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    Why User-Generated Content is Invaluable to Marketing Teen Programs

    Posted January 17, 2023, 8:52 am by TeenLife

    Reaching today’s teens is a challenging task. And while social media can help, developing content can get pricey and then you’re still paying for ads to reach a broader audience.

    User-generated content can be an invaluable part of your marketing strategy because it offers an inside view of your programs. Plus, content that others generate about your programs tend to be more authentic.

    Learn all about what user-generated content is, how to find it, the value it provides and ways to encourage users to share their experiences with you.

    What Is User-Generated Content?

    User-generated content (UGC) is sometimes called user-created content. It refers to any type of media that a user posts on your website, your social media or on any other channels of yours online. It can include the following:

    • Images
    • Videos
    • Testimonials
    • Audio
    • Text
    • Reviews
    • Blog comments

    While some UGC might include negative thoughts or comments, the positive content offers an opportunity to provide a first-hand look inside what your program offers teens and young adults.

    UGC can come from a variety of sources, including:

    • Program participants: these individuals offer some of the most transparent and real perspectives of any content generator. Plus, they likely have a network with similar followers that fit your target demographic for your programs.
    • Employees/volunteers: an insider view or personal account of a day in the life or look behind the scenes can offer a unique perspective to your marketing messaging. Give your employees and volunteers the freedom to share their perspectives on social media to highlight what you do and why you do it.
    • Advocates: whether you work with school counselors to help refer students to your programs or accept donations to fund your work, tapping into your advocates or brand loyalists can help you offer yet another perspective. These individuals might be able to share details about why they got involved or the value they see from your programs in the students they refer.
    • Influencers: generally provide a different type of UGC as they are paid to share their perspective. And while the content they develop might not be as genuine as organic UGC, this content can still offer value. For smaller programs with no on-staff photographer or videographer, paying an influencer can provide high-quality digital content for use across various mediums.

    How to Find UGC?

    While some UGC is easy to spot because it comes from social media tags or in the form of reviews on your website or sites like Google that notify you of the update, other forms of UGC are harder to find. 

    The best way to find UGC is to use a social listening tool. These tools can help you find UGC by following your company and program names. There are several free social listening tools, though you’ll need to pay a subscription to get access to more advanced features: 

    • Brandwatch
    • BuzzSumo
    • Followerwonk
    • Google Alerts 
    • Hootsuite
    • Owler
    • Social Mention
    • TweetDeck

    Alternatively, you can take a few minutes once a week to search for your company and program names on social media. That way, you’ll still see posts where you haven’t been tagged and can keep a pulse on that content. When content highlights your programs in a positive light, you can then share it with your followers and add it to your feed so you can reference it later.

    Set aside 10-15 minutes at least once a week to complete this activity if you’re going the manual route instead of paying for a service.

    Why Is UGC Invaluable?

    UGC is invaluable because it supplies potential customers with valuable content as they learn about your programs. This can help increase your conversion rates and offer content for the following digital platforms.

    • Social media
    • Email marketing
    • Landing pages

    Here’s a look at why UGC is invaluable to any marketing plan.

    1. It’s Deeply Authentic

    While you could pay past participants to share their experience, the fact that you’re paying them will influence their perspective and testimonial. Brands are all competing for the same eyeballs and attention, which can make it challenging to stand out and get noticed. 

    UGC offers an authentic look into a customer’s perspective often with images and video to back it up. You cannot fake UGC because it will lack that authenticity. Users will sense what is real and what is created just for a brand’s online presence. It has to pass the gut check for authenticity.

    Additionally, consumers are 2.4 times more likely to say that UGC is authentic compared to branded content.

    2. Increases Community

    UGC also helps increase the feeling of community for consumers. Once a stakeholder shares their experience with you and sees that you've reposted or repurposed that content, it makes not just them feel great, but it helps others view your program in a positive light.

    That’s because it shows how much you care about what others say about you. UGC is effective at starting conversations and engaging users in valuable interactions to build community.

    And in the meantime, you’ll build more meaningful relationships with your stakeholders because they’ll feel more loyal to you.

    3. Increases Conversions

    You can talk about how great you are, but having previous customers say you’re great is far more effective at converting prospects. 

    During a study, users who were shown UGC on product pages had an 8.5 percent increase in conversion rates compared to those who weren’t. And if the prospect interacts with the UGC, the conversion rate increases by 100.6 percent 

    User-generated imagery is one of the most powerful ways to increase conversion rates. Placing a user-generated image on your website could lift the conversion rate by 106.3 percent.  

    4. It’s Cost-Effective

    Hiring a photographer or videographer is expensive and paying influencers can get quite pricey, making UGC one of the most cost-effective methods for building out content because it costs very little – perhaps just the expense of a few contests, swag and promotional materials to encourage UGC.

    How to Influence Getting More UGC

    Users will likely post about your programs whether you encourage them to do so or not. But the more you encourage UGC, the more you’ll likely get. Here are ideas for encouraging UGC. 

    1. Run Contests and Specials

    Make it rewarding for your followers to share their experiences on social media by running contests or special promotions. Perhaps it's a percent off your program or it might be a digital $10 gift card to the local ice cream shop.

    Run contests weekly or monthly to keep the incentives going all the time to encourage social sharing and build up your UGC. 

    2. Make Them Feel Special and Important

    When a user does share their experience, be sure to make them feel special and give them the vibe that they’re like an influencer.

    Quickly share the content to your page or feed for others to see with the user’s handle included. Celebrate the fact that they’ve shared their experience and make it clear how much you appreciate them.

    Send a direct message that answers any questions or clarifies information. And take the time to personally thank them for providing their followers with their experience.

    3. Send Follow-up Emails

    If you're looking to increase your online reviews and mentions, consider sending follow-up emails that encourage students to share their thoughts. Request a review on Google, explain what makes a great social media testimonial, or share contest details to encourage social mentions. 

    Automate the emails to send after an event or at the beginning of a new school year to take the workload off your marketing team and ensure you never miss an opportunity to say thank you and earn UGC. 

    4. Get Your Stakeholders Involved

    When thinking about UGC, the most obvious audience is the students who participate in your programs. But don't overlook other stakeholders. Encourage your staff, counselors, donors, investors and other advocates to get involved in developing UGC.

    UGC isn't just from customers. It can come from anyone who has a relationship with you. And various voices and perspectives add something to the conversation.

    Build Awareness for Your Programs

    Everything you do should be designed to bring awareness to your programs. Whether you oversee a summer program, gap year program, teen volunteer opportunities or college admissions resources, TeenLife can help you reach your target audience and develop high-quality leads. Contact us now to learn more about how to get your program in front of students, parents and counselors.

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    For more information on this and other great programs for high school students, go to www.teenlife.com.

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