As you scroll your social media feeds, you see your friend Haley posted an artsy photo of her Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte on Instagram, Josh put up a Facebook status saying he just ate a delicious Big Mac, and Sean tweeted about his new pair of Converse sneakers. These aren’t annoying interruptive advertisements, they’re just part of the social sharing you’re used to.
User-generated content (UGC) is all over social media. It’s made up of photos, reviews, and posts produced by fans and customers. If you haven’t put some thought into UGC, your brand is missing out on valuable opportunities. Here’s why.
Why is UGC so important?
Traditional forms of online advertising are becoming increasingly ineffective as people rely on word-of-mouth because:
It’s More Trusted
People trust family and friends more than advertisements (especially the younger generation).
It’s More Cost Effective
When users generate content, it decreases the production costs spent on your content creation.
It Builds a Strong Community
User-generated content strengths communities because it helps people easily identify and engage with like-minded individuals. It also helps your brand build long-term relationships with your audience and customers.
It Enhances the User Experience
Customers love to see their personal content publicized by their favorite brands. Reposting their personal content shows you’re listening and makes users feel part of the continuing conversation.
It Creates Stronger SEO
The more times your brand is tagged or mentioned the better your search visibility.
User-generated content helps you build your brand and deliver value to your visitors.
Now you know why user-generated content is important to incorporate into your marketing strategy, here’s how to inspire your customers to create it!
How do I encourage user-generated content?
1. Build an Engaged Audience
To build an engaged audience, you need to create remarkable content on your blog and social media profiles. It’s also important to be responsive by commenting, retweeting, and replying to your users.
2. Find Out Where Your Customers Are
Find the best social network for gathering user-generated content. Where do your customers go most: Twitter, Facebook, etc.? You can gather UGC from more than one source but asking for stories in the right places will help you collect content more effectively.
3. Offer Incentives
To get people to contribute, offer prizes, feature certain customers in email newsletters, use their photos in your brand’s Facebook cover photo, or find some other way to mobilize them. Splashscore can help your brand to effectively generate engagement and inspire users to create content.
4. Use Hashtags
Hashtags have grown in popularity and are not only on Twitter, but they’ve expanded to many social media networks like Facebook and Instagram. Make it easy for users to share branded content by creating a themed hashtag.
5. Ask Customers to Model
You can collect photos from fans by asking them to submit photos on your website or by simply doing a hashtag campaign. By asking customers to model you can save big on doing a shoot and hiring talent and you can also make your website more relatable.
6. Ask People to Guest Post
Increase engagement by asking people to create blog posts! GoodBlogs is a platform that lets visitors submit blog posts and allows readers to vote for their favorite posts. To incentivize people to post, those who make it to the “Top Posts” page get paid $10.
7. Ask Questions
If you want people to share their stories and opinions, you simply have to ask. Post a question on your Facebook wall or tweet a question out on Twitter and watch the UGC roll in.
8. Create a Contest
Creating a contest that requires contestants to make and spread their own branded content. For example, have customers post their Pinkberry frozen yogurt. The person who gets the most repins on Pintrest wins the contest.
9. Ask for Comments on Blog Posts
Ask a question at the bottom of your blog post to spark conversation in the comment section. If users are guided in a certain direction, it might be easier to get the ball rolling. It’s also a good idea to link the comments section to Facebook so each time someone comments, it generates a new Facebook post on their timeline for friends to see on the News Feed.
10. Repost Customer Reviews
If a customer gives your brand a good review via tweet, comment, or online review, you can post it on your Facebook brand page to share the positive experience with the rest of your users.
Where Do I Find UGC?
If you’re looking for user-generated content that isn’t directly collected. There are a number of ways to find content that’s related to your brand.
Check out “the front page of the internet” for some user-generated content. Search certain forums and you’ll probably dig something up.
Twitter is a great place to find genuine conversation about your brand. Search hashtags related to your brand and you’re bound to find some valuable contributions.
Facebook is a huge social network filled with UGC. Type a hashtag or “photos of” followed by your brand name and you’re good to go.
If you’re looking for user-generated videos, look no further than YouTube. If people have good things to say about you, video user endorsements can carry incredible word-of-mouth power because users are seeing real people recommend your product.
Searching on Instagram is another great way to collect UGC especially because it’s become the #1 spot for mobile photo-sharing. A good tool to use is GramFeed to search posts by topic or hashtag.
Now you know the effectiveness of user-generated content and you’ve got some ideas for generating and finding it. Remember, UGC is a relatable, powerful, and cost-efficient way to market your brand.
Have a good example of a brand using user-generated content? Leave a comment with an example below!