When it comes to your social media content strategy, you have a limited number of options that make sense for your business. Creating your own assets, like hiring out graphic design, photography, and videography, can get expensive. You can only write so many blog posts or go live so many times.
But what if you could get your audience to help with your social media content strategy? This tactic is called user-generated content (UGC) and can be a tremendous asset to your content creation. After all, who doesn’t love it when their job is basically done for them?
What is user-generated content?
User-generated content is content that your customers have shared of your products or at your place of business that you then share on your own social media channels, of course crediting them for the use of their image. It’s a great way to increase the assets that your company has to share on social media without increasing your budget for creating them.
Essentially, it’s your customers promoting your business instead of you. They’re pretty much doing all the hard work for you, making it easy for you to reshare their content, proving to your audience that people use and love your product/service.
Why should you include user-generated content in your social media strategy?
There are a few different reasons that user-generated content is so powerful. First of all, it’s excellent social proof. There’s nothing more telling for a potential customer than a happy current customer, so sharing photos of people using your product, attending your events, shopping in your store, or eating at your restaurant is a great way to prove to your audience that your customers love your business.
It puts your customers front and center. Instead of just passing by the post and thanking a customer for sharing it, you’re placing it on your company’s own social media page, highlighting and publicly acknowledging that customer and their experience. People love having genuine connections with brands online, and it forges a positive and loyal relationship in the future.
It also instills more trust in your brand. People are more likely to trust a peer’s opinion on social media than a marketer’s. User-generated content is also incredibly authentic. It’s different from influencer marketing because your business isn’t paying these people to post about your company online. They’re doing it simply because they love your product/service. And you really can’t get any better marketing content than that.
How can you incorporate user-generated content into your social media strategy?
Now that we’ve covered the what and why of UGC, let’s talk a little bit about the how. There are many ways to encourage your audience to share and incorporate their content into your marketing strategy.
1. Create a branded hashtag.
One great way to encourage your audience to share photos and other content featuring your product/service is to create and share a branded hashtag. Showcase the hashtag on your website and in your social media bios with a quick line like “Use #brandedhashtag for a chance to be featured!” Consider including a slideshow of photos with that hashtag on a social media page on your website as well.
This lets people know that your social media profiles tend to share content created by your audience, and increases the likelihood that someone will include that hashtag with their post. It also helps you to keep most of your UGC in one easily accessible and organized place — ideally, a simple search for a hashtag will yield an abundance of great content. Don’t forget to continue monitoring your brand mentions online because not everyone will include the hashtag.
2. Hold a contest.
Hold a giveaway or contest and use user-generated content as the entry. Ask your audience to share photos on Twitter and/or Instagram to enter your contest/giveaway. This way you have an entire arsenal of UGC to add into your content strategy. You can hold contests like these often to continuously replenish your content so you’ll never run out of engaging things to share with your audience.
3. Share customer photos on Instagram.
Since Instagram is a powerful visual platform, it’s one of the best places to share your customer’s photos. Depending on the quality of the photo from your customer and the theme of your Instagram feed, you can choose to re-share it directly in your feed or share it on your Instagram Story.
To share a photo directly in your feed, take a screenshot of the original post. There are some apps you can use, but many require a watermark. Using one of these apps is the easiest way to repost content. You can reshare the original caption or create your own to accompany the photo. Be sure to thank, or at least properly credit, the photographer (the account it was shared on) by tagging them in the caption and/or the photo.
To share a photo to your Instagram Story, you can click on the paper airplane icon beneath a photo, then choose “Add post to your story.” This will automatically create a link to the user who originally shared the photo’s Instagram account, and you can add your own text, stickers, and more.
4. Retweet posts about your brand on Twitter.
Pay attention to any mentions of your business on Twitter. Not everyone who talks about your business will tag you, so it’s a good idea to invest in a quality social listening/monitoring tool as well. This will help you stay on top of any tweet, social media post, or article talking about your business.
Anytime someone mentions your brand on Twitter, you want to respond to that mention. But if someone is simply talking about your business in a positive manner, it’s a great idea to retweet it so that your other followers can see. If you have a response, you can either reply or “quote tweet” the post. Quote tweeting is essentially retweeting while adding a comment alongside the original post. The platform will show your words directly above the post you’re retweeting.
It’s time to get started implementing your own user-generated content strategy using these tips. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help make this strategy work for your business, contact us today!