It’s hard to keep the content on your social channels fresh. Even with a topic calendar, it can be difficult to figure out a new angle, an original take, or something that doesn’t read and look like every other brand-created post.
Luckily, you don’t have to create everything you publish on social media platforms.
Your customers and friends likely are generating content, tagging your brand, or mentioning your products in their tweets, Instagram Stories, and TikTok videos every day. Why not incorporate that user-generated content into your brand’s social media calendar?
You don’t have to take a wait-and-hope approach for user-generated content. You can actively encourage your audiences to develop UGC.
Several formats and focuses fall into the category of user-generated content. Let’s look at four cases.
People write posts, upload photos, and shoot videos as they evaluate products they use in real life. If you’re in the cosmetics, apparel, household items, gadgets, books business – or other tangible product industry – reviews are a great source of UGC. Audiences see those reviews as social proof (or disproof) about the products.
In some cases, brands ask their customers to post reviews and even offer a small gift in exchange. If you opt to reward creators for reviews, make sure they note that in their post. It’s important to their credibility and yours.
This Instagram post discusses a positive experience the poster had with You Move Me Vancouver. They include the postcard note requesting the review in the image.
It’s one of dozens of reviews on the moving company’s Instagram account.
Of course, not all reviews are positive. That’s why you don’t want to automatically share or retweet any social post that tags or mentions your brand. In this example, the reviewer posted her analysis of a lip balm from Biossance on Instagram. The caption reads, in part: “Honestly this product did nothing! It didn’t hydrate my lips AT ALL.”
That kind of UGC review wouldn’t work well if published by Biossance on its social media channels.
How to encourage reviews
To promote people writing about your brand on social media, you can:
TIP: Always get written permission from the author to republish their review on your site or channels and tag them whenever possible.
Many people tag brand handles and use branded hashtags when posting their content. Some do it organically, and some do it because they’re being paid through sponsor deals.
In this Instagram post, Italian influencer Teagmini wears clothes from and tags United Colors of Benetton while visiting a plant shop in Turtle Island. (She discloses that it’s a paid partnership by using #adv in the caption.)
Then, United Colors of Benetton used that image on an Instagram Inspiration page on its website.
This approach created a double benefit for Benetton. First, the page works as an additional storefront for new buyers (each image includes a clickable link to buy the clothes in the image) where real people – not supermodels – wear the brand’s clothes. Second, it nudges customers to create content — by asking them to upload photos of their new outfits on Instagram and tag @benetton.
How to encourage tagged content
Since social media users crave beautiful and distinctive content for their pages, your task is to create a powerful magnet to attract them. Here is a handful of ideas:
Curating user content doesn’t have to be limited to hashtags and tagging. GoPro frequently hosts video-shooting challenges to recruit new committed fans (and promote its new products.)
This fall, its GoPro Million Dollar Challenge asks people to shoot with its new HERO10 Black camera and submit the unedited footage through the GoPro website. Entrants who have clips selected from their videos for the HERO10 Black Highlight Video split $1 million.
@goproShoot for your share of $1,000,000. The #GoProMillionDollarChallenge is back 💰 Snag your #GoProHERO10 Black + head to GoPro.com/MDC to learn more♬ original sound – GoPro
The winners then will share the video using the hashtag #GoProMillionDollarChallenge with their social media audiences, expanding GoPro’s social reach and being seen, liked, and commented on by people, some of whom may become motivated or inspired to buy the HERO10 Black or other GoPro camera.
How to do a creation challenge
To run a creation challenge, determine the aspect of your brand it will promote:
Then, decide what you will ask the audience to do to enter. Don’t make it overly complicated, or people won’t enter but do make sure it’s legally compliant. Determine the prize.
Develop a promotional content campaign to publicize the challenge, from social media posts to owned channels.
One of the most-watched video types on YouTube, unboxing content is exactly that – people opening boxes. A few years ago, YouTube said the amount of time people spent watching unboxing videos on their phones is the equivalent of watching the movie Love Actually more than 20 million times – over 2.5 billion minutes.
YouTuber iJustine often features unboxing videos for products from brands such as Sony, Apple, HALO, and more.
Unboxing videos fuel curiosity and create a sense of desire in the viewers, converting them into your buyers. Just remember those holiday gifts you want to unpack, eager to see what is underneath the wrapping and cardboard.
In this example, Reconstruct By Brooke, which sells vintage band and motorcycle brand clothing, sent boxes to Dorothea Taylor, a drummer with over 330,000 followers on Instagram. Dorothea filmed the unboxing with her grandson, spending more than two minutes pulling back the tissue paper, expressing excitement at the gifts, and reading a notecard sent by the shop’s owner.
How to encourage unboxing videos
Most unboxing content comes from opening electronics, toys, cosmetics, and accessories. If you work in one of these industries, inspire your customers to unbox something with your brand logo.
To do it well, pay attention to your packaging, including the mailing container. Add decorations to your boxes, use colors, and include a visual extra, such as a branded postcard or a little souvenir, inside the box.
Invite your customers when they make the purchase – and before they open the box – to shoot an unboxing video and share it with your brand. You also can provide products to content creators who already have established audiences watching their unboxing videos.
It is impossible to find and collect pieces of all your user-generated content manually. Instead, you can use social media monitoring tools to detect keywords related to your brand, product, campaign, etc. (You also can use them to identify potential opportunities for UGC through viral trends, popular interests, etc.)
Here are three tools to help:
With Awario, you can track your brand name, branded hashtag, and industry-related keywords. (Disclosure: I am Awario’s founder.) You can use Awario to scrape social networks such as Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube, news sites, forums, blogs, and review platforms and brings all your brand mentions to the custom feed.
You can sort your discoveries by source, sentiment rate (positive, negative, neutral), reach, and date. When you set up alerts, you also can choose language and location.
Awario enables you to reach out to the author of a post through its app. You can discuss with your brand lovers as well as haters by commenting on their tweets, blog posts, and reviews.
Mention scans Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, forums, websites of media outlets, and blogs, including small and newly started ones. As a result, you give an ordered data set of your brand mentions and keywords you have set to track.
Additionally, you can use the tool to manage your social accounts. Mention enables you to schedule and post new pieces of content, reply to users’ comments and questions. Its most-used words feature shows what is being talked about most that reveal trendy topics in your niche.
Mediatoolkit is another web scanner that finds your brand mentions anywhere on the Internet. It examines websites, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and forums to bring you real-time mentions. With the tool, you can track multilingual content created by users from different countries.
Using its keywords combination speeds up the search and brings you relevant brand mentions only. Then, you break down the search results by source, authors, queries, and tags.
Mediatoolkit analyzes the engagement and sentiment rates of each post, helping you know which user-generated content is most attractive for your followers. Also, you can track current industry topics and find your brand advocates on social media networks.
UGC can be a valuable asset for your brand for several reasons. It helps you publish fresh content on your social channels without having to start from scratch. It expands your audience reach as the users who create also share and promote that content on their channels. Use it wisely as a secret weapon that helps you persuade prospects, improve your product, and tackle current marketing tasks.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute