User-generated content (also known as UGC) is an essential pillar of a healthy marketing strategy. It comes in many shapes. Whether it’s text, rich content, or user reviews, it’s input from your customers, which is an invaluable asset to your brand’s image.

Furthermore, efficient use of UGC is instrumental in promoting your company’s products and services. Based on the research published by Nielsen, customers are considerably more inclined toward trusting UGC compared to any other form of traditional advertising. A whopping 92% of respondents have voiced their trust for products that are supported by customers.

In this article, we’ll look into the best ways to integrate UGC into your social media marketing strategy. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Before You Begin — Find Your Platform

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to seclude your brand for particular platforms. However, it’s best to have a social media site, which you’ll have a penchant for. This will almost entirely depend on your demographic. Platforms have personalities and serve particular functions.

Ranking of use motivations across Facebook Twitter Instagram and Snapchat. 1 1024x407Source

Depending on the type of services you provide and the products you offer, you’ll have a specific demographic that uses one predominant social media site. Choosing your main platform is essential. This is why you need to invest a considerable amount of time into establishing the peculiarities and interests of your target audience.

Establish a Brand Hashtag

Having a brand hashtag is most probably the first thing you need to do in order to create an environment for your customers’ UGC. By promoting your business’s hashtag, you’re encouraging your clientele to share content with you.

Having a brand hashtag also ensures that your customers’ voices are heard. It creates a sense of loyalty and trust because customers associate with services that communicate with their clientele and take their opinion into account.

It’s also essential to underline that a brand hashtag will grow the amount of user-generated content exponentially, given that it will motivate other customers to do the same.

Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to let the customers brag a little bit. There’s no shame in that. Famous brands have special hashtags that they use to repost UGC. For instance, BMW runs the popular #BMWrepost, where proud owners can share high-quality pictures of their beloved cars. As a result, BMW can choose the best pictures that they then publish on their official Instagram channel. Now that’s what we call a win-win situation!

Instagram bmw 1

Be Curious About Their Experiences

The truth is, few customers will take the initiative in their hands to generate content on a whim — you need to show them that you’re curious to find out. Ask your customers to tell you about how they use your products or services and, more importantly, how they changed their lives. In other words, you’re encouraging your customers to leave reviews … really meaningful ones.

Of course, standard reviews on sites like Google and Yelp are important, but people simply leave a brief comment on their short-term interaction with your brand, something like: “service was nice, good prices.” Whereas encouraging your customers to share their stories with your service or product will ensure more thorough and emotional reviews, which naturally bring more value to your company’s image.

There are many clever ways you can inquire and integrate user-generated content into your social media marketing campaign.

“Now both Facebook and Instagram have a form of content called ‘stories,’ which are short videos that are designed to quickly depict or sketch out certain everyday life situations — something appealing, interesting, but not quite as important as a post. So why not host a Facebook or Instagram ‘stories’ contest? This motivates a lot of people to partake in the content creation process since stories aren’t technically demanding.” — Neightan White, Senior Writer at SupremeDissertations.

Tap Into Seasons and Holidays

People love holidays like Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc. They love being “in the moment,” whether it’s winter or summer. Seasonal content stimulates your customers’ interest in seasonal products. Cafes, restaurants, and breweries all exploit seasonal themes to draw attention to their brand.

Starbucks is famously clever at taking advantage of the holidays and the seasons to brand their products accordingly and then create contests based on their branded content. Take their #PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) for example.

starbucks 1

 

Use UGC in Your Ads

We’ve touched on the fact that occasionally you need to let your customers brag about using your brand, just like BMW does so cleverly. By taking this approach a step further, you’ll be able to integrate your customers’ user-generated content and use it in your advertising campaigns (with their permission, of course).

It’s essential to stress that people, on average, appreciate and trust user reviews considerably more than anything that your marketing team can come up with.

Allow your customers to be more than just “users.” Allow them to be part of the brand. As customers, we don’t need any other accolades from a business we support and associate with. This will allow you to also make less expensive and considerably more efficient advertisement that your customers will greatly appreciate.

On a side note: it’s worth mentioning that you should ask your customers for permission to use, repurpose, or repost their content. While your clientele feels sufficiently engaged by your brand to create content, that does not grant you the right to use their content without inquiring for permission. This may leave a negative mark on your reputation and online presence.  

Pro Tip: Edit and Retouch

Don’t forget that it’s also your responsibility to edit and retouch the content that you’re receiving from your customers. Make sure you find the most tools that you find most comfortable to improve the content they send in.

Conclusion

User-generated content is an incredibly useful asset to any brand. It’s an inexpensive way to generate to create highly engaging posts, and more importantly, it has a lot of benefits beyond money — it’s inclusive to your customers, it shows them that their experience is important to you and that you’re willing to take their opinions into account.

Good luck!