User-generated content (UGC) is considered one of the most influential forms of messaging as people rely on their peers for their experiences with a product or service.
What's more, UGC tends to bypass ad blocking on social media networks and benefit from more organic reach on social than if the message was to come from the brand itself. There is more than one reason to invest in user-generated content as a social media strategy, but collecting it, encouraging the submission of it, asking permission for it and publishing it can be resource intensive without help.
Myriad technology solutions exist that make the process of using UGC for social media much easier, including:
Perhaps the most well-know name in leveraging user-generated content, Olapic turns consumer-generated content into valuable brand assets. Olapic experienced hyper-growth over the last few years (upward of 200-plus customers) and was ultimately acquired by Monotype this past summer. Business seems to be as usual, however, with brands like AllSaints using Olapic to fuel sales on social media. The relationship makes the retailer's Instagram feed shoppable. When a person clicks on the link in AllSaints Instagram bio, they are taken to a landing page where items can be located and then purchased.
Whereas Hard Rock, uses Olapic more as a social feed to curate the content their diners/guests are posting so that it appears on their website.
The use of UGC collected by Olapic can be seen across more touchpoints like within email, in advertisements and on product pages.
Launched last spring, NetSuite offers a Hashtag Gallery. With Hashtag Gallery, retailers can manage and display galleries of related Instagram images from brand influencers and enthusiasts - all while keeping control over which images are published (example shown below with NetSuite Founder and CTO Evan Goldberg).
Activating an audience to create content on behalf of a brand can be difficult. Popular Pays is a platform where both brands and "creators" can connect to create content worth sharing. It's a marketplace model like Airbnb according to Corbett Drummey, CEO of Popular Pays.
"Our creators become part of the community by downloading our iOS app or signing up via our Web app," said Drummey. "If they have a significant following on networks like Instagram or Pinterest, they can participate in the listed campaigns by applying with their idea and a price to complete the work laid out in the brief."
Popcorn brand Skinny Pop leveraged Popular Pays to reach about 2.9 million people.
ReadyPulse automatically collects consumers' authentic photos and videos across all social networks such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Consumers can also directly submit photos to a brand. Once curated (and permission is granted), companies can publish UGC across marketing campaigns and channels such as product pages, emails, printed catalogs, store kiosks, etc.
Action sports brand SMITH, for instance, ran an incentivized, enter-to-win social promotion to collect high-quality, engaging, user-generated content from Facebook users. Participants submitted their photos and videos in hopes of being awarded the best photo. SMITH collected 526 pieces of authorized UGC that they were able to repurpose in their marketing (according to ReadyPulse's site).
Known for its ratings-and-reviews software, Bazaarvoice now offers a social media curation platform that allows brands to build experiences on their sites with high-quality, relevant social content backed by Bazaarvoice's moderation capabilities. A product page gallery, for instance, can be used to feature content from real people, who already love the brand, directly in the shopping experience.
The company wants to help brands turn selfies into sales by leveraging customer-generated photos to create powerful visual testimonials. Brands can also add gamification via photo contests.
For example, Talbots uses ShopSocially for a photo gallery of people wearing their fashion to help move their peers toward purchase.
Consumers are clearly relying on their peers in order to make more informed purchasing decisions based on others' experiences, but user-generated content is also helping brands become more transparent and more engaging. Brands interested in using UGC should explore the solutions mentioned above as well as leaders like Cue Connect, Curalate and Adobe's Livefyre.