User-generated content (UGC) has been around the Internet for a long time and it has proven to be a powerful force in the social media world. It gives businesses fresh content directly from their target audience – what could be better than that?! It’s important for businesses to run strategic campaigns and to harness the full power of UGC, because ultimately, UGC encourages engagement, humanizes your brand, builds a stronger connection with followers, and strengthens your SEO. In this blog post, you will learn how to run a UGC campaign, how to make the most of the content, and what benefits come with it.

User-Generated Content Campaigns

Before you can start reaping the benefits of UGC, you have to get your followers to provide it. There are two foolproof tactics to get the content flowing in. First, create a custom hashtag that is unique to your brand. For example, the clothing brand American Eagle created the Instagram hashtag #AExME and encourages followers to share photos wearing clothes from the brand for their chance to be featured. This is a great way to keep the UGC coming in, showcase your products being used by real customers, and to engage with your followers. When implementing a hashtag campaign, remember to clearly tell your followers what you want them to do. Let them know exactly what you’re looking for and how you want the content posted. Follow the hashtag closely so you don’t miss any posts coming in, and be sure to acknowledge and thank each follower that posts with the hashtag.

The second tactic to get UGC is to run a photo or video contest. Incentivize your followers to post content surrounding your brand with a prize and centre the contest around a unique aspect of your company. This is a surefire way to get UGC fast. Check out how brands like Starbucks and Netflix ran successful UGC campaigns from this Hubspot article.

How to USE User-Generated Content

Now that you’ve got all this UGC, what do you do with it all? First, go through the content and pick the photos or videos that best reflect your brand and are of high quality. Once you have a collection of UGC ready to go, strategically mix it in with your brand’s original content. Don’t exhaust all of your content right away, pick one day of the week where you give a follower shoutout by posting their photo or video. Next, ask the user for permission to use their content. Once permission is given, tag the user and thank them for being a loyal and active follower of your brand. Finally, encourage other users to share their posts interacting with your brand so you never have a shortage of UGC.

The Power of User-Generated Content

Let’s get to the good stuff – what does UGC do for your brand? Most importantly, it gets your audience engaging with your brand, which is the bread and butter of social media marketing. Subsequently, this encourages other followers to engage and create their own content. While all of this is happening, it’s building a stronger relationship between brand and consumer. UGC gives vital information about consumers – what they like about the brand and how they use it in everyday life. Brands can then give their audience more of what they want on their social media networks. The audience feels like they have a voice and can trust that the brand is listening to them. Everybody wins!

User-generated content also has SEO benefits. Kissmetrics reports that 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content, meaning UGC provides backlinks, which we all know are SEO gold. The more people that are talking and posting about your brand, the higher your rank will be.

The last and perhaps the most lucrative perk for any social media marketer is the free curated content UGC provides. Not only will you have new, ready-to-go content, you have content that humanizes your brand. The realness of your followers’ content will break up the sea of professional stock photos that flood your brand’s social profiles, thus circling back to building a stronger connection to your audience.

With whole generations raised using social media, there is no shortage of good quality user-generated content waiting to be used. Overall, it allows brands to engage with their audience and provides free content, making it an incredible source of social media content.

What motivates you to post content for your favourite brands?