TL;DR Social media platforms inadvertently cultivate the latest digital marketing trend: UGC.
With the exponential rise of TikTok and billions being poured into creator funds, consumer impact on purchase trends pushes the growth of user generated content (UGC), increasing measurable brand awareness.
Creator Funds Fuel “Organic and Authentic” User Generated Content
As Facebook declares Instagram a ‘product discovery tool’ and TikTok rapidly increases revenue by producing the top destination for creators to build careers, both are actually fueling the digital marketing trend in brand-focused user generated content.
Recently, Facebook announced their billion dollar creator fund, but well after TikTok announced its fund would reach a billion within a few years of launch. YouTube also has funneled $300k into their own creator fund. The concept is simple, creators are rewarded for unique, authentic content that these platforms can then monetize through advertisers. But why let social platforms have all the fun (and revenue)?? Creators know the mention of a brand or product can help perpetuate a post’s virality – enter all the sold out products featured on TikTok – so brands need to understand how to cultivate and leverage UGC.
Consumer Purchase Trends and UGC
The concept behind user generated content is simple: unlimited marketing value and further the customer experience. By giving brands another way to acknowledge and reward the consumer after the initial interaction, UGC allows brands to further cultivate a relationship beyond the time of purchase. On the other side, it allows the consumer to have a greater voice and strengthen accountability. Consumers are now talking about their purchases in fun, authentic ways consumers actually trust.
A quick review of the most popular ways consumers share their purchases shows it’s about engaging with friends and the greater social media audience. From the ‘empties’ series perpetuated by the never-sponsored Things I Bought and Liked where she goes through products she’s loved to the very last drop – wine included – to the way Far From Par Golf discusses golf courses and equipment, organic posts are the most trusted way for consumers to discover new products. And brands can have hundreds of thousands of these organic content pieces to leverage for their own campaigns.
The key for using this digital channel is to understand what customers and fans are already posting, measure the impact, and reward them to garner more UGC.
How to Build UGC with TikTok and Instagram
Ignite your customers and fans then watch the content roll in. Brands that own and grow their UGC already benefit from the audience interaction TikTok and Instagram provide. Smart brands take it a step further, building on engagement and accessing thousands of authentic posts. This ability to repurpose the creativity of hundreds, if not thousands of customers and fans gives brands a repository of already-proven-popular user generated content to use in their own campaigns.
Social media platforms inherently encourage posting and engagement. Throw in the creator funds and now it’s just up to brands to get involved early and see how to start their own trends.
L’Oreal created #LetsFaceIt to support and encourage wearing a mask – the basis of ‘feeling beautiful no matter what’ led to a viral campaign. Some creators saw hundreds of thousands of likes, thousands of comments and shares. A creative hashtag backing a social movement and L’Oreal had a viral TikTok moment.
How the Creators Fund Opens Opportunity for Brands
Creator Funds from Facebook (Instagram), TikTok, and YouTube encourage and reward the kind of authentic, trustworthy content that brands salivate over….it’s time to create a UGC strategy and start directing some of this content to favor your brand.
Research your top customers; research potential customers; find fans and customers who personify your brand; then reward them when they create branded content.
- Organize and visualize your fans and customers who have already created engaging content, tagging your brand
- Build outreach campaigns with your top customers; share content ideas and best practices
- Track and analyze top posts: most engaged, audience reach, and earned media value (EMV)
Focusing a strategy on this digital channel will benefit teams across social and digital. It creates a new channel for digital ad dollars to go towards rewards instead of Google or Facebook; and it also gives the social team a repository of content to use. The main focus of any UGC strategy is customer and fan feedback. These are not influencers; these are consumers who are familiar with your product and have made a purchase from your brand.
Influencer Versus Organic
Influencer marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry. Marketers love tangible results and quantitative results. The thought goes ‘we can measure social, we should pay someone to post about us on social’…but the limitations have become increasingly clear. Just like digital ads have seen a decrease in reach, brands and influencers alike have seen their reach decrease as well. Even several TikTok creators have said their posts are being throttled since joining the TikTok Creators Fund. Marketing is always shifting dollars to reach greater ROI, consistently being at the forefront of digital marketing trends. This is currently where UGC sits. Where influencer marketing once was, innovative brands are now turning to UGC to get greater and greater returns on digital investment.
Brands who understand and leverage UGC are already seeing incredible growth. In a couple of years, maybe even months, UGC measurement and growth platforms will be the martech stack norm.
Success is Rapid Brand Growth
Without this being a pandemic trends post, it is still important to understand that consumers were going mobile and digital first anyway. Lockdown just expedited the way brands emphasized digital. And whether trying to use events budget elsewhere or pulling money from digital ads, there is such a greater return in investing in the customer base.
If you navigate to the ‘tagged’ section on Instagram, there is a clear picture of which brands invest in their customers and which brands haven’t yet discovered this digital channel. But it doesn’t stop at getting customers to post about your brand. The LoudCrowd platform gives users the ability to download and reuse high resolution images of the original post. This way, the organic post doesn’t stop at organic reach, it then becomes valuable content for brands to use without the mess of a photo shoot. The reward for the person who posted? Sometimes all it takes is the acknowledgement from their favorite brands.