User Generated Content - How can your Experiential Marketing Campaign Benefit From it?

User Generated Content is a powerful marketing tool. Learn how you can use it for Experiential Marketing - Discover the tools you need, experiences you can create and studies and examples of successful marketing campaigns.

In the year 2006, the Time Magazine selected “You” as the Person of the Year. This “You” was influencing the mass economy through immersive content that it was generating on Web 2.0 platforms. This content produced both by individuals and collaboratively by groups and shared on a platform accessible to the public is called UGC or User Generated Content. Users have generated content in private for decades, if not centuries, but this content does not qualify as UGC until it meets the criteria defined by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development. These are:

Time magazine person of the year - You


1. Publication requirement: As mentioned before, UGC must be published on a platform – either public or with restricted access. This means content shared on emails, or on a two-way chat is not considered UGC. 

2. Creative effort: The content generated should take some creative effort from the user – i.e. the user has to add value to the final content in some way. Typically, the creation of UGC is collaborative in nature – for example, a band like Nine Inch Nails uploads raw concert footage online and users edit the footage into “disks” that are published online or the band uploads the multitracks for their songs which the users mix and remix.

3. Creation outside of professional routines

UGC distribution generally does not have a commercial aspect to it. In many cases, it is produced without an expectation of profit. This is not to say it cannot be professionally produced – but only that it is not produced within the professional routines and practices. User Generated Content Marketing strategists are involved in driving the campaign, but they are not the ones who are creating UGC pictures, videos, and other form of content. 

How UGC Impacts Experiential Campaign?

UGC sounds cool, but why does it matter to you when you are trying to mount a stellar experiential marketing campaign?

First things first, if the goal of any marketing campaign is to increase brand engagement  then UGC should matter to you because it increases brand engagement by 28%. A study by ComScore found that incorporating user stories into a Facebook ad increases the average time spent looking at the ad from 4 seconds to close to a minute!

This post is a part of our series on Experiential Marketing (visit the main page by clicking on this link) or download the guide directly in PDF format from below.
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The fact is that nobody can identify and communicate the benefits of using your product better than the users themselves. They do not have a vested interest in promoting your brand and therefore help build trust with your audience.

If you are still not convinced let us point out that look at what Harris Interactive found in the survey they conducted for The Webby Awards: 68% of social media users between the age of 18 and 34 years are more likely to make a purchase if a friend has posted about the product. Another study has found that 86% of millennials consider UGC as a good indicator of a brand’s quality.

The focus of experiential marketing is to provide the user with a credible experience. This makes UGC an organic part of any such experiential marketing event or campaign. You want your users to talk about the experience they had.

This is especially important as experiential activations during marketing events are generally restricted in time and place – allowing only a small number of your target group to participate in them. UGC is a way to make the people who couldn’t attend the event experience it through a proxy.

Further, it lets the users of the brand start a conversation not just with the brand but also with other potential users – generating value for all participants in the process. 

Ways to Integrate UGC into Your Experiential  Campaign

1. Social media wall

The event promotion does not end with the launch of the event.  This is the time you should encourage your participants to share their experience, UGC photos, and videos online. An effective way of doing this is to show the UGC being uploaded live on a “social media wall”. As participants see their friends feed on the wall, they will want to share their own as well.

This UGC strategy adds to your social media advertising efforts. Further, all the content generated can be used for promoting the brand long after the event is completed.

One of the more effective ways to have people share their selfies taken at the event is through the use of a photo booth where they can snap a picture with their favorite celebrity or superhero. See how WOWSOME did it during Zee Theatre's Laughter Therapy show.

zee theatre laughter therapy photo booth - wowsome experiential marketing campaign - Sumona Chakravarti

2. Leverage influencers

Among the people who follow you on social media, there could be a few who have a substantial following. Be especially aware of micro-influencers who may have comparatively few but very loyal followers. If they like your brand, they could be the biggest advocates you can work with. Reach out to them and find out if they would like to connect with the event in a formal capacity, or if you could provide them details about your brand that they can use when tweeting/ posting about your brand.

You could also ask if they would be interested in being recognized as a social media evangelist for your event – all they have to do it share their thoughts with the right hashtag. Of course, you could choose to work with them at a brand level instead of at an event level – but starting the relationship with a campaign in focus would be the best way to test the waters.

3. Social media contest


break up letter - T-mobile social media contest


T-Mobile asked its followers to write break-up” letters to their current carriers – in exchange to paying their early termination fees. This contest turned out to be a huge marketing coup with over 80,000 letters submitted online – showcasing the troubles the other carriers had.

This automatically allowed t-mobile to get some positive coverage on social media in addition to what they achieved by social media advertising. T-Mobile's social media contest thus proved to be a stellar example of using social media for business and for coverage through UGC.

This is just one of many successful social media contests run by different User Generated Content Marketers. They focus on the experience that the participants have had – positive ones with the brand or the negative ones with the competitors as in the above example. Whatever the contest, remember that the UGC you encourage your users to create must also be easy to re-use as promotional material. 

4. Send out requests

Why not just ask your followers to help promote experiential activations during your event? If they like you as a brand and feel invested as a stakeholder of your brand image – then asking them to help you out will be as effective as any other way to incentivize participation.

Think of how Nine Inch Nails managed to create high-quality DVDs out of their events just by asking the fan base to contribute – so can you, as long as you know the limits of what your fans can achieve.


5. Pay for UGC

Incentivize UGC distribution by providing your users with some monetary gain. It need not be very high – get 5% off of your bill if you tweet with the campaign hashtag, get a special cap if you share UGC pictures, say share a selfie with the event poster. It may not be much but it shows that you care for your users and the content they create. The success of #MJDaisyChain is a testament to the power of such incentives.

Marc Jacobs pop-up shop takes instagrams/tweets for payments

While it is obvious that incorporating UGC into your innovative experiential marketing campaign improves the effectiveness on every dimension you could measure success on, it may be a little unclear who owns the content. Remember that all the content that a user generates - blogs, social media messages, photos they shoot, videos they record, etc. – are the creator's property.

If you are linking to the original content in its original context or resharing it on social media platform it was originally posted on – you have nothing to worry  about as the norms of new media today assume an implied consent in these cases.

On the other hand, if you wish to use UGC in a context that you create – for example, use the photo taken by a user in a social media advertisement or re-upload the content on your own website – it is always better to ask for explicit permission from the original creator. Most brands consider the use of brand-sanctioned hashtags as implicit consent.

Be friendly when you ask for permission to use UGC, but do not be overly familiar. Be careful with how you phrase questions so that the users do not mark it away as spam. Make sure that the requests go out of your primary marketing account, and do not depend on automated replies for such messages. In the end, do not forget to thank the users who give you permission.

If you would like to know more about how you could incorporate UGC into your experiential marketing campaign, feel free to reach out to WOWSOME to hash out the best ideas.

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