The Power of Social Media Shopping: Innovations Shaping the Future of Commerce

Many brands are looking for new ways to create earned media value and increase brand awareness through participating and building customer communities. Companies can explore what UGC can do for their communities online, making a new approach for the future of a decentralized brand strategy. 

As brands better understand the opportunities and challenges when experimenting and adopting a new strategy it could turn into an ongoing one like how our clients did by integrating UGC into their business model.

LoudCrowd recently attended AD Week’s Social Media Week in London where we had the opportunity to have a conversation with one of our Clients, Hayley Hall, Head of Brand and Communications for Skinny Tan about leveraging social media as a tool for awareness and commerce in their marketing strategy. 

Tagging brands in social posts is a recent trend and shaping the future of commerce. Social media has evolved from sharing pictures to a direct social media shopping platform focused on product sharing and discovery. It is vital for brands to use social media as a sales and distribution channel to scale their purchases and include their customers in brand missions that help deliver invaluable value. 

Watch the full panel conversation here:

Why You Need to Prioritize Authentic Content

Algorithms have changed to prioritize authenticity. With so many evolving product changes to a social platform, brands can’t continue to use the same strategy. What was once working last week isn’t going to work this week when trying to maintain reach and engagement. This year alone Instagram has made 12 changes to its algorithm, TikTok with 6, and Youtube with 6 changes. How do you keep up? You let customers be at the forefront of your strategy.  

Brands can’t rely on large-scale influencers and branded posts when the algorithm is prioritizing UGC from regular accounts with an authentic, trustworthy following of friends and family. Focusing on customers with an engaging close circle following are the ones that have the biggest impact on purchase behavior. 81% of consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by social media posts alone whether it comes from a friend’s recommendation or an influencer’s paid branded post. 

Though it’s the accounts with smaller followings that have higher engagement rates from their trusting following that are more likely to engage with their content compared to a larger influencer’s ER. Social networks want you to scroll on their app for as long as possible so the algorithm that chooses which content is shown on feeds is determined by engagement rates.

Encouraging customers to create authentic content helps make customer relationships less transactional and more cultivated. Rewarding your customers as a way to say “thank you” is an engaging incentive and statistically, they will continue to post 7 to 10 times more about your brand. When it comes to all creator types (macro, micro, and nano creators) retention is the main trend. One way of retaining customers to keep creating is through brand ambassador programs and rewards. These creator programs increase overall loyalty. They increase customer lifetime value by 75%, purchase frequency by 50%, and members will spend 75% more with a brand after joining!

LoudCrowd helps and works with brands like Hayley at Skinny Tan, Gymshark, Boohoo Group, and others, focus on authentic marketing to get more organic UGC so they can scale and retain their loyal customer communities.

How to Build and Retain Your Creator Community

In 30 years traditional brands will die if they don’t turn into a content business to build their distribution channel on social. Brands need to be orientated around content creation as their strategy because it has the audience for distribution built in.

Traditional advertising and marketing methods are getting replaced with content creation because social media influences users shopping behaviour and is the vehicle that drives the most brand awareness.

It is critical for brands to create an engagement strategy that leverages not just their own posts or from large-scale influencers but also include their entire customer base. Using regular customers that are sharing how much they love a brand with their friends and family has the greatest impact on purchase behavior. 

It’s not easy to build your content business, challenges include: 

  • Scaling. Micro creators have less reach so you have to scale these social programs with more creators to get the most reach.
  • Cost Structures. The cost structure that is typical of large-scale influencer relationships doesn’t work. It’s focused more on large groups of creators instead of a small number of selected influencers.
  • Figuring out how to meaningfully engage with a large number of creators. 
  • Automating workflows for interacting with every single customer sharing brand content.
  • Developing strategies to retain creators, engage them to consistently post in a non-transactional way, and find new creators is a 24/7 job.

LoudCrowd helps with these challenges of the UGC shifting marketing strategy (scaling, costs, automation, engagement, and retention) and saving our customers $250M in marketing dollars on influencers and helping them reach 8 billion impressions collectively. 

We look to Skinny Tan as an example of a successful content business that will stand the test of time in the evolving industry of digital marketing.

Skinny Tan’s Social Squad Success

UGC is a fundamental part of our client, Skinny Tan’s identity. They were one of the first UGC-driven brands 10 years ago before it was a popular strategy and marketing tool. When starting they didn’t have the budget for marketing so they relied on real customers sharing their real self-tanning results. From customers tagging and sharing the brand, social media shopping is where they make most of their sales with the value coming from the loyalty of building customer relationships. In return for driving sales, their customers are rewarded with a repost, like, and comment that makes them feel special.

At LoudCrowd our customer success team has helped them continue to scale and build out their loyalty UGC program. With LoudCrowd they can segment different accounts, hashtags, and products to organize and download content for usage as well as track the earned media analytics being generated from the UGC’s reach. In turn, Skinny Tan uses this Micro and Nano influencer UGC in all of their marketing touchpoints: on social, on their webpage, in advertisements, and for press. With their incorporation of UGC, they built an influencer hierarchy with the different levels of creators that help serve different purposes in creating the marketing touchpoints. It’s their nano and micro-content creators that are increasing brand awareness. 

Customers love to feel valued and a part of something. Adding ambassadors to their close friends stories on Instagram adds an extra reason for them to engage and create a post for the brand with full creative freedom. Their program rewards allow them to incentivize & build brand advocacy, whilst increasing the number of tagged posts and their share of voice. 

Hayley shares some advice for brands looking to strategize with UGC. “It’s more authentic and more real than curating something that would be a traditional marketing outlet. In 2022 that’s what is going to sell your product”. By sharing real people instead of super stylized photos, customers are going to believe in your product more.

Q&A with SkinnyTan

In LoudCrowd’s social CRM 95% of brands’ customers have less than 50K followers. It’s not about the size of a customer’s following, it’s the value of their followers. From the value of a customer’s following, an average program sees at least a 10x ROI on rewards sent to customers for posting vs. EMV earned. At the panel, we opened up the floor for Hayley of Skinny Tan to answer some questions about the value their brand ambassador program adds to their marketing strategy.

How does a brand train customers to create valuable content when they are invited to join their ambassador program?

Hayley shares how they cultivate their ambassadors – “[Skinny Tan] has an influencer funnel. Once we identify these are great ambassadors, they’re creating great content, they’re really passionate about the brand, they then move up to the next level where they’re invited to digital events and get involved with product launches. Eventually, they’re handed over to our PR agencies to move up the funnel – the Social Squad is part of an overall influencer funnel”.

Does UGC work better than Influencer Marketing?

She goes on to discuss their marketing strategy – “There’s not one thing that’s better than another its a part of our overall strategy. We like to use a blend of influencers and customers to always get the most and best UGC. Social Squad members will also be on our PR lists and part of the VIP content creators. We have a holistic view we take to influencers and how we integrate them into our business rather than saying the Social Squad works better in X, Y, Z.”, as members of the social squad are also micro-influencers. 

EVERYONE can be a great content creator regardless of their follower number that UGC emphasizes on that can be used in advertising and overall drive brand revenue. Request a demo to see how to make the most of user-generated content!

Check out the Skinny Tan Social Squad to see all their UGC at work!

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