How to Shift your Influencer Marketing Strategy to a Customer-based UGC program

Consumer shopping behaviors are changing and it’s time to adjust your UGC social media strategy. Turning your active customers into real brand advocates is the bread and butter of organic social media marketing. With the ability to reach large audiences and create facilitate connections, brands turned to the quick growth strategy built on influencers. However, as with any marketing strategy, influencers have many advantages and disadvantages. And as the landscape evolves, so does how brands approach influencer marketing. The rise of UGC has contributed to changing the social media marketing landscape that gives customers’ posts the same recognition as a paid influencer campaign. A UGC program enables brands to get more personal and authentic with their customers and it also allows customers to be a part of a brand’s story. UGC programs can be used to create a strong customer community and influence customer to customer interactions.

Any business owner will tell you there are a lot of pros and cons to any given marketing strategy. Hiring influencers is no different – it can be expensive, and there’s no guarantee that those customers will stick around once the initial buzz dies. It’s the ordinary customers who have smaller followings that are the largest group in the creator economy ecosystem that have the biggest marketing impact. As UGC becomes the new effective strategy enterprises like Amazon’s influencer marketplace, are commercializing everyday customer creators of all following sizes to earn commission through promoting products at minimal costs to the company. Change can be hard, but making the shift will pay off tenfold.

Moving from influencers to customers

To truly see results, businesses need to focus on rewarding their customers. That’s why more and more companies are shifting their focus from hiring influencers to collaborating with existing customers. It can take many forms, such as loyalty programs, free or discounted products, early product access, contests, etc. Whatever form it takes, customer appreciation is key to maintaining a successful relationship with your audience.

What makes this method more effective than working with social media influencers? Two words: authenticity and ownership. You know your existing customers better than an influencer. You know what they like, what they don’t like, where they browse, and what they do in their spare time. When influencers promote your product for a paid campaign they tend to use the commentary and content directions from a brand’s creative brief. But with customer appreciation, you’re receiving original content with products they buy themselves, that already feels authentic and align with your brand persona.

Encourage original content with campaign-related hashtags and UGC social media contests to inspire customers to create. You can even include guidelines and examples to get custom content that fits your brand’s style to be reshared on your feed. UGC are real testimonial campaigns that drive trust in your brand through organic referrals.

Impact of customers over influencers

The increasing influence of customers over influencers is having a profound effect on how companies operate. In the past, businesses could rely on influencers to promote their products and services to the masses. It worked well because companies controlled the message and had an inherent advantage based on their brand power. 

The influence of customers has brought a new dimension to the equation of social relations. Now, customers have become the main drivers of consumers’ decisions when considering which products and services to buy. More and more companies are now turning to influential customers to help better shape their products and services. By using your customers, you’re tapping into their organic reach and harnessing it for your brand’s advertising. Skinny Tan’s website is a great example where they feature real self-tanning results from customers in all their marketing touchpoints to influence purchase decisions and drive their sales. 

How to start a UGC program with defined goals

As social media usage continues to grow, many companies are finding new and innovative ways to tap into this valuable resource. Often businesses hire social media influencers to help promote their products or services. But what if you could take this further and reward your customers for promoting your brand? This is where UGC programs come in.

A UGC program (ambassador program) is a great way to identify and segment your most influential customers. Tracking and organizing user-generated content (UGC) tags allow you to easily see who is promoting your brand and how much impact they’re having. You can segment your ambassadors for different levels of effects (moms, college students, power customers, etc.), and give them rewards for their efforts. 

Not only does this create a more engaged customer base, but it also helps to build loyalty and goodwill toward your brand. So if you’re looking for a new way to promote your business, consider starting an ambassador program!

Goals to aim for when making the shift

More brand trust

People trust people. UGC builds credibility by consumers seeing real people try and review your product, vs seeing someone that has #ad in their caption being paid to say how amazing your product is. Nosto reported, “60% of consumers say user-generated content is the most authentic form of content”. 

High brand engagement and awareness

Algorithms have changed to prioritize authentic content to drive higher engagement rates. Customers’ UGC exposes your brand to a new audience of customers, and a potential for viral posts, driving viewers down the marketing funnel. You can measure your engagement and awareness by reviewing impressions, positive feedback on social channels and product reviews. LoudCrowd measures engagement metrics to calculate brand ambassador spending through Shopify and earned media value (the marketing metric to attach a revenue number to brand awareness).

Increased conversion rates and retention

People use social media as a discovery and search tool to learn about new products and brands. Increase conversions with reviews, unboxings, and product tutorials or try-ons. Ambassadors have a higher retention rate and more frequent purchase behavior. We found 58% of customers in an ambassador program buy from that brand at least once per month.

Time saved on content creation

Get your audience to create for you with social rewards to save time when building your content calendar. (Just be sure to ask for permission before posting and give credit) 

Our friends at The Bookish Box that use LoudCrowd as a content engine said “When we needed more photos for our product listings – on the platform’s content page to find UGC – we were able to save the high-res images and videos and organize the content for future use. It saved us time from scrolling through Instagram – a game changer for finding content to use on our site and social channels!”

Higher sales and guaranteed ROI

From a consumer study conducted by Turnto Networks: nearly 90% of shoppers are influenced by UGC when making purchase decisions. If used correctly, Brand ambassador UGC can help improve key performance indicators and drive more sales. 

Reporting ROI or success of UGC

Understanding how customers interact with your brand can better tailor your marketing efforts to meet their needs. By tying earned media value (EMV) to social media tags/activity, you can better understand how customers interact with your brand. 

Additionally, reporting on program growth, social engagement growth numbers, and money saved on influencers can give you a fuller picture of your brand’s success. Further, by tracking program ROI and social engagement, you can gauge the effectiveness of your UGC marketing campaign efforts. 

With LoudCrowd, you can easily create a UGC program, generate more user content and measure the results. It is perfect for e-commerce companies trying to get in touch with their most passionate brand advocates by rewarding and engaging directly through the platform.

When you’re ready to make the shift, Request a demo to start your ambassador program strategy!

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