Three Challenges of UGC — and How to Solve Them

How many times have you been scrolling through Instagram, only to realize 20 minutes later that you’ve somehow ended up on your favorite clothing store’s website with a cart full of new clothes?

Social shopping is a stealthy beast: you don’t intend to spend the bulk of your last paycheck on a trendy pair of polarized sunglasses, and yet you saw your favorite blogger wearing them on her most recent trip to Cannes or Vancouver or whichever dream destination she was in that day, and just like that you’ve fallen into the trap. You just had to have them.

And who could blame you? It’s no coincidence you’ve started seeing more social content mixed in with your favorite brands’ ad and product content–often UGC as ads. 78% of purchases were influenced in some way by social media in 2015, and brands are well aware of the impact.

Among the many ways social media can influence a purchase, peer-to-peer influence–reviews, comments, & feedback–was number one in influencing online shopping behavior.

Despite the seemingly effortless recipe for success that social content and product promotions have created for brands, there’s a definite strategy to doing it well.

To run a successful social commerce campaign, you need to have a steady, constant pulse on your brand’s target audience in order to get ahead of trends. Find out which topics are interesting to your target audience so you can land on a campaign theme, and decide what type of content you want to source. Then, of course, comes the branded hashtag: a component in the social commerce equation vital to not only easily sourcing content, but to reporting on your campaign’s engagement, as well. That being said, you can’t choose just any hashtag–to convince your audience to adopt it, the hashtag must be relevant to what’s already resonating with them.

Once you’ve done that, you’re left with the biggest challenge of all: sourcing not just UGC, but high-quality, on-brand UGC.

These are the three main challenges we’ve seen and how you can solve them:

1. Finding Specific, Targeted Content

Nearly 4 million pieces of UGC are created every minute. The opportunities for leveraging this content are endless–if you can (1) find the content that’s most relevant to your audience, and (2) separate the gems from the “junk.”

We enable you to do both simultaneously. Track your target audience, key influencers, and apropos topics to curate the most impactful content, while also auto-filtering the content (spammers and profanity, for example) that isn’t exactly relevant. Once you have a solid set of content, distributing it effectively–across a variety of product pages, for example– can be a whole other, very time-consuming process. How can you (in a scalable way) be selective about the content and where you want it to display? And how do you target it in a way that actually converts to sales?

We are beginning to develop smart visualizations that are aware of where they are and they will make it super easy to display products by type, model, category, and more on product pages or in an in-store experience. Once you have linked content with product pages URLs in our Streams Moderation tool, these visualizations will automatically display content specific to the page it is embedded on.

Apart from product pages, embedding UGC in a store locator where shoppers could find the product they’re looking for, or into an in-store experience where shoppers can see which items people are talking about in other locations by tapping a location on digital map are also very impactful ways to connect fans of your brand to a true conversion, without requiring them to engage somewhere else.

2. Getting (Even) Coverage

In a perfect world, users will generate content at the same volume for all products in the catalogue. However, this is not always true. More commonly, for one reason or another, some products will develop more buzz than others, and thus have a larger share of the social volume. One of the keys to solve for this is to solicit attention to your products by engaging with the customer post-sales. For example, directly reaching out to the customer on social or email. Contests and promotions are also great ways to garner additional attention to specific areas of the brand.

Marrying social content with product pages is always a powerful way to engage the audience: actively promote UGC by directly mirroring social activity around the brand or the product. This is also a sound proxy for ratings and reviews. Again, if content coverage for the entire line of products is uneven, and it is not possible to display UGC on every product page, we recommend displaying UGC on a category page, distributing volume around a category of products.

3. Getting Users’ Permission

In some cases, namely UGC in Ads and also Social UGC in Contests, terms of use require consent from the user before their content is reused or redisplayed.

Having a solid consent workflow not only saves you time tracking down users, but also allows you to capture a larger sample of UGC, making it easier to populate your visualizations and add further user context to your campaigns. Once you’ve built out streams to track and moderate content volume, we make it easy to request consent on an individual basis. Easily decipher which pieces of content have been requested and are awaiting consent. Securely collect additional information, like names and email addresses, for additional engagement. Finally, export all of the items you've requested and/or received consent for, for easy consent reporting.

Bottom Line?

The key to successfully executing social shopping is to connect with fans where they already are. Ultimately, this means not just integrating, but ingraining UGC within your existing brand experiences–from product pages, to in-store displays, to loyalty programs and promotions. Once you’ve found and displayed truly impactful UGC, you can unlock and explore a new kind of relationship between your brand and your customers.

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Ming Gong is a product manager working on Experiences at Spredfast. His philosophy is to always enjoy the moment and to "gram" it later. Also, he is forever trying to learn Brasilian Portuguese and cooking tips from his mother.