Hashtag campaigns on social media have been one of the most affordable ways of generating content and strengthening customer relationships this year, but the majority of people are not compelled to join in and contribute, according to a new report from Visual Objects.
More than 400 people in the US were asked about their views on creating content for brands, a strategy that is called user-generated content (UGC) in marketing and that has been deployed more by companies amid budget cuts following the pandemic.
Getting customers involved on social media by asking them to create a video or post an image is generally a great way to increase engagement with audiences and build connections that can support the sales cycle.
However, the study found that audiences on social media are not as receptive as they once were.
Just 11% of respondents said that they had taken part in a hashtag campaign during the previous three months.
Hashtag campaigns grew in popularity during the mid to late 2010s as an alternative to traditional forms of marketing, but consumers are now more likely to want brands to create content themselves.
Almost three quarters (73%) of respondents said that they would think twice about coming up with a creative branded video, but many would be open to the idea if brands created more stories and engaging videos to draw them in.
This is backed up by another finding that shows that 40% of people have commented or engaged with a brand story on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat recently, making it one of the most popular content formats overall.
Another quarter of respondents said that they had interacted with livestreams and new digital experiences based around AR lenses and filters.
This shows that customer expectations are evolving and that many want to engage with new forms of tech and media rather than “older” formats such as hashtags, which have now been around for a while and are better suited for appealing to “brand enthusiasts”.
While UGC can be tricky to get right for brands big and small, it can supplement organic content marketing to deliver cost-effective campaigns that drive higher rates of return on investment.
The report noted that brands must use the right mix of platforms and content types to get the desired results.
The humble comment and review still has a place though.
More than a quarter (26%) said that they would be ready and willing to review a business’s products or services via a third-party website.
This actually makes reviews the most popular form of UGC overall and something that brands should look to leverage to support general marketing.
Respondents said that they will look to their peers to see what they think about a brand before deciding whether to buy, rather than relying on information from the brand itself.
One way that brands can do this without being too pushy is by asking customers to leave reviews for products in marketing emails and by giving them an incentive to offer feedback and insights through video channels on YouTube and social media.