Do you remember Coca-Cola’s famous “Share a Coke” campaign? If you’re unfamiliar with it, this campaign launched in 2014 with Coke releasing bottles and cans of pop with names on it.
Guess what? People went crazy trying to find a bottle with their name and they were so proud once they found one (trust me, I was one of those people).
While this seemed like a fun game to most, Coke had a different idea in mind. With this campaign, Coke had the opportunity to gather user-generated content, or sometimes shortened as UGC.
But wait, what is UGC? Perk yourself up and get ready to learn, because I’m going to explain what user-generated content is, why you should use it and how to gather this type of content.
What Is User-Generated Content?
In a nutshell, UGC is any type of content that is created by consumers rather than by a business or brand. It can include things like text, photos, videos, reviews and everything in between.
Keep in mind, though, that this content is contributed by consumers for free. They’re posting this content simply because they love your business, brand or product!
Now, if you want to pay someone to be a spokesperson for your brand, you’ll want to look into influencer marketing.
But hey, free content is free content. You can’t go wrong with adding user-generated content into your posting strategy!
Think back to the “Share a Coke” campaign for a second. After someone found a bottle with their name, they probably snapped a quick picture and posted it on social media. This is a great example of UGC!
With this UGC, Coke had the ability to create authentic posts that were relevant to their audience just by resharing what their followers had posted.
Alright, I know you’re reading this and thinking, I can’t gather UGC just like Coke did! You’re right, and you don’t have to. As a business, you want to create campaigns unique to you!
Now that you understand what UGC is, let’s move onto our next point.
Why You Should Use User-Generated Content
Three words: consumers trust it. And don’t just take my word for it. Research tells us that 86 percent of millennials say that UGC is a good indicator of the brand or business quality.
While not every business caters to millennials, people still have similar mindsets in that they want quality. When you’re sharing content in today’s digital world, it has to be authentic and real.
Consumers don’t want cookie-cutter information anymore. If they can’t relate to what you’re posting, you’re going to lose followers.
In the words of Sara Hill, RevLocal’s Digital Content Manager:
User-generated content is both more memorable and more trusted than other media. These are two adjectives you definitely want to be associated with your brand.
When trust has been broken over and over again, consumers latch onto authentic experiences to shape their view.
So, when you post UGC that isn’t perfectly polished, consumers will see that it’s a real person having a real experience. At that point, consumers are more likely to try your products or use your services because they know other people are doing the same.
How to Gather User-Generated Content
You’re almost a professional at understanding UGC! That last step is knowing how to gather user-generated content.
Before we move on, I do want to stress one important point before you gather any UGC.
As a best practice, be sure to ask permission before using any content. While most of your followers will be okay with you using their content, asking permission helps avoid any copyright issues if the photo is done professionally.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get back to our next point.
While there are a variety of options when gathering content (feel free to think outside the box), here are some suggestions to get you started:
1. Use Signage in Your Business
If you have a brick-and-mortar location, don’t neglect the fact that you can request UGC in your shop! Add signage near the register, on the door or anywhere else that people tend to lay their eyes on.
The signage can have your social icons, a hashtag or even a QR code leading to your social media pages and telling your shoppers to snap a photo and share it on your channels!
Using signage isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here’s a real-life example that I saw recently when walking around a mall near my hometown:
2. Host a Contest
This could be complex or simple, that’s totally up to you! You could have consumers post a photo of them using your product, have them leave a review (double win for you) or create a video saying why they love your business or product.
Any type of business can run contests. If you own a salon, have your clients share their before and after photos to be entered into a drawing. Or a plumber could ask customers to leave a review, and a winner is chosen each month.
You can then pick a winner based on whatever rules you have in place. Your followers will be happy and you’ll have a variety of UGC to choose from and repost on your social channels.
3. Search for Hashtags
If you skipped over the first point in the section, make sure to go back and read it because it relates to this UGC strategy.
When searching, start by looking up hashtags that include your business name, a campaign hashtag you’ve used or a popular product that you sell. If there’s content that comes up related to your business, this is UGC!
If you don’t have a unique hashtag for your business, this is also a great time to come up with one!
If you aren’t already utilizing the free content that your followers are creating, you’re missing out on so much opportunity to gain more interaction, followers and exposure.
User-generated content allows you to showcase authentic content without needing to spend a ton of time and resources creating something from scratch.
When it comes to planning your social post strategy, be sure to work smarter, not harder, by incorporating UGC into your schedule!
At RevLocal, our social media plan can help supplement what you’re already posting on your social channels. If you need help coming up with a strategy and posting schedule, set up a consultation with a local marketing expert to get started.