User-generated content campaigns are great for creating excitement and engagement among your audience. Brand engagement increases by an average of 28% when a user-generated content campaign is employed. They also increase conversions by 29%.
User-generated content campaigns can be highly effective in creating a buzz around your brand. When they’re done correctly, that is.
User-generated content campaigns can also fail spectacularly when they’re not handled correctly. This is a by-product of launching into campaigns that make use of user-generated content without fully understanding their strengths and weaknesses.
To help you make the most of your user-generated content campaigns, here are some things to avoid to make sure you make the most of your user-created content!
Things To Avoid In User-Generated Content Campaigns
Digital marketers are quick to jump on any trend in a bid to stay ahead of the curve. It’s only natural, considering how quickly that digital marketing strategies evolve. It can backfire when you don’t fully understand the format, however.
Simply adopting a new digital strategy like user-generated content campaigns without a clear understanding of its strengths and weaknesses can come across as trying to be “hip with the kids.” Kids (in this case, anyone under 55) tend to see right through marketing gimmicks.
Here are some things to avoid to make sure your user-generated content is as effective as it can be.
Not Telling Your Users What To Create
It’s tempting to just let your users operate like a team of marketing interns. They’ll churn out content for your brand, for free, and promote it to their social media networks.
Really stop and think about that for a moment, however. Would you turn over your brand’s marketing to a team of unpaid marketing interns with no direction or guidance?
50% of consumers want brands to tell them what to create. Only 16% actually do, however. Give your users some direction on what to create to make sure it falls in line with your branding and marketing goals.
Not Monitoring Your User-Generated Content Campaigns
Once it goes live, you’re essentially releasing your user-generated content campaigns into the wild. Things can grow and prosper in the wilderness. They can also stumble into a pit or step into a snare.
ANYONE can post anything when you don’t monitor your user-generated content campaigns. Consider the case of UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and their “North East Pride Awards.”
What was intended to help Northeastern Englanders take some pride in their heritage was quickly taken over by anti-Islamists. That’s not what they were hoping to achieve.
One way to avoid your content campaigns being taken over by trolls is monitoring submissions with apps like Web Purify. Web Purify monitors submissions for obscenities and hateful content in up to 15 languages.
Avoid Unscrupulous Product Reviews
One of the main purposes of any marketing is to increase brand authority and trust. That’s particularly true of user-generated content campaigns.
Only 4% of consumers trust brands and advertising, according to a survey from Chief Marketing Officer of 4As Alison Fahey. That may be due to the fact that marketing departments started creating fictional product reviews.
Social product reviews are an essential component of your content campaigns. Just make sure you conduct them ethically. Consider using a product or service like Yotpo, which verifies user-generated content and make sure it’s trustworthy.
Make Sure Your User-Generated Content Campaign Follow Copyright Laws
Your content creation and marketing teams no doubt spend a lot of time and energy (and probably money) making sure they have the rights to broadcast the media they’re circulating. Your user-generated content campaign might not be so thorough.
User-generated content might contain copyrighted imagery. You might not have the rights to recirculate user-generated content, to further complicate matters.
Companies are enjoying great success using services like Lobster. Lobster draws upon a deep well of talented social-media influencers to create a stock image gallery. This helps your content campaign be unique and distinctive while still following copyright laws.
Don’t Automatically Automate
The Internet is a double-edged sword, in terms of productivity. It offers powerful tools to make our lives easier and more expedient. It also creates more obligations to keep up with daily.
Automation has become mandatory in many of our daily duties. It’s no surprise that marketers are optimistic about automated marketing. 68.5% of marketers feel that it improves targeted messaging. 45.9% feel that it improves customer experience.
It can be tempting to automate all of our marketing messages. That would be a mistake, however.
The main purpose of user-generated content is to generate trust and increase engagement with our audience. Generic automated messaging completely derails those efforts.
That’s not to say you need to write to everyone engaging with your campaign. Consider segmenting your audience in various ways to generate more specific and useful automated messaging.
Be Careful With Hashtag Campaigns
ANYBODY can post to a hashtag on any social media network. If there’s some momentum around a trending hashtag, you can bet dollars for donuts that Internet trolls will try to take it over for their own purposes.
It’s the hallmark of lazy, unscrupulous marketing to try and take credit and reap rewards from someone else’s hard work. There are a few ways you can avoid having your hashtags taken over by people to serve their own needs.
How To Avoid Hashtag Hijacking
- Don’t announce your hashtag too early
- Offer an incentive for using the hashtag
- Don’t solicit positive reviews
- Use branded hashtags carefully
- Make sure your hashtags’ meanings are clear
- Consider your company’s reputation
If your company has recently been embroiled in a scandal, it might not be the best time for a branded hashtag campaign. Also be careful with leading users into trying to praise your product or service. This can backfire in the worst possible way.
Not Reacting To Negative Feedback Quickly Enough
Social listening is one of the most important aspects of social media marketing. It cuts through the red tape of marketing panels to hear how users really feel about your brand. It also accelerates marketing feedback, which has revolutionary implications for you and your marketing team.
One of the dangers of user-generated content campaigns is negative feedback against your brand can go viral before you have an opportunity to do damage control.
Consider the case of Dave Carroll, a Canadian musician with a grievance against United Airlines. In 2008, Carroll submitted a claim that United Airlines had damaged a $3,500 guitar. United Airlines declined to act, stating that his claim was filed after the 24-hour cutoff mark.
Dave Carroll wrote a song called “United Breaks Guitars” in response. The song became an instant hit on YouTube and a permanent stain on United Airlines’ reputation.
Try with all of your might to maintain control over what is broadcast with your user-generated content campaigns. Avoid giving users the final say in the outcome of a content campaign.
Consider the case of the UK National Environment Research Council (Nerc). NERC hosted a hashtag contest to name their newest research vessel. The final results were overwhelmingly in favor of the name Boaty McBoatface.
The vessel was christened the RRS David Attenborough. That’s because NERC was savvy enough to include a disclaimer that the final say would be down to the agency’s director.
Also, consider the case of #McDStories. McDonald’s started out with the campaign #meetthefarmers, to showcase the farms where McDonald’s get their produce. They changed the campaign name to #McDStories, which they launched on Twitter. Which was a mistake.
McDonald’s has faced a great deal of scrutiny in the 21st Century as fast food has fallen out of fashion. Documentaries like Supersize Me have generated endless amounts of negative press. Unleashing a hashtag campaign into the wilds of Twitter was bound to be a mistake.
Whenever possible, try and maintain as much control over where your user-generated content is being posted. It might be best to focus on accounts you control, like a Facebook page. You can also post user-generated content to your website, but you’ll miss out on new audiences that way.
People want to see authenticity in a user-generated content campaign. They want to get a sense of the humanity behind a brand. Universally flawless content does not facilitate human connection.
User-generated content should emphasize how people relate with your brand in real life. A crude crayon drawing from a 5-year old could make a much bigger splash than the millionth Instagram selfie with perfect filters and hashtags.
User-generated content is one of the best ways to generate buzz and get people excited about your brand. It can create a community around your brand which is what the Internet is best for. Avoid these missteps and people will be buzzing around your brand and advertising for you, for free.
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