As you might already know, user-generated content (UGC) is a way for organisations to use their fans and followers to help spread the word about their brand by inviting them to contribute personal content via social media channels or purpose-built platforms. It can add a fun element to your social media campaigns.
Is UGC suitable for professional bodies?
Definitely. Membership organisations already have engagement within your audience, so you need to be able to convince those members to produce content and share it with you.
Here are a few ways you can use UGC in your marketing activities:
Your members know their profession and their ‘world’; you can try to encourage them to share their knowledge. A simple example I like is from the Marketing Society, which has asked its members to contribute to a range of City Guides. The idea is that members share their top tips for various destinations so that, should other Marketing Society members be visiting that city, they can read recommendations from their peers. It is fun, personal and useful. It also raises the profile of members who contribute to the guides.
Consumer brands are great at using competitions to engage their audience. It isn’t often done in the membership body space, but it can create powerful and engaging content.
A great example is the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) competition to get the relevant university students submitting videos or photo selfies of their team on IET-branded space hoppers. The IET were looking for something entertaining but that also showed a connection to the vocation. In return was the chance to win a prize worth £500.
I think that taking advantage of the current selfie fad, as well as explicitly incentivising, was a great way for the IET to utilise its younger members and let them promote the profession.
Jump on a Campaign
Sometimes the best social media campaigns are started by other people or organisations. However, that shouldn’t mean that your organisation can’t get involved. A US campaign #ILookLikeAnEngineer started when a young engineer – Isis Anchalee – appeared in a recruitment advert to show that engineering isn’t just male. She was overwhelmed with the amount of attention she received – both negative and positive. She blogged about the issue and started using the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer (see below), which was then picked up and emulated by others on Twitter.
Some UK engineering-related professional bodies have since used the hashtag.
Campaigns like this are perfect for professional bodies, especially as it’s not just members that can be reached but a much wider audience, too. And campaigns that are started by individuals have a great authenticity about them, so it can be good to align your brand with such initiatives.
This hungry social-channel world we live in definitely warrants UGC being incorporated into your professional body’s content marketing plan. You have an audience of engaged members at your fingertips, so why not use them?
At PARN we’re looking at member-generated content at our Communications Special Interest Group meeting on 15 October! This event is fully booked, but find out more about the group and join us next time around.