Why user-generated content is key to increasing supporter engagement

18th August 2020

Running a successful digital campaign will no-doubt include a solid social media strategy, but how can you ensure you get the best results and increase your organic reach without splashing the cash? The answer is simple: focus your energy on user-generated content (UGC).

User-generated content can be reviews, images, text, videos etc. and it’s content your supporters create that you as the brand can then share, and here’s the secret...it’s an absolute marketing goldmine! So let’s take a look at the reasons why user-generated content can help increase your supporter engagement and drive forward your campaign’s success:

Real-life storytelling is authentic

The beauty of user-generated content is it’s truth; it’s real humans sharing real content about a mandate or message your brand aligns with. And that truth is not something a brand can manufacture. In fact consumers are 2.4x more likely to say user-generated content (UGC) is authentic compared to brand-created content.

By opening up your campaign to user-generated content your brand reflects a transparency and openness with your supporters. It says ‘we’re here to listen and share your stories’ and puts the sense of importance on them and their opinions rather than you.

This naturally builds a connection from them to your brand and encourages them to become brand advocates through sharing their experience, thereby promoting your brand exposure and visibility further through storytelling.

A fantastic example of this in the charity sector is from Young Minds, who asked their activists to make their own help videos on self-soothe boxes. They were then able to make their own short combination video:

By having real people share their own unique ways to relieve anxious thoughts it doesn’t feel like a brand is dictating their message or opinions to you. In fact, it feels personal and has some incredible advice people are more likely to listen to and engage with. And that’s because...

A natural organic reach is created with user-generated content

We’ve all seen a heartwarming video on Facebook or a beautiful image on Instagram that you almost can’t help but share. It speaks to us as humans in a way that branded content just cannot and for marketers that is a golden opportunity. Take Buffer for example, their marketing team focussed on UGC with their instagram for one year and they increased their instagram following by 400%.

By engaging in UGC you’re capitalising on your social-media dependent audience and building an active and engaged community. With that comes organic growth as new people join and become part of the wider community, resulting in increased supporters and supporter engagement.

Healthwatch are currently running nationwide campaign #BecauseWeAllCare, where they are asking their supporters to share their experiences of NHS services in order to improve the care given. They are using their BrandStencil platform to provide many public shareable social tiles to encourage supporter engagement:

#BecauseWeAllCare Editable Social Tile

Already this is resulting in some really powerful user-generated content that Healthwatch are sharing to create a buzz and keep their campaign reach growing. But it’s also created content that other supporters of the same message are happily sharing, resulting in an even bigger organic reach:

Content at no extra cost

By using UGC you’re not only inspiring ownership and creativity into your supporter communities, but also providing a cost effective marketing strategy for your campaign. That then frees up budget for the more costly marketing channels such as advertising.

There are many ways you can engage your audience to produce user-generated content, depending on the freedom of the UGC type. For example, if you wanted little videos there’s very little brand assets you can include and your users will have a bit more creative freedom and it would be more ad-hoc. However if it was a social tile you wanted them to share, you may want this a little bit more on-brand.

In this case you can use a tool like BrandStencil that provides them a template to work from or something like our social poster app Buzz which enables customising and social sharing at the click of the button, so you can manage your brand while taking a back seat. Or you can deliver complete freedom, like another one of our clients who celebrated Pride Month with UGC: Teenage Cancer Trust.

A post from Teenage Cancer Trust's Facebook page

The only thing to make sure is you are always gaining consent when sharing any user-generated content. This only needs to be a quick DM, just to make sure they are happy for it to be shared, and voila - you’ve got enough content for your entire campaign.

In conclusion, UGC is one of the most important social strategies out there and is incredibly rewarding for both supporters and your brand. Through building a community of brand advocates it allows your supporters to feel connected to your message and to each other, and can result in some amazing supporter engagement for your campaign and supporter growth. It’s a no-brainer!