What if we told you that you had a team of team of untapped marketers and salespeople waiting to help spread the word about your business? They don’t require a salary, and you might never meet them in person, but you also can’t afford to ignore them.
No, we’re not suggesting you “invest” in an unpaid intern. Instead, we recommend crowdsourcing content from willing brand ambassadors.
Need a refreshed marketing strategy to help you break through the noise and increase your organic reach? By connecting with your customers with user-generated content, you can.
User-Generated Content Defined
Anyone outside of your business who interacts with your brand on social media has the potential to supply you with click-worthy user-generated content (UGC). This type of collaboration turns followers into content producers. With it comes a steady supply of photos, videos, and unsolicited testimonials about your business.
Why is UGC Effective?
User-generated content satisfies two key pillars consumers base purchasing decisions on: trust and authenticity. Not only are they more likely to trust peer recommendations, according to Social Media Today, “60% of consumers said user-generated content (UGC) is the most authentic form of content – 3X more authentic than brand-created content.”
User-generated content also helps your business by:
- Giving your marketing department a break, allowing them to focus on other essential tasks outside of content creation.
- Expanding your organic reach, turning followers who evangelize your brand to their family and friends into mico-influencers.
- Building relationships with your online community, providing personal insights into your target market audiences.
How to Source User-Generated Content
Now you know what UGC is and why it’s essential, but where do you find it?
It’s probably not as simple as a Google search. However, your customers and their lives are most certainly online. It’s just a matter of zeroing in on the compelling content that furthers your brand.
Here are five ways to hone your hunt for quality user-generated content:
- Host a contest or give-a-way. Very often you get what you give(-a-way). Try incentivizing users to offer up their personal content in exchange for prizes or experiences that directly relate to your business. Putting out a call for photos or videos that have a specific theme will help you broadcast on-brand messages. Pro tip: specify that the photo with the most likes will win, and you can all but guarantee good engagement when you re-post it.
- Cruise your geo-tags. Periodically check to see who’s been tagging themselves at your place of business. If you see something you like, use an app like Repost to re-share with your followers. Be sure to tag them in the post, so the original is credited appropriately.
- Brand your hashtags. You’re well within your rights to search out general hashtags as they relate to your brand; however, creating hashtags that are specific to the work you do will instantly catalog and categorize potential submissions. Airbnb had of the most popular campaigns of 2017 using this social media strategy. While the #WeAccept branded hashtag reinforced them as a global brand, the UGC they posted was wholly representative of their mission of non-discrimination. (A value-based marketing win that we can definitely get behind.)
- Call for submissions. You can use your existing social media presence to simply request customers tag you in their photos and stories, but if you want to take it a step further, request photos:
- in your newsletters – have a specific section with hashtags to use and other instructions to ensure you can find the photo.
- on your homepage – create a banner directing them on where and how to submit.
- with signs onsite – put up an irresistible background or photo booth that will make folks naturally want to gravitate and re-share.
- Don’t forget about the employees. We recommend letting customers peer behind the curtain once in a while. The backstage look has an inherent core of authenticity. And what better way to personalize your brand than to share a bit about the people who make it run? Even if you remain strangers IRL, having employees share your company content and supply you with personal posts of their own will help users feel more connected.
In the end, there’s no wrong way, or place, to share user-generated content. Be it on your website, in your email marketing, or posted to your social media accounts, the message is clear: polished and perfect is out. ‘Real’ is the real deal.