How to attract and curate User Generated Content (UGC)

This week we’re looking at how you can bring some UGC into your brands life, curating user generated content alongside creating content.

It’s time to start curating user generated content (UGC), you need it on your site. You know why? Because it gets people interested in, engaging with and sharing your brands story. Above all it builds trust, people trust other people more than your brand, get over it it’s a fact. Content marketing and integrated campaigns feel lacking without the addition of UGC, such is it’s power.

But, not all UGC is the same and every company requires a different variety. UGC can fall into various categories, including product reviews, blog posts, forum entries and social media sharing. Most importantly, not always is it beneficial. The mindset shift in a UGC world is moving from simply creating content to curating user generated content.

Content created by your users does a lot to influence your brand. It stands as a representation of your company and has a lot of sway in recruiting potential customers to your site.

So, before you start plastering your UGC all over the web, consider which type of audience you want to attract.

Once you know this, you can start seeding your site or social media stream with comments and content that is going to get your desired audience communicating with your brand.

Here are a few ways to inspire people to generate content for your brand:

Run a competition

This year, Tourism Australia has re-launched their ‘Best Job in the World’ competition, which gives people the chance to win one of six amazing jobs in Australia, while also subsequently promotes tourism in the country.

After huge success last year, YouTube, Canon and Ron Howard have teamed up again for Project Imagin8ion. The competition asks photographers to submit their most imaginative photographs under categories including setting, character and time, with a winner being selected in each. This will form the fodder for a 30-minute movie to be directed by Howard. While the entrants get the opportunity to contribute to a movie directed by a Hollywood star, the brands also get their names shared and publicised.

Make a platform for people to contribute to

Websites like TripAdvisor and Allrecipes do this very well. In fact, much of their business plan depends on UGC. For these brands, having their users providing the content for their site creates a website for people who want advise from a community of likeminded and knowledgeable people. It’s the relatable factor that makes this approach work. On these sites, users contribute travel advice and recipes respectively. Millions of users log on daily for advice from people like them, not a travel writer being paid to review a hotel, or a top chef expecting every household to have a pasta maker and a bamboo sushi rolling mat.

The Guardian has also just implemented this approach. Their new platform – GuardianWitness – invites anybody who’s in the right place at the right time to contribute live news content to the site, whether video, photographs or audio material.

Make UGC your product

Chicago-based printing company Threadless sells designer t-shirts. But, it’s not what you might expect. The company invites artists to submit their creative designs to their site for ranking. Over a week, the Threadless community rates the designs from 1 to 5 and leaves feedback that helps the company decide which piece to print on a t-shirt. The chosen artists receive upfront cash and royalties from the sales. Effectively, the users are doing all of the work; all Threadless has to do is print the t-shirts.

Trust your users

After all, they’re the ones who will buy your product. Burberry launched the site, Art of the Trench, in 2009 and in true high-end designer fashion, paved the way for many other brands to follow. The website shows photographs of real, fashionable people wearing the iconic Burberry trench coat. Utilising your users photographs is a great way to get people sharing your brand on social streams.

Yogawear brand Lululemon has also done this effectively by incorporating Instagram into their marketing plan. Using a specific hashtag, users were asked to tweet or Instagram photos of themselves living #TheSweatLife and wearing Lululemon clothing.

If you’re looking for a London based digital agency to help boost your brand, why not get in touch with DVO!

Creating Content Is Easy, But Gaining Readership Is Hard

In today’s digital age, creating content has never been easier, but getting it seen, read and paid for is a whole different ball game. As a full service digital agency it’s in our DNA so this week we’re sharing some of our insights to help you do things better.

Pre-internet era content creation used to be simple. It was created and distributed by select publishers and newspapers, and they would fund the creation process through advertisements and paid subscriptions. These publications would have a relatively stable readership base that would gobble up their content like daily bread. However, a variety of players have entered the content creation market since then.

Brands now give away free content in an effort to engage with their target market as a way to maintain and grow their consumer base. Bloggers write on their own platforms to make their opinions freely accessible to the public. And normal people share their own titbits of content via social networks as an efficient way to ‘socialise’ and ‘share’. A good piece of content nowadays needs only a topic, opinion and an angle, written with no grammatical errors and posted in a timely manner.

As the quality of these free branded and blogger content continues to improve, readers are left feeling reluctant to pay for content since a plethora of free options exist, forcing traditional publishers to rethink their monetisation strategy.

Furthermore, the abundance of free content also makes gaining readership harder than ever for brands and bloggers, as readers can now pick and choose free content as they please, resulting in a huge SEO and social media investment by both brands and bloggers.

The biggest issue that content providers face is no longer the content creation process, but a distribution and readership issue. This is why modern day content creation involves SEO, social media, guest blogging, free access and web versions of print articles.

The problem lies in the fact that there is so much content on the web, meaning a single piece of content will inevitably struggle to be seen. Creating content is dead easy, but gaining readers requires a whole lot more work.

If you’re looking for a London based digital agency to help with your marketing needs, then why not get in touch with DVO!

How to Respond to Negative Brand Content

This week we look at negative brand content and steps to make things better.

Negative brand content can be hard to swallow. But at some point every brand and business will have a negative brand content experience, you just need to know how to deal with it. With the rise of brands using social media as a platform to engage with their customers, it has become easier for people to spread negative comments about brands online. But do not fear, there are ways that you can manage this negativity and even use it to your advantage.

Social media is a very easy platform for complaints. If a negative comment is made by the wrong person it can spread like wild fire. This could result in serious damage to your reputation and a consequent effect on sales. Here’s a few tips on how to tackle negative brand content:

  • Don’t panic! This might lead you to tweet or comment defensively without thinking about the effect on the reputation of your brand.
  • Who are they? The type of person who is sending out negativity regarding your brand is important to how you form your response. There are trolls on twitter that are just trying to get your attention, but industry experts or genuine customers making a negative comment or writing a bad review need to be addressed.
  • Timely Engagement Nip it in the bud with a strategic response. Use the negativity as feedback and opportunity to engage with your customer. It’s not a good idea to ignore a genuine complaint as it will be perceived that you simply don’t care about your customers. Use this opportunity to show that you do value your customer’s feedback and that you are willing to provide a solution to the complaint.
  • Don’t be a robot When you respond to a complaint or review, make sure you sound like a human being. It won’t work in your favour if your customer feels that they are communicating with an automated service, so give everyone a unique and genuine response. Be honest and apologetic and make sure you’re using real words and not corporate jargon.
  • Be Honest Don’t try to avoid or hide negative comments. If you respond professionally and appropriately it can actually to your brand a favour.
  • Get Ahead It is safe to expect that you will experience some kind of negativity online somewhere along the line, so be proactive. Establish an online presence for your company or brand via Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, blogs and shareable creative content. This way search engines will always be populated with content you’ve created when you are searched for and not negative press. 

If you’re looking for a London based creative agency to help with your marketing needs, then why not get in touch with DVO!

The Rise of The Mummy Bloggers

With the fragmentation of media channels and audiences on the internet, it’s become harder than ever for companies and political parties to identify demographic groups united by a creed or culture. But over the past several years, one such collective has emerged and become a major force of influence over consumer and other preferences. These are the Mummy Bloggers.

What you think about Mummy Bloggers probably depends on the angle your relationship to them points from. If you’re a mother of young children, you appreciate the shared wisdom and insight into the sometimes baffling experience of trying to raise a child. If you’re a marketer, you see Mummy Bloggers as a potential gold-mine, a way to disseminate your brand name and products to a consumption-hungry audience. If you’re slightly jaded about the whole people setting up blogs and websites to get free products from companies thing, you probably won’t care much either way.

Mummy Bloggers didn’t start out as a freebie-seeking, swag-bag grabbing group. They were women with something to say talking to other women who wanted to listen. They are undeniably a phenomenon and probably mark the first time in history where women have been able to communicate with each other on a mass scale via a direct channel about their personal experiences of motherhood. Some commentators have gone as far as to label Mummy Bloggers the third wave of feminism.

Somewhere along the way, the movement became commercialised – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Who better to decide which company sells the best baby bottles than a Mummy Blogger? If a mother discovers a company selling, say, a type of lunch box which solves a space in the school-bag problem for her, why shouldn’t she share that information with her followers and fans online? And if she is writing about it, and effectively doing PR for the company, why shouldn’t she get paid for it?

The point about Mummy Bloggers that is often overlooked is that, generally speaking, the most successful ones aren’t just ‘Mummies’ with sick-strewn jumpers and ratty hair. The top bloggers are socially elite and well-educated and usually start blogging while on a having-a-baby break from prestigious corporate careers. In the US there are almost 5 million blogs which qualify as Mummy Blogs, but of that number only about 500 breakthrough and are read by a mass audience.

The other 99% of Mummy Bloggers will never break through into the mainstream, but can nevertheless acquire writing, marketing, PR and social media skills which they can parlay later on into paid careers. Perhaps that’s the real value of the genre to its practitioners. And despite being a digital collective, Mummy Blogging is intensely social. Dedicated conferences like Blogher, CyberMummy and BritMums attach thousands of women who have or hope to start online blogs.

For brands, blogger outreach to Mummy Blogs is increasingly a place where top names battle for attention, hoping for reviews from “real mums” and access to the valuable power of word of mouth. Being a player in the Mummy Blogger world can mean access to free products, getting big media buys and even trips to the red carpet in Hollywood and Caribbean cruises. In the future, this area will become more tightly regulated: in the US the Federal Trade Commission has already issued guidelines requiring bloggers to disclose their connections to advertisers. Expect something similar on these shores soon. Although not until after the next General Election.

It’s unlikely that Mummy Blogs will ever return to their origins, when it was just about the writing and connecting, but expect to see more authenticity in product reviews in the future, as the best Mummy Bloggers seek to protect their reputations and retain their audiences.

Online content and paid advertising, what’s the difference?

In our modern connected world online content rules. This week we discuss the fundamental difference between an advert and editorial.

The best online content produced by brands often blurs the line between two worlds, old and new.

When most people think of advertising they picture a billboard, a double page spread in a magazine or a TV commercial. This is an easily understandable business model. A brand pays an advertising agency to promote their product: a beautifully shot picture of a car with a witty strapline or a model who we aspire to be like can make a designer brand desirable. An advert is clearly selling us a product.

Online content can differ immensely from this model. This is not always easy for people to understand. The best content marketing does not appear to be advertising at all, as there is often no mention of a product.

A car company might commission a blogger to write about ‘Road trips in the UK’ or ‘Breathtaking highways in Scotland’ with no mention of the brand at all.

This can be hard for both consumers and companies to get their heads around. So hard that the industry body that governs us has taken steps to clarify, read more.

Some brands do still have the urge to publish content online about their products. When this is the case, there is little difference between content and paid advertising. Not that there is anything wrong with this. Giving a customer access to as much information about a product or service can be useful. The trouble is there is only so much that can be said. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes: would you read an article that was little more than a sales pitch?

For example, would you rather read an article that told you about the benefits of taking out insurance on a bike or see an interactive map of hotspots in your area that bikes have been stolen from?

The fact the internet allows anything to be published virtually for free means brands have the opportunity to create an abundance of media that their audience can choose to consume rather than adverts they are forced to look at.

When a brand creates content to entertain rather than to sell, it builds a relationship with the customer and becomes viewed as an interesting friend.

How a brand benefits from publishing content

If online content doesn’t advertise the product or brand, how does the company profit from it?

Well, there are numerous ways this can work. Take the Innocent Drinks example. This simple piece of content was shared over 1,000 times as it was clearly a statement that resonated with its audience. This resonance builds a relationship with the audience as they interact with the brand and develop positive associations through engagement.

If the content is published by the brand on their own site, it should make the website more discoverable through additional search terms.

Google runs on links, so offsite articles that link back to the brand’s main site will boost the search ranking. As with most advertising, it is about visibility. The beauty of digital is that this can be measured and sales conversions can be identified.

If you’re looking for a London based agency to help boost your brand then why not get in touch with DVO!

Mix it up: How to find the perfect integrated marketing strategy

This week we’re taking on on integrated marketing strategy and how to find the perfect mix for the best results.

Integrated marketing strategy is on everyones agenda right now. Why? Because no single banner ad, billboard or blog post is going to be as successful as an integrated marketing campaign. Simple.

But, here’s the hard part: how do you build an integrated marketing strategy when there’s so many channels and options to choose from. How do you decide what that best possible mix looks like and how will you activate it without missing a beat? It’s a difficult question, we’ve had to create a full service digital agency that can work end to end with clients to truly integrate campaigns as there’s simply so much going on.

In a study conducted last year by Pointroll in conjunction with Kelton Research, more than half of the American marketing professionals asked said they used five or more tools on a single campaign. Of these, 15% said they use seven to nine different tools and 13% claimed to use an average of 10 or more per marketing campaign.

Despite the wide array of tools being used, it’s safe to say there is no magic formula. It’s impossible to pick an integrated approach that’s going to work time in time out. Instead, each mix needs to be personalised to the brand and their message.

When it comes to marketing tools for a digitally-led campaign, think along the lines of social, content, tablets, apps, website development and search. Any number of these can be used in any digital marketing campaign, but you don’t necessarily need all of them.

The success of a marketing campaign is all about getting your brand’s message known to as many people in your target market as possible. This doesn’t mean sticking up a billboard on the side of the road for everyone driving on the M25 to see. In the digital world, it means spreading your brand’s message between a particular mix of online streams which work to complement each other, thus providing an holistic solution to communicating your brand’s message.

The trick is to think outside the box. The digital world is always changing and new marketing opportunities are always popping up. Take Vine, the social app, which lets you capture and share a continually looping 6-second video, for example. This has huge potential for marketers looking to create branded content, which was demonstrated at our latest Content Creation Collective event.

As an example of an integrated approach, let’s say you’re a budding travel company wanting to get yourself known. You might choose to run a competition to get people interested in and engaging with your brand. But, for it to work, you need people to know about it.

And how can you achieve this?

How about getting a great article or comical video made surrounding the competition? But that’s not all. From there, get this fabulous piece of content published on a variety of high profile and targeted sites which implore the audience to visit the website you’ve had specifically made for the competition. Then, inspire people to share and engage with your brand via the hashtag or Twitter handle you’ve created for the occasion. Heck, why not a Facebook page too?

In this example, you’ve used content, website development, social sharing and all-round exposure to gain engagement and, most importantly, business from your target market. Audiences are given more than a simple banner ad to look at. They’re given a whole brand experience to interact with.

If you’re looking for a London based agency to help you produce truly integrated communications that blend campaigns, content and conversations we can help, get in touch and find out how.

How can content marketing help my business?

We get asked a lot “how can content marketing help my business” so this week we explore further why content is number one on most marketers agendas and for us as a digital agency it’s a core service.

According to a recent survey of 700 business professionals conducted by Adobe and Econsultancy, the top priority for marketers this year is content. And 52% of marketers say the ability to target and personalise content is fundamental to their online strategy. However, only 18% say they have the marketing technology to succeed.

So in answer to the question, “how can content marketing help my business?”

Well, if done exceptionally, it doesn’t feel like marketing to the audience. The ultimate aim is that the user will be so mesmerised by the content you’ve created that they’ll unwittingly devour it as useful/interesting/emotional rather than as a marketed piece of branded material. They’ll organically be introduced or exposed to your brand or company without being plied with tacky advertising material which can deter potential customers.

The more you offer your audience in terms of great content and useful information, the more they’re going to trust, respect and want to use your business.

In the same way no one likes a door-knocking salesman, no one wants to feel bombarded with advertising while they’re surfing the web. The content has to feel natural – the complete opposite of forced – so that the audience organically finds and consumes it.

The thing is, if your agency led content marketing is successfully applied, your audience is not only going to find and consume it, but they will also SHARE it. This is why content marketing can be (if done well) so beneficial to your business. Digital ‘word of mouth’ (sharing) is an effective way of driving sales because, to the audience, it feels like a natural exposure to a brand rather than a forced one and that’s the kind of thing people trust. In fact according to SAP people trust other people 90% more than they trust a brand. Every share or like or re-tweet exponentially influences a wider set of consumers.

The point of content is that it gives something to the audience. People head online to search for endless amounts of information, and if you can give them some form of the information they’re searching for, you’re going to grasp their attention. The aim is not to directly sell them something, but to give them something of interest that in turn will lead to sales.