Mar 10, 2021

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Go for Green with UGC this St Patrick’s Day

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On our March Facebook Live talk, DMI tutor Sean Kenny looked at User Generated Content (UGC) - what is it, how can it help you, key tips, and how to think about using it for St Patrick's Day! Sean helps our students every day, across all our courses, including the Social Media Marketing Course and Advanced Course in Digital Marketing.

​​​​​​​What is UGC?

User-generated content (UGC) is a very broad term, but it just refers any type of content created by people, rather than companies - usually brand fans. 

  • Text (tweets, updates, blogs)
  • Videos
  • Images
  • Reviews
  • Creative formats

One example is the viral video of a man skateboarding to work, synching to Fleetwood Mac, and drinking Ocean Spray - it earned a total of 35.5 million views, with just 6.3 million on TikTok alone. There was no brand involvement in this, just the one guy and his video. But sales of the drink went through the roof, Ocean Spray bought him his own truck, and it was the feel-good story of 2020. 

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The Starbuck's Red Cup contest is an example of UCC led by a company, with a specific strategy. This campaign ran for a few years each Christmas, using the hashtag #RedCupContest. It was centered around their red coffee cups and encouraged users to send their content in to Starbucks' channels.

Go for Green with UGC this St Patrick’s Day

Why Use UGC?

Sharing user-generated content in your social media - or general digital marketing - strategy, will allow you to:

1. Promote authenticity - Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view user-generated content as authentic compared to content created by brands.

2. Create trust between the content and the company - A full 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, and 70 percent trust online consumer opinions. 

3. Drive purchasing decisions - Nearly 80% of people say UGC has a high impact on their purchasing decisions.

UGC can work in the following ways:

  • Engagement: prompts audience to actively interact.
  • Traffic: Mobilizing through interactive campaigns improves SEO rankings.
  • Shareability: Participation encourages more sharing, extending your brand reach.
  • Originality: Unique perspective. mine the hivemind

Here are some other benefits:

  • Evergreen: You can use it over time and it can also inspire future ideas.
  • Easy to produce: Your audience does some of the heavy lifting.
  • Low cost: It will suit marketing teams of all sizes, so you have more internal resources to spend on big ideas.

UGC Best Practices

Be clear about what kind of content you're looking for. There are some things you need to think about. UGC can be unpredictable and might not always be a positive. Set the context and framework - in the Starbucks example, they asked people exactly what they wanted to do. UGC creators want you to share their content. Create a social media strategy document and look for ways that UGC aligns with your existing marketing goals. Use a # to go with it.

Use search streams to find user-generated content you might have missed. Searching tags only will see you missing out on tons of potential content. Create a social listening program, keeping an eye out for all mentions of your brand or your products on social media, even if you’re not tagged. Useful tools include BuzzSumo, Hootsuite, Sprout Social.

Learn from all the submitted content, whether you share it or not. Fans are using your products or services in ways you hadn’t considered. See your products in combination with another product. Also take a look at the hashtags people use in combination with your branded hashtag. What kinds of words are they using when they talk about your products or services? It might be a different style of language to what you would use.

Using UGC for St Patrick's Day

We have used St Patrick's Day - the global celebration of all things Irish - as an example of how to use UGC. But that's just one of so many days in the calendar - many of which you can find in our extensive social media holiday calendar

Like any large international holiday, it gives you a chance to involve yourself or your company in the conversation. But we also see, generally across social media, that holidays like this cause a spike in traffic anyway - people can't resist sharing their St Patrick's Day experiences! 

We can look at how a few big brands have used the holiday. M&M's selfie campaign encouraged users to send in a kiss to with the chance of winning prizes - this was an effective brand awareness campaign and generated a lot of interest and content that M&Ms could then share across all this content across their platforms and capitalizing on the general St Patrick's Day traffic already out there. 

Go for Green with UGC this St Patrick’s Day

One of the real pros at making full use of St Patrick's Day is, of course, Irish brewer Guinness. Their clever campaign, #StaceForCharity, asked people to take a selfie of themselves with the iconic Guinness moustache run in the US.

Go for Green with UGC this St Patrick’s Day

Ways to Create UGC for your Business

There are lots of ways you can use UGC and you don't have to go for selfies and TikTok videos.

  • Crowdsourcing Ideas - asking for people's ideas
  • Turn customers' story or experiences into your stories
  • Creative use-cases - Product reviews and unboxing videos
  • Expert Q&As with customers
  • Contests are great for incentivizing people to get creative
  • Photo and hashtag participation - it's useful to give people context, without restricting their creativity
  • Gamification - if something is fun and interactive for people that will lead to more fun

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