Social Media Marketing

How to Make the Most of User-Generated Content

A Strategic Look at Turning Customers Into Advocates
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User-generated content (UGC) is the best type of content you could use to sway your followers to purchase — and it’s absolutely free of charge and free of hassle. 

Sounds like the kind of content made in a marketer’s heaven? It’s more than that. It’s the Nirvana of social media strategies, and we’re here to help you get enlightened. 

This post will take you on a journey from zero-to-hero and teach you how to use and repurpose user-generated content to nail down your goals.

What is user-generated content?

User-generated content refers to any type of content created by unpaid fans of a brand. UGC can take countless forms from video, text, images, podcasts, blog posts, long-form articles, and anything in between, really. If a user created it, shared it, and tagged (or mentioned) a brand in it, then it’s user-generated content.

For marketers, user-generated content has become one of the most efficient types of content to include in their marketing strategies. In a decade in which consumers are looking for authenticity, there’s no better way of sharing a slice of brand-truth than with UGC. Not to mention that it’s a steadfast road to building social proof and humanizing your brand.

Why should you share user-generated content?

According to Stackla, 84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all other promotion sources. Plus, 79% of people specifically state that user-generated contact weighs heavily on their purchasing decisions.

Considering these stats, the number one reason you should share user-generated content is obvious: it works. In fact, it works on so many levels that you’d have to be deaf to best marketing practices not to use UGC. 

Here are just a few of the countless benefits of resharing user-generated content:

  • Increases your reach and helps you tap into new audiences that could actually have an interest in your brand.
  • Humanizes your brand by putting the spotlight on your customers and fans.
  • Creates a community of impromptu, unpaid nano-influencers that can shift brand image opinions. 
  • Builds trust among your followers by providing a stamp of approval from real clients.
  • Helps your business close sales by convincing undecided followers that your products/services are worth it (social proof).
  • Saves you money by generating free content that significantly impacts sales (can you see your ROI soaring?).
  • Provides invaluable audience insights by showing you what type of content your users like to create, share, and consume. 

Sceptics might raise the issue of aesthetically mediocre content. Still, the lack of perfection comes to validate the real, authentic vibe. As they say, it’s not a flaw, it’s a feature. 

That being said, we dare you to find one single good reason not to repurpose the content your brand is tagged in.

How to find and collect user-generated content?

Finding and collecting user-generated content doesn’t have to be painfully complex or extremely technical. On the contrary. You can simply use what Instagram gave you to find them easily. Hashtags and mentions are your fastest way of finding user-generated content. But there are others:

  • Tap into your Google Analytics
  • Review event photos
  • Search YouTube
  • Check wish lists
  • Look at tagged locations on social platforms
  • Regularly check your top fans’ feeds

How to encourage content generation?

1. Create a branded hashtag

A branded hashtag will encourage your followers to post. It will give them a fun creative challenge, and will inspire them on what type of content to create. Use branded hashtags and clear call-to-actions to tell your users whether to create video reviews, talk about personal experiences with your products/services, enter a contest, or simply have fun.

On top of encouraging content creation, your branded hashtags will also help you and other followers find posts faster. A win-win, wouldn’t you say?

2. Design contests to encourage user-generated content

While some users will actively share posts and stories with your brand, you can’t solely rely on those. If you want a constant stream of UGC to power your strategy, you need to make sure your followers constantly produce content. 

Contests are the fastest, most efficient way of encouraging content creation. By merging the branded hashtag technique with a reward, you’ll entice more followers to get their creative juices flowing and share content about your brand. 

3. Ask for before and after pictures/stories

People love to share their success stories as a validation for their efforts. That’s why most 

users will be more than happy to show you (and everybody else) just how far they’ve managed to go. 

Whether you’re offering products or services that help people become a better version of themselves, encouraging content creation based on personal growth is one of the most powerful types of promotion you could ask for. 

How to make the most out of user-generated content?

Statistics tell us that over 86% of brands include user-generated content in their posting schedules. However, only as few as 16% actually have a strategy, which is like speaking on a stage with the microphone turned off. 

To squeeze the most value out of user-generated content, you should build a strategy that builds towards a bigger purpose. Plus, defining where you’re heading, will get you there faster. So here’s how to think strategically and make the most out of UGC:

1. Nurture a community feeling

Frame the user-generated content you share under a community-concept. Giving your followers the feeling that they belong to a community that moves together towards a larger goal will help you build loyalty. And for that, you need to stand for something more than for just selling a product or service.

2. Include user-generated content in your ads

Reviews or success stories are exceptional material for your ads and paid promotions. Instead of working with impersonal messagings, infuse your campaigns with tons of emotion and credibility by building them around UGC. Don’t forget to ask permission!

3. Repost user-generated content on your feed and in Stories

Make sure to ask for reposting permission and give credits to the content creator. While most users will probably be happy to see their posts reshared, asking for permission will make them feel more valued and will probably appreciate you even more. As for the credits, these are both a way of giving a well-deserved shout-out and a great strategy to expand your reach. 

4. Gather user-generated content in your highlights

If you decide to repost user-generated content as stories but still want to keep these on your Instagram profile over a more extended period, consider creating a highlights section. This way, followers will be able to revisit them even after the 24-hour counter has expired. 

Ready to give UGC a try?

Now you know how to encourage, collect, and repurpose user-generated content, so what are you waiting for?

Test out its powers, and don’t forget we’re with you every step of the way. Preppr can help you mash UGC content with your aesthetics and schedule posts and stories with content that makes your brand shine. 

Start your 10-day Free Trial

Ilona Iftode is a copywriter with a taste for adventure. She lives to write, travel and explore new concepts in the realms of advertising, marketing, SEO and beyond.

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