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Success on social media boils down to just one word: video. Video watching accounts for a third of all activity online. Social video gets 12 times more shares than any other form of content. And - most importantly for marketers - 54% of people want to see more video content from brands.
But creating video can take a lot of time and investment. You need the right skills, recording equipment, space to film, editing software, and apps - not to mention ideas! You know that video content can be powerful, but you need a little help.
One way to bring down your expenditure on video is to outsource video content to your followers. (With a little light editing and curation, of course.) Encourage them to create, share, and tag video content on social media which refers to your brand.
When you reshare videos created by your users, it gives you a creative boost, plus the benefits of customer loyalty and social proof. And that’s in addition to the time and effort you’ve already saved!
Let's take a look at the power of user-generated video content, how to collect it, and why it matters for content marketing in 2020.
UGC is exactly what it says on the tin. It's online content - in this case, video - created by your users.
But we can talk about users in multiple different senses. Here are just a few ways to define "users":
Some users might fit into all of those categories, while others might be total strangers to your brand until they stumble across a promoted post. But all those people are united by the fact that, on some level, they interact with your brand.
Every kind of user can post on social media. For example, someone who purchases your products might show them off in a haul video. Another user who follows you on social media could join a #videochallenge that you set up to go viral. Yet another user might not follow you or buy your products, but they’ll watch your video ads and comment underneath.
Next, let's narrow down the definition of "content". Obviously, you don't want to collect every status update, photo, and Story from everyone who ever saw your brand online or in store. You're only interested in content that shows, relates to, or promotes your brand.
The tricky part? Filtering through the 87,500 tweets, 2.1 million Snaps, and 4.8 million gifs that are sent every minute (according to Visual Capitalist) to find the ones that matter for your brand.
In the next few sections, I'll explain how to collect user-generated video content on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Vimeo. With the right strategies and tools, you’ll find it much easier to collect the right video content and filter out the dross.
Finally, I'll finish up with some ideas to use UGC in your marketing campaigns.
Let's start with Instagram. It was one of the fastest-growing social networks in 2019 and had some of the best brand engagement around, according to AdEspresso.
And the secret to that success was... wait for it... video. While Instagram started out as a photo-sharing app, it's now dominated by quick Stories, video posts, and long-form IGTV. Instagram has invested heavily in these new video formats, and their bet is paying off in user engagement.
However, it's notoriously difficult to download content from Instagram. People can tag you in their posts or Stories - but you still can't save those posts outside the app.
So, if you want to repurpose user-generated video content for your brand, you have two options:
Whether or not you use a hashtag contest to collect posts, it's still a good idea to set up a branded hashtag for user-generated content. Mention the hashtag in your profile and posts so that users know how to get your attention. This is a popular tactic with beauty and cosmetics brands, who use established hashtags to collect photo and video content from their followers.
Once you have an established hashtag, it's easy to scroll through relevant posts, react, and share your favorites. So it will be easier to collect user-generated content over time.
Twitter currently has a much smaller user base than Instagram. However, Twitter users tend to be tech-savvy and highly engaged. If your brand has an existing presence on Twitter, then this social network can still be a valuable source of user-generated video content.
Somewhat surprisingly, Twitter hasn't yet released its own version of Stories. You can record short videos with the Twitter camera feature, but it's more common for people to record and edit videos outside the app, then upload them. The video and photo editing options within the Twitter app are pretty basic compared to other social networks.
This means that video sharing on Twitter is a little less spontaneous and creative than on other social networks. Try focusing on product reviews, demonstrations, and funny clips - rather than artistic videos, branded stickers, or augmented reality shots.
The lack of Stories does have one advantage, though. Whenever people post with your hashtag and mention, you'll be able to collect those posts, just like on Instagram. And you won't have to remind users to share their videos in posts, not Stories.
You can also reshare posts within Twitter - all you have to do is tap "retweet". Just remember that this option doesn’t allow you to download the content or add much to it. You can tag your own comment above the retweeted post, or respond with a gif, but you won’t be able to edit the video length or add any visible branding.
Instagram and Twitter are both great places to hunt down short, spontaneous clips of user-generated content. But if you're interested in longer videos, or perhaps more experienced creators, then YouTube and Vimeo may be a better choice.
While Stories are the break-out content format for Facebook and Instagram, 83% of consumers prefer YouTube for watching longer video content. It’s the go-to source for product reviews, unboxings, and tutorial videos for many consumers.
Vimeo is less known than YouTube, but both networks operate in pretty much the same way. People upload videos to share with the world and can choose to monetize them through ads, subscriptions, or one-off payments to view. You can also now livestream on both platforms.
Just like any other social network, the main question is how to download user videos so that you can curate, edit and repost according to your needs. Because YouTube and Vimeo tend to feature longer content than other social networks, any videos you download will have a lot more potential - you can share them in full, recut them into shorter clips, and more.
There are a few options here:
As always, be sure to get permission from users to re-share their content on your own media channels. It’s often a good idea to offer video creators something in return: such as free gifts, special discounts, affiliate partnerships, or (for major influencers) paid influencer relationships.
Now for the most important question: what are you going to do with all that user-generated video content?
You probably won't want to use videos from social media without any editing at all. Throughout this article, I've recommended getting hold of video files which you can edit, instead of simply resharing posts. There are two reasons for that: functional and creative editing.
By functional editing, I mean things like changing the video format, aspect ratio, or length to suit different platforms. For example, shorter videos perform better on Twitter, while you can use longer clips on IGTV. Videos from YouTube won't have the right format for most social videos, but you can change the ratio so that they fit in.
Creative editing is more about your branding and campaign goals. For example, if you're sharing a series of user-generated videos such as unboxing or product reviews, then you could add your logo as a thumbnail for each video. Adding a quick branded intro or outro will also help to create a consistent experience for people who watch your content.
Remember that branding is about more than just your logo. You can use music, filters, sound effects, and special effects to create a video that is instantly recognizable as yours. While your users have helped you out by creating the raw video clips, it's up to you to add the final touches.
The ideal way is to share genuine, authentic content from your users, without losing the essential look and feel of your brand. If you’re looking for inspiration, Glossier on Instagram is a great example. They regularly share posts and Stories from their customers. And they’ve built up their branded hashtag so that people know what kind of content to share.
Don't be afraid to mix up user-generated content and put it to work in different ways. For example, you could cut a longer video into several short "trailer" clips. You could stitch different clips together from different users. So long as the final result makes sense - and shows off your brand - feel free to recut, reuse and recycle content as much as possible.
Finally, don’t lose sight of what makes user-generated content so valuable. It should be fun, informal, perhaps just a tiny bit rough around the edges. You’re not asking followers to recreate a professional brand campaign; instead, you’re trying to show people what your real customers look like and enjoy.
Remember that the final result should be video content which emphasizes your brand and reminds people of what you do, without losing the natural tone of the original post. Try to edit with a light hand. You’ll soon be able to tell what works for your audience - and what doesn’t - based on their response.
Corinna Keefe is a freelance writer who focuses on digital marketing, social media, and technology. She has previously written for Easypromos, Social Media Examiner, Growth Marketing Pro, and Foundr, among others.
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