share content and engage with the brand. They also show up as a category that can be searched. Done right. Your hashtag campaign can deliver a lot of brand awareness. At the same time, they let people share their content so that everyone sees it. You won't have to do much else to get results, but it all comes down to how you design or structure that branded hashtag campaign and then, obviously, how you promote it, which often will include some sort of paid component, especially if you're a startup with few customers and with a very, very small email list. So these are big brand examples, but share a Coke by Coca-Cola and like a girl by always are these classic examples of campaigns that boosted brand engagement and brand awareness? The hashtags both promote discussions about the brand and for the always campaign, the hashtag foster discussions about what it means to be female and deal with everyday struggles If your startup has a broader mission as to why you exist, why you are creating, manufacturing or providing the products and services that you do. You'll want to create a branded hashtag campaign that taps into your corporate mission, that gets people talking about it and that can become a very, very powerful one, along the lines of these other hashtag campaigns that I mentioned. Number 10, run contests and giveaways. Contests and giveaways are a great way to encourage people to create and share UGC. When people enter a contest or giveaway, instruct people to tag your brand in the post, which obviously will help to increase your reach and make you aware of all the wonderful UGC content that is being created all around you. Please, though, make sure you follow the rules that every social media platform has about contests, and every platform does have very, very specific rules about contests and giveaways and what is and isn't allowed. Number 11, partner with influencers. Influencers obviously have a large following of engaged users. Partnering with them can help you reach a wider audience with your UGC. Influencer content, as we know, can drive sales by increasing brand exposure, building trust and helping you reach new potential customers. For instance, a lot of people might benefit from your products and services, but just might not be aware of what you have to offer. This is often true in the consumer product space. So, to leverage influencer marketing, you'll partner with influencers who align with your brand values and have a strong connection with your target audience. Before you begin, make sure that you choose your target audience carefully, especially if your brand has a wide appeal, and note that choosing the wrong influencer can spell disaster. But, with that said, the right person can help you skyrocket sales and amplify your sales funnel. People listen to influencers who gain that status by giving great advice. Some influencers also have star power, such as sports figures. If you want to go deeper into influencer marketing for user-generated content, please make sure you pick up a copy of the Age of Influence, and I think that will be the best advice that I could give you. All right, number 12. This is going to be the last one I'm going to be talking about higher UGC content creators. Now I'm going to have a dedicated chapter all about freelancers and freelance marketplaces to help fulfill your digital first marketing needs. But between Fiverr and Upwork alone, there are literally thousands of UGC content creators that you can engage with and hire, and I already did the search for you. You're welcome, all right. So that's 12 different ways. Any company, regardless of industry or size, or how many or how few customers you have, can begin the process of sourcing more UGC and making it a higher portion of the social media content that you publish. So now you're asking, neil, I'm starting to get lots of UGC, what's next? So, if you've bought into my message so far, the most important thing you can do now is to promote your UGC and use it to slowly replace, or at least complement, your branded social media content. Now, in conclusion, the point of this chapter and this podcast episode is to encourage you to post more UGC and less of your own content on social media to reap the benefits of having a social media presence. That being said, beyond your own social media posts, another business benefit that I want to remind you of is the ability to potentially lower expenses and increase conversions by utilizing UGC in your advertising Another key benefit outside of just social media but wait, there is more. Why not use UGC wherever you have touchpoints with your present or potential customers as a digital thread? Ugc can be used everywhere, including your website, email marketing and even your offline marketing materials. So hopefully, as I conclude this chapter and this podcast episode, you have begun to reimagine your social media in a way that is more aligned with how social media is naturally used today, and I hope that this can become a powerful part of your digital first marketing strategy. The benefits go far beyond just social media and will enhance your marketing and business on a number of fronts. Now one final note in closing there are many brands who still want to maintain their brand story via their own content on their social media. Sometimes the UGC, curated, it still cannot express certain things that the brand feels compelled to tell. Now, this is the reason why I have another chapter following this on social media, on optimizing your social, which will be all about transforming your message into authentically social content. Together with UGC, they will both revolutionize and exponentially multiply the impact that your social media content will have. Wow, that was a long solo episode. I've done a few long solo episodes and I was reading that you know how long will a or how many words go into a 20 minute episode? I read somewhere it was like 3,000 words. Well, this came off of a 6,300 word script, which obviously is going to be repurposing to becoming one of the chapters, but I hope that you enjoyed this and that it actually sparked interest in my upcoming book as well. This is one of 19 chapters, so hopefully you begin to see the direction that I'm going with my book title to be determined I've yet to announce public launch or pre-sell of it. I've yet to decide my publisher, but I hope to be deciding on those things in the next few weeks and if you would like to become part of the book, if you have a story to share, a case study to share, a quote, I urge you to reach out to me, neil, at neilshaffercom. I am actually looking to source case studies, as I did for the Age of Influence, and I really want to make you my podcast listener. This is my own way of generated, user generated content. I want to make you part of my book writing process. So reach out to me, neil, at neilshaffercom, go to neilshaffercom or find me neilshaffer anywhere on social media. I am the real Neil and the ALSCHAFFER. I am also your digital marketing coach and I want to thank you for tuning into another episode. Make sure you hit that subscribe button. I'll be back at you next week and until then, this is your digital marketing coach, neil Schaefer, signing off.
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