How to Get More User-Generated Content
Dec 08, 2016 Beth Smedinghoff
Which has more influence: a professional product photo or a snapshot from a customer actually using and enjoying the product?
If you’re like most of us, chances are you chose the latter. Why? Because in today’s digital age, people crave authenticity and validation. They don’t want to be bombarded with overly branded content. They want a more personal, genuine experience – whether it’s an honest review on Yelp, an endorsement from an influential blogger, or a compelling Instagram photo.
This desire for peer validation is nothing new. Even back in 2012, 92% of consumers said they trust the opinions of other online users as much as they do personal recommendations from someone they know. Furthermore, nearly half of all consumers (47%) employ some type of ad-block technology, which means the only way they can be reached is through channels they trust.
This is why user-generated content is so powerful. It delivers a credible message that can’t be manufactured, even by the savviest marketing professionals. If you’re not taking advantage of this highly effective marketing tool, it’s time to start. And here are a few suggestions to get you going.
1. Keep your finger on the pulse of your target audience
The first step in identifying valuable user-generated content is to be aware of what’s being said about your brand organically. This can be done a number of ways, but you can start by setting up Google alerts to receive notifications anytime your brand is mentioned online. You can also research relevant hashtags to locate user-generated content related to your brand across channels like Twitter and Instagram.
2. Start your own trend
If there isn’t already a trending hashtag that relates to your brand, why not start one of your own? It may take some time to gain traction, but if it’s successful, you’ll end up with a treasure-trove of quality user-generated content to leverage for your future marketing campaigns.
What if you think your product isn’t photo-worthy? A perfect example is Vega One’s #bestlifeproject. The nutritional shake brand asked their audience to show what their best life looks like and what the Vega One product means to them and their lifestyle.
3. Include strong calls to action
Another effective way to create more user-generated content is to encourage or incentivize your audience. In other words, don’t just expect people to share images, write reviews or tag your brand in their online interactions. Ask them to do so. Include strong, compelling calls to action anywhere and everywhere your target audience is likely to engage with your brand. For instance, include social share buttons on all of your content and feature your targeted hashtag prominently in your profile, bio, and any content you share.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t only apply to digital interactions. If you own a brick-and-mortar business, you can (and should) incorporate CTAs in your offline marketing campaigns as well, to get people posting and sharing.
4. Identify brand ambassadors
When it comes to user generated content, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. In fact, there are plenty of individuals online who are already established as trusted authorities. Why not tap these influencers to help promote your brand and inspire others at the same time? Of course, it’s important to recognize that influencer marketing is not a one-size-fits-all solution. To truly be effective, your strategy must take the following into account:
- – Audience compatibility: Will the influencer reach the right demographic?
- – Online presence: Does the influencer use the appropriate channels for the partnership to be worthwhile?
- – Credibility: Will the influencer come across as authentic and trustworthy?
If the answer is yes to all of these questions, reach out and start a conversation.
5. Make it worth their while
Let’s face it. We live in a “what’s in it for me” world. While some consumers will gladly sing your brand’s praises, you’ll gain a lot more traction if you sweeten the pot a bit.
Host a contest or giveaway that requires sharing content related to your brand. For example, ask fans and followers to post photos of themselves using or consuming your product and offer a prize for the image that gets the most likes or shares. You can also offer an exclusive coupon or other incentive for individuals who use your branded hashtag. Don’t be afraid to get creative and have a little fun.
Finally, if you want people to share content that organically promotes your brand, don’t be afraid to come right out and ask them to do so. Encourage satisfied customers to share their positive experiences online in the form of reviews. Invite influencers to blog about your product or service. Request retweets and ask others to help spread the word. Tap into success stories by creating case studies and testimonials. And above all else, make it as easy as possible for people to participate and share their content.
According to eMarketer, 65% of social media users consider information shared on social networks when making a purchasing decision. What’s more, 84% of Millennials report that user-generated content influences what they buy on some level. Given these numbers, it’s obvious that user-generated content shared on social media remains one of the most effective tools for reaching, influencing, and converting prospective customers.
For even more tips on how to create useful content with limited resources, check out our content marketing how-to guide: