User Generated Content (UGC) Contests are a powerful strategy to drive brand awareness. These are campaigns that people run when they want to have certain products shared on social media, posts shared using a hashtag, as well as generate engagement from the general public. They usually include actions such as “share a post/photo, tag a friend, or use a hashtag for a chance to win”.
So why do so many of them go wrong?
Fear not! Here are 5 of the most common mistakes that are made throughout these campaigns and strategies to rectify them.
1. Asking Too Much
The most common mistake that brands make is asking a ridiculous amount from contest participants. The best approach to finding an appropriate ask is to think about the bare minimum entry.
While setting up UGC campaigns, try to think about what people are already doing throughout their day. Where could they easily include a hashtag to have it be a part of the campaign or conversation? Does it only require a slight tweak or variation in their day-to-day activities?
For example: You are a food brand that has a beverage that you want to promote. You decide to run a UGC contest where the goal is to have people share photos for a chance to win a month’s supply of your beverage.
One approach for entry requirement could be, “Build a birdhouse using 30 empty bottles of our brand’s beverage”. However, no one is going to do that. Would you? It’s too much work and takes too much time out of their busy day.
Assuming that you have product on shelves, an alternative approach would be reaching out to existing customers and say, “Share a photo of how you enjoy your fill-in-the-blank beverage during your day, using hashtag “#blank”, for a chance to win something amazing”.
In that example, people are already using the product at some point during the day, so asking them to take a photo and use the hashtag is a simple way to incentivize them to create user-generated content.
The point is, step back and think about who your target customers are. What is their day-to-day like? How can you integrate your campaign so that it’s not forcing them to do a bunch of other work?
2. Giving Too Little
An additional mistake that people make is not completely thinking about the prize value in relation to what you’re asking participants to do. Flashback to my first example. You have decided that you really want someone to build that birdhouse out of the beverage bottles. If you were giving them much larger value, like a car, for example, it is much more likely that they’re going to put in extra effort for a chance to win.
Take time to think through the prize to ask ratio:
What are you asking people to do?
What is the value of the prize that they can win?
Do those things make sense together?
Does the prize balance out the ask?
Is it worth their time?
People are willing to do a lot more work for a much higher prize value. Keep in mind that value is not just a dollar amount. It can also be how valuable this is perceived in their life. Is this going to make their life better? Is it something that you know your target audience really wants? These are all things to think about while crafting these campaigns.
3. Flying Solo
During UGC contests, brands often make the mistake of exclusively using their product as the prize. This especially rings true for food brands that have a lower priced product but are trying to create a higher prize value. If you are aiming to create a $250 prize and your product costs $5, do people really want 50 products? This result might be overkill for most people.
Get out of the mindset that your product is the only thing that you can give away as part of a UGC campaign. For example, you can partner with other non-competitive brands or offer gift cards. There are a wide variety of things that you can do but at the end of the day, you want to get your audience to engage. Collaborations are a great way to incentivize participation, especially if you are asking your audience to do more work than sharing a photo and hashtag.
4. Expecting An Immediate Viral Sensation
If you build it, they will not come.
Forgetting to pre-seed content for UGC campaigns is a costly mistake. When your UGC contest goes live and people check the hashtag, there needs to be something for them absorb.
All too often, companies will launch contests while thinking, “Okay, everybody share, using our hashtag, it’s going to be great, look at all these entries,” and then there aren’t any entries to show the type of content you want.
Before you make the competition public, pre-seed your social media accounts by having posts 100% ready to go live as soon as the campaign launches. At the very lowest end, this could mean working with your team to create a few initial posts that help give participants a sense of what you want them to submit.
Another great way to pre-seed content is by working with influencers. This could mean paying influencers or you could be offering them exposure, but whatever the exchange is there are a few steps to remember before you launch the contest:
Connect with a variety of influencers and get them on board for the campaign.
Confirm that they are clear about the campaign launch date.
Confirm the day, time, and platforms that they are going to be posting their content.
Structure what you ask of influencers so that they are calling out what the contest is, what participants need to share, the rules and requirements, when the deadline is, etc.
The influencer strategy is powerful because you are going to get awesome content from those influencers while simultaneously reaching their fanbase. Your brand will instantly have an audience that’s seeing the contest, getting them excited to participate, and have great content created to seed your overall campaign. Using this strategy, anywhere the campaign is announced, people can go to their feed, check the hashtag and immediately absorb content.
5. Setting and Forgetting
Don’t anticipate launching your campaign and then leaving it unattended until the final date. Setting and forgetting can bring any UGC momentum to a screeching halt. There are a few ways to stay on top of the process and ensure a successful contest.
No one likes a one-sided conversation. Engage with participants by checking brand mentions and uses of your hashtag. Like photos and comment on their posts, letting them know that you love their entry and appreciate them taking time to participate in the contest.
Tied into the above tip is sharing more than just the winner’s post. Throughout the entire contest, share a variety of UGC content as it is posted. Often the photos that you share encourages the user to re-share saying “Look, this brand re-posted my photo! How cool!”.
Also by engaging, you are able to control the conversations around your contest and turn potentially negative situations into a positive customer service experience.
Double check that your influencers are posting when and where they are supposed to be. Influencers are human beings and sometimes even the best-intentioned people get distracted with life and occasionally forget. If they do forget a post, it usually only takes a friendly reminder to have them get the post out.
When influencers share a photo, be sure to comment on their post, thanking them and letting their audience how excited you are about the collaboration.
Turning a campaign to auto-pilot can turn into a disaster quickly. The results from engagement and spot checking will be worth every moment of extra effort.
Didn’t read the entire post? To recap:
Don’t ask too much or give too little.
Pre-seed by collaborating with non-competitive brands and influencers.
Stay on top of your contest as it progresses!
By avoiding these 5 mistakes, you will be well on the way to running a successful UGC contest. Any tips that we missed? Let us know in the comments!