I had the pleasure of being on the panel for part two of Event Huddle’s topical conversation based on social media for events, discussing user-generated content (UGC). This was a continuation from part one’s discussion of ‘Social media for Events’, again held at one Wimpole Street in London, a few weeks prior.
I’m Group Creative Director at drp, an integrated communications and production services agency. We started out some 37 years ago producing corporate films and from there branched into live events, exhibition and digital production, and more recently fulling our growth with the formation of a dedicated strategic comms team. All this in answer to the growing needs of our clients for communicating with their people and customers alike. All serviced by over 260 people based in our UK studios in Covent Garden, Worcester, Windsor and Leeds.
On the day, I was joined by Alice Chau who is a strategist for creative agency, Cult LDN. At Cult, they place themselves at the intersection of creativity and technology, and primarily work with B2C consumers. Some of their clients include fashion brands such as Barbour and Amazon fashion, with strategies being incorporated in real life events and amplifying those through digital content and UGC.
A great opening question from moderator Kevin Jackson, Director of Ideas and Innovation was, what makes UGC so important?
When it comes to UGC, there has been a significant shift in the way in which authentic content is being presented to consumers in contrast to branded content. People adhere to authentic content as it’s seen to be routed in reality, so, it’s therefore important to create cut-through, genuine and engaging content that people are going to believe in… ‘Trust’ is the magic word!
At drp, many of our clients operate as B2B organisations. This requires a different understanding and approach when it comes to UGC. There are unique challenges in comparison to B2C, especially when it comes to social and we’re seeing the growing appetite of our clients to incorporate UGC as part of their communications. From a pure internal perspective, it’s about people positively engaging with their employers through the sharing of knowledge and experiences of their fellow colleagues. This is their trusted insight and as for customers, they are now more than ever, looking for recommendations for the companies they wish to follow or interact with.
When it comes to UGC, keeping the momentum is vital. Alice mentions a call to action is something we all need to ensure we have. So, if you want consumers to share your content or you want them to contribute, create a hashtag and get people to join the conversation, then you need to be clear about this from the start. Even now, brands want to co-create with their consumers, so using Instagram stories, polls and hashtags, with succinct text, a short distinctive video and a unique image that stands out, is how we can consistently keep our audience interested and involved.
Personally, I think keeping things as simple as possible is better. The use of polls as Alice mentioned is a quick and easy way to engage with your audience and get them started in the process of sharing content or sharing their views. The more you ask your audience to do to participate, the greatest the reason they will have for not doing so, especially at the start of your campaign. Not everyone shares the same passion for digital feedback and interaction and their time is at a premium. Find a balance and keep it simple. Consider manufacturing some content to create that initial momentum and help your audience get on board. But make it authentic and keep it real, then they will then happily take over and lead the conversation.
ROI – Return on Investment
There are several tools you can use to track ROI. At Cult they use Union Metrics, which tracks the reach and impressions of any given hashtag. More simply, all social media platforms have their own analytic tools that you can use. You can look at engagement rates and see how valuable people’s comments are, what they think of your content and track the number of clicks to site. It’s also important to reply to people if they send you a message. This investment of our time is extremely valuable as you will better understand who your contributors are. You can build up that sense of community, building that vital conversation, even if it’s just a simple reply.
Certainly, from an internal perspective, it’s one of the most challenging components of any communication, with your aim to record a positive impact on the organisation or at the least consider where or how it could have succeeded for the next time.
"People adhere to authentic content as it’s seen to be routed in reality, so, it’s therefore important to create cut-through, genuine and engaging content that people are going to believe in… ‘Trust’ is the magic word!"
We use various platforms at drp to help us better create and place UGC, but also reveal the levels of involvement we are achieving at any one time. Quite often we are asking people to do or think differently, and we need to have metrics in place to see the results, not just on what they are doing, but how it is impacting the organisation itself.
It can often be deemed that if a company uses UGC and it doesn’t work instantaneous and a desired number of people did not get involved, then often you are faced with the view of ‘that didn’t work so let’s not do that again’. But whilst many people are used to UGC outside the workplace, doing so within is often viewed completely different. We need to understand that we need to apply the idea of our people getting used to the idea giving content and sharing it within their work environment, and as time goes by we will see those levels of contribution grow and interaction increase. Basically, the rule is simply to not give up!
With clients, we are noticing a rise in requests to incorporate UGC in their live events. Some organisations are taking longer to adopt this form or content generation; however, their employees have a growing expectation of such content being of greater importance and substance in the experience their employers are providing. Once businesses see how relatable and beneficial UGC content is, they will begin to utilise UGC as a way to strengthen a culture of honesty and inclusivity for all.
Incentives for user generated content
Alice mentions that competitions are a good way to entice people and get them to follow and interact with your social media platforms and content when it comes to UGC. There are of course many ways to reward those that contribute but we have to be careful not to challenge the genuine nature of UGC otherwise it simply becomes corporate advertising and self-promotion.
From an internal point of view this is better known as ‘propaganda’ and will have the exact opposite effect to which you have set out to achieve, so tread carefully when it comes to rewards. Often the kudos of recognition can be more powerful than a monetary award, but the opportunity of experiences that offer greater personal and professional opportunities. These business incentives can be even more powerful and a formidable way to get people involved without being deemed as a frivolous gift or disingenuous ‘pay per contribution’ strategy. Remember… ‘Trust’ is the magic word!
How do you start running a campaign with user generated content?
When it comes to this topic it’s a try, test, and try again approach. Try uploading content to different social channels, try different formats and see which one works the best. Take note of the engagement and use those learnings and apply them going forward. Keep it simple so that people understand and if it’s not quite the content that you were after, continue to evolve and tweak the ask. And don’t forget you can always manufacture your initial content to get people on board and help show them the way.
Overall when it comes to UGC it’s important to know how to utilise this platform to its advantage to ensure you are invoking the most compelling and meaningful content. When talking to employees, over 50% of the reason for your UGC strategy is in the asking. Often to be asked is as powerful, if not more so, than the responses you receive. Then tie your responses back to the original ask and watch your engagement levels soar and ROI surge.
Check out the Event Huddle video in full here...
By Richard Hingley – Group Creative Director