User-generated content (UGC) is any content created by someone outside of your brand. It could be a video recorded by an average Joe, a photo taken by a local amateur photographer, or a customer sharing their written experience with your product on social media. Resharing this kind of content that’s created by others can be a successful marketing tool to help you build connections with your current customers and attract new ones. More than that, UGC can help your brand truly build a community through social media.
You don’t need to hire influencers, endorse celebrities or have a large budget to start incorporating UGC into your social strategy. This tool is easy to utilize, and it may actually save you time, allowing you to build a library of content that you don’t have to create from scratch. Plus, the value is worth it. UGC will help you spur interactions and boost engagement with your brand.
There are some things to remember and some faux-pas to avoid as you get started using UGC in your social media strategy. Here’s how to get started.
Use hashtags to create a library of UGC.
Create a campaign hashtag and promote it as a way for followers to connect with you. Feel free to add specific instructions (“show us your favorite place to enjoy our soda”), as users tend to respond more with some direction. With a hashtag in place, you’ll be able to search the hashtag on a given social media channel (most likely Instagram) and find content people have shared about your campaign. Tracking with hashtags is an easy way to find all UGC in one place without having to seek it out.
Ask users directly to use their content.
Whether a user has included your campaign hashtag or not, you should always ask the user permission to share their content on your profile. This will help build trust with your followers, even if it seems like permission is already implied.
Request original versions (when it makes sense).
If high-quality photography and videography is important for your brand, it can be helpful to ask a user to send you the original photo or video via email or through another file-sharing service. When you screenshot an image someone else has shared on social media, it often diminishes the quality of the image and may appear fuzzy when you post it to your channel. This obviously requires an extra step that takes more time, but it can be worth it to represent your follower’s content well and it speaks to the quality of the rest of your content.
Offer value in return for sharing.
People are motivated by rewards, whether it’s a free product, a reshare on your profile or more likes. Make it clear that you’ll offer something of value in return for sharing their content with you
Credit users for their content.
Give credit to the creator of the content in the caption of your post. It’s common practice to tag the user using their Instagram handle above your hashtags. Make sure to include whether you’re crediting their photography, their words, their art or something else. When you give credit where it’s due, it shows your brand’s appreciation, creates trust and transparency, and gets your contributors excited about being shared.
Watch, listen and learn.
There’s a lot that can be learned through using UGC in your social media strategy. You might find new ideas about how your product or service can be used or insight into where and how people like to engage with your brand. The increased engagement from the UGC you share will also spur new conversations – conversations you can monitor and gain insight from. Pay attention to how people are talking about your product and think about how you can incorporate that feedback into the rest of your social strategy.
By following these easy steps, getting started with UGC is simple. Feel free to experiment with different approaches – honing in your process is often a matter of trial and error. The most important thing is doing good by those who offer their content up to your brand to share.
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