With the proliferation of social media as a result of the yearly increasing internet penetration rate, denoted by an estimated high of 82.41% in 2020, Singapore’s media consumption has drastically changed. Lifestyle changes, coupled with the increasing number of social media platforms available, has led to more conversations moving online. Consequently, these behavioral shifts have impacted the way users view and create user-generated content (UGC) – the Global 2020 Cloudinary UGC Study showed that 58% of respondents published more content in 2020 as compared to the previous year. As a result, consumers’ already audible online voice is amplified as they feel more compelled to share their lives online, giving them more power in affecting brand equity. This fact has not gone unnoticed by businesses, with many rapidly digitalising their content and marketing strategies.
This increased activity on social media by both businesses and consumers, has made the public more aware and educated about the way brands employ digital marketing strategies. Now, a common problem faced by brands is the increasing ‘authenticity gap’ between them and the consumer, with many failing to bridge the gap between the portrayed and perceived. So how can your brand elevate their social media marketing through leveraging on UGC – moving from ‘telling’ consumers your brand message to getting your consumers ‘talking’ and creating conversations about your brand?
What is User-Generated Content?
In short, UGC is created by your stakeholders – which could either be internal or external, or by groups or individuals that are familiar or unfamiliar with your brand. These could be posted on various social media platforms, and through different forms, such as text, image, and videos.
Harnessing User-Generated Content
A good understanding of your target audience is vital in curating an appropriate UGC strategy. Start by identifying consumers’ receptivity and perception of your brand. Based on your campaign objectives, map out the approach – would it be to Attract, Engage, or Bond with your target audience?
Thereafter, create talking points in the community. This could be through social media takeovers, competitions, or relatable hashtags. In relation to approach, certain modes would have a higher efficacy in reaching your audience. For example, to Attract consumers with a lack of brand awareness, utilising competitions to illicit interaction and response would prove to be more effective than that of trending hashtags. Together with Singapore Management University (SMU), we sought to Attract and Engage prospective students through partnering with existing students for social media takeovers. The result was a greater level of authenticity, which helped the brand create meaningful and lasting connections with potential students.
With UGC, there is also an element of timeliness. Depending on several factors, determine if the viral content is a plausible conversational point for your brand. A way for your brand to stay abreast of trends and consumer sentiments, allowing it to remain relevant and top-of-mind, is through social listening. Explore how we have helped MARIGOLD derive key consumer insights with the use of social listening here.
Nurturing User-Generated Content
Just sparking online traction through UGC in a one-off effort is not enough – it needs to be continuous. There is no denying the fact that the amount of brand-related UGC is correlated with the level of brand affinity and consumer advocacy between the brand and the consumer.
Social media has made the cultivation of brand communities easier, though not many realise its importance. The presence and activeness of these communities reflect the strength of the brand affinity built. This allows for easier multilateral brand-and-consumer conversations, taking the relationship from transactional to relational. A way of measuring the strength of your brand community is through Q&A sessions, which effectively and efficiently provides you an opportunity to respond to real-time queries, while also providing a better understanding of your customers. To discern if live video marketing should be incorporated in your brand strategy, read our article on the topic here.
Additionally, community management is essential in growing your brand community, subsequently leading to potential organic UGC creation. By monitoring and actively responding, your brand takes a customer-first approach – leading them to feel like valued members within your community. By promoting this attitude, it reduces the barriers and friction that may prevent consumers in posting brand-related UGC.
What is next?
To maintain your edge over your competitors, consistent periodic tracking of your KPIs are necessary. By quantifying the results of your UGC strategy, your brand is better able to determine its ROI on the tactics employed. With these milestones, you would be better able to adapt and take actionable steps, re-strategizing for more effective and efficient marketing campaigns.
Brands need to recognise that it is easier to harness and nurture new or existing relationships with consumers, than it is to reach out to lost customers that may feel as if their needs were unmet or if the experience with the brand was unsatisfactory.
Not sure how UGC fits into your branding strategy? Contact us today!.