Both brand generated content (BGC) and user generated content (UGC) are converging – leaving marketers to wonder how to leverage social generated content to increase consumer engagement – and ultimately transaction. With this in mind, we believe this is the year that Social Media and ROI converges for brands – on a whole new level. 

Pain points in Social Media for brands to date:

Consumer adaptation to social media has been fast.  Consider that Facebook only came into the digital sphere just over 10 years ago, with user adoption growing year over year like nothing we have ever seen.  As access to high speed WIFI and portable devices increased, consumers have adapted quickly to social media, with teens spending upwards of 9 hours a day on social media – with the average person spening two hours.

To help put this into perspective, according to AdWeek, we spend more time on social media than we do eating/drinking, grooming or socializing (in person.) Which actually translates to more than 5 years of our lives on social media platforms.

With this rapid shift in consumer behaviour has also come increase in adaption to e-commerce over the traditional retail experience.

The brick-and-mortar retail experience is challenged if done exclusively, and many brands are scrambling to catch up as the digital revolution is underway. This has lead to a place where brands are watching as their consumers are starting to shop more and more with the tips of their fingers than by the traditional in-store experience.
A Digital First approach is necessary today as part of almost every part of brand marketing including social media.  Digital content, including user generated photos, videos and tweets have become an important part of the consumer buying cycle.  

The challenges marketers have faced as Social Media has emerged:

Content development. The production of creative requires time and money, and a lot of brands have no problem making the investment – but struggle with the return.  

Limited budgets. There is already too much demand placed on marketing budgets with omni-channel marketing spreading Adspend thin – using user generated content means marketing teams can’t use those resources for other programs.

Confusion around UGC. Brands currently struggle to effectively leverage user generated content. They either lack the capabilities on their own team, or they are unaware of the opportunity before them.

No measure of ROI – with increased costs in managing social media.

UGC as content for marketing: The paradigm shift

Brands have their own social assets including Instagram and Facebook images, tweets – as well as video and now “live streams” that tell their brand stories whether generated by the brand –  by influencers, or by regular consumers.  

There are millions of pieces of content being shared and tagged each min.  The “real” user generated social content, or UGC (User Generated Content), is seen as more authentic to consumers.  In addition, user generated content can tell richer and more authentic “story” –  which makes it look and feel less like a marketing tactic – and more like an endorsement, or testimonial.

Here’s how brands can use UGC within the marketing mix , converging social media and ROI:

  • Social galleries around campaigns, product launches or popular brands – Leverages influencers to tell your stories for you, and to create stories on mass – allowing for lean production costs.
  • Shop the Look social galleries that live on the brand website, but have the user experience of Instagram – allowing customers to click on the image and buy.
  • Social galleries of content around brands – showing a collective “real-time” social experience on the brand website – keeping users on the website instead of leading them off back to social  media platforms.  This allows brands to ability to engage with customers again – without the intermediary of Facebook, Instagram etc.
  • Influencer marketing also becomes easier to determine ROI as all content shared and reshared by the influencer is tracked – and can even be tracked back to conversion!

What to consider when implementing a UGC and Social Commerce strategy:

  • Key objectives should be reviewed prior to deciding on the technology to support social commerce.
  • Resources to support the setup, and ongoing management and integration to other brand marketing initiatives.
  • Cost of the technology, as well as the resources to manage a long term social commerce strategy.
  • Analysis of where social commerce can lead to leaner production and resource costs for marketing.
  • Defining KPI’s for implementation of social commerce that may  include:  Higher website engagement metrics, such as:  increases in time on site, fewer website bounce rates, and increased opportunity to drive customer acquisition (email sign ups)  and sales.

Once the strategy and KPIs have been determined, initial content and campaigns have been implemented,  it is easy to tie Social commerce to ROI, and also plan for scaling into the future.

This is a brave new world of brand subculture – one that is heavily played out on social media. Tapping into these experiences and stories will allow brands to strengthen consumer trust, and also to drive relevancy, reach and revenue.

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