Blog > Digital Marketing > The Power of User-Generated Content in Social Media Marketing

How to Get More User-Generated Content for Your Brand

May 17, 2023
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6
min read

Word of mouth has been something that has been influencing humans since before recorded history. 

If you think we’re lying, check out this ancient graffiti from the ruins of Pompeii.

We haven’t really changed all that much in 2,000 years, have we?

People have been either raving about a business or trashing it since we as a species discovered both businesses and language. It’s built into our DNA, practically.

So, what better way to harness our inclination to gush about things that we like than to encourage your happy customers and happy team members to post positive word-of-mouth videos and pictures on your social media sites?

It’s a fun way to engage with your target audience, it’s cost-effective, and, best of all, it works.

If you’re looking for ways to engage with customers while also amplifying your brand and improving your conversions, this blog is here to walk you through how to add user-generated content to your social media marketing strategies

What is User-Generated Content and What is Not?

When we say “user-generated content,” we don’t mean just anything that is created by someone that isn’t you.

True user-generated content (UGC) refers to any type of content that is created by users rather than a company or organization and shared on whatever social media platform you use. The content they create can vary from customer reviews and testimonials to images, videos, or blog posts, and can come from people who are employees, customers, or brand loyalists.

What user-generated content is not, is content created by a paid influencer (they have to do it willingly and for free!). It also cannot be content that is heavily edited (no Photoshopping a competitor’s ad) or reviews created by spam bots (nice try, though).

Most importantly, UGC has to be content that was either created with the intention of posting on your business’s social media channels and offered up freely, or previously created content used with the permission of the creator.

So no, you can’t just screenshot someone’s comment on Facebook and stick it on your socials.

You’re better than that.

Benefits of User-Generated Content

A marketer with a bullhorn in her hand, surrounded by elements from social media comment sections. She is amplifying her brand on social media.

Why do companies use user-generated content?

For many reasons. No matter how nice, friendly, and open your brand voice might be on your Instagram posts, your consumers will still value the word of another consumer over yours. Don’t get your feelings hurt, it’s only human nature.

When making purchasing decisions, we just trust our peer’s word of mouth more than we do an organization or a small business. That’s what makes user-generated content so valuable to you. You’ve got a brand advocate in your corner, willingly and happily using your product for all the world to see.

In case you’re not convinced, here are several other benefits of using UGC:

  • It’s easy — User-generated content means you don’t have to do anything! Someone volunteers to do it for you and all you have to do is reshare.

  • It’s free — Consumers volunteer to do it!

  • It gives you more reach — Your customers probably have more followers than you do.

  • It builds trust — Having users create content for you just feels more authentic. And since they’re doing it freely, their actions act like a trust signal and help to establish brand loyalty.

  • It increases conversions — Being more authentic, having more reach, and building trust means more conversions for you. It’s that simple.

Create User-Generated Content 

How can you get this done? No matter what your product or service is, give these tips a try and you’ll have plenty of user-generated content to create a social media presence that’s engaging, fun, and click-worthy!

Engage with your audience!

 First things first. Be sure that your target audience is primed for creating UCG before you start asking for and encouraging it. If you hardly engage at all with your consumers via social platforms, then you’ll first need to start doing that. 

They will be more likely to want to participate in sharing content if you first build a sense of community by having excellent customer service, responding to their comments and messages, liking their posts, asking their opinions, and having an open and personable brand voice.

Create a branded hashtag

Once you do, be sure to create a branded hashtag when sharing photos or posts related to your brand. This makes content easy to find and easy for your followers to click on and engage with.

Friendly Competition!

Run a contest or a giveaway as an incentive for users to create and share images, short videos, and testimonials. Either pick a winner from all of your submissions or simply showcase the most creative amongst them.

Just ask for it! 

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with asking! Simply put your feelers out and ask your customers for their honest feedback or how they are enjoying your product or service.

You’d be surprised. It’s not just the unhappy campers that like to give you a piece of their mind. Satisfied customers will be all too happy to share how pleased they are with you, and, with their permission, you can use that positive feedback to create testimonials.

Give it Some Love

Technically, this is something you do after you have the content, but we’re including it here because, if you do it right, it can go a long way toward encouraging other users to contribute as well.

If you’re asking your followers to submit user-generated content, be sure that they have the proper motivation. If you feature your user’s content enthusiastically on your socials, your consumers will be more inclined to join in the fun.

Examples of User-Generated Content

A smart phone featuring the Starbucks logo. It is surrounded by buttons with the Facebook like, share, smile emojis, and heart icons so often seen on social media.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some examples of Designity’s good, old-fashioned user-generated content, plus more to give you some inspiration.

Designity Tik Tok Videos — Our Creatives often post design tips and tricks! Check out these three on design inspiration, favorite typefaces, and our mutual love for Comic Sans.

Designity Client Testimonial Social Posts — Once a Designity project is finished, clients submit a follow-up form that asks them about their experience. With their permission, these follow-ups are made into client testimonials to grace our website and socials with. 

Coca-Cola — Coke’s “Share a Coke” campaign had the whole world sharing photos of them with cans or bottles, simply because their name was on them. Brilliant!

Starbucks — The “White Cup Contest” saw submissions come in from all over with customers decorating their white Starbucks cups and posting them on Pinterest and other social media platforms.

Apple — Apple’s “Shot it on iPhone” campaign encouraged users to take the best photos they could using their iPhone’s camera and post them to social media. What a great way to show off your product’s features.

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Tips to Keep in Mind

Before you get started on your UGC journey, just be sure to keep the following tips in mind. When resharing or requesting user-generated content, be sure to always: 

  • Credit the creator — Otherwise, it could look like you're stealing someone else's work. We don’t want that.

  • Request permission — If it’s something you have to post (i.e. the consumer didn’t post it to your page themselves), be sure to always ask permission.

  • Set some rules — Be sure to set some guidelines for the kind of content you’re looking to showcase. This way the content will be valuable and effective, and you won’t end up with anything weird. What do you mean by weird? It’s the internet. Never underestimate the internet.

  • Don’t try to make it look professional! —That’s the whole point of user-generated content! If your post is polished and perfect, you’ll lose the trustworthiness and relatability of the user-generated content. Keep it rough and raw.

What’s your favorite way to showcase user-generated content?

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About the author:
Sara Lopez
Sara is a Texas-based copywriter.
Interested in content collaboration? Email at press@designity.com
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