Key to Social Media Success: Unlocking User-Generated Content

Advertising on social media is expensive, and let’s be honest, most ads get ignored by savvy Internet users who know the information is biased because it is sponsored. There’s another option for boosting social media marketing success, though, and fortunately, it’s one that readers actually value: user-generated content.

What exactly is user-generated content, or UGC?

User-generated content is anything – copy, photos, video, reviews or comments – created by customers. An engaged audience will be active in posting information like this throughout social media platforms, and it’s up to you to inspire it and harness its power.

Why should you care about UGC?

Because it’s authentic, it’s believable and it provides a way to interact with your target markets that no other communication channel does. For example, the highly sought-after millennial market adores UGC. Millennials trust and remember user-generated content more than traditional media, according to Ipsos Media CT research, and they spend a whopping 5 hours a day engaged with it!

How can you inspire more user-generated content?

The good news is boosting social media user-generated content isn’t a big secret, and better yet, it doesn’t require a large financial investment. Here are three simple ideas to inspire UGC for your brand:

Contests

Social media and contests go together like cookies and milk. People love to participate in a chance to win something. The prize doesn’t have to be substantial either. For example, have guests post a picture of how they use the product and the photo that gets the most likes or re-pins will be featured on the front page of the website for a day. Of course you can up the ante with free samples, gift certificates and prize money, if you’d like.

Incentives/giveaways

I’m a fan of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival on Facebook. They do Free Ticket Tuesday, during which fans can like a particular photo and share it on their page for a chance to win tickets. This happens throughout the year. Last week’s promotion generated over 13,000 shares and they gave away three pairs of tickets – that’s a small investment for all that engagement!

Hashtags

Social media options are many, so when you’re not sure which medium you want to focus on, create a hashtag and ask for submissions. This custom hashtag functions as a funnel to capture all the audience engagement across social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It makes it simple to pull photos, comments and posts without limitation to one network.

 

What are some other low-cost ways you are using social media and user-generated content to benefit your brand? The sky’s the limit, and I predict over the next few years that UGC will become even more important to a brand’s identity and its reputation among consumers.

 

User-generated content still on the brain? For more information visit these related stories: You Talkin’ to Me? The Power of User-Generated Content, How to Deal with Internet Trolls

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