Last year, Facebook announced that there were more than 6 million active advertisers on its platform.
You only need to take a quick look through your Facebook or Instagram feeds to see just how many brands are fighting for space and customer engagement with every scroll.
And it’s not just ads from competing retailers, but also the organic content from friends and family, news outlets, celebrities and influencers.
How are you supposed to break through the noise and stand out from your competitors and the latest holiday selfies?
User generated content campaigns.
Far from being just another marketing fad, user generated content (UGC) is the result of our increasingly globally connected world and it’s here to stay. Images, videos and reviews from your customers are freely uploaded to social media every day.
In fact, by 2020, consumers are predicted to overtake marketers in content creation. Many brands are already making the most of this treasure chest of genuine customer content, and you should too.
Here at Heavy Head Social, we can help you to find the best ways to collect UGC, encourage more UGC, and then use it in your Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns.
Once you do, you’ll have found a really effective way of making sure that your ads get noticed in any noisy news feed.
What’s So Great About UGC?
In the past few years, the advertising industry has had to reevaluate everything it thought it knew.
As Gen Z and Millennials have grown up, increased their disposable income and moved into different phases in their lives where they’re buying more products and services, they have become powerful consumers.
And these particular consumers don’t have the time or patience for generic advertising campaigns, unsubstantiated claims and badly photoshopped products.
This group view (and create) hundreds of images and videos every day, so can easily spot inauthentic advertising campaigns and will quickly dismiss them – there’s plenty else to move on to.
Advertisers are seen as untrustworthy. Nowadays, trust comes from personal recommendations, with 89% of millennials being more convinced by recommendations from family and friends than by claims of the brand itself.
User-generated content bridges the gap between personal recommendations and traditional advertising.
These types of stats show that you need to rethink how you market your products and manage your social media advertising.
Obviously, as an eCommerce store owner you have no control on a one-on-one level over who gives personal recommendations about your products.
But you’re also aware that traditional advertising images and messaging just aren’t working as effectively any more.
User-generated content bridges the gap between these two things. With tactical steps like those in our Heavy Ecosystem, you can gain access to the personal recommendations and relatable content around your products, then repurpose it for effective Facebook and Instagram ads.
The benefits of UGC are many. Content shared by your happy customers helps you to become a brand that’s relatable and credible. Your customers are more than happy to help you to build your brand by sharing content that shows off your products.
They demonstrate the products’ capabilities and quality and build up trust in your overall service. It’s been proven that this type of content is effective and worthwhile. Pitted against brand content in A/B testing, Facebook ads with UGC had a 300% higher CTR.
On top of all this, it’s cost effective. You can collect hundreds or even thousands of bits of high-quality content from a user generated content campaign to repurpose and use in your Facebook and Instagram ads.
The time and money that you spend on engaging with your customers and managing the output of UGC are minimal compared to the cost of creating a comparable variety of content yourself.
Convinced? Now Here’s How to Find Your Store’s UGC
There are a few main ways to get user generated content.
The most simple is to promote a content campaign. Most often through social media and a brand hashtag, customers will begin to post content of your products, which you can then search through and select for use in your Facebook and Instagram ads.
At Heavy Head, we love to make an impact with UGC ads by mixing images together to create kickass videos that get noticed on the newsfeed.
Sometimes, customers will already see the social currency attached to sharing your products on social media.
But this is not always the case.
Perhaps your eCommerce store is still new and building up a following on social media. Or maybe your products aren’t flashy or photogenic items that users will instantly want to share with their friends and family.
In these cases, a competition asking your customers to create content for your brand to win a prize is an excellent way of boosting your UGC in a strategic and structured way.
Reaching out to social media influencers can create some of the best UGC campaigns for eCommerce brands.
Finally, brands with more resources available to them might consider reaching out to social media influencers. Usually this will involve a more formal agreement and payment but it can create some of the best UGC campaigns for eCommerce brands.
The authenticity of the content remains the same, just with a more powerful reach.
For the most part, UGC is created, collected and repurposed all on the same social media networks, like Facebook and Instagram.
Some brands will, however, choose to create a dedicated website, app or portal for their customers to submit content directly to them.
This direct transaction avoids any potential concerns about ownership of content and can help (especially with competition content campaigns) to keep submissions organised and regulated.
Whichever way you choose to collect your user generated content, it’s important to always get permission from the creator.
On Facebook or Instagram, a simple comment or DM asking if you can use your customer’s image is usually enough.
For competitions, you may need to publish clear terms and conditions to ensure that you’re collecting content and giving out rewards in a fair way.
You must have a good foundation from which to grow your UGC. If you are clear about your brand’s voice and customer persona, you will be able to easily select the content that best fits with your style and goals.
If you spot negative feedback at any point, deal with it quickly and professionally and try to learn from your customer’s gripes.
Repurposing UGC for Facebook and Instagram Ads
If you manage it well, the amount of UGC that you’re able to use for advertising far outweighs the content you would get from regular photoshoots.
Being able to use fresh content from your own customers to regularly change up your creatives can be a really valuable thing, especially for smaller stores.
Seal the deal with UGC showing someone using your bestselling product or a compelling customer review.
Just because your UGC is coming to you more easily than traditional brand-owned advertising images, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the same kind of strategy to select the right content for the right campaigns.
If you’re running a campaign to raise brand awareness for new customers, it’s a good idea to pull in visitors to your store with eye-catching images and videos.
For campaigns targeting returning visitors, Heavy Head’s strategy might be to seal the deal with UGC showing someone using your bestselling product or a compelling customer review.
As we said earlier, brands using user generated content in their ads get a much higher CTR than those using regular brand images.
Using content that’s relatable, trustworthy and fits well in newsfeeds next to content from the user’s friends and family will increase your ads’ relevancy scores.
The higher the relevancy score that your ads achieve, the lower the cost per engagement for you.
10 Examples of Brands Rocketing their Engagement with UGC
1. Gymshark – Relatable and Aspirational Images
With sportswear brand Gymshark’s branded hashtag, they encouraged their customers to share images of them wearing their workout clothes while doing weight training, boxing and much more.
They use the best images and video from this user generated content campaign in highly effective ads that show potential customers what the clothes are like in a real-world setting.
These aspirational images are very high quality, but still relatable and fit well in customers’ social media newsfeeds, unlike bland product photos.
2. Charlotte Tilbury – Customer Reviews That Get Noticed
Charlotte Tilbury chooses to mix user-generated content in the form of reviews, with their own brand content, in the form of instructional videos about their make-up and skincare products.
They have picked their best customer reviews and highlighted them clearly in the short ad copy. By blending this content (which may not be very impactful on its own) with a highly valuable video to inform and educate customers, Charlotte Tilbury is maintaining its strong brand image and increasing their CTR.
Here at Heavy Head, we love this tactic because showing an impressive 5 star review is super effective for persuading returning visitors that haven’t bought after engaging with the first ad.
3. Nike – A Quick Turnaround from UGC to Ad Creative
Finding and repurposing UGC quickly is popular with service-based businesses like hotels, bars or experiences, where the link between the customer and the brand is more immediate.
But there are ways to make this work in eCommerce as well. Nike’s #PHOTOiD campaign was a great example of this. Users could create custom Nike Air Max trainers using a web app by matching colours to their favourite photo on Instagram.
The unique trainer was then displayed with the photo. Users were encouraged to buy and to repost the image back on social media, creating a bold blend of UGC to promote the new campaign.
4. GoPro – Or, Take Your Time and Collect the Best UGC
Unlike Nike’s campaign, GoPro is a brand that takes time selecting the best UGC for its ad campaigns. By using a simple brand hashtag, they constantly monitor the content their customers are uploading to social media.
As well as being aware of their brand style and customer profile when selecting UGC, they also make note of what content is already getting good engagement before it’s been repurposed by them, for example by searching under the ‘Top Posts’ tab on Instagram.
This extra level of assurance that the content resonates with their audience makes for an even more successful campaign.
5. Motel Rocks – Show Off A Lot of UGC at Once with a Carousel Ad
Fashion brand Motel Rocks has built up a very engaged audience on social media over the years.
They make the most of their high amounts of UGC by showing multiple looks of the same products or styles in a carousel ad on Facebook.
The content gets high engagement as the brand’s potential customers have a connection with the girls of their peer group that they see in the images.
By allowing the users to scroll through multiple images in the same ad, it increases the likelihood of conversions.
6. Butternut Box – Combine User Reviews and Images
The great thing about user-generated content is the wide variety of mediums, types and styles.
And because the content is home-made, lacking the polish of brand content, it’s easy to incorporate more than one type of UGC to create an even more impactful message for your Instagram and Facebook ads.
Pet food startup Butternut Box has done just that, adding fun text from reviews to customer’s videos. The brand manages to create a powerful message that shows exactly who they are as a brand, all with content created by their customers from a simple user generated content campaign.
7. adidas – Work with Influencers
Brands like adidas like to take their UGC strategy to the next level by reaching out to influencers. This process takes longer than other types of UGC – a special event might be planned and negotiations about payment and posts will have to take place.
But the reward of working with experienced content creators who have a qualified following of their own is worth it. Some influencers only have small followings (200k to a couple of million) but still can bring a lot of buyers to your website.
Campaigns like the new POD System range from adidas show the balance between content that’s curated by the brand itself, but still holds the familiarity and authenticity of user-generated content.
8. West Elm – Split Test your Ads
When West Elm started to encourage UGC with their customers using the simple hashtag #mywestelm, they wanted to know for sure that Facebook ads with UGC would be more effective than their usual branded content.
By running A/B testing on their ads, they could easily track that the CTR for UGC ads was 2.6 times better than their regular ad content and their ROAS also increased.
9. Warby Parker – Make the Most of Selfies
If the advantage of user generated content is that it’s relatable for your audience, then selfies are surely the ultimate example of this.
Love them or hate them, the smiling face of a real person creates a connection that can’t be replicated with any other type of branded content.
The added bonus for glasses brand Warby Parker is that using UGC selfies shows off their products in an authentic real-life environment.
10. Doc Martens – Show the Range and Capabilities of Your Products
Creating coherent marketing strategies for your brand can be hard. If you have multiple audience groups, knowing how to engage with them through your advertising without alienating another group can be a tricky balance.
Putting all your ad spend into one branded photoshoot that speaks to a specific audience could be a costly mistake if your messaging doesn’t hit the mark. With UGC, you can let your customers take the lead.
Doc Martens celebrates the fact that they have a wide variety of customers and use their user-generated content to show off all the possibilities for styling their shoes and boots.
User Generated Content Campaigns for eCommerce Advertising
With convincing stats and real-life user generated content examples, we want to show eCommerce retailers looking to scale their store to 6 or 7 figures a month, that harnessing the power of user generated content can be as rewarding as it is cost effective.