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Looking to boost User Generated Content usage on your website? Try these tactics

Posted by Steve Hulford on 26.10.11

October 12th, 2011 - Toronto - Over the past half decade, companies from large broadcasters to major brands have moved steadily towards an embrace of user-generated content (UGC) to enliven their product and service offerings, boost engagement on their websites—or both.

The potential benefits are huge, from deepening brand connections, to driving online revenue to previously unimagined heights. But driving UGC participation isn’t as simple as setting up a website and asking visitors to share videos or photos. It takes time, strategic planning and follow-up to drive results.

As we see in our work with UGC - loving clients every day, there are several tactics that help boost user-generated content participation and interaction on websites. UGC campaigns need to:

Generate passion — A good campaign should invite website visitors to show off their pets, babies, favourite sports moments—anything they’re truly passionate about. Generating an emotional response is the key to driving participation and sharing.

Be relevant — As with any marketing tool, it needs to be relevant to its potential target audience or clientele. Timely topics drive participation and engagement, which is why it pays to understand your audience and what might motivate them to engage and create or share content.

Include clever marketing — Even great websites featuring mind-blowing concepts need to be promoted. This is a point that often goes overlooked and results in failure for under-marketed UGC campaigns.

Involve cross promotion — A well-planned UGC campaign should also leverage other media. That might take the form of TV pushing to web or web pushing to TV, for example. That’s the case with our client CTV MyNews, which is continuously working to engage viewers by inviting citizen journalism news content. And, of course, strong promotion across multiple social media channels is crucial to driving results for a UGC campaign.

Make sharing easy — Want to get people talking about a UGC campaign? Make it easy for them to promote it by including automated sharing/commenting/rating/voting widgets, or allow them to log in with Facebook, to harness the power of referrals. There are fewer more cost effective ways to promote an initiative than by allowing it to go viral.

Provide incentives with attractive prizing — It’s not only the value of the prize that matters, but also the relevance of the prize to a target audience. And don’t just focus on grand prizes, but also random ones that can attract participants and keep them coming back for more.

Have a clear call to action — It needs to be short, easily understood, relevant to a target audience and compelling. ‘Seeding’ a campaign with sample photos or videos is a great way to drive engagement and encourage participants to take action.

Offer plenty of chances to win — If participants aren’t enticed by a fun and exciting prize, or think they only have one chance to win, odds are they won’t make multiple visits to a website and won’t go out of their way to produce dynamic content. This is where multiple, random prizes help to boost site traffic and user engagement.

Be easy to enter — This is another key point that’s often overlooked. Requiring as few clicks and including as few fields as possible to complete a sign-up form is an important step to ensuring people not only check out a UGC campaign, but engage with it. Allowing them to sign in with Facebook is one way to achieve this goal, but so, too, is giving them an opportunity to participate with minimal effort. Remember: asking participants to carry out a task that’s too complicated or time consuming is a surefire way to guarantee entries fall short of expectations.

Showcase great content — People love to see their content on a website, so the more it’s repurposed and the higher profile it has, the more people will engage with it. Our client The Weather Network has mastered the art of taking UGC—in its case, citizen journalist-produced weather photos or video—and featuring it prominently online and on television.

Not sure how to design your next UGC campaign? Here’s our take on the top 10 UGC concepts for driving website traffic:

  • Pet contests showing off cute, unique pets or tricks
  • Baby contests featuring laughing, smiling little ones
  • Home makeover websites featuring before and after home renovation photos or videos
  • UGC travel campaigns featuring content from users’ favourite trips or destinations
  • Tradition-based campaigns that ask participants to share video or photos from their summer vacation, Christmas, a holiday tradition, etc.
  • Experiential campaigns such as ones that offer internships or temporary positions to participants who upload the most interesting content
  • Music or arts-themed campaigns that ask participants to pick a favourite song and record their own version, audition for a talent program, etc.
  • Halloween-themed contests
  • Entrepreneur-focused campaigns
  • Anything food related, especially campaigns that users to upload videos featuring their favourite recipe creations

There are numerous ways to ensure a UGC initiative is successful, but keeping these points in mind is a great first step towards achieving campaign goals. Done right, an innovative UGC campaign can be one of the most cost-effective tactics for promoting a brand, boosting engagement and driving revenue.

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