Are you thinking of how to create content marketing to increase brand awareness by leveraging visual user-generated content (UGC)?
It turns out, modern consumers are starved for visual UGC.
According to a Stackla report, 60 percent of consumers consider UGC to be the most authentic type of content—much above branded, influencer, and stock photography content.
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Think about it.
When you’re looking for a hotel recommendation, what would you trust more—ads from hotel brands or photos taken by a real traveler? That’s a no-brainer, right?
For marketers, UGC gives them an affordable and scalable opportunity to procure earned media. When done right, UGC-focused content marketing can lead to building better brand awareness and achieve big savings. Here are some keypoints on how best to use content marketing to increase brand awareness.
Visual UGC for brand awareness: how to leverage it effectively
1. Use the right tool to find the best UGC for your brand
Tons of UGC is shared on social media platforms daily, but not all of it can be used for boosting brand awareness.
So, how can you quickly find high-quality visual UGC to reshare, without drowning in a sea of irrelevant content?
Here are a few tips:
Conduct targeted searches
You can use native platform search tools to find UGC that’s relevant to your brand. Filter and sort your search results to find the most engaging and persuasive visual UGC.
You can search by:
For example, if you hosted a contest/event with a branded hashtag, it’s likely that participants would be appending the hashtag to their contest entries or feed posts.
In that case, a hashtag search will show all the event-related UGC, listed in chronological order. You can simply pick the latest visual UGC and repost it on your pages.
Here’s an example of how GoPro curated delightful visual UGC for its #GoProCreatorSummit Instagram page.
Use social listening
You can monitor the conversations of your target audience, employees, and customers using social listening tools. This way, you can get your hands on unfiltered UGC that’s bound to be appreciated for its authenticity.
Let’s say one of your employees post happy pictures from a team meeting or a satisfied customer shares an unboxing video with their friends.
Your social listening tool will automatically notify you even if the people who posted this content don’t tag you. You can then use this UGC for building brand awareness.
Implement a UGC tool into your marketing stack
Your brand can adopt a UGC tool to do a lot of the work for you when it comes to aggregating relevant and quality UGC content for your brand. This not only helps you optimize your time spent on a UGC strategy, but tools like Stackla can offer smart recommendations and advanced features to help you take your content marketing to the next level.
2. Focus on authenticity
Authenticity is the hallmark of user-generated content.
Consumers trust UGC more, as it’s perceived to be 2.4x more transparent than branded content, per the previously-cited report by Stackla.
Therefore, if your visual UGC looks manufactured, your brand will lose credibility and it won’t boost your brand awareness in the desired way.
To maintain authenticity in your UGC, here are some golden rules to follow:
Don’t be afraid to share honest customer reviews or messy behind-the-scenes pictures.
Social media users, especially the Gen Z demographic, appreciate honesty in brands. It fosters consumer trust and humanizes businesses.
Example: Luggage company, Away, doesn’t shy away from publishing negative customer reviews on their official Facebook page. Despite that, they get a 5/5 from their customers.
Visual UGC is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the diversity of your brand’s following. Reusing the content posted from your genuinely diverse audience helps you reach and show appreciation for a wide range of user demographics. That way, you can grow your brand awareness effectively.
A Think with Google study found that 64 percent of people prefer inclusive, diverse brands and took action after seeing an inclusive ad.
Example: Skincare brand, Curology, broke gender barriers when they showed a real acne-prone Male customer sharing their skincare routine.
In an industry where women dominate everything from billboards to ads, this video successfully broke stereotypes and shot Curology to UGC “Hall of Fame.”
The video has 22M views to date and is still boosting Curology’s brand awareness.
Polish your visual UGC
It’s true that consumers appreciate raw, uncut footage from the brands they follow.
However, that doesn’t mean you ditch photo editing altogether. You still need to adhere to each target platform’s aesthetic and your own branding.
That said, don’t go overboard with the editing.
To be on the safe side, use professional photo editing tools with advanced filters and effects. They can help you create pictures that are visually appealing but not plastic. Some UGC platforms (like Stackla) even offer in-app editing tools.
3. Be proactive: encourage users to create visual UGC
Once you’ve got the ball rolling on your UGC strategy, try getting ahead of the curve in curating more visual UGC for brand awareness. Think of innovative ways to encourage people to share more brand-focused content so that you don’t need to go hunt for it.
You can start by implementing these two tactics:
You can host a contest that requires participants to post a video or picture featuring your brand. Incentivize people to participate in the contest while keeping the authentic vibe of UGC intact.
How can you incentivize people?
You can promise the winners a shoutout on your official pages or website. That can be a lucrative incentive for most social media users.
You can also offer freebies or gift vouchers to sweeten the deal even more.
Example: Over, a design app by GoDaddy, hosts a monthly contest for creatives. To meet the contest requirements, participants have to use the app to create share-worthy pictures.
Then, they are asked to submit their contest entries with the campaign hashtag, which is #OverDesignChallenge which you can see in the example below.
Takeovers by micro-influencers
There may be influencers who are raving about your brand organically without you knowing about it
They may be sharing high-quality videos or pictures of themselves or their followers using your products. They may even be willing to create exclusive visual UGC for you if you ask them to.
These true brand advocates can grow your brand awareness efficiently.
So, how do you find these influencers?
First off, focus on micro-influencers since their content garners more engagement than that of mega-influencers or celebrities.
Next, you can use tools like Stackla’s Organic Influencers feature to discover relevant micro-influencers and connect with them.
Once you’ve worked out a collaboration agreement with influencers, have them take over your account to generate UGC for you. With their highly engaged following, they will be able to produce tons of authentic UGC in no time.
Example: Lush Cosmetics really knows their UGC game. They collaborated with trans athlete, Schuyler Bailar, to take over their Instagram account for a day and generate awesome visual UGC for them.
Want a pro tip?
Ever since the FTC issued strict guidelines on influencer marketing, it’s better to disclose sponsorship in all influencer-generated content.
If you plan to reuse content from your influencer’s followers, cover the legal angle. Ask them for permission to repost by signing an airtight agreement with your influencer.