The Top 9 Tips for Planning Your 2021 UGC Campaigns

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Although it’s tempting to make every effort to delete 2020 from our memories, it’s important that we examine all there is to learn from marketing during a pandemic, how it impacted our existing content marketing, and what it means for the future of user-generated content (UGC) campaigns. Last year, the International Data Corporation forecasted that consumers would surpass marketers in terms of content creation by 2020, and thanks in part to COVID-19, this prediction is accurate.

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Simply consuming content has proved to no longer be enough for users, especially millennials. UGC is on track to be reinvented once again in 2021 and users want to help shape this new wave of content.

2020 was full of cancelations of everything from high school reunions, sporting events, and sold-out concerts, to countless artistic and social gatherings. And creatives have had to seek out alternatives to sharing their ideas in person. Perceptive brands learned early on that encouraging this creativity and providing a platform for users to exchange their ideas and express themselves is critical, and will be to UGC campaigns in 2021 as well.

In light of the pandemic, protests, politics, and other events of 2020, consumers are more sensitive than in the past, but connection is more valuable than ever. As you begin to plan UGC campaigns for 2021, it’s important to reevaluate how to communicate to your community with this in mind.

The following 9 tips will help expand your brand’s reach, and expose your products and services to a new audience in 2021 by providing a safe platform for users to share their ideas, socialize virtually, express their creativity, and help craft a new wave of content through UGC:

The Top 9 Tips for Planning Your 2021 UGC Campaigns

1. Set a standard and set your creators up for success

The goal of UGC is to make your audience feel something that inspires them to take action. With that in mind, start by setting a standard for content that supports a clean brand image and advances your brand’s values.

Explain your content’s purpose to UGC creators, so they can apply a fresh perspective to the content for your brand’s platform or channels. Since UGC is not created by your brand, the content shines a light on your products and services in a more authentic way, which can be incredibly beneficial to your business.

Don’t forget that creators require as much detail as possible to provide the best submissions. So determine whether you will use this content on social media, blogs, websites, or other channels.

To attain what you need from content creators, be certain of where UGC will be used and convey this to them clearly. This enables creators to generate the most on-brand images, videos, and text. It also prevents any confusion over intellectual property rights by disclosing how your brand may use an influencer's content and repurpose it down the road for the channels that your brand enthusiasts frequent.

2. Collaborate to create community

In an Epsilon survey, over 80 percent of consumers indicated that they are more likely to do business with a company that offers a personal experience. To maximize exposure for what you want to share or sell, keep content marketing personal by partnering with brand ambassadors or influencers.

When an influencer shares your brand on social media, users experience this as a personal connection with an actual human as opposed to another advertisement. If you haven’t been wildly successful in obtaining UGC from influencers thus far, you can openly solicit content of customers living in, using, and loving your brand’s offerings by fostering a sense of belonging to an important community of influencers (experienced content creators with a larger audience) and/ or brand ambassadors (everyday content creators with a smaller, more intimate following).’s Ambassador Page

Keep an eye out for posts that are already promoting your brand, or simply sharing content that aligns with the vision for your brand’s community, and reach out to these creators with a comment, such as:

“Hey, we love your content. Let’s collab!”

2020 has left many consumers craving a stronger sense of community, so emphasize that potential influencers are a valued part of your company’s team by presenting partnership and collaboration opportunities in 2021. Then share the results of these “creative collabs” on your brand’s channels to reaffirm how amazing it is to be part of a community of like-minded creatives.

If you don’t have the resources to screen high volumes of this content before posting it, work with a moderation company for more comprehensive content moderation solutions.

3. Focus on nostalgia marketing

“I just wish things would go back to normal,” has been a common sentiment this year. Until a time machine is invented, that’s not something any brand can offer.

This doesn’t change the fact that a growing number of consumers want to do business with companies that focus on the familiar through the power of nostalgia. Nostalgia marketing inspires users to reflect on why they love your brand (and share that with their online community) rather than blatantly asserting a product or service.

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Old home movies and grade school pictures ooze nostalgia.

Customers want to feel involved in something familiar and comforting, whether that’s through recreating traditions at home or sharing posts of the good old days. And brands are offering various original approaches to nostalgia marketing in response.

According to a Journal of Consumer Research study, nostalgic feelings made participants more willing to spend their money on consumer products and services. And even if customers aren’t in a position to invest in your brand at the moment, nostalgic marketing efforts keep you on their radar.

UGC Campaigns

4. Ramp up the remixing

Whether it takes the form of blog posts, forum content, podcasts, tweets, or testimonials, UGC lets you show your appreciation to brand advocates by featuring their ideas, images, and feedback on your company’s channels. But when it comes to UGC marketing, pressing publish on a new post or podcast episode and walking away is so 2020.

To pack more punch in your marketing, plan to distribute UGC with a content marketing remix in 2021. Remixing is the act of taking one form of content and converting it into several other forms. Take a user-generated blog post that has performed well, for instance:

If your audience divides their attention up between several different platforms, then you can turn that popular blog post into a downloadable PDF or infographic for Pinterest, or
include an excerpt and link to it in your next e-newsletter, tweet, or Instagram story. Just be sure that content creators understand that their blog may be remixed for your brand’s various channels.

If you don’t already, try remixing content using Instagram’s carousel posts. Essentially a slideshow of images, the carousel feature allows you to show several photos in one post.

Carousel posts enable you to feature multiple photos of products, but can also be a creative way to share informative content. And carousels allow you to present user-generated images from several influencers in one post.

To promote your brand further, encourage influencers to share several images showcasing your product or service in a carousel post on their own social media channels.

5. Keep the video rolling

Despite coming under fire in 2019 and then again this year, TikTok is still the fastest-growing social media platform and Instagram’s Reels isn’t far behind. Why? Because video content is easy to consume.

So what’s in it for your brand? Through UGC on Reels and TikTok, your brand can reveal that there are relatable human beings behind your organization and boost accessibility. And 15-second video content set to music can tease viewers with glimpses of how individuals just like them are using your product or service.

While it may seem overwhelming to adopt short-form video for content marketing, rest assured that your influencers can help with that. Take that user-generated, brand-centric video that is being shared on YouTube, as a story, or in tweets and repurpose it for TikTok or Reels.

And don’t retire from IGTV just yet! A well thought-out livestream can be very effective at building relationships with customers through real-time interaction.

A word of caution: It’s important to ask yourself if a shiny new app, platform, or website is relevant to your audience before you start building your UGC campaigns around it. And confirm that it has a content moderation policy in place to inhibit the sharing of drug use, hate speech, nudity, violence, or other inappropriate content that could unleash more harm than good on your audience and your brand.

If you’re going to allow live video, but you’re still not sure how to approach video moderation and profanity filtering, find a content moderation company that can provide guidance for managing the risks of live video and user-generated content through a hybrid moderation approach.

UGC Campaigns

6. Keep it simple and have some fun

During global lockdowns, there was a significant rise in the amount of people using online games and contests to connect with each other, as well as find a brief escape from news feeds full of serious messaging.

Marketers should keep an eye on the online communities that have built up around virtual contests and races, and offer more opportunities for friendly competition. When planning contests based on UGC, the emphasis doesn’t have to be on winning - Socializing is a much higher priority for users.

As always, set explicit rules for any contest that your brand runs. To keep applicants from being frustrated or surprised that their content wasn’t published, be clear about contest submission rules, FTC guidelines, and what content will be rejected.

Users will be more likely to participate and submit their content if you present the contest as clearly as possible. In addition to stating the rules, have a little fun with photos and emojis when explaining the contest.

Don’t clutter contest posts with complicated steps. Instead, keep things simple with around three easy steps, one of which should be posting or sharing user-generated content.

UGC Campaigns

In 2021, you can also show off your brand’s light-hearted side with memes. Sharing user-generated memes can display your company as casual and modern if done tastefully.

As always, communicate as much detail as possible to your creators to ensure submissions are appropriate for your audience and brand, and check all submissions for any violations of your brand’s standards. For more comprehensive content moderation of memes or other interactive content, it’s beneficial to work with a moderation company.

7. Be helpful and consistent

The worldwide pandemic has made consumers less tolerant of the fake and the photoshopped. As the year winds down, users are consistently drawn to content that depicts real people with relatable needs, and the brands that have been part of meeting those needs.

Your audience will appreciate practical content that helps and educates them, especially with the ongoing state of working and learning from home. This could be in the form of guides, hacks, and do-it-yourself tips or inspirational content that motivates the user to achieve a goal.

Users value clear communication and trust brands that have a story consistent with their customer experience, which is why you should make room for reviews and testimonials in your upcoming UGC campaigns.

There’s still a place in 2021 for content focused on creating awareness of the actual product you are selling, so don’t hesitate to evoke action through reviews and promo codes from brand ambassadors. According to a report by Econsultancy, 61 percent of individuals between 18 and 34-years old have made investments or purchases after being swayed by online reviews and recommendations from brand influencers.

8. Tell an inspiring story

Storyteller marketing uses a narrative to communicate your brand’s message. And the story that your user-generated content tells adds depth and often inspires consumers to take action.

Storytelling that builds a powerful brand affinity with your ambassador’s audience must go beyond the product information in images and videos. In 2021, captions will become a much stronger tool for producing comments, shares, visits to your website, leads, and sales.

When you want to get more engagement on your content and even reach new audiences through captions (and who doesn’t?) think quality over quantity.

Unsure of how much copy constitutes “quality”? The most effective user-generated blogs are around 1500 words, with paragraphs of 2 or 3 sentences at most. On Facebook and Instagram, aim for 70-word captions to increase engagement rates. And don’t underestimate the power of captions on YouTube and Vimeo. The ideal video caption will be between 200 and 300 words.

Here’s an easy but often overlooked way to make sure captions contain quality copy: Read the content out loud to assure that it is simple, relatable, and inspiring!

Hashtags are an effective way to connect different stories about the same subject and will remain huge in 2021. UGC creators should be aware of your company’s hashtags and include them in everything from an Instagram post to a YouTube video.

And while longer captions are encouraged, less is more with hashtags. Pursuing too many audiences through the use of dozens upon dozens of hashtags will only weaken user-generated content’s effectiveness, so stick to five or 10 of the most applicable hashtags, which should include two or three brand-specific hashtags.

UGC Campaigns

9. Reanalyze

Throughout the year, make time to analyze how your audience is responding to your brand’s user-generated content. Is the content accomplishing its goal of helping your audience understand why they should care about your brand, product, or service?

If spikes in social media shares, thousands of downloads or views, new leads, and an increase in conversion rates can be attributed to user-generated blogs, social media posts, videos, and other content, then that UGC is accomplishing its purpose.

Look for trends in well-performing content, such as:

  • A hashtag that performs better than others
  • Certain influencers that post lead-generating content
  • Videos or surveys in stories that lead to more Swipe Ups
  • A particularly engaging and helpful guest blog on your website
  • A LinkedIn post that has become a conversation starter among users

UGC Campaigns

It may be time to make changes to your marketing campaign if there are aspects that fail to accomplish one or all of these.

And when you’re planning the next user-generated content campaign, be strategic about developing an approach to UGC that meets users’ need to connect virtually.

Conclusion: The future of UGC campaigns

The demand for messaging that adds value to conversations will only grow in 2021, so plan to make a shift in the way you approach content marketing if and when the online conversation changes direction (as it did repeatedly in 2020). As you create your 2021 UGC campaigns, make helpful, relatable content marketing the priority.

Content that connects rather than polarizes will be pivotal to ensuring that your brand stands out among the competition and exceeds your goals in 2021. Armed with these tips for a successful UGC campaign, you can leverage user-generated content to expose your brand to new audiences, build trust through authenticity, generate excitement among existing followers and customers, and drive purchasing decisions.


Joshua Buxbaum is the Co-Founder and Sales Director at WebPurify.