Content takes on many forms – text, photos, video, podcasts, advertisements, and even all the billboards you see along the highway.
Social media is comprised of platforms that contain just about all these forms of content (even photos of those highway billboards), but there’s something else that businesses and brands are taking advantage of that adds a lot of marketing muscle: user-generated content (UGC).
User-generated content describes unsolicited, unpaid posts on social media made by a business or brand’s customers and followers.
If you’ve spent more than five minutes on social media over the years, you’ve seen plenty of this. When your friend checks in or tags a business they’re at on Facebook, or someone posts a rave review about the food at a restaurant or retweets a new movie trailer – these all count as user-generated, and the businesses and organizations are the beneficiary. People are doing the hype work for them.
What makes user-generated content so powerful is that it’s an extension of word-of-mouth advertising (still one of the best forms of advertising there ever will be). It’s literally a direct recommendation to a user’s entire audience. This means businesses can at least indirectly reach people they may never have otherwise.
It often works like this: a person visits a business or interacts with a brand. The person has a great experience or invests in a product they love. The person creates content about it. The audience likes what they see or hear. The audience visits the businesses’ website and social media. The audience becomes a new customer.
Okay, it might not be exactly that easy, but that’s the idea behind it. Even for organic content, this strategy can extend brand reach quite far and help quickly generate new leads and customers.
How to Develop a User-Generated Content Strategy
Like any marketing campaign, this type of social strategy needs planning. How much it will work for your business depends on a lot of factors, but at the very least, it should be fun. Here is a quick guide to help you develop this special content stream.
- Set goals and determine the right platform(s).
Are you looking for general brand awareness? Trying to push a new product or service? Encourage direct referrals? Define your goals for what you want to accomplish when users create content about you. You’ll also need to understand what social channels have the biggest impact on your business, and where you can get the most extended reach through customer advocacy. Remember, different platforms mean different content (except for video – that’s the one key medium throughout) and thus, different results.
- Define your content when you start the campaign.
Before you go letting your audience run wild advocating for your business (which isn’t a bad thing!), it’s helpful to clue them in on what you want them to do. Be clear and honest. Do you want photos or videos of your customers using your products? Tell them. Want them to check in at an event or use a certain hashtag when relevant? Tell them that, too.
- Promote the rewarding aspects of user-generated content
User-generated content has an important dual purpose. On one hand, you’re asking your audience to talk about you, and at the same time, it opens new ways you can talk with them.
One of the most rewarding parts of this type of strategy is that it promotes engagement and a sense of community centered around your business. When a customer receives an answer to their questions, a direct mention or a retweet, for example, from a business, it creates a satisfying micro-moment that can pay off down the road. It also shows that as a business, you’re willing to engage and re-engage with your audience – which is what they want to begin with.
Your audience and followers on social media are crucial to the success of any social strategy. Creating the right user-generated content campaign – and playing along with them at the same time – can do wonders for not just engagement, but brand awareness, loyalty and, you guessed it – bottom line.
For help defining and launching your own social content campaign, reach out to our social media content experts today.