Build your UGC program as deliberately as your comprehensive marketing strategy. To do that, consider the field’s best practices for acquiring content—what’s been tried, tested, and improved upon along the way.
Step 1: Campaign For and With UGC
Acquiring UGC should allow you a more controlled way of matching brand- referencing material to your campaigns, but that’s only true if you have integrated a plan for UGC into your comprehensive marketing strategy.
To acquire brand-referencing content from your audience, campaign for it. Then, employ it across your larger marketing campaigns and initiatives.
Plan out all of the programs you are going to utilize as part of your overall marketing strategy. Determine how they balance and feed into each other. While developing goals and key attributes for your marketing mix, consider how they will extend to and be supported by UGC campaigns.
Step 2: Pull the Trigger
To stand up a UGC program that is designed to solicit and acquire content from a specific audience, you will need to determine what action will prompt your audience. What will be your trigger for content?
Assess the mediums and channels that will connect with your audience. A well-rounded portfolio of prompts will lead to the most effective program.
A trigger needs to do more than instigate a reaction—it needs to invite consumers to connect with your brand. Email, text, and retargeted online campaigns are prime real estate for asking consumers to provide you with their insight into your brand, products, and services. Social media promotions, print and multi-media ads, and promotions positioned within your online and physical properties can all round out your acquisition approach.
Step 3: But, Pick the Right Time
There is no time like the present. But, make sure the present is the right time to pull the trigger. Timing can make or break the results of your content-acquisition plan. Why? It all comes down to your audience.
Let’s say your core audience happens to be adults between the ages of 25 and 45. A dominant percentage of that targeted age group will have an ever-present smartphone in hand for most of the day; however, will they—without a doubt—be in a position to follow through with an action on their phone between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.?
Likely, they will not. Chances are your core audience will be at work. If your brand’s prompt for content arrives during that time frame, it might be seen but quickly forgotten. Better to deliver a prompt during a time your audience will be able to engage.
Step 4: Say the Right Thing
After all this careful planning, you are in the right place, with the right people, at the right time. What do you want to say? What do you need to learn from your audience?
Carefully frame the conversation with your audience—it will determine the content you acquire for your program. The goal is to have your UGC program elicit exactly what you want to learn about your audience’s perspective on your brand, products, or services.
Give your audience a creative, but bookended, way of telling you their story. If you guide your audience toward a broad conversation, you will end up with a wide range of content that may not say anything specific—in whatever medium it takes shape. Content that is too broad will say very little that will feed your marketing campaigns.
By formulating what you want to learn from consumers, you can more effectively shape the prompts through which you acquire UGC from your audience. In turn, you can more easily feed the content you have acquired into your active marketing initiatives.
Step 5: Motivate the Conversation
The beauty of UGC is that it is authentic and compelling. If your audience is compensated for content will it affect he authenticity of the content?
Marketing is a conversation that occurs between a business and a consumer. While the relationship should have altruistic components, it is founded on the exchange of goods and services.
Incentivizing your content-acquisition campaigns will increase the likelihood of your audience following through with the conversation in which you are engaged. By demonstrating that your consumer’s time and insights are valuable, your brand has motivated its audience to share content.
There is a second benefit to adding an incentive to your acquisition process: The ability to glean essential information about your consumers. Who are your consumers? Where do they live, and what are they buying? When are they buying? All of this information can be captured through the process of granting an incentive.
Step 6: Moderate the Conversation
The most common question organizations have about brand-referencing content is, how are we going to determine what’s useable? The process for acquiring UGC may seem daunting, but the true goal is to make it suit the needs of your brand.
It is easier to immediately put UGC to work for your brand by building filters into the acquisition process. When you actively acquire content, you control the methods through which content is triggered and submitted, so you have the power to apply filters to your process.
The goal for your UGC program is the high-volume capture of useable content; that needs to be supported by the ability to conduct fast-paced moderation across your content. Determine the mediums, formats, and guidelines that will suit your campaign needs. This will go on to limit the amount of sorting that needs to be done once content has been acquired.
Once you have a viable selection of content for your UGC program, you should be able to easily curate the best material to suit the needs of your campaigns. If you have no early-stage filtering for your program, it is easy to spend a disproportionate amount of time manually sorting through the content you have acquired.