Welcome back to the DTC Boardroom series, where we ask our podcast guests to dive into their personal picks for the most exciting strategies and tactics to help brands WIN BIG! 🙌
Today’s guest is Srdjan (Serge) Popovic. Let’s dive in 👇
Hi everyone, I’m Srdjan Popovic (aka Serge), the Chief Marketing Officer at Crossrope. Crossrope is a fast-growing fitness brand on a mission to inspire millions of people to get fit in a fun, different, and affordable way. How? A unique jump rope system.
In my spare time, I love being a dad, writing about ecommerce and marketing, and making homemade pizzas.
Today, we’re jumping (no jump rope pun intended 😉) into how ecommerce brands can use UGC to scale creative content. 💪
As DTC brands look to diversify their marketing mix, more marketers are tapping into the power of influencer marketing.
However, most of them are going about it the wrong way.
They’re focusing on finding influencers and paying for sponsored posts instead of finding and building relationships with good content creators.
Today I want to show you a simple strategy for how to build an army of creators and source amazing UGC that you can use across your marketing funnel.
👊 Build an army of creators, not influencers
The typical marketer mindset is:
- Find the best influencers with the largest followings.
- Pay them a good chunk of change to post something about a product.
Sure, this can work for some brands (we’ve done it too), but it’s risky.
You don’t know if the influencer’s audience will resonate with your product. You don’t know if the timing is right. And you can’t do much with the content after the fact.
🎞 Focus on the content, not the influencer
The goal is to find and build relationships with a broad mix of content creators. These creators should be able to regularly create a wide variety of engaging content for you to repurpose in your marketing mix.
How do you do this?
First, forget about the follower count. Instead, focus on finding creators (of any following) who can create engaging content and can speak genuinely about a product.
This may sound counteractive, but place less emphasis on the ‘quality’ of content. Yes, it has to pass some basic filters and be on-brand, but otherwise, you really don’t know what’s going to work (especially top of funnel) until you test.
High production value doesn’t always mean best performance.
🤝 How to source UGC from content creators
How you source your user generated content (UGC) will depend on what stage your brand is in. Your approach will be different if you’re just getting started vs. if you’re an established brand.
I like to think of UGC sourcing in three layers.
1️⃣ Tap into customer content
If you're an existing brand, you want to start at layer one: your customer content.
If you’ve been around for some time, you likely already have customers posting content using your product. This is the easiest place to start building your creator and content pipeline.
To start, go to various social platforms and search for your brand. 👀
At Crossrope, it’s as simple as going into any social platform and searching ‘Crossrope’ (or any of our branded hashtags).
Reach out to every content creator (that fits the profile you’re looking for) and ask them if you can repurpose their content for your marketing needs. Most will be excited and eager to share.
I recommend focusing on short-form vertical videos at the outset because these seem to be working best right now. You’ll find those primarily on TikTok and Instagram. Later, you can expand into YouTube and play a similar game.
As you grow and you get more products out there, you’ll be able to tap into layer one content more frequently. Do this search at least once a week.
Tool tip. You can use a free Shopify app called Archive App to aggregate and download all the content you’re being tagged in all from one place. It’s a huge time saver, especially if you’re getting tagged in a lot of content. It also helps you spot new creators.
2️⃣ Product seeding with niche content
If you’re a newer brand (or you've exhausted layer one), you can take advantage of layer two: niche content. This is where you can start your product seeding.
Go to the same social platforms and search for your niche category using various keyword combinations. Make a list of every (good*) creator that posts content for those niche keywords.
Reach out and see if they're interested in trying your product. The worst they can say is no! 🤷♂️
*Reminder… good creators don’t necessarily need to have large followings. They need to be on brand and know how to create engaging content.
At Crossrope, I would search for terms like ‘jump rope’, ‘jump rope workouts’, ‘jump rope tips’, etc., and find creators who post good jump rope content. I’d reach out to see which creators are interested in trying our ropes and send them samples to try out.
Of course, the goal is to get creators to actually post content using your product and give you permission to repurpose it for ads and other marketing touch points on your end.
You can either:
- Lay this expectation out in your initial outreach message
- Ask them after the fact (once they’ve tried the product)
If you do the former, you’ll reduce the number of samples you send out while increasing your posting rate. If you wait to ask after the fact, you’ll send more samples out, but your closing rate will likely be lower.
Consider your capacity and costs to send out samples, but ultimately it’s worth it to test both methods if you can do so!
Tool tip. Once you get to product seeding, a CRM of some sort will be helpful. You want a place where you can organize all the creators you’re connecting with and sending samples to. A Google sheet can work or you can use a tool like Dovetale (free Shopify app) to manage your creators.
3️⃣ Product seeding with category content
If you have a sufficient pipeline of new creators and new content from the first two layers, you may not need layer three.
However, if you want to expand on your list of content creators, this is where category content comes into play. As you can see, we're getting broader with each layer.
Go back to your social platforms and start broadening your search terms. Start with keywords that roughly define the category you’re playing in, and then expand from there.
For Crossrope, I'd go in and search for terms like ‘home workouts’, ‘portable workouts’, ‘weight loss workouts’, etc. and find creators who post really good workout related content.
Then, again, I’d reach out to see which creators are interested in trying our ropes and send them samples.
There’s a lot more product seeding you can do in layer three, so you may want to tighten up the restrictions and filters for the type of creators you’re looking for.
This is how you build a massive pipeline of creators and content to feed into your marketing mix.
For this to be successful, your outreach game needs to be strong. You’ll need to experiment with different outreach templates for each layer and each platform to find the combinations that work. As always, keep testing.
It does take a bit of time to ramp up this type of program (especially if you don’t have layer one content to tap into), so here are some ways to supplement your UGC sourcing:
- Tap into your customer database. Send an email to your customer list or FB group and see if there’s anyone who is already creating content or would be interested in doing so!
- Create content in-house. Is there someone on your team who has the capacity and ability to create short-form content? Let them create some stuff in-house.
- Ask your paid media agency. As media buying is becoming a commodity, more agencies are required to offer creative services. Talk to your agency about helping you source or create short-form vertical format UGC.
As you can see, there are plenty of methods at your disposal to build a great pipeline of creators and fresh and engaging content to feed into your marketing mix.
I hope you found this brief playbook helpful. Feel free to connect with me if you have questions or need help in setting any of it up. 👋