Engaging an audience through user generated content

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

In a digital industry, having a social media strategy is absolutely imperative. Going beyond your typical posting schedule of Facebook posts and tweets for the given day or week, we start to discover how important it is to ensure that this kind of activity aligns with other marketing efforts such as email campaigns, videos, and website developments. This is where a clear content strategy becomes key when building an engaged audience of value.

The aim of all marketing activity boils down to growth and increasing ROI - and content and audience should be your main tool for this. Now we aren’t just talking about content on your site, like a brand blog. There are all sorts of ways that businesses can utilise social content and user generated content, to engage a wider audience and therefore improve conversions.

One brand in particular that has stood out for me is U.S hit cult beauty brand Glossier. Founded by entrepreneur Emily Weiss, who started beauty blog Into the Gloss in 2010, Glossier uses a direct-to-consumer strategy. Carving out a niche in a billion-dollar beauty industry, it believes that owning the relationship with the customer is the only way to build a brand.

Engagement fuels every aspect of the brand and the role Instagram has played has become a big factor in where Glossier is today. On Instagram alone the brand has already amassed 1.5 million followers becoming central to its development. The brand does not rely on celebrity endorsements or paid social influencers - and we found that influencers were becoming less of a priority for many brands, compared to 2017 - but Glossier’s success lies with engaging its hard-core base of fans.

Firstly, they’ve maintained an appealing and cohesive visual image as a brand which translates well visually. This incentivises people to post images of their products because:

  1. They look good, and
  2. The company might see them. Perfect for a photo-sharing app.

They crowdsource product ideas on Instagram, responding to user questions about products and application and frequently posting updates about new launches and inside tips. The clear brand messaging from the start sees an array of pink hues and glossy-esque content from whole range of diverse people. As a result, Instagram is now flooded with Glossier related content: #glossier #glossierpink #cloudpaint #ITGTopShelfie.

It comes down to how online content influences our purchasing decisions. If product recommendations come from real consumers you’re more likely to trust it and buy it. Displaying real-life results is what Glossier have done so well, and has people coming back for more.

The key takeaway here is to utilise user generated content - not only images, but the invaluable feedback social media offers and actually listen to your customers rather than collecting likes and followers. If a brand engages with consumers on a personal level through social media, the customer will be more likely to show loyalty to that brand. Rewarding your fans can lead to an explosion of growth in your business, as that connection with your audience is key.

While this works well for a targeted demographic of millennials, you need to know your audience. Gather some audience insights, their age range, where they hang out online, and plan your content around the ways they like to engage. Then you can work on that vital connection to those who matter to your brand.

Farah Hussain, senior PR executive, Zazzle Media

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