User-generated content (UGC) has exploded this year as the pandemic has forced brands and businesses around the world to think outside the box with their marketing due to mandatory closures, budget cuts and a surge in online competition.
Brands & businesses have had to find alternative ways to connect with their audience without studio setups and huge budgets bolstering their efforts.
Why has user-generated content (UGC) played a pivotal part in how brands have marketed themselves in 2020?
Well, UGC has always been one of the most compelling forms of content. It’s more trusted than brand-led campaigns and it instils a sense of trust in a digital landscape.
This year, it’s been more important than ever. Here’s why:
- UGC taps into a desire for human connection in the wake of months of isolation and quarantining
- UGC builds and strengthens community
- UGC is relatable – people look for uplifting content that acknowledges the difficult situation we’re all in
- UGC allows brands to meet customers where they’re already spending a lot of their time
- UGC helps brands generate remote, great content without having to set-up photoshoots
What We Learned From UGC in 2020
There’s no denying that 2020 has taught us all alot about life and business. In terms of UGC, it’s shown us how important human connection is in times of crisis/need and how a sense of community is crucial for getting through tough situations.
1. Bringing together brands and buyers
As a powerful storytelling tool, UGC brings together brands and their customers and creates a deeper sense of belonging.
Take our sister company, The Viral Group’s, viral video as an example:
As the lockdown took hold and us Brits were hauled up in our houses for what seemed like an eternity, we were plagued with upbeat Italians renditioning the opera on the 10 o’clock news…but it true British style, our rebuttal was absolutely on point – a Welsh fella trying his best to recite Bohemian Rhapsody and lift the spirits of his village, is rather abruptly told to ‘F*CK OFF!’ by a not so friendly neighbour…
2. Relatability is key in times of need
No one likes to feel alone, especially with a global pandemic raging all around. The fluidity of UGC as a marketing strategy means it has the potential to be far more relatable than brand-driven campaigns.
Take this really simple video of one man’s handmade Gin bottle fountain; with most of the nation furloughed – naturally, most of us turned to our alcoholic bounties to get us through. And so, the video soon went viral and the chap was inundated with orders.
3. Everything changes so quickly
No one could have predicted how 2020 would turn out – in fact, it’s hard to plan ahead even a few weeks in advance at the moment as things are changing so quickly.
UGC saves brands time and allows them to jump on trends in a matter of days. This is key for keeping up with evolving consumer needs.
4. Hope is important
It’s difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially when millions of people are in pandemic-related turmoil. UGC gives people hope and encourages individuals to feel connected. In many ways, it nurtures a sense of “we’re all in this together”.
Probably one of the most heartwarming videos to go out on The Viral Group was of a community clapping the heroic return of a neighbour after spending 8 weeks in hospital and 5 weeks on a ventilator fighting and beating COVID-19. He sustained 3 organ failures, sepsis, pneumonia and numerous other things, but despite it all, came out stronger.
How to Plan Your UGC Strategy in 2021
There is no doubt, 2020 has changed the world.
This has opened up opportunities for brands & businesses to take advantage of new online narratives and going forward, UGC will play a key role in social commerce and eCommerce strategies across the board.
The key elements of your UGC strategy in 2021
- Build trust – Brands will have to work harder than ever to recapture the trust and loyalty of customers in 2021. A precedent has been set this year, and this will continue to play a huge part in strategies moving forward
- Provide social proof – When things start to return to normal, consumers will want validation that others are buying from you or are at the very least re-engaging in shopping and purchasing
Planning Your 2021 UGC Strategy
1. Design the Concept
The concept of your campaign is what it’s about or what it aims to do, promote, or say.
Think about what your UGC campaign will centre around. Use data from 2020 and your customers’ input to decide on a campaign topic that will resonate with them. Consider outside inputs too, like what’s going on in the world and global trends.
2. Engage and Amplify
This is the part where you encourage your customers to get involved.
Use incentives and create a buzz around your brand. Make people want to get involved.
A great way to do this is through UGC contests and campaigns. Offering a reward in exchange for a customer photo is a compelling incentive and will quickly spread your campaign far and wide.
3. Curate and Display
Choose the best customer contributions and decide how you’re going to display them.
Will you create a dedicated landing page to host the UGC, or will you simply re-share contributions across your social media channels?
Get creative here and consider all the options you have. Maybe you share UGC in your email campaigns, maybe you incorporate it into your product pages, or maybe you do what Facebook and Buffalo Wild Wings and turn it into a video.
4. Plan, But Let Customers Drive the Story
Planning is key for ensuring you get the most out of your UGC campaign – but, as 2020 has shown us, anything can happen. Keep an eye on trends and pivot to meet the changing needs of your customers.
Track patterns in your campaigns and be prepared to switch things up to align better with what’s going on in the world.
2021 will be the year of UGC
UGC should be a core part of every marketing strategy in 2021. New competition means brands are fighting to stand out, and the changing needs of customers will require a more sensitive, empathic approach to marketing.
Through the tactical use of UGC, brands will be able to nurture a sense of community, connect better with existing customers, and keep up with the ever-changing events in the world.
To learn more about how we can help you to incorporate UGC into your 2021 market strategy, get in touch.