How to leverage user generated content

User generated content is created by your brand followers when they use your hashtag or location in the post to social media. These pieces of content are searchable and increase your brand's social proof. Leverage these new pieces of content across your social networks to increase sales, customer engagement, and trust.

Why should you have your customers enhance your marketing?

92% of consumers trust recommendations from others, even people they don’t know, over branded content.
— Expertcity

Even over your other content, consumers are more likely to respond to content from other people. This is why review websites like Yelp are so popular - they use popular opinion, and opinions from thousands of everyday people, to develop scores and ratings. People trust this since it's another user recommendation, rather than a company's pushed message.

Of millennials and baby boomers, individuals are more likely to trust user generated content. While there are some differences in the type of content each generation prefers which will impact the type of campaign you choose to run and on what platform, they both rely on other consumers over a brand.

Sites with featured UGC saw a 20% increase in return visitors and up to a 90% increase on the time spent on the site.
— OfferPop

User generated content has shown increased purchases, trust, and returns to a site. With these kinds of numbers, it's surprising that only 17% of brands are telling consumers what type of content they want customers to create.

 How do you request user-generated content?

Inspire people to generate content for you. A simple request often isn't enough to receive a response. Any requests for content on social media should be considered for boosting or promoted in other ways - like on your site or at your location.

  • Include a branded hashtag. This way, people will be able to find other types of related content. It's a great way to track submissions as well.
  • Be clear about what you're asking for. Do you want them to take lifestyle photos of the product or generate a video? Do you want a specific item? Be specific about what you want consumers to generate for your brand.
  • Leave some creative room. When you start to get too specific, people are turned off by the specificity of the task. Rather than asking for a 90-second video demonstrated the features and benefits, ask for people to show them how the product helps them every day.
  • Specify where you want them to submit. If you are leveraging Instagram, make sure to tell people to post to Instagram. Think about where you want this content to be housed. For example, if all of your quality leads come from Facebook, then think about how you can have content there.
  • Show people what you want. Include a photo you've taken on behalf of your brand to show people what type of content you are looking for.

If you need some great examples of user generated campaigns, see these top brands.

What do you do with user generated content?

If you've asked people to create content on behalf of your brand and they have stepped up, make sure you are leveraging this moving forward. Since people respond to it and it's a great way to increase brand trust think about using it for your site, social channels, and communications.

Twitter

  • Retweet popular posts that include your branded products or hashtag
  • Comment and engage with people that generated content
  • Turn tweets into re-posted images on Facebook or Instagram
  • Embed positive tweets into your site

Facebook

  • Create galleries of user generated content
  • Refer people to the place where content is housed, if you have a dedicated micro site or hashtag on Instagram
  • Re-post user generated content to your feed for all of your fans to see
  • Use Facebook Live to encourage engagement with the campaign or contest that is helping your brand generate user content

Instagram

  • Communicate and comment on photos created
  • Re-post to your feed people that have the best daily or weekly content
  • Use a consistent hashtag for the entire campaign so that the content can live on with minimal searching on your end

*Don't forget to give a shout out when reusing content on social media by including the original user's handle.

Think about all the places you can leverage this content! Cross-posting across social media is just one way to continue leveraging content. Based on the terms of submission, it can also be used as part of your print publications or on your site in the place of product photos.

You can also use these posts as customer proof for your brand. People are persuaded by other people more than brands. Get people talking about your contest or campaign to continue driving results.