Thursday, July 21st, 2016 | 7 min read
B2B and B2C marketing are so 2015. We are now in a world of C2C: consumer to consumer marketing. It’s true; customers are influencing purchases more than brands are. As Mary Meeker noted in her latest Internet Trends report, 3.5 billion photos are shared daily on social media channels. That’s 3.5 billion pieces of user-generated content (UGC), a portion of which might include references to your brand.
To take advantage of this content, brands can curate select pieces on their website, run contests for submissions, or partner with influencers to reach new audiences. All of these strategies fit under the umbrella of UGC, which is a cost-effective way to foster brand advocacy by sourcing content from fans.
Easier said than done, though, right? When you bring UGC into the mix, complicated legal matters can arise. And since you won’t have full control over the content being produced, your internal stakeholders should be extra careful about sticking to your brand image and values. That’s why, before your launch your UGC campaign, you need to take these three crucial steps.
Before you start fleshing out your strategy, it’s important to listen to your audience and tap into online conversations. Most likely, there’s already UGC out there about your brand; you just might be unaware of it. You could take several hours to comb through social channels and news feeds, but it would be more efficient to use a social listening tool that can simplify this process for you.
Through this research, you should also start to understand your different audience segments. At Sprinklr, we take the “1-9-90” approach. Here’s what that looks like:
1% of your audience are influencers and bloggers. These people have large followings and niche audiences that you can tap into through partnerships.
9% of your audience are brand advocates. This is your brand’s sweet spot, since these customers are already creating UGC. They’re always on, meaning they’re often vocal about their passion for your brand.
90% of audience are fans and followers. They may not be particularly active, but you usually just have to ask them to join the conversation. For instance, you can prompt them to tweet their own photo with a certain hashtag.
Only by conducting this research can you effectively plan to join existing conversations, start new ones, and enhance your marketing message with UGC.
With a wealth of UGC out there, it’s important to make sure your marketing team is on the same page about what content they want to promote.
For instance, how will your team select and curate the best content? It’s important to develop a campaign brief that explains exactly what meets your brand guidelines and voice. You should also have a good governance system in place to ensure all of your content can be seamlessly approved for distribution across your social media channels.
Finally, you should set up your KPIs and metrics before you launch your campaign. After all, if you don’t know what you want to get out of your strategy—or how to measure performance—how will you know if it’s working? Your KPIs might include reaching 1,000 submissions or 5,000 shares, or increasing followers on your social channels. With brand guidelines in place, you’ll be best prepared to achieve these objectives.
If you want to repurpose or even edit users’ content, it’s vital to get their permission and make it completely clear what you plan to do with their work. Otherwise, you could end up in a bind with your legal department.
To avoid any such mishaps, let’s look at three situations in which you’d need permission to use people’s content, and solutions for each:
Running a contest. This one is simple. Just make sure you post the rules and regulations on your contest site—this way users can read them before they participate.
Picking individual pieces of content to use or feature. Say you’re scrolling through Twitter or Facebook and sourcing for content, and you come across a great image. You need to get permission from the user to distribute the content across other social media. The easiest way to do this is to send them a direct message with a link to landing page. From there, they can read the terms and conditions, and then simply approve or decline permission. For instance, Sprinklr’s platform has a content marketing solution that not only helps you source and find content through listening tools, but also has the user permissions built in.
By reaching out to users directly with these forms, your legal department will also have an audit trail to reference if an issue does arise.
Working with influencers. The FTC has recently cracked down on this one in particular. If you’re paying an influencer to feature your brand or products in their posts, you need to make sure that they disclose this information to their audiences. There’s nothing wrong with using influencer content, just make sure that you’re transparent about the arrangement.
As long as you take the proper precautions, working with UGC doesn’t have to be scary. Just make sure you’re explicit about where and how you plan to use the content, and always get the creator’s permission.
While it’s nearly impossible to have full control over your brand’s UGC marketing, you can set your campaign up for success by taking these key steps: Do your research so you understand your audience and the content that’s already out there; plan out how you will get permission to use other people’s content; and set a roadmap so you know your stakeholders are on the same page.
Once you’ve completed these tasks, it’s time to relax. By that, I don’t mean sit back and stop paying attention to your campaign. Rather, you’ll just have to be flexible as your strategy plays out. After all, your users will be involved every step of the way, and no matter how well you know them, you may not be able to predict exactly what content they produce or how they respond to what you distribute.
Just trust that if you plan ahead and keep an open mind about UGC, you’ll be well on your way to embracing the new world of C2C marketing and potentially generating some amazing content for your brand.