In an age where word-of-mouth marketing is rising and consumers prefer to hear recommendations from peers versus companies, user-generated content (UGC) is more important than ever. Customers are effective as a marketing tool because they’ve actually used your product and weren’t paid to promote it, making their endorsements more authentic. If the customer sharing their experience has a large influential network, this could translate into an even greater ROI.
But because customers aren’t part of your company, it’ll take some work to encourage them to create content on your behalf. So how can this be accomplished without being annoying?
Encourage customers to leave reviews.
Reviews are probably the most common piece of UGC online. They can be easily created, don’t require an eye for photography or a strong captioning game, and they’re usually left unprompted.
How does this relate to social media? If a review is pleasant enough, you can post it on your social media. (With the reviewer’s permission, of course.) If a review sticks out, you could even get additional media buzz, elevating your brand visibility even more.
Feature customers who share content using your hashtag.
Let customers know you share UGC by giving them a hashtag to include when they post photos of your products. This will also help you discover their content through search. If you have a large following, this exposure could be added customer incentive. For example, the cosmetics company Morphe (9.7 million followers) uses the hashtag #MorpheBabe for their customer photos.
Create an “Instagrammable” aesthetic.
This is a less direct way to encourage customers to post about you. If your product is unique and aesthetically pleasing, customers will take pictures to inject color into their feed.
Develop a campaign they’ll want to be a part of.
Not all brands produce content typically shared on social media, so this tip is more for brands that aren’t producing material goods. Even if consumers don’t have tangible items to take photos of, you can still put on an event they’ll want to take photos at.
For example, the television show Game of Thrones ran a blood donation campaign featuring the hashtag #ForTheThrone. During this activation, fans donated blood to the Red Cross for a chance to win a show prop and tickets to the premiere of the final season. On Twitter, the hashtag #bleedforthethrone turns up plenty of photos of fans donating blood.
Appeal to their charitable side.
Since you aren’t paying for UGC, you should try to find another incentive for customers who post. Aside from beautifying their feeds, you can also provide a sense of activism by donating to a relevant charity of your choice every time they post. For example, lingerie brand Aerie donates $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association for every post.
Start a contest.
This is a commonly used technique to drive UGC since the reward is tangible and obvious. Simply posting a photo of your product with an accompanying caption is a small, easy thing to do for a much larger reward. If the content requires purchasing your items first, this can help drive sales.
No matter which strategies you choose to increase UGC, there should be some direct or indirect reward for your consumers. In the end, this will help you create a more authentic, friendly image consumers feel they can trust.