When User-Generated Content Creates Marketing Gold
User-Generated Content4 MIN READ
The stats are in and user-generated content is winning. Facebook data even shows that UGC generated almost seven times higher engagement compared to the brand-generated kind. HubSpot data shows a 73 percent increase in email click-through rates when UGC is leveraged.
Perhaps it's time for us all to recognize that UGC is the new content king?
But not all UGC is made alike. Because not all users are made a like. Some know how to take stunning photographs with their iPhones. Still others might send in a picture that looks like the dog accidentally hit the snap button.
Brands need to understand the nuances that make one piece of content better than the next. This helps them choose the best of the best to insert UGC into their paid social or online media campaigns, leverage on the brand's social channels and beyond.
Instead of rolling off a listicle of what brands need to look for in great UGC, we thought we'd go one step further and show you an example of marketing gold that came from a CIPIO.ai client's customer.
Diagnosing The Perfect UGC
FITNESS SF isn't just a chain of gyms in the San Francisco area. It's a new community-focused concept on driving health and wellness. The brand came to CIPIO.ai in the summer of 2022 with a common marketing challenge: the need for more user-generated content to drive its social media channels and paid media creative assets.
Leveraging CIPIO.ai's own community-focused concept (our Community Influence Marketing solution we like to call "UGC Plus") FITNESS SF identified customers and social media followers who regularly create content, had some degree of social following, and drove strong engagement around their social posts.
One such customer was Bethany Mitchell (a/k/a @bethanyXfit on Instagram). FITNESS SF noticed her frequent short videos and workout reports from her gym visits. With CIPIO.ai's Community Influence Marketing solution to help, the brand reached out and arranged for more where that came from!
“When I started creating video content for FITNESS SF, I was pivoting my page to a different approach," she said. "Prior to this pivot I posted progress photos and weightlifting, but I wanted to bring the mental and emotional side that lives in all of us to the gym. In my videos, I aim to create a space for inspiring others to workout as a positive mental health outlet as well as being a place for improving physical health. We can all use the gym to find self-improvement, positive mindset shifts, proudness in ourselves, and self love. FITNESS SF gives us the perfect place to do that, so that’s what I want to share with my platform.”
It certainly helped the brand that Mitchell also happens to be a graphic designer.
And then this happened ...
That 10-second video connected with her 12,000+ fans and followers on Instagram. It tapped into the inherent truth those who live for their workouts all know. This is where they feel truly free.
The message resonated. The followers engaged. The algorithm kicked in.
To date, that video has over 1.2 million views and 40,000 likes. And it's a piece of content from a gym member of a relatively small, regional chain of fitness centers. Not a celebrity. Not even someone with millions of followers. Just that strong-as-steel, go-getter member who comes in to workout several days each week.
What Made This UGC Perfect
Without question, the best UGC strikes an emotional chord with the audience. It's not hard to see the feelings Bethany shared in the content. Being the most free in that workout moment grips someone who has felt that before. Or desired to.
But that's just one element of the perfect UGC.
Bethany is sharing content of her working out at a gym. But she is not selling the gym at all. She's selling that feeling. The fact she gets the feeling at FITNESS SF is quietly implied with the partnership designation atop the post. Further investigation by a viewer shows Bethany posts from FITNESS SF frequently. The trust she has in the brand is then transferred to her audience.
And the omission of any corporate or brand marketing speak underlines the authenticity Bethany brings to the content as just a customer and member of the gym. She's not on the marketing team and doesn't answer to the CEO. That distance from the brand creates a higher degree of trust in the message.
The content is simple. It communicates a message in a few seconds and with compelling video. You can almost smell the sweat and feel the burn while watching.
That short, but compelling video content is custom built for Instagram's algorithms. The immediate visual of her stepping up to the barbell creates a hook for the viewer. Will she nail this lift? We have to see it through.
This type of visual hook kills the doom scrolling most people fall victim to when browsing their feed. Everyone will stop to watch.
Beyond the story the video tells, the remaining creative construction is ideal. The music sets the right reflective mood. The narration adds to the contemplative nature of the message as if this is the voice she hears in her head. Or that you hear in yours. And the selection of a finer font than the default Instagram choice adds a layer of style and class to cap it all off.
(Did we mention Bethany is a designer? That certainly helps.)
How Can You Inspire The Perfect UGC for Your Brand?
Other than finding a Bethany in your brand community, the process to inspiring perfect UGC from your customers, fans and followers, is to ask for it. Some of you might think that doesn't make sense. Isn't UGC content already out there and you're just asking permission to use it?
Identify the active community members for your brand, not just the content that's already out there. Proactively reach out to those community members and ask them to collaborate by simply doing what they already do, only with the thought the brand may use the content as well.
Then you can share with them a creative brief or guidelines of what you're looking for. This is where you can direct the UGC.
Trust your creators, but define the expectations and your UGC will be more in line with what you want, not what you settle for.
And if you need a short list of what the creative brief should include, just review Bethany's video:
- Keep the message simple
- Hook the audience up front
- Ensure the message has an emotional payoff for them
- Tell (a story), don't Sell (the product)
- Leverage elements wisely (fonts, music, voice over)