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When most are first getting started in the world of social media marketing, one thing many people seem to forget is the social part of social media. If you run a social channel and never utilize your followers to help grow then you are missing out on a vital aspect of these platforms. User-generated content is an absolute must in the business of social media marketing, and today we’ll discuss exactly why that is. 

What Is User-Generated Content?

For those unfamiliar with the term, user-generated content is any content relating to your brand that wasn’t made by you or a member of your team. This can be anything as small as a Facebook post about your products, or as large as a whole product review on YouTube. It’s as simple as that. 

Now, some may ask, why would content like that be helpful? Put bluntly, consumers have been conditioned by years and years of pandering and hundreds of different sales tactics to not have an abundance of faith in advertisers and marketing in general. Don’t believe it? A study found that not only do people largely don’t trust advertisements, they actively expect them to lie. This isn’t to say professional marketing isn’t effective (far from it), but it does mean that a person is infinitely more likely to trust one of their friends or even a popular influencer over you simply telling them a product is good and that they should buy it. 

Great Examples Of UGC

Okay, we’ve defined it and explained why it works, but we’re sure many people are still scratching their heads about what on earth we’re talking about. So before speaking about how to best utilize user-generated content for your brand, let’s discuss some of the more successful campaigns in the past few years.

Take Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign where they asked users to share a Coke with someone and talk about their experience with the hashtag on Twitter. The response was explosive. People were taking selfies with the company’s product along with friends, family, and even random people on the street. With one simple campaign, Coke convinced tens of thousands of people to market their product for them. 

Sometimes great user-generated content doesn’t even need the influence of the company in question to get started. Take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, for instance. For those who haven’t heard of the trend, the Ice Bucket Challenge was quite simple. Someone would nominate a few friends to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads. It started as a fun way to beat the summer heat back in 2014. Still, after pro golfer, Christ Kennedy, decided along with dumping the water on his head he would donate money to the ALS Association. When he nominated friends to do that challenge as well, it became tied to ALS. Millions of people decided to join in and they also donated to the same charity. What started as a silly game on the Internet raised over $100 million for a good cause.

Types Of UGC

Now, obviously, not every piece of user-generated content is going to be nearly as effective as the Ice Bucket Challenge. But that’s quite alright. Smaller pieces can be beneficial for your particular business. One important thing to keep in mind when you are considering using user-generated content is what platform you’re working on. Ideally, a company should have a presence across multiple social platforms. Understanding the differences between them is what will make or break content like this.

Reviews

One of the most obvious forms of user-generated content that can be enormously beneficial are reviews. Whenever a customer writes a review for your product or business, that is easy user-generated content. You can encourage this across almost any platform by simply asking and reminding customers to write a review if they enjoyed their experience with you. 

Contests & Prizes

An excellent method of encouraging this is another reliable user-generated content strategy: contests and prizes. If you can afford a giveaway of some sort, encourage followers to write a review for a chance to win whatever you are giving away. This can work beyond testimonials as well. If you have an action you’d like followers or potential followers to take, offer a reward to them. This work even if you’re just merely trying to gain more followers or likes on a post. Sure, some will leave once the contest it’s over, but far more will stay simply out of idleness.

#Hashtags

Those methods can work across just about any platform, but this next one is geared more toward Twitter. Creating a hashtag, like the Coca Cola example above, can be one of the easiest and lowest cost types of user-generated content. Ask your followers to talk about a good experience they had with your product and use the hashtag to grow the campaign. It might not work every time, but all it takes is one outstanding reaction to gain more eyes and attention. Another platform this method works extremely well on, but many are passing up right now, is TikTok. Their system also uses hashtags to sort content, and if you can get a trend going, you are in business.

Influencer Makerting

One final way to really make the most of user-generated marketing is to reach out to online influencers. These people have massive followings that come to them largely because of authenticity. If you can get a mid to large YouTuber to review your product, you are almost guaranteed a boost in sales simply because that person talked about you. If you can afford to sponsor a video or two, you’ll most certainly get more attention.

Conclusion

We live in a much more connected world now because of social media, and it’s wise not to forget that. In the past, marketing relied heavily on people only seeing their product somewhere and hoping that they would be interested.

Still, now we can communicate more directly with consumers to find out exactly what they want. Using that audience interaction to create a marketing campaign through user-generated content is smart. But if you can get your audience involved in a fun and creative way, their opinion of you will only improve as you show that your company is worth interacting with. So get out there and start the next viral social media trend!

Wondering how you can implement UGC into your digital marketing strategy? Contact us here.