Guest post: Take your community to the next level with user-generated content

This guest post is written by AdRoll‘s Content Marketing Manager, Angie Tran. Adroll offers a powerful marketing platform that gives D2C brands the power to connect with customers wherever they are through machine learning predictions on shoppers’ behavior.

In the pursuit of better advertising, tightly controlled sales pitches and focus-group-tested marketing campaigns are standard. But what if there was a way to make more engaging, successful ads without writing the ad copy yourself? What if you could just crowdsource that content from your most loyal customers and customer community?

That’s the idea behind user-generated content (UGC). Using the power of your community, you can market the content organically produced by dedicated customers, from positive social media posts to videos and product reviews. As long as there are customers to rave about your brand, there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

A survey conducted by TurnTo Networks found that 90% of shoppers reported relying on user-generated content to make purchases, the highest percentage of all forms of marketing in the survey. Even search engines, at 87%, scored lower in terms of influence. Plus, 81% of shoppers were willing to wait longer for a product and pay more under the influence of user-generated content.

The reasoning behind the success of UGC is simple: People trust regular folk more than someone who they believe is just trying to make a sale. Don’t take it personally! It’s a fact of modern marketing. A resourceful advertiser can use it to their advantage by turning to content sourced from genuine fans.

Take these user-generated campaigns as proof

The possibilities of UGC are limited only by the creativity of your community — so your options are basically limitless. However you choose to frame it, UGC will give you access to numerous advertising campaigns to promote your brand and improve consumer loyalty. 

When it comes time to measure those campaigns and target the right audience for your content, services like AdRoll’s ecommerce marketing platform can help you maximize their reach. Integrating a unified platform to take over tasks like building brand awareness and email retargeting can make your marketing team’s life that much easier.

1. Create shoppable Instagram ads from UGC

This is one of the most mainstream forms of crowdsourced marketing available right now. While it works best for brands with a visual element to their products (for example, brands that sell holiday packages might have a more difficult time with this), shoppable ads featuring happy customers are a quick and easy way to entertain and persuade both existing and potential customers.

The principle is simple: You make a product that people want to show off on Instagram, and then use their organic posts to promote your brand. 

Chimi Eyewear often features user-generated content from fans showing off the brand’s products in its Instagram feed.

One of the biggest advantages of this method is that your customers will probably already be doing this in the search for digital clout. One company that used Instagram’s shoppable advertising features to promote user-generated content found that it increased sales by 82%.

2. Hashtag marketing

Maybe you don’t have a product or service that translates well to a visual medium, or maybe you just want another quick and easy way to capitalize on content created by your users. Either way, hashtag marketing might work for you.

This method can be used on practically any social media platform that uses hashtags to give people easy access to posts related to a topic they’re interested in. For example, Lululemon uses the hashtag #thesweatlife, so users can post themselves in action wearing the activewear brand’s products. 

This move also promoted the growth of the Lululemon community into something more than just a group of people interested in the same products. Its #thesweatlife campaign connected the brand to a community and lifestyle that encourages consumers to see it as the key to their own active participation. This is a rare example of a brand campaign that became a bit of a cultural touchstone. 

You can also shoot for more grounded hashtag campaigns like Warby Parker’s #warbyhometryon. The company paired this hashtag with a program allowing users to ship a set of glasses to their homes to try on without having to actually purchase the whole order. Boom! Now a whole subset of new consumers has a reason to interact with the brand community. 

Warby Parker’s hashtag campaign is also curated on a website hosted by the brand, showcasing the best user-generated posts.

3. Take on social causes with UGC

It’s no secret that brands promoting popular, progressive social causes through content inspire loyalty from their followers. The 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose survey found that consumers are four times more likely to purchase from and trust a company if they feel the brand has a strong purpose. And, research from LoyaltyLion found that 68% of customers will be loyal to brands that share their values. 

This can be a complicated route to take for a brand that processes all of its advertising ideas through a sea of corporate approval and focus-tested trials. It can take time to get it right — and, even then, consumers may not see your efforts as 100% genuine since they exist to serve a product. 

Instead, find and promote user-generated content that is already popular with your customers and allow the community to choose its own direction. 

Take women’s fashion brand Aerie, for example. Not only did they align their product with the decidedly popular and relatable goal of celebrating body positivity, but they also used UGC that directly demonstrated how their products make people feel about their bodies.

Aside from another hashtag campaign called #AerieREAL, the brand has also authored guides to help users create their own content.

Aerie is a great representation of how brands can go beyond simple hashtags. To supplement its efforts on social media, Aerie has produced a number of YouTube videos that celebrate the differences in their customers’ bodies. With a positive message and an open forum, thousands of posts have been created that simultaneously promote Aerie products and create a better world in terms of body image.

Creating potential customers with UGC

Engaging with your community of existing customers is one of the biggest reasons to implement user-generated content in advertising. These customers may end up purchasing more from your brand simply because they had a good experience with your online community. But there’s also a huge chunk of value to be found in creating potential customers. 

One company that began experimenting with UGC found that it more than doubled conversion rates in customers who had interacted with or viewed user-generated campaigns. Marketing imbued with the authenticity of actual customers can act as social proof that a brand is trustworthy and worthwhile. It can also help answer questions that others may have asked before without requiring more investment in customer service. 

Before you know it, your company will be able to present a multichannel brand experience by doing nothing more than listening to its community of customers and highlighting their ideas. For more information on how to generate demand and grow loyalty in your customer base, talk to a LoyaltyLion analyst today.

About the author

Angie Tran from AdRoll

Angie is the Content Marketing Manager at AdRoll. Prior to AdRoll, she was a Content Writer at various digital marketing agencies. A writer by day and a reader by night, Angie’s other hobbies include cooking and learning useless movie trivia.