As a brand, when your marketing transcends your messaging an amazing thing starts to happen. People begin talking about you or sharing pictures about your products in a way that becomes marketing in and of itself. I'm talking about user generated content. In many ways, this is the gold standard in terms of digital marketing. Your brand has become so strong that people willingly post about your business. This type of user marketing is priceless, but where do you even begin to get people to talk about your brand?
In conversations with marketing execs and owners of aspiring outdoor companies, two questions kept popping up, "How to I get more social media followers?" and "How do I get people to talk about my brand on social media?" I covered the topic of growing your followers in "8 Ways Brands Can Increase Instagram Followers" but now lets tackle the issue of user generated content. After all, doesn't everyone want to achieve transcendent marketing?
The most common way to begin sourcing user generated content is through some form of contest. Users submit their content for a chance to win something. They can submit through a website or simply by using a hashtag. The key is to eliminate the red tape and make the process as easy as possible. If users have to jump through hoops to submit their content, you've already lost them. For this blog, I'm going to focus on 5 things: your brand, your audience, your offer, your promotion, and your goals.
Understand Your Brand
Before you can expect for people to just start sending in content that represents your brand, you should have a pretty clearly defined idea of who you are as a company and how you want to be represented. Hopefully your social media strategy has been executing this vision to help steer your followers in the right direction. If you are a brand new company and hoping to get content from consumers you might be opening yourself up to some big surprises. Which may not be a bad thing, depending on your goals of how to use the content and exactly what content you are hopeing to get. Just take the time to look in the mirror and evaluate yourself before you expect others to evaluate you.
Who Is Your Audience
Do you have an established target persona? Who are they? What social channels are they using? What are they currently posting? Why do they follow you? How can you build a contest that fits with what they are doing on social media? Understanding your target audience is key to creating an effective contest. National Geographic has 51 millon Instagram followers who enjoy their beautiful photography from all over the world. So naturally they ran a hashtag contest using #wanderlustcontest to get users to share their travel photos. What they got was 54,000 images from users across the globe. Understanding the value that you provide to your audience is a great tool.
What Are You Going to Offer
In almost all cases, social contests offer something to win. To make your contest as successful as possible, offer something that fits your audience's lifestyle and encourages them to use your products or represent your brand. If you are a company that designs and manufactures packs for backpackers, give away your top end model; gear that is not only attractive to backpackers but helps them continue to enjoy that activity. If you are a restaurant, give away a large gift card or a party for 10 that gets people excited to dine at your establishment and share photos of their experience. The idea is to align your prize with your audience.
How Will You Promote Your Contest
Creating a contest is one thing, but if people don't know about your contest than how will they enter? Your promotion of the contest should again align with your audience. This is very important when it comes to which social platforms you are using to promote your contest. Instagram, for example, is very popular with people ages 15 - 35 whereas Facebook is more popular with people ages 30 - 55. Understanding your audience and where they "hang out" online is crucial. Build your promtion strategy around your audience.
What Will You Do With The Content
Lastly, you need to have a plan on how you will leverage this new content. Maybe you will use it for a future marketing campaign, maybe you will post it on your website, or maybe you are just wanting to encourage a discussion around your brand. All of these examples are valid, just understand how this new content will benefit your brand and use it. Many of the people who will submit content just want to be acknowledged, so posting some of the best submissions on your website or sharing them on your social channels is a great way to pat those people on the back and will ultimately go a long way to help build brand loyalty. Your contest should be fun, so stay engaged and appreciate those people who provide you great content.
If you found this blog helpful, check out these other related topics:
- 17 Tips To Help You Build Your Brand
- What's the Right Mix of Traditional and Digital Marketing?
- Social Media Marketing Tips From the Pros