Branded content — the content designed in-house or by an agency for a specific brand to use — can only go so far in creating authentic connections with consumers. Branded content can work well in marketing to shape your company voice and values, but consumers are likely to skip past content that feels like an ad they’ve seen before. That’s why the best digital marketing strategies integrate branded content with original, community-driven user-generated content (UGC) (and potentially influencer marketing).
90% of customers say UGC impacts their decisions more than promotional emails and search engine results, making it a highly effective marketing approach.
On the other end, branded content created by a designer or your brand’s internal team attracts customers' attention and demonstrates the benefits of the business, maintaining a brand style and tone without being too salesy. It strays away from traditional advertising's hard-sell technique and leverages content to drive interaction. Get the creative juices flowing by checking out some website design inspiration for ideas to promote branded content that strays from traditional advertising's hard-sell technique and leverages content to drive interaction. This includes blogs/articles, videos, infographics, and social media content.
To get the most out of the media your brand shares online, from website to social content, coupling branded content with UGC ensures you convey authenticity while staying on brand.
Why Blend Branded Content and UGC?
Blending branded content and UGC is essential to a community-driven marketing strategy. This is because today's consumers put a high value on the opinions of those they know and trust — friends, family, existing customers and influencers before making a purchase.
For content marketers, the potential and power of branded content still exists and influences customers. Syncing it with user-generated content that demonstrates social proof ensures unlocking the best business results.
Annie Selke doubled conversions by implementing UGC alongside existing content on social media and the brand’s ecommerce website. Similarly, Windsor increased repeat visit rate on their site by 200% with the same strategy. Let’s discuss how your brand can reap these types of benefits.
Tell (Stories), Don’t Sell (Products)
Empowering your customers to share UGC lets them tell their stories with your product or service, and these experiences can be very effective when it comes to instilling purchase confidence.
Try leveraging such content to bridge the gap between awareness and continuous affinity through an organic approach. This offers fully immersive experiences to existing and prospective users.
Here are some quick ways to introduce UGC in addition to branded content:
Invite customers to share media with your product on social media
Run a social media contest asking fans to share their experiences for the chance to win a reward
Add opportunities for customers to upload photos directly to your site
Suggest that customers leaving a review also upload a photo
Use a UGC platform like Pixlee TurnTo to discover existing content from your community and showcase it across your marketing channels, welcoming more content as well
With Pixlee TurnTo, brands can create shoppable galleries of social media content on-site, automatically collecting and curating content from your brand’s own social profiles as well as your customers’.
On your website, in emails, and via social media, the content your brand shares can all come off as authentic and genuine, even if some of it is branded. Do so by taking tips from the content your customers do share, and experiment with different social media content ideas that align with the way they talk about your brand.
One approach involves creating and marketing meaningful hashtags for your consumers to use and enter your brand’s contest. This help creates user-generated content with participation while driving brand association through.
Cosmetics brand Morphe combines brand photography with UGC, inspiring customers to try new products and makeup trends. The brand promotes their hashtag #MorpheBabes, and uses Pixlee TurnTo to collect and curate content shared by users worldwide with the tag.
Their social media and website pages are packed with real people showing off their makeup tutorials and looks. The content is user-driven, and the brand is visibly present in posts made by passionate customers about the products they used to create a look.
Incentivizing #hashtags in exchange for reward can also add to loyalty.
Enable Engagement and Loyalty
As discussed earlier, user-generated content can offer brand visibility by promoting engagement and loyalty. Your branded content can also do this, and the two types of content can work together.
Delta takes the unique approach of complementing branded content telling the company’s story with UGC and employee-driven content on Instagram. This content diversity covers all of the bases when it comes to Instagram marketing.
The goal is to have strong content associated with your brand that solidifies trust, builds on it, and later turns customers into brand evangelists.
Also, keep up with post-sales services to turn them into brand loyalists. Engage them on social media or reach out to them via email to connect with these potential brand advocates. One benefit of using one platform for both UGC and influencer management is that users you discover while collecting UGC can easily become a part of your influencer database.
Customers who look up to your brand feel ‘included’ if you involve them. Provide a way for them to actively participate in your brand journey, enabling them to connect to your brand’s community.
Try including UGC alongside branded content at all the different stages of the funnel — top, middle, and bottom. You’ll need to drive engagement by connecting with prospective buyers throughout their buying lifecycle. This will include collecting different types of content — reviews, customer testimonials, success stories, and more.
Your ecommerce websites’s product pages (PDPs) are great options to weave branded content and UGC together. While a site visitor likely wants to see professional photos and videos from your brand displaying content, they also want to contextualize it by seeing people like them using the product.
Revel Nail combines Instagram and TikTok content from nail art enthusiasts in their community with brand photos of the product. This strategy ensures prospective buyers can clearly view the different colors in a nail set, for example, while exploring how customers like them used those colors to create some awesome manicures.
Branded content will likely always have a place in ecommerce marketing, and UGC provides another way to authentically showcase your products through the eyes of passionate customers. While the PDP is lower down on the funnel than social media posts, for example, both can benefit from sharing real use cases from happy customers.
Now is the time to move beyond the usual marketing and leverage technology and social media, and give power to people. Let them tell their peers about their experiences with your brand, and use the branded content you create to support that UGC. The above examples illustrate how successful branded content initiatives can forge connections with new customers, broaden a company's creative boundaries, and engage the audience.
Ensure that at the heart of any UGC is your brand and its message. This will let people know the capability of a particular product or service, spread awareness, and boost social proof prior to purchasing.
Pixlee TurnTo Contributor
Pixlee TurnTo welcomes contributed content from leading marketers, influencers and ecommerce experts.