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6 Ways Brands Can Leverage UGC for Black Friday Promotions



Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year and it’s just around the corner. 

The festivities usually begin the moment people finish their last bite of Turkey, but this year things are slightly different, and with many major stores keeping their doors firmly shut this Black Friday, it’s more important than ever for brands to stand out online. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in the number of people favoring online shopping, which means we’ll see more online shoppers this year than last. This provides ample opportunity for brands to attract new audiences and convert one-time buyers into life-long customers. 

One of the easiest and most powerful ways to build trust and nurture existing customers is through user-generated content (UGC). Leveraging it this Black Friday will create an authentic presence amid the flurry of deals, provide social proof for on-the-fence buyers, and generate a buzz around your brand. 

Why User Generated Content is Key on Black Friday

Think about the sheer volume of brands that will be clamoring for custom this Black Friday. 

Along with the obvious struggles that this year has thrown at retailers, an increasing number of brands have opened up online stores, and have seriously implemented an online strategy this year. 

Read: There’s more competition than ever. 

Standing out will be difficult, but it’s also never been more important to be trustworthy and credible – especially if you want to take advantage of the swathes of new online shoppers (who, let’s face it, are probably more skeptical than most if it’s taken them this long to venture online). 

UGC not only attracts new buyers, it also engages your most active and loyal customers, which can instantly give you a competitive edge. 

These people are your biggest advocates, and given consumers are far more likely to listen to their peers than brands themselves, this is a crucial stepping stone to Black Friday success.  

The authentic engagement driven by UGC instinctively builds trust – not to mention customer content is far easier and quicker to collect than creating your own. 

Basically, sharing an influx of raw customer stories will likely have a better effect (and create more of a buzz) than painstakingly creating one well-polished piece of content to share over and over again. 

How to Leverage UGC on Black Friday

1. Create a Designated Hashtag to Collect UGC

Hashtags remain a great way for shoppers to find products they’re interested in. They’re also great for creating mini-feeds of customer content that focuses on your brand. 

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Remember, Black Friday encourages shoppers to try out new brands, and social media is the perfect place for them to discover new products and incredible deals. 

Tap into this flurry of social activity by creating a hashtag specifically for your main deals, or even for specific products (like your bestsellers). 

The more times consumers see your hashtag popping up in their feeds, the more curious they’ll become – which means there’s a high chance they’ll hop over to your site to see what you’re all about. 

Encourage shoppers to use the hashtag in the lead up to Black Friday by sharing their past experiences with your brand, and continue to encourage them on the day itself. The more customers that share their photos, reviews, and stories, the better. 

Top Tips for Making the Most of Your Black Friday Hashtag:

  • Reach out to existing customers and invite them to share their experience using your designated hashtag
  • Choose a hashtag that’s memorable, but that also ties into your brand
  • Add your hashtag to emails, social media profiles, and other key hotspots to maximize its exposure on the big day 

2. Share UGC on Social Media

Once your hashtag has picked up traction, you can start curating the UGC you’ve received and sharing it across your social channels.

There’s a high chance your existing customers and new potential buyers will be hanging out on social media during Black Friday so they can make the most of the available deals. 

Leverage this by being where your customers are. 

Stay front-of-mind by regularly sharing UGC – whether that’s customer photos, reviews, or videos – throughout the day to keep interest piqued and the buzz circulating. 

Take a leaf out of outdoor brand Rei’s book – they encourage customers to use their designated hashtag and then share relevant, high-quality UGC captured on their Instagram feed. 

Top Tips for Sharing UGC on Social Media:

  • Thank customers for sharing their UGC and ask permission if you can use it before resharing
  • Spread UGC throughout the day to reach customers in different time zones and to keep the spark alive
  • Use a platform to find, organize, get rights to, and reshare content that customers have posted 

3. Reward Customers That Share UGC

Who doesn’t like being rewarded? No one, that’s who.

Your customers have taken the time to create their own content about your product and brand, the least you can do is say thanks. 

And, to tie into the giving nature of Black Friday, you can take it one step further by offering a tempting reward for customers that do share their photos and videos with you.

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Not only does this give a much-deserved “thanks”, but it also encourages customers who haven’t yet provided their own UGC to do so. 

You might decide that an extra discount for customers who share UGC is apt, or maybe you send them a free product to say thanks. 

Tower Cookware does exactly this. They invite shoppers to unlock a 35% discount code if they leave a review.

Top Tips for Rewarding Customers That Share UGC: 

  • In the spirit of Black Friday, offer a discount to customers that leave a review or share a product photo
  • Send an email to existing customers highlighting the reward they can get if they participate
  • Don’t go all out – a simple discount or a small gift is enough to get the ball rolling 

4. Include UGC in Product Listings

Your product pages are a crucial part of the buying cycle on Black Friday. 

While social media and well-timed emails might mark the start of the discovery journey, your product listings are where shoppers will end up. 

These people are already in buy mode. They’ve made it this far, what’s to stop them hitting that all-important buy button and making it all the way to checkout? 

The answer is usually poor product listings. 

Without high-quality photos and a compelling description, it’s easy to lose customers to competitors that have provided engaging listings. 

There’s a simple solution though – Enhance your product listings with UGC. This can be particularly effective on deal pages and on your best-sellers. 

Fabletics does a great job of this. It uses both customer photos and reviews on their product pages to instill buyer confidence and give on-the-fence shoppers the nudge they need to make a decision. 

Top Tips for Including UGC in Product Listings:

  • Use a combination of UGC, like photos and reviews
  • Prioritize your best-sellers and any deal pages created specifically for Black Friday
  • Use UGC to tell a story about your products 

5. Sprinkle UGC in Product Recommendation Emails

Shoppers receive a lot of emails on Black Friday, most of which are touting top deals and promoting best selling products. 

The problem is, most of these emails are the same and, as a result, they get buried or overlooked in busy inboxes. 

Don’t let your products go to a metaphorical early grave. 

Instead, enhance your product recommendation emails with UGC (according to research by TINT, UGC increases email click-through rates by 73%). 

Incorporate customer photos and reviews to drive more sales and increase buyer confidence. 

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Every little helps, and adding UGC as an engaging element to your emails will make sure yours stand out. 

Take furniture brand Article, as an example – they incorporate UGC into their pre-sale email on Black Friday.

Top Tips for Adding UGC to Product Recommendation Emails:

  • Incorporate product-relevant UGC if possible
  • Personalize product recommendation emails based on shoppers’ past purchases for an extra layer of engagement
  • Make UGC the focal point of your product recommendation emails to ensure they stand out 

6. Incorporate UGC in Cart Abandonment Emails

Black Friday shoppers are generally impulse buying, but they might not always make it to the checkout stage. 

In fact, there’s a high chance they’ve left a load of half-filled carts in their wake

Instead of tagging these as lost customers, use it to your advantage – after all, these shoppers showed enough interest at some point to add products to their cart. 

Cart abandonment emails are your golden ticket to boosting sales on Black Friday. They remind customers about products they were initially interested in and bring them back to your store.  

These emails provide the perfect opportunity to add an element of FOMO through reviews and customer photos. 

No one likes to see what they’re missing out on, but UGC like this also increases trust, which might ease their mind if they’ve never bought from you before. 

Cali Fabrics is a great example of a brand that does this. They include multiple positive customer reviews in their abandoned cart emails, as well as a further discount for customers to claim. 

Top Tips for Incorporating UGC into Abandoned Cart Emails: 

  • Highlight your best reviews (and make them product-relevant if possible)
  • Offer a reward for customers that go back to their cart, like an extra discount or free shipping
  • Inject abandoned cart emails with some personality to stand out and generate trust 

Power Black Friday With UGC

As you can see, UGC can be an effective tool for increasing conversions and sales, and there are many ways to leverage it. But, if you try to do it all manually, it’s either near-on impossible or, at the very least, way too much work. 

That’s where the right UGC platform comes into play. 

Doing this will build trust, instill buyer confidence, and help turn one-time impulse buyers into long-term customers that continue to come back for more.

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Meta’s Developing and ‘Ethical Framework’ for the Use of Virtual Influencers



Meta's Developing and 'Ethical Framework' for the Use of Virtual Influencers

With the rise of digital avatars, and indeed, fully digital characters that have evolved into genuine social media influencers in their own right, online platforms now have an obligation to establish clear markers as to what’s real and what’s not, and how such creations can be used in their apps.

The coming metaverse shift will further complicate this, with the rise of virtual depictions blurring the lines of what will be allowed, in terms of representation. But with many virtual influencers already operating, Meta is now working to establish ethical boundaries on their application.

As explained by Meta:

From synthesized versions of real people to wholly invented “virtual influencers” (VIs), synthetic media is a rising phenomenon. Meta platforms are home to more than 200 VIs, with 30 verified VI accounts hosted on Instagram. These VIs boast huge follower counts, collaborate with some of the world’s biggest brands, fundraise for organizations like the WHO, and champion social causes like Black Lives Matter.”

Some of the more well-known examples on this front are Shudu, who has more than 200k followers on Instagram, and Lil’ Miquela, who has an audience of over 3 million in the app.

At first glance, you wouldn’t necessarily realize that this is not an actual person, which makes such characters a great vehicle for brand and product promotions, as they can be utilized 24/7, and can be placed into any environment. But that also leads to concerns about body image perception, deepfakes, and other forms of misuse through false or unclear representation.

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Deepfakes, in particular, may be problematic, with Meta citing this campaign, with English football star David Beckham, as an example of how new technologies are evolving to expand the use of language, as one element, for varying purpose.

The well-known ‘DeepTomCruise’ account on TikTok is another example of just how far these technologies have come, and it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where they could be used to, say, show a politician saying or doing something that he or she actually didn’t, which could have significant real world impacts.

Which is why Meta is working with developers and experts to establish clearer boundaries on such use – because while there is potential for harm, there are also beneficial uses for such depictions.

Imagine personalized video messages that address individual followers by name. Or celebrity brand ambassadors appearing as salespeople at local car dealerships. A famous athlete would make a great tutor for a kid who loves sports but hates algebra.

Such use cases will increasingly become the norm as VR and AR technologies are developed, with these platforms placing digital characters front and center, and establishing new norms for digital connection.

It would be better to know what’s real and what’s not, and as such, Meta needs clear regulations to remove dishonest depictions, and enforce transparency over VI use.

But then again, much of what you see on Instagram these days is not real, with filters and editing tools altering people’s appearance well beyond what’s normal, or realistic. That can also have damaging consequences, and while Meta’s looking to implement rules on VI use, there’s arguably a case for similar transparency in editing tools applied to posted videos and images as well.

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That’s a more complex element, particularly as such tools also enable people to feel more comfortable in posting, which no doubt increases their in-app activity. Would Meta be willing to put more focus on this element if it could risk impacting user engagement? The data on the impact of Instagram on people’s mental health are pretty clear, with comparison being a key concern.

Should that also come under the same umbrella of increased digital transparency?

It’s seemingly not included in the initial framework as yet, but at some stage, this is another element that should be examined, especially given the harmful effects that social media usage can have on young women.

But however you look at it, this is no doubt a rising element of concern, and it’s important for Meta to build guardrails and rules around the use of virtual influencers in their apps.

You can read more about Meta’s approach to virtual influencers here.

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Meta Publishes New Guide to the Various Security and Control Options in its Apps



Meta Publishes New Guide to the Various Security and Control Options in its Apps

Meta has published a new set of safety tips for journalists to help them protect themselves in the evolving online connection space, which, for the most part, also apply to all users more broadly, providing a comprehensive overview of the various tools and processes that it has in place to help people avoid unwanted attention online.

The 32-page guide is available in 21 different languages, and provides detailed overviews of Meta’s systems and profile options for protection and security, with specific sections covering Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The guide begins with the basics, including password protections and enabling two-factor authentication.

It also outlines tips for Page managers in securing their business profiles, while there are also notes on what to do if you’ve been hacked, advice for protection on Messenger and guidance on bullying and harassment.

Meta security guide

For Instagram, there are also general security tips, along with notes on its comment moderation tools.

Meta security guide

While for WhatsApp, there are explainers on how to delete messages, how to remove messages from group chats, and details on platform-specific data options.

Meta security guide

There are also links to various additional resource guides and tools for more context, providing in-depth breakdowns of when and how to action the various options.

It’s a handy guide, and while there are some journalist-specific elements included, most of the tips do apply to any user, so it could well be a valuable resource for anyone looking to get a better handle on your various privacy tools and options.

Definitely worth knowing either way – you can download the full guide here.

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Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Trump



Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Trump

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with relatives of slain commander Qasem Soleimani ahead of the second anniverary of his death in a US drone strike in Iraq – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Tom Brenner

Twitter said Saturday it had permanently suspended an account linked to Iran’s supreme leader that posted a video calling for revenge for a top general’s assassination against former US president Donald Trump.

“The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told AFP.

The account, @KhameneiSite, this week posted an animated video showing an unmanned aircraft targeting Trump, who ordered a drone strike in Baghdad two years ago that killed top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s main accounts in various languages remain active. Last year, another similar account was suspended by Twitter over a post also appearing to reference revenge against Trump.

The recent video, titled “Revenge is Definite”, was also posted on Khamenei’s official website.

According to Twitter, the company’s top priority is keeping people safe and protecting the health of the conversation on the platform.

The social media giant says it has clear policies around abusive behavior and will take action when violations are identified.

As head of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Soleimani was the architect of its strategy in the Middle East.

He and his Iraqi lieutenant were killed by a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020.

Khamenei has repeatedly promised to avenge his death.

On January 3, the second anniversary of the strike, the supreme leader and ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi once again threatened the US with revenge.

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Trump’s supporters regularly denounce the banning of the Republican billionaire from Twitter, underscoring that accounts of several leaders considered authoritarian by the United States are allowed to post on the platform.

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