RENO, Nev. — By now, it’s hard not to see the value of user-generated content for any aspect of your online presence.
User-generated content is created by your audience that reflects your brand in some way. While marketers may think of social media content first, it also can include product reviews, videos, blogs and other formats.
The great aspect of user-generated content (other than being time-saving content) is that clients and customers often consider being mentioned or having content shared by a brand as fun and exciting. You get to use their content, and then their shares help you reach more audience. Definite win-win across the board.
By the way, in case you’re still on the fence about the value of UGC, be sure to read through these four ways that UGC levels up your marketing game.
But how does a brand get this valuable content to use? Here are nine tips on how to best find and share user-generated content online:
1. ENGAGE BEFORE YOU ASK
While it’s easy to assume that the first way to find user content is to ask for it, not so fast.
Social media is a community. You must give before you expect to get. Engage with them consistently. If you’re not already, react and respond to comments in a conversational and personable way. That way, when you do ask for reviews, photos or videos, it feels like a natural request to your audience.
2. FIND OUT WHAT’S ALREADY OUT THERE
Something else that should be done before you jump to asking your audience for content is to find out what they’re already sharing. Knowing the type of content that is being shared organically may help inspire you and your brand as to what type of content you think your audience will share with you.
This is easiest on Instagram, where you can search by location and hashtag. Just remember that many posts won’t include either.
3. PICK YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM OF CHOICE
Choose which platform you want to launch your UGC campaign on. Many will automatically gravitate to Instagram because of its visual nature, but is that where your audience is? If you get the most interaction on Facebook, then that’s likely where you should start.
That being said, know that about 75 percent of consumers will share a positive experience with a brand, and consumers also are 70 percent more likely to make a purchase with a company after a good interaction, according to Sprout Social. So, as long as you are targeting where your audience is, you’ll be more successful.
Instagram obviously is all things visual (just make sure you know how to Regram), Facebook is great for videos and stories and Twitter actually works surprisingly well with images.
4. DON’T FORGET TO SET GOALS
Many businesses have tried UGC, but few have gone into this marketing strategy with any goals at all.
What should your brand achieve by using UGC? Is it more engagement? Building more brand trust online? Simply saving time on content creation? Maybe increase conversion rates?
No matter what the goal, decide what matters to you, how it will be measured and when.
5. BE CLEAR (NOT SHY) IN YOUR ASK
When you do ask your audience for UGC, the clearer you can be about the content you’re looking for, the better.
Include directions of the type of content you’d like, if your product should be included in it (or is this more of a lifestyle-related post?), how and when to post it (is there a hashtag or are they sending it to you?).
You can’t over explain these things to your audience, but you also want to keep everything as simple as possible. Don’t assume anything. UGC is no good if you can’t use it.
6. BUILD A LITTLE ANTICIPATION
It might be tempting to extend a UGC campaign out for a long period of time, but if you can shorten that to a day or a week and get your audience excited about it ahead of time, you could see better results.
Of course, if you are running a longer campaign, freshen it up from time to time with different themes or focuses.
7. CONSIDER A CONTEST OR REWARDS
Who doesn’t enjoy a little competition on social media? Holding a contest for user content is a common practice. It could be something as simple as a weekly (or monthly) photo contest featuring your product in which the funniest photo wins, for example.
Consider including a link to your full contest rules and regulations, and know that you must follow through with whatever the prize is at the end. Otherwise, you risk losing trust from your audience.
Speaking of prizes, rewards don’t have to be pricey or even cost anything at all. Offering a featured spot in a newsletter or on your website might be very valuable to users.
8. REPURPOSE USER CONTENT IN OTHER WAYS
As mentioned earlier, UGC isn’t just for social media. You can keep a photo gallery on your website or a rotating spot on your email newsletter.
There’s a number of different ways you can repurpose UGC. The sky is often the limit!
9. JUST A WARNING
Never ever ever take images from a site or social media profile without asking first. Simply giving credit to the photographer or user isn’t enough if they’re not in on the submission.
Some will be happy to let you use it for free. Others may want money. The decision to pay for UGC is entirely up to you.
But asking first is more than good online etiquette, it will maintain your audience’s trust in your brand.
Looking for more guidance when it comes to all things social media management and optimization? Contact my colleague, Brook Bentley, social media and content manager at Sierra Nevada Media Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free social media audit for your business.
Caren Roblin is Director of Content at Sierra Nevada Media Group, which publishes the Northern Nevada Business View. You can contact her at email@example.com.