The days of marketing to passive consumers are long behind us. Thanks to social media, consumers play an increasingly active role in the marketing cycle. Photo editing apps, such as Camera+ and VSCO, enable everyday people to produce and post high-quality images to the Internet. User-generated content, also known as UGC, is a rich resource waiting to be tapped into by businesses. In 2017 alone, it is estimated approximately 1.2 trillion digital photos were taken, and about 85% of those photos were taken on smartphones.
Why Use User-Generated Content?
User-generated content is a form of social proof. Photos, reviews, and other content posted by consumers give your brand legitimacy. Through user-generated content, you can show your followers how great your business is rather than simply telling them. In 2017, 85% of consumers reported trusting online reviews and personal recommendations equally. With seemingly limitless options on the Internet, buyers find comfort and legitimacy in online reviews. User-generated content helps humanize your business, which can increase engagements with your followers.
How to Utilize User-Generated Content
Start off by doing research on pre-existing user-generated content on various platforms. Check your business’s location tags and relevant hashtags, and take note of the user-generated content that is already there. Which platforms have the most UGC? Who is posting the content? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you create a plan to grow UGC and engagements on social media.
Execute Consumer Research
In order to incentivize your fans and customers to create and post user-generated content, you must know who they are. Get to know your fans. Research your target audience and take note of what UGC they are posting organically and where. Gain insights on their interests and brainstorm how you can use those interests to appeal to your fans. Familiarity with your fans’ demographics, desires, and interests will help you formulate a strategy to effectively grow user-generated content.
Create an Incentive
Create a unique hashtag for your fans to use and mention it in your captions frequently. If you have a brick-and-mortar store location, display signs of your social media handles and hashtags. Let your fans know that if they use the hashtag on their photos, they have a chance of getting featured on your page. When social media users see other people participating and being featured, they will want to join in. Make your brand a community! Social media users love social recognition and the feeling of being a part of an online community of people with similar interests. Another way to incentivize UGC is to create social media contests and giveaways, because who doesn’t love free stuff? Contests and giveaways help increase brand affinity and customer loyalty, and they also incentivize users to post UGC of their winnings!
User-generated content humanizes your brand, which can help drive engagements and increase your follower count. Cultivate a relationship with your fans and customers to strengthen your social media presence.