Over to You, Fam: How to Gather User-generated Content

by | Aug 17, 2023 | Content Creation, Digital Marketing, Oh Snap! News, Social Media

Running low on content creation ideas? I got you! One super-simple, often-overlooked way to build a fabulous content library while simultaneously driving engagement is to tap into the content bonanza that is user-generated content. Say what? For those not in the know, user-generated content or UGC is content created by your fans – and which you can then repurpose on your socials, newsletter, website or other marketing materials.

UGC is great because it takes the onus off you as a content creator, and also elevates the voices and opinions of your community. It’s a great brand differentiator and has the added bonus of identifying potential brand ambassadors happy to evangelize your brand in future. Hooray!

Some fab options for user-generated content include: 

  • Tag for a feature! Encourage fans to take a pic with your product or service, or when they visit your brick & mortar space – and then tag you in the pic. Feature top pics on your grid or stories, and maybe kick a fun prize or reward to those you end up featuring on your account. 
  • Pitch an idea! If you’re launching a new product or service, encourage fans to chime in with a name or slogan for it. You’ll be surprised by the great ideas people come up with!
  • Create a unique hashtag. Ownable language is something every brand strives for. Create a hashtag that’s fun and relevant to your brand and use it in all of your content (or for specific “buckets” of content). Encourage your followers to do the same!
  • Search mentions and hashtags. Collect pics, vids and captions that mention or tag you and add them to a gallery or media library for later use. You can also use Canva or a similar image editing app to remix them so that they’re on brand.
  • Try a contest! Encourage fans to submit themed pics of your products, logo, or them doing something on-brand to win a prize. (Make sure you’re clear about the contest terms so you don’t fall afoul of social media T&Cs!)
  • Request testimonials or reviews. Not everyone has the time or inclination to take pics or selfies. If that’s the case, ask for simple one-liner reviews that you can put into a pretty template. You can also meet them halfway – if you’re a realtor, layer their testimonial over a pro pic of the house that just sold! 
  • Brand takeover. Got a star client or partner? Temporarily hand over the reins to your social account with a “brand takeover”. Media companies will often do this for authors or actors – but with the caveat that this requires a huge amount of trust that your brand takeover partner won’t go rogue! 

Hold Up: Before You Get UGCing, Know This…

Before you start down the UGC path, do your research to see what kind of UGC your audience wants to see. What do they engage with? What kind of stuff do they share? Is your audience outgoing and share-happy, or do they mostly have private accounts? Who they are – and who you are – will shape what kind of UGC will work for your account.  

One super-key thing to know is that when you open up your socials to the public, you will get negative responses. Depending on the size of your brand and your account, you might get spammy stuff from users you can’t verify. Have a plan for dealing with the negatives – perhaps by burying gripes under a ton of positive UGC, or by personally addressing them (gently, with humor!). Sometimes simply ignoring Negative Nancys can be the way to go. Avoid dogpiling, which can just poison your brand

Finally, before you launch that campaign, know that most social media T&Cs state that you can’t just repost without permission from the content creator. Do right by your fans: ask before taking and sharing. If you’re running a call for UGC, make it clear that anyone who submits content is opting in to potential sharing. 

What do you think? Is UGC the right call for your brand? And if so, tell me: what kind of UGC would you love to see on your brand account?