We all know how important word of mouth is, but did you know that 92% of consumers turn to people they know for referrals above any other source?

On top of that, 84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising.

So as an agency, how can we leverage that kind of marketing power to help our clients?

The answer: user-generated content.

When a customer posts content to social media about a brand, and the brand can amplify that content, that’s UGC. And because it’s a consumer that other consumers can relate to and trust, 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

When you start encouraging and leveraging UGC on behalf of your clients, their brands get to tap into those incredibly high statistics and the effectiveness they represent. And in this episode, we’re joined by the perfect guest to talk about user-generated content.

Benedict Stöhr is the CEO and co-founder of squarelovin, the number one marketing suite for Instagram. squarelovin is a SaaS business enabling brands to fully benefit from visual user-generated content shared in social media.

This episode of Agency Accelerated will unlock the keys to a remarkably effective marketing tactic, which will lead to happier customers and more revenue.

We are live every other Wednesday for the rest of the year at 2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Make sure to subscribe to the calendar on the Agorapulse website, so you don’t miss any of our upcoming episodes.

Let’s get started.

What is squarelovin?

First, let’s talk about squarelovin and what they offer.

squarelovin is a SaaS company that builds software and technology with a focus on customer-driven marketing. They work with brands where the customer’s content plays a substantial role—and may even be at the center—of their marketing plan.

squarelovin is a SaaS company that builds software and technology with a focus on customer-driven marketing and agencies.

Six years ago, Benedict and his team developed software for their user-generated content manager. They enabled brands to tap into every kind of visual content that people shared when it related to the brand in social networks.

This type of content included pictures and videos shared on Instagram, as well as various hashtags. With their software, they could use content in a scalable way, acquire usage rights, and fuel every imaginable marketing channel with content.

Additionally, their software was built as a creator tool, which enabled brands to identify and search for creators or micro/macro-influencers right in their community.

'By using squarelovin, brands can find creators and create content together within their custom community. This leads to customer-driven, eye-level marketing, which not only educates the customer but serves them with something valuable.'Click To Tweet

Overall, squarelovin is an all-inclusive platform that streamlines the research process of finding and connecting brands with content creators, especially in the agency world.

Because they have been on the agency side of things before, squarelovin knows the struggle. Connecting with people is time-consuming—from researching usage rights, creating Excel sheets to track conversations, and more.

Benedict and his team also see how platforms such as Instagram have evolved into a goldmine of content, with people actively wanting to display themselves with brands. This evolution has changed the access to content, but very few brands (and even fewer agencies) have looked at it.

Why is UGC special?

79% of people say that UGC, or user-generated content, highly impacts their purchasing decisions. So, why is UGC so unique?

The first reason is scientific: decisions are uncomfortable.

When you make a decision, you have to take responsibility for it. And in the history of humanity, it was always better to stick with a group because it increased your chances of survival.

In this sense, UGC is evolutionary. Many people do not like making decisions; some are more independent than others and make decisions better and faster.

You get to have input whenever you make a decision, even something simple like a purchasing decision. You get to share the responsibility for the decision you make. Therefore, you get to ask your peers, family, and friends because you trust those people.

As social media has evolved, so has UGC. Today, the peers you trust are in your social networks. It may even be the community of a brand you also trust, which is why you’re looking at social content to make your decision.

Benedict shared a great example. In 2020, he searched for a new hobby and saw a friend’s Instagram post about a racing bike. However, he didn’t know anything about it, so he went to the store before making a final decision.

Benedict consulted with an employee at the store and learned more about the different racing bikes. Although he sat on each one, in the end, he bought the one bike he didn’t sit on: the one he saw his friend post on Instagram.

Benedict’s main takeaway from this story is that we get inspired by people we trust and our peers.

Similarly, in the live streaming community, many content creators often purchase the same cameras, microphones, or other tech, that their peers recommend. Why? Because having that built-in, interactive community is an added value to an already trusted brand.

When content creators share their videos and reviews, they want to share their experiences. If they find a solution to a pain point, they want their peers and audience to understand and purchase the solution.

Steph and Benedict discuss how marketing agencies can use client UGC.

The second reason USG is unique is that purchasing decisions are highly emotional. No kind of content beats UGC in terms of emotion and how your peers can actually deliver them.

And finally, the third and most powerful reason is that people look for authenticity in social media. This is something that brands may struggle to deliver. We all know that pictures with a descriptive caption are “artificially beautified.” A post like this is obviously trying to sell us something.

While this is understandable because it is the brand’s job to convince consumers to buy the product, we need authenticity to believe in. The best way to do that is for a creator to share their experience with the product.

'A brand's holy grail is to find someone who is intrinsically motivated to share their positive experience or what they loved about a product or service. That type of UGC is unbeatable in marketing.'Click To Tweet

Most content creators want to educate and inspire their audience. They do this by sharing real experiences with raw emotion.

How can your marketing agency manage UGC for clients?

As an agency, it is your responsibility to inform yourself of what is and is not allowed. For example, just because someone uses a hashtag on Instagram does not mean you can automatically use their picture. The simpler solution is for agencies to use stock photos, branded content, or influencer content.

Understand that UGC is not as simple as taking content from Instagram and publishing it on your own advertising platform. There are legal terms and usage rights to take into consideration.

For marketing agencies who may not be familiar with UGC, first, get a firm idea of your client’s brand aesthetics and understand how the client wants to be perceived.

Ask questions such as:

  • What products/services are presented?
  • How are those products/services presented?
  • What is the typical language used in their brand marketing?
  • How does the client want to stand out to their community, audience, and potential customers?

RELATED: How to Inspire More User-Generated Content for Your Brand

The next step is more like a reality check. Figure out what your client dreams of. What is the perfect presentation of their brand, and how does it look in the real world?

UGC doesn’t always show brands in a preferable way, and not how we perceive ourselves. If the UGC doesn’t show off the brand in the way they want, or if they don’t like the context or situation used, sometimes UGC projects are stopped.

However, a situation like that allows an agency to be transparent with their client about the feedback. And it is the perfect opportunity for brands to learn and understand how their products are used and by whom.

There is so much to learn from the kind of content people are already sharing with you. Take this information, go back to step two to learn more about your brand’s aesthetics and goals, and adapt the UGC where necessary.

How can your marketing agency manage UGC for clients?

Benedict has noticed a few trends over the last 12–18 months that agencies can implement to manage UGC for their clients successfully.

One idea is to have a thoughtful yet simple campaign application. As an example, Benedict talked about Jack Wolfskin, a popular outdoor retailer in Europe. The brand wanted young people to wear their clothing on adventures, but many elderly, retired people turned to their clothing instead.

When developing a new marketing campaign, Jack Wolfskin went the simple route: “Go Backpack.” They added a small flag that said “Go Backpack” to every purchase sold in a certain period. Then, they asked customers to share a picture or video when wearing the backpack. To encourage customers to participate, they offered them a prize to win back the money they spent.

Something as simple as this campaign (sharing a picture/video and winning back their money) led to many people sharing content. In fact, Jack Wolfskin collected more than 5,000 pictures and videos within two months.

It was the perfect content because the UGC always showed people in the countryside, biking, hiking, or adventuring in other ways. Not only did Jack Wolfskin get plenty of content, but they didn’t need to pay for their message.

This type of UGC is authentic, believable, and more effective than putting a ton of money into marketing and branded/owned media. Instead of saying, “Hey, look at us; we’re so adventurous!” their customers did it for them by sharing UGC.

Another example Benedict shared is from a performance marketing agency that sourced UGC to find the most effective visuals and content for their performance advertising.

In doing so, they would take ten pictures and then, on an hourly basis, exchange content and complete A/B testing to figure out what kind of content and visuals had the best engagement, opening rate, etc.

The variety of UGC is enormous when it comes to creating the best results for your customers, and it’s not possible if you’re limited in terms of what content pieces you have.

Best UGC practices agencies need to take into consideration

Agorapulse is the number one social media management software to grow your brand when it comes to pre-planning, production, and promotion. One of the best features is the queue, where you can schedule content days or even months in advance.

The beauty behind a tool like squarelovin is that you can add your UGC to the asset library in Agorapulse. Then, you can queue the content for your brand or your clients in the editorial calendar.

However, there are some best practices and precautions that agencies and brands should consider when it comes to UGC.

First, always be aware of essential media usage routes. Just because someone uses your hashtag or tags your brand doesn’t give you automatic permission to use their content. You need explicit permission from the user who has created the picture or video before using it in your marketing campaign.

As mentioned before, connecting with creators to start a dialogue and get that permission can be time-consuming. The UGC campaign may even get stopped in its tracks by the legal department.

The second best practice is to focus on interaction. As a brand or agency, if you start a conversation with a creator, do more than just ask for something. Create a hashtag and focus on engagement—constantly interact with the users through comments and reactions via a community stage.

Finally, you will be displayed on social media. The conversation about your brand or product has already started, so the best thing you can do is moderate it. You will never fully steer the conversation, but try to stay within a specific environment and moderate it.

How can agencies get started with UGC and how should they position their services?

Agencies should combine UGC with the experience they already have in-house.

As a content marketing or social media agency, you support your clients by delivering engaging content pieces with a specific message for each marketing channel. Combine that experience with UGC to allow you to source from an ocean of content. Then, widen your services to being the agency with the greatest variety and choices of content.

'The variety of content you can provide to your client, combined with performance and actual results, is a great way to position your agency and include UGC in your services.'Click To Tweet

To learn more about UGC and what it can do for your brand, you can follow Benedict on LinkedIn, or visit squarelovin to request a walkthrough or discovery call.

Remember to subscribe to our calendar to get notified before each episode of Agency Accelerated, live every other Wednesday on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

If you’re looking for another way to increase and diversify your agency’s revenue streams, Agorapulse has a free webinar to help you do exactly that. Head over to bit.ly/AddAgencyRevenue to sign up for How To Add Agency Revenue By Adding Social Media Services. Get ready to learn and start driving more revenue from social media services.

Full Transcript

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[00:00:00] Stephanie Liu: We all know how important word of mouth is, but did you know that a whopping 92% of consumers turn to people they know for referrals above any other source? On top of that, 84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising. As an agency, how can we leverage that kind of marketing power to help our clients? The answer? User generated content.

Hi friends. I’m so excited for our next episode of Agency Accelerated because this show is going to unlock the keys to a remarkably effective marketing tactic that’s going to lead to happier customers and more revenue. Want to know more?

I thought so.

Welcome back to Agency Accelerated where we explore ways to grow and scale your agency with some of the most trusted brands in the industry. I’m Stephanie Liu, and we’re live every other Wednesday at 2:00 PM. Eastern time. 11:00 AM Pacific time on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Make sure you head on over to agorapulse.com/calendar and subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes and stay until the very end, because you’ll get a chance to get your hands on yet another way to add more revenue to your marketing agency. All right, crew. I want to go ahead and give a shout out to the folks that are tuning in, live with us today. Go ahead and let us know where you’re tuning in from.

I’m here in beautiful sunny San Diego. That’s right. So listen, friends, when a customer posts content to social media about a brand and the brand is able to amplify that content, that’s UGC. That’s user generated content. And because it’s a consumer that other consumers can relate to and trust, 79% of people say that UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

When you start encouraging and leveraging UGC on behalf of your clients, their brands get to tap into those incredibly high statistics and the effectiveness that they represent. They wanted to make sure that we talked to you, the perfect guest to help us sort all of this out. Having said that, let’s go ahead and introduce our guest today.

Benedict Stöhr who completed his undergraduate degree in Business Studies at EBS and continued his academic career in an international environment with a Master’s of Science at CBS Copenhagen. Is that right?

Nice to have you here. So everyone parallel to his studies, he gathered valuable experiences in the consulting sector and Berlin’s startup environment as a founding team member of Gymondo.

Did I say that right?

[00:04:10] Benedict Stöhr: Gymondo. It was a German copy of Daily Burn.

[00:04:15] Stephanie Liu: Very cool. Very cool.

And in 2016, Benedict co-founded Squarelovin, a SAAS business enabling brands to fully benefit from visual user generated content shared in social media. Hey, Benedict, welcome to the show. So happy to have you here.

[00:04:33] Benedict Stöhr: I’m from not-so-sunny, Hamburg in Germany.

[00:04:37] Stephanie Liu: I was curious about that. I haven’t traveled very often, but I was like, what is the weather like over there?

[00:04:45] Benedict Stöhr: Yeah. We’re actually known for it. It’s pretty great all the time, but we used it. So it’s fine.

[00:04:51] Stephanie Liu: One day I hope that you can make it out to San Diego because the weather is beautiful today, but we would always love to have our guests coming in.

So having said that shoutout to Eddie Amati, who is tuning in from Nigeria. Isn’t that interesting, Benedict? We have viewers from all over the world that get to tune in and hear all about Squarelovin. That’s awesome.

[00:05:13] Benedict Stöhr: That’s probably one of the few positive aspects of the last year and the pandemic turning everything even more digital, even more remote, making possible for everyone to turn.

[00:05:27] Stephanie Liu: That’s very true. So Benedict, the question that I have for you is can you start off a bit with sharing a little more about what you do and what Squarelovin is all about?

[00:05:38] Benedict Stöhr: Yes, I would love to. I think your explanation was was already pretty perfect and summed it up quite clearly. So we are a SAAS company.

We’re building ticket software and tech in the field of customer driven marketing. That is how we actually call it. Marketing whether where the customer and his or her content is playing a substantial role within the marketing mix or is even in the center of this, the key of the entire brand’s marketing mix.

And for that, six years ago, we developed a software called our user generated content manager, meaning that we enable brands to tap into every kind of visual content that people are sharing related to the brand in social networks. So, in simpler words, pictures and video, shared on Instagram and then tech by a hashtag or something else.

To use this kind of content in a scalable way to acquire usage rights and fuel every imaginable marketing channel with this kind of content. And the second tech was software that we’ve built as a creative tool enabling brands to identify and search for creators or micro/macro influencers, right in their surrounding, already in their community.

And then to create content together with our custom community. And again, this leads to customer driven marketing to have marketing on eye-level. So to say, which really serves the customer which is in marketing that is not. Ad tries to educate the customer, but really serves him or her with something special.

[00:07:17] Stephanie Liu: Wow. It seems like Squarelovin is this all in one inclusive platform that connects brands to content creators makes the whole research process just so much easier, so much more streamlined. And I think that’s so needed, especially in the agency world.

[00:07:36] Benedict Stöhr: Yeah that’s what we’re aiming for. We’ve been on the agency side before. We know the struggle.

We know very long Excel lists. We know how much time it actually takes simply to bargain with people to document all the other conversation, all the dialogues. You have, maybe, usage rights might be the kind of content that you actually need. And it’s yeah, we know how time consuming and hard that actually is.

And on the other hand, we see enabling platforms or software to have it in a very abstract way. Simply said, Instagram. That is a gold mine of great content, a platform where people can display themselves, where people love to display themselves with brands. So that has really changed the access to content actually, but very few brands, even fewer agencies have looked at.

[00:08:33] Stephanie Liu: Great. Yeah. The whole process of researching content creators, documenting the conversations who spoke to who, contract negotiations. I think having that all in one source makes it so much easier. And so, having said that, I mentioned how 79% of people say that UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

So can we break that down just a bit? Like why is UGC so special?

[00:09:02] Benedict Stöhr: There is some information about that. I think the first one is very scientific and it’s an evolutionary fact. Decisions are uncomfortable. You have to take responsibility for them. You have to decide for something.

And in the history of humanity, it was always the better way to stick with a group since it increased your chances of survival. That’s very simple. Evolutionary facts. People do not like decisions. They’re uncomfortable with it. Some are better and faster with it, more independent than others. So whenever you make a decision, then that might be a simple purchasing decision.

You would love to have input. You would love to share the responsibility for the decision you make. And therefore, you always love to ask peers, family, and friends, since you trusted those people. And again, the state has changed though. Those peers now appear in social networks. So it can be the community of a brand that you also have trust to.

That is why you’re looking at this kind of social content. There’s a very short story that I might share that somewhat displays very perfectly I think last year, I don’t know if it was Corona only or a quarter-life crisis or something, I looked for a new hobby and I wanted to buy a new racing bike.

No idea about racing bikes. Never sat on one. But I saw one on Instagram, on a friend’s page. And like in an instant, I knew I had to buy this bike. This is not how you make a decision. Meaning, I went into a stall, I got a explanation and consulting from an expert. I rode some bikes and I ended buying the only bike that I did not sit on in the entire process.

The one that I saw on Instagram and I think one or the other can recognize themselves in that kind of story. We got the inspiration by people that we trust or their peers. And then the second most important fact next to this kind of inspiration and yeah, evolution evolutionary effect, is that purchasing decisions are highly emotional and no kind of content beats UGC in terms of emotions and how they can actually deliver those.

Those two factors and thirdly, and this is the most powerful, people look for authenticity. And this is something that brands can simply do not deliver. Everyone knows that pictures and describing texts are, how do you say that? Artificially beautified? So we all know they want to sell them.

That’s fair enough because that’s their job and they are convinced by the product. But we need authenticity in terms that we can really believe the person who shares her or his experience with it. And I think UGC. If someone uploads with an intrinsic motivation, a picture or video of a service, a product that he, or she just experienced or loved, I think that’s like the holy grail that a brand can actually find if someone is so intrinsically motivated to share something positive about a brand, simply unbeatable.

[00:12:12] Stephanie Liu: I love it. I love it. The other thing that really made me smile was when you were talking about how you bought the bike, that you didn’t even sit on or test ride yourself, but based off of the influence that you had from your family and friends who can give you advice. And what I can say is, even as a content creator, as a live streamer, there are oftentimes when new cameras will come into the store shelves, and everyone wants to, Oh Stephanie, you should go get this. And I think what’s really halted my experience as far as not wanting to invest in gear that no one else in my community has is because if I’m the only one that…

There’s a door that just opened.

No, you’re good. You’re good. Where was I going to say? Yeah, so I think sometimes I buy gear because other people in my community have purchased it too. And so if I have questions about it, there’s a built-in community whom I can ask questions from as well. So I don’t feel so alone in my purchase, but I have other people that are along on that journey with me and who I can ask questions with.

So thank you so much for sharing that.

[00:13:37] Benedict Stöhr: Yeah. And again, the kind of user generated content that maybe doesn’t make you buy it in the very first place, but it also to have a like strong and interacting communities, also an added value of the brand can deliver on. A brand can give to their customers or potential customers.

So UGC is not only one picture of the camera or my written text about it, but it can also be exactly what you just share. Giving your community the stage and that is great added value.

Now the door is closed and now we’re on our own again.

[00:14:21] Stephanie Liu: Hey, we’re live at this moment. And even before you had said that, my little one tried to come in, too, and I was like, the lights are on. Having said that I want to give a quick shout out to Nancy Louis Hill, who is a part of the show. And now she’s here in the comments and she’s saying great points.

Authenticity is always powerful. And not only that though, but built in community of people you trust, because that’s really what it is that, if I know that if I want to invest in something like, Hey, Agorapulse, and if Nancy tells me, Hey, Stephanie, I’m able to make content so much faster, put it in my publishing queue and all the different things.

And I know that her feedback is going to save me headaches and all the troubles with trying to figure stuff out. I’m going to find a lot of value in that. So user generated content is always super helpful. And I love what Benedict was saying earlier, too. And when content creators are sharing their videos, their reviews, and all the different things, they want to share their experience, right?

It’s kinda I want to save you from this pain point or, Hey, I want to show you something super amazing that I feel is really going to change your life. Whereas sometimes, as an agency, when we hire copywriters, go into what are the emotional things, and it’s all, as Benedict said, it’s artificially created to move emotions and all the different things.

And I think even for those of us that are marketers are like, oh, I know what you’re doing. I know the levers you’re pulling, the intention, the interest, the desire, the call to action, all the different things. But most content creators are really just creating because they want to educate, they want to inspire and really just help their fellow peers.

So I love all of that. Nancy Lewis is saying, oh my gosh, show me when it’s in use. Yeah, Nancy, I love it when people show me like, Okay, before I invest in a SAAS product or anything, unbox it for me. What would I, as a user experience first glance. What does it look like? How’s the onboarding process and all the different things.

Cool? Awesome.

[00:16:34] Benedict Stöhr: May I just say one thing, because you, it was a glorification of it. People want to share the experience and all of that. It could be even simpler. People just want to show off the product and the purchase or their journey. And that is fine too. It’s simply that their intrinsic motivation will always be a different one than a brand might have. And that’s why it’s so powerful. Yeah. And then again, as I said, we should never underestimate the topic of emotions. Actually, I bought a bike because I liked the color. Simple as that. Although I informed myself and same applies for different things.

I booked a holiday because I saw a great picture of the region on Instagram and then I rationalized the decision by comparing hotel room sizes, which was not important at all. I already booked it in my hat, so it was a made decision. But of course, as an adult, I had to compare the hotel prices or something, but the decision was already made based on a simple picture on Instagram.

I come from content marketing. I know what I’m doing. I know that the tricks work on me, too.

[00:17:42] Stephanie Liu: Oh, yeah, the tricks work on me too. And there are oftentimes when I look at ads, the ads on Facebook or on Instagram. Oh, I love how they use that word. I love the pacing, the leading, the testimonial and all the different things we all learn from each other.

And so shout out to one of our Facebook viewers, who’s saying love UGC, just signed a contract with club coffee, shop and cocktail bar showing them how to be more UGC-friendly, which hello friend. I think this is going to be the perfect episode for you because that’s exactly what we are talking about. So having said that, Benedict, for marketing agencies who haven’t dealt with much UGC in the past, what are the steps they typically go through on behalf of clients?

[00:18:29] Benedict Stöhr: I think the very first thing, just to declare that one, not that I know better, I know that agencies and brands would love to work with UGC. Many of them are very well of the positive characteristics. But there are some bumps in the way when it comes to access to UGC.

So it’s not as simple as someone publishes it on Instagram, you just grab it and then put it on your on your advertising on Times Square. So there are some things when it comes to legal terms and usage rights, that agencies should start to inform themselves about. So you’re not allowed to use someone’s picture just because they’ve used some hashtag or something. That is at least the very strict situation here in Europe.

And I know that a great part of this also do apply in the U S, at least for the US lands that we are working with. They take it very seriously. That is the very first one. So I know that agencies tend to go for the simplest solution, meaning that could be stock photos, a branded content or influencer content.

Just to say that I know that brands and agencies also aware of the positive effects of UGC. But the very first thing probably will be to get a very strong idea of the brand aesthetics, how the brand would like to be perceived, how they would like their products or service to be presented, what their typical language would be, how they would like to step out to the market, to their community, to fence, to potential customers.

And that is the very first step. And then step two is actually, I really liked that stuff, is the reality check. Figure out what we are dreaming of and the perfect presentation of our own brand. How does it look like in the real world? And we’ve seen that many times that brands came to us and said, yeah, there’s plenty of UGC, but it doesn’t show us in a very preferable way and not the way that we perceive ourselves.

We do not like the people showing the brand. We do not like the situation or the context that they’re showing our brand in. And that is something that very often stops UGC projects, since brands or agencies then say, yeah, we simply do not like the nature of the content. And I think that’s a shame and I think that’s a waste of chance, actually, because that is the perfect and most transparent feedback a brand or agency might get.

How is my product actually used by whom? When? In combination with other products or services or places or times, whatever it is. So there’s so much extra to learn from the kind of content that people are already sharing with you. And you should take all of this in step two and then go back to step one and again, ask yourself how you would actually like to be perceived.

And if it needs some adaption after this reality check that these are like the very first two steps that I would highly recommend.

[00:21:29] Stephanie Liu: I love that. Yeah. I find that most people, most brands, when they’re working with content creators, if they make the guidelines too strict, then it prohibits the content creator from being creative in that essence.

The other thing too, is – you’re right in the sense that sometimes brands have this idea of how consumers actually use that particular product. But sometimes, you’ll be surprised by how consumers are actually using it. And super duper helpful. And so having said that, I wanted to give a quick shoutout to Tristin Griffiths.

He says, you need permission to reuse. We know, and have enforced this to our advantage, to get further bookings when misused. And so offering them an opportunity to hire us as they obviously like our work. And so, having said that, if you’re just tuning in, we’re talking about user generated content and how agencies can help clients with it. But first, here’s going to be a quick reminder for you. This show is brought to you by Agorapulse, voted the number one social media management tool by customers on the planet’s top review sites. And if you’re looking for yet another way to increase and diversify your agency’s revenue streams, Agorapulse has a free webinar to help you do exactly that. Head on over to bit.ly/adagencyrevenue to sign up, learn and start driving more revenue from social media services. Right there. That’s definitely where you want to go. So let’s get back to UGC, Benedict. How have you seen some of the most successful agencies manage UGC for clients over the past 12 to 18 months?

[00:23:14] Benedict Stöhr: We have seen different ways of applications. Actually that that really stuck with me since I felt they were very thoughtful and so simple at the same time. So I’m not really sure if Jack Wolfskin is a brand that you know in the US. It’s a very, well-known outdoor retailer here in Europe, and they’ve been around for quite a time and they are facing a problem.

So they would like to be worn on adventures. As I said, it’s an outdoor brand that would like to address young folks that go out on adventures actually go hiking. The problem is that in Germany, rather elderly people, like in the cities, are wearing Jack Wolfskin. So that was a problem that was gonna have to tackle. So, in terms of customer group, it almost became like a saying or a joke to say, oh yeah, it’s a Jack Wolfskin jacket, must be teacher. Or, someone who retired from the job or something. So rather elderly people. So what they did was a very simple campaign that I really love.

They had a campaign called Go Backpack. So they edited a small flag to every purchase and backpack that they sold in a certain period of time. And said, if you share a picture of video with this flag, which said Go Backpack, then you might have the chance to get back the price you paid for the backpack.

So when you look at it, very little input by the brand, paying back the prize for backpack, that it’s fair enough for the single person. That’s pretty cool. Since the backpack is 200 or 250 euros. So that’s a lot of money that you get back for one picture.

And this led to many people, actually sharing content. They collected more than 5,000 pictures and videos within two months. It was the perfect content since it was always out there. It was always on the countryside, always adventurous and when people went hiking or base jumping, or whatever it was.

So what happened was that not only, they was plenty of content that Jack Wolfskin did not really pay for, but their message, hey, we’re not in the city. We are not warm, but elderly people was not something they had to say, but the customers did it for the brand. So it was way more authentic, way more believable. And it was so much more effective and putting in lots of marketing and branded and owned media and saying, hey, look at us, we’re so adventurous.

But they rather by paying some backpacks back. They achieved not only to have plenty of content in a very cost effective way, but they also had a great shift in brand perception with this kind of campaign. So I really liked that one.

[00:26:01] Stephanie Liu: Wow. That’s really cool. I would really love to see that.

Do you have that on the Squarelovin website as a testimony or a case study? I would love to check that out.

[00:26:11] Benedict Stöhr: Yes, actually we do. It’s on squarelovin.com you’ll find it. Another agency, if you would like to hear another example. It’s a performance marketing agency from Hamburg. And what they do is they’re sourcing user generated content to find the most effective visuals and content pieces for their performance advertising. Meaning that they sourced 10 pictures for an instant check them out. And then hours later, not even on daily, but hourly basis, they exchange content and have AB testing, running against each other to figure out which kind of content, which visual is actually winning and has the best opening rate or whatever rate.

And I think that’s a great advantage. A UGC against branded content. You’re having a very customer intensive, contraproduction It’s going to be in one environment, probably one beach, one background, one however you want to call it, content, language or setting that you’re really stuck to.

And I think with UGC, you can change it in instant. It can be a different trend. It can be a different ethnicity. How do you say that? Like people from a different place, whatever. So the variety of user generated content is so much bigger and has such a pace that they were able to create the best results for their customers.

Actually, by exchanging it every single hour running it against running the content against each other. And I think that is simply not possible if you’re limited in terms of content pieces, that you’re, that you have access to.

[00:27:51] Stephanie Liu: I love that. I love that in the sense that you can split test ad campaigns that quickly and easily, as far as getting the content, putting it out there, putting ads behind it.

And yeah, I’ve even seen, Benedict, with our clients, too, that video that looks less produced something where, you’re just walking down the sidewalk or in an office is much more engaging sometimes, than just like a studio background.

[00:28:19] Benedict Stöhr: Absolutely. And I think we, we worked on one project this summer that my opinion wasn’t too well-planned. It was about user generated content tube was one of the biggest like beauty retailers here in Europe.

And you could win a football jersey. And I think that was not the coolest incentive ever seen, to be honest, that was on the one hand side. The thing. And the second one was their entire campaign was linked to the European championship in football. So what happened, Germany did not play too well this year.

And they were out of the tournament in quite an early stage. And so the entire campaign died from one day to the other. That would be a recommendation. Of course it’s a big event. People are really emotional. But still, you should always be aware that you campaign somehow should survive without the linkage to a certain event or to a special day.

And that’s what they forgot. They really hoped for Germany to become champions. And then the campaign would have been successful.

[00:29:21] Stephanie Liu: Yeah, that’s really interesting because I’m definitely seeing campaigns, let’s say contest or giveaways where they ask for user generated content. But the barrier to entry is so high in the sense of, oh, you have to use certain words, certain aspects of it. And not only that though, but the prize, like the reward for jumping through those huge hoops, for a Jersey might not be as attractive. And not only that though, but when you’re linking a campaign to an event that may just overshadow your campaign in general, like your hashtag can’t even be seen because people are emotionally charged and they’re talking about different aspects of the game and all the different things that no one even sees the campaign in their peripheral. So that’s a really good point is to think about pre-planning, production and promotion and all how they work together.

Very true. Great. So one of the great features within Agorapulse is the cue where content can be lined up and scheduled days or even months in advance. I know that’s one of the things that I love to do with my publishing queue in Agorapulse. And so, when user generated content surfaces up with a tool like Squarelovin, the beauty behind that is that it can actually be added to the asset library Agorapulse and then t’d up to be shared to a client’s brand channels to help achieve all of the benefits pretty much that we’ve been discussing.

And so, I think those of you that are Agorapulse users use this for your agencies, content creators. That’s a great way to tie in if you’re working with brands, too. So now, user generated content, for those of you that are tuning in, right? User generated content is by definition content that users create and own.

So, Benedict, what are some best practices or precautions that agencies and brands need to take into consideration?

[00:31:26] Benedict Stöhr: I think there are two aspects you should be really aware of. The very first, I already mentioned is essential media usage rights. So, there’s an urban legend saying that every picture video uploaded on Instagram is owned by Facebook, which is simply false.

And there’s the second belief that the moment someone uses your hashtag or texts, your brand as if they would give you permission to use their content piece for your advertising or marketing. That’s the second belief that is simply wrong. False. So what you need is explicit permission from the Instagram user who has created the picture /video to actually use it and go forward with it in your marketing.

And that, as I already mentioned can be a very time-consuming job using Excel lists and documenting the conversation like single persons. If you are allowed to use a picture for certain activity, for a certain channel, for a certain campaign, people stop bargaining about it. You can believe me.

So they then want to see discount codes or products or whatever it is. And this very often stops the beautiful thought of UGC campaign in the legal department of the firm or simply the marketing colleagues already say it’s way too much work. We’re not going to pursue it. So that is the one fact: media usage rights.

And the second is something that if you’re actually asking for user generated content, if you start that kind of conversation, then you should really, as a brand or agency should be aware of conversations where people say something, listen to each other, and interact because we are witnessing so many brands that simply say, yeah, use our hashtag something and then nothing happens with it.

So they simply ask for something and then that’s it. So if you’re really asking for that kind of content, if you want to interact, and integrate it into your marketing mix then please react to this. Give your community stage, interact with their content. Even if it’s just a comment or something, but if you want to have this conversation, then you should really step into the game and then interact and then maybe a two and a half advices.

The very last one is you will somehow be displayed in social media. So the conversation about your brand and your product has already started. There’s no chance only because you do not have an Instagram account, someone will talk about you and share content related to your brand. So, the best you can do actually is to moderate it.

You will never be fully able to steer the conversation or whatever it is, but try to stay within this environment. Try to moderate it somehow. React to whatever is shared towards you. That’s probably the two main advices we can give.

[00:34:24] Stephanie Liu: I love that.

Yes, media usage rate is definitely, always important. And I love that you also talked about if you’re asking your consumers, your fan base to use a specific hashtag. It makes sense for you to engage with that hashtag as well. And knowing that it’s a dialogue that you’re having across social media platforms. Just recently, I hosted a virtual summit and we were trying to get in touch with the actual platform provider and I kid you not, on Twitter, their first pinned tweet says, if you have questions, use this hashtag. And so I clicked on the hashtag. Other event organizers, who I wasn’t affiliated with, were asking questions and not once did that platform actually respond. And I was like, I wish I had seen this before I had actually had any issues. So I think, yeah, I think for any brand to have a branded hashtag you created it. Now, you have to make the commitment to engage with your consumers as well.

[00:35:31] Benedict Stöhr: Yep. You mentioned the branded hashtag, but since it’s 2021, I would wish that every brand would have one. I think Ralph Lauren, they used hashtag Fashional hashtag shirt for so long that was really a pain to witness that one.

I see it here in Germany. Everyone figured out that hashtags are a new way of communicating and it’s like a place where topic really lives and people interact. Every German insurance is having on their advertising. It says hashtag health. So you really see no one really thought about if there’s any sense behind it.

They just thought, okay, it’s a trend we should follow. But yeah, we see so many brands still sticking to very generic hashtags and leaving out the very simple chance of concentrating the conversation around the brand.

[00:36:26] Stephanie Liu: Yeah, that’s another conversation to have is, the birth and the evolution of hashtags and how they’re actually not only just being used by brand campaigns, but how the consumer, how audiences online use that to really find the information that they’re looking for, whether it’s general and broad, or if it’s specifically tied to a product or a brand campaign.

That’s a fun thing to talk about. So having said that Agency Accelerated fam what we’re going to cover next is going to tie in everything that we just discussed together and make it super simple for you to get started when it comes to user generated content. But first, I want to give a quick shoutout to our live audience for tuning in. Nancy Louis Hill, who says, UGC versus paid inauthentic influencers.

They’re two different things. Yes, I would definitely say yes because inauthentic influencers are usually just the ones that are just trying to go out there for brand deals have never really used the product until they’re educated on how to use it from the brand itself. And most UGC is someone’s just showing their first impression or showing off or trying to educate their own family and friends on how it’s being used.

Benedict, would you add anything to that?

[00:37:46] Benedict Stöhr: If you say inauthentic influencers, then I think your answers sums it up pretty perfectly. In general, I think that influencers are very great puzzle piece in the marketing mix and definitely, there’s a need for them. And I think, they serve certain purposes, but if it’s about…

The purest, most authentic content marketing. Then I think UGC’s just unbeatable on spot number one.

[00:38:13] Stephanie Liu: That’s true. That’s true. Benedict, how do you recommend agencies actually get started with UGC? How should they position their services?

[00:38:29] Benedict Stöhr: I think that they might come off or they combined it with this, with the experience or expertise they already have in the house. As I said, if you’re a content marketing agency and you’re supporting a social media agency and you’re supporting your customers in terms of, okay, you’re delivering engaging content for every single marketing channel.

So should not be the same picture/video on every single channel. So you’re delivering, engaging content pieces with a specific message on every channel. If you would combine that, then user generated content would allow you to source from an ocean of content, actually. And to widen your offering, not in terms of being the facet when it comes to stock photos of content creation, but being the ones with the greatest variety and greatest choice of content action. Same applies for if you’re a performance marketing agency, as I mentioned before, and you could integrate it into your offering, not in terms of we’re creating content for you. But we’re actually sourcing you just see and have that staying next to what we’ve created before. So again, it’s a widening of the entire service. I think the arguments for widening the service we’re talking about it for the last 45 minutes while it should integrate you to see into that.

I think that the great variety and the speed and pace that you might interact provide your client with content and performance and actual results is.

[00:40:00] Stephanie Liu: I love it. Yeah. I think that’s a great way for agencies to position themselves or include UGC into their services.

I love how you mentioned paid media because sometimes user-generated content is the best converting content that’s out there. Of course you want to split test that as well. And having said that, I want to give a shoutout to Tristin Griffiths. Who he said, I shot my 8:00 AM live, outside a great spa hotel, stunning location, real and raw and often comes out beautifully.

And I think that’s one of the things that people want to see, if you’re coming out of a spa, how are you actually feeling? There’s that natural glow that comes from it and all the beautiful things. And so agencies, I think even when you’re positioning your services for UGC is to not just talk about the benefits of UGC, but what Benedict did as far as what are the pros, what are the cons?

What are some copyright things that you need to be mindful of? And even just how to repurpose this content down the line. There’s a whole life cycle. I would say that comes in with UGC. We talked earlier about the brand campaigns, where their hashtag was overshadowed by a specific event. We also talked about health insurance companies where they’re just using hashtag health and not really seeing the benefits from it as well cause it wasn’t really thought out, but we’re also seeing brands that are.

Seeing the shifts in how consumers are using their products, case in point with a backpack case study that you had shared earlier, where they’re just like, other people are using our products outside of the wilderness and different things.

So how can we be a part of that conversation and really shift the tone of our brand and making it much more inclusive? Right? Cool. Benedict, thank you so much. It’s not often that I get to geek out about UGC and how it’s evolved and changed over time. This has been such a fun interview, very informative, and all of us here in the Agency Accelerated fam, we appreciate your insights.

And having said that, can you tell folks where to find you? What’s the best way to reach out to you if they have questions?

[00:42:12] Benedict Stöhr: It’s probably our website it’s squarelovin.com. It’s a tech nerd or marsh to the time where all images were squared on Instagram. So squarelovin.com. And then you can simply request a short discovery call or simply write us.

[00:42:31] Stephanie Liu: Yes. And if you have any questions yeah, definitely reach out. Cause I looked at the website and it’s so well thought out as far as the onboarding process and all the different articles that are there. So if you want more information, definitely go ahead and check out the site. Having said that, friends, that’s all we have today folks, but don’t worry. We do have a fantastic series of shows coming up in our next episode, we’ll be talking to the legendary advertising executive, Alan Kay, the mind behind powerful campaigns and messages. If you see something, say something, Ooh, that’s going to be a good one. Followed by the one and only Guy Kawasaki.

So if you want to be a part of that conversation, definitely join us. We’ll also have Derek Robbins, Lee Goff, and more. So remember, everyone, remember to subscribe to the calendar at agorapulse.com/calendar if you want to be sure to catch our live episodes. And if you enjoy podcast listening, we’re excited to share that Agency Accelerated is available on all podcast channels, including Apple podcasts, Spotify and Amazon. You have to go there, download it, let us know what you think. Write some reviews. We’ll absolutely appreciate that. And having said that, take advantage of our free webinar on how to add agency revenue by adding social media services. Head on over to bit.ly/adagencyrevenue. And I’ll see you in your agency accelerating into the next show.

I’ll see you there.


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