Do you need to change up your content marketing strategy? Don’t worry, someone else will do it for you.

Seriously. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the vast number of advertising agencies and global brands that take advantage of User-Generated Content to power their daily marketing campaigns, including Coca Cola, Samsung, KFC and Starbucks.
User-Generated Content (UGC) refers to any content created and posted online by non-media professionals, ranging from a review on TripAdvisor to a photo on Facebook. Many brands try to jump on the back of this fresh and original content for their own benefit, but only a few can turn it into a successful campaign that offers long-term value for their content strategy.
Here are some of our learnings after a World Cup-themed user generated content campaign with ScS Sofas this summer. Here is the original blog post if you wish to take a cheeky peek.

1) Keep it simple

The most important factor of any user generated content campaign is, of course, the user. Therefore, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to contribute and to feel noticed by the brand they are trying to interact with. In fact, once you have your campaign idea, keep simplifying it until you can explain it in at least two sentences.

ScS Competition Entries

ScS Competition Entries

Our recent campaign with ScS was based on a simple idea that can be easily summed up in one sentence: take a photo or video of you and your friends celebrating a goal on the sofa during the World Cup and post it on social media with the hashtag #SofaCelebrations.

However, it wasn’t until the end of the campaign that the best entries (videos, props, pets!) started to appear, so keep your idea simple and give the audience time to ease into participating.

2) Consider a budget

Unbeknownst to the stereotype, as marketers we do use strict budgets. We may drive our finance teams round the bend by constantly trying to stretch them, but most of the time we are able to stick to what was agreed.
Although a user generated content campaign’s main aim is to influence people to generate content (costing the brand nothing), that’s not always the case. There are a number of costs that you should expect to incur during a campaign, such as paying for monitoring tools, social media promotion, advertising, and incentives to urge people to contribute. Being prepared and sticking to your budget is absolutely essential.
Our campaign initially struggled to generate interest on social media as it was competing with bigger brands and similar campaigns from ITV and the BBC. But, after using some of our allocated budget for Facebook and Twitter advertising, the campaign took off and eventually reached more than 3 million users on Twitter alone.

3) Make it worthwhile

The first question that you should ask you and your team is why will users get involved in the campaign? More often than not, their motive will be to win a prize or to gain some sort of recognition for their efforts. Therefore, it is important for your brand to return value for any positive activity on social media (entries, comments, likes and shares) or set up competitions and prize giveaways in return for content.

scs sofas competition prizes

scs sofas competition prizes

In terms of our #SofaCelebrations campaign, the main motivation for users were the fantastic prizes on offer for the most creative entries. This included the following 4 big prizes (and more):

  • a La-Z-Boy sofa and chair (with an electric recliner and fridge)
  • a big screen TV
  • a session of Bubble Football
  • tickets for Alton Towers

All of these prizes were chosen with a target user in mind. If you give your audience what they want, no matter how big or small, you will stand a much better chance of receiving high quality content in return.

4) Repurpose and re-use

Followers, likes, shares, and comments are all nice metrics to have, but as we all know, social media ‘spheres’ are particularly fast moving and these metrics aren’t particularly long-term. If you are investing a lot of time and money into your user generated content campaign, it’s essential to focus on generating content that you can repurpose or regenerate and get further use out of.
Photos, videos and customer reviews are all great examples of this as they are usable across your social media, blog and even website. After all, that is the main aim of a user generated content campaign.

Graeme Le Saux promotes the campaign

Graeme Le Saux promotes the campaign

The photos and videos from our #SofaCelebrations campaign helped to generate a whole host of content for the ScS blog, as well as their Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. We have even used the campaign content for printed marketing materials for both Silverbean and ScS.

5) Explore different channels

As we are a multi-service agency, it was decided that all of our digital marketing channels would be used for the ScS campaign, including Search (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Affiliate Marketing.
Our PPC strategy involved bidding on World Cup-related keywords to capture relevant traffic from search engines, while we teamed up with a number of affiliates to promote the campaign to their relevant audiences, such as football fans, students and parents. These channels proved to be really effective in driving traffic and encouraging engagement from the target audience.

6) Monitor and Engage

Monitoring and tracking performance is key to any marketing campaign as it allows you to determine overall success and reflect on the campaign objectives that were initially set. But with regards to user generated content campaigns, monitoring is absolutely essential.
There is a danger in encouraging user generated content campaigns as some of the content may not be appropriate, fair or in line with social media regulations. It’s important to check contributions every day and be proactive on social media to encourage a positive environment and quickly deal with anything negative; it’s risky to ignore it. This can also provide ideal opportunities to engage with users and urge them to contribute to your campaign.

Monitoring the campaign on twitter through a unique hashtag.

Monitoring the campaign on twitter through a unique hashtag.


We used a number of useful tools during our campaign, such as Sysomos and Google Analytics, but it was the campaign hashtag that proved to be the most significant tool for monitoring, in-depth analysis, and engagement, so consider creating a unique hashtag for your own campaign.
It’s important to remember these lessons and carefully consider your brand, audience and marketplace before launching a user generated content campaign. You may not be able to make a campaign ‘go viral’ like the ‘Harlem Shake’, but you will certainly stand a much better chance of inspiring users to get involved.


This post was brought to you by Search Marketing Executives Tim Pike and Tom Etherington.