Of course, figuring out the right way to incorporate user-generated content into your site or blog can be a real challenge. It has to be done in a way that engages your audience while subtly marketing your business to the masses without feeling redundant, staged, or all over the place.
These ideas can help you think up some unique ways to utilize UGC in a way that works for your brand.
1. Make An Effort to Be Authentic
When encouraging your audience to produce content that markets your brand, the first step in achieving success is being authentic in your outreach and engagement.
Social media is by far one of the biggest sources of user-generated content, and authenticity is definitely lacking on many social channels. So, in an effort to truly touch your audience and foster the production of quality content related to your brand, you need to go the extra mile.
Interacting with your audience is the first step to incentivizing them to interact even more. This means liking their comments and responding to them. Next is discovering the content users are already creating that’s associated with your brand and leaving a like and comment to encourage them to make more.
For proof and inspiration, look to just about any strong brand and you’ll see this interaction. Brands behind popular YouTube channels are especially catching on to the importance of this engagement.
Brands ranging from SnowboardProCamp (under 350,000 subscribers) all the way up to channels like Good Mythical Morning (with over 14,000,000 subscribers) use the same practices of pinning, liking, and responding to positive comments.
Authenticity should be the foundation of your content marketing efforts. The goal is to make your brand “personable” and you have to establish that tone and connection before you can start explicitly asking users to generate content for you.
2. Reward Your Top Contributors
While you may not be stealing the attention of Instagram’s biggest influencers just yet, you will incentivize users to generate more content around your brand if you highlight the rewards they’ll receive in return.
Saying the best posts about your latest product will be featured on your page and, in general, just showing interaction with the content that users are taking the time to post about your brand will help you encourage future contributions.
Giveaways and hashtag competitions also go pretty far when it comes to encouraging more user-generated content, so don’t shy away from them. Plenty of successful examples of social media giveaways exist out there.
The photo contest run by Man of Steel is a great example, getting millions of people to submit pictures and vote on submissions for some excellent user-generated content. They picked one winner every week, which was just enough to keep things interesting while the whole contest proved extremely lucrative.
3. Create New Hashtags
The start of this method involves creating a unique, easy-to-remember hashtag for your brand that can be used all over. Encouraging its use can get people in on the conversation and help you track the content your users are generating with greater ease.
The next step is actually creating hashtags centered around specific events, like a workshop your business is running or a product launch that you’re working on building hype about.
Again, the reason to use hashtags is so that you can more easily track what users are saying and you can then engage with those who have joined the discussion, thus encouraging them to post even more content so more people can discover your brand or event.
Fitness guru Cassey Ho uses this method all the time on her Instagram, @Blogilates. From promoting her new app and exercise routines (#poppilates) to her exclusive line of activewear (#popflex), she has built an empire for herself since starting only a few years ago, now reaching millions every day.
4. Give Enthusiasts Early Access
When it comes to building hype for a new release, there is perhaps no better way to do it than to give your brand’s top ambassadors a sneak peek.
Not only will this give you a headstart with some positive feedback and perhaps even a testimonial that can be used for marketing, it will also allow first-hand use of the product to reach the masses before launch day.
This technique is employed by brands big and small, but game makers are particularly on top of this method, giving some key influencers in the gaming industry early access to new releases in order to spread the word and build excitement for them when they go on sale.
5. Incentivize Your Best Clients to Testify
Customer stories (which used to go by the boring name of “case studies”) are ultra-sharable and, luckily for you, oh-so-easy to create in today’s world of smartphones and social media.
Kajabi is one of the best examples by far of this method. Top users of the e-Course creation platform were given a super sharp, branded t-shirt and asked to get on video and explain how Kajabi has helped them.
The hashtag #KajabiHero accompanies story submissions and those that get featured have a real incentive: Kajabi will link back to the user’s own website, which helps to promote the e-Course they have created.
6. Create Customer-Centric Events
Whether online or offline, customer-centric events can help your brand take things to a new level. From a Twitter chat to an interactive webinar or even a promotion at a local tradeshow, these engaging events get customers to connect to your brand in a whole new way.
They also open the door to repurposing content, gathering feedback, and even creating a photo op that leads to additional UGC that your brand can utilize in more marketing efforts.
James Pollard from The Advisor Coach gives countless examples of how he runs customer appreciation events in the realm of financial advising, but any industry can benefit from a customer party that fosters engagement, loyalty, and ultimately leads to some fantastic promotional content.
7. Find New Ways to Collaborate
Looking to involve user-generated content more often? The possibilities are simply endless.
From asking for feedback and ideas to creating weekly round-up posts and digests, it’s easy to start taking advantage of the great things your users are already saying.
A couple prime examples to look to for inspiration include the gear manufacturer Burton, whose product pages feature pictures from real-world users, to the social media marketing platform Buffer, which is always featuring engaging (yet often random) photos from its own followers in a very effective manner.
Credit: Glenn Paquette