5 Ways to Encourage and Repurpose User-Generated Content

From Instagram to Twitter, customers are showing their love for brands, products, and services daily with their social media accounts.

This provides brands an amazing opportunity to utilize the results of this trend and repurpose user-generated content (UGC) in order to showcase praise to their past or potential customers.

Repurposing user-generated content (UGC) is beneficial for your brand because it’s…

Cost-effective. Rather than hiring a professional photographer to snap images of your product or service in action, your customers are already doing it for you.

Authentic. Instead of being marketed to directly by a brand (which always risks coming across as self-flattering and cheesy), prospects can better identify with existing customers who demonstrate brand loyalty and love. In fact, according to Adweek, “92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from others, even people they don’t know, over branded content.”

Effective. UGC has the power to increase a brand’s sales and conversion rates significantly. According to Bazaarvoice, “84 percent of millennials say UGC on company sites has at least some influence on what they buy.”

User generated content–and lots of it–is a brand’s dream. But it’s often easier to talk about UGC than to actually have dozens of raving fans generating such content. Not to mention, when you do get feedback, it takes strategy to appropriately and effectively repurpose it across your brand’s social channels and site.

This article will share five tips on the etiquette and best practices for encouraging the creation of user-generated content and repurposing it to showcase to your audience at large.

  1. Provide guidelines to encourage sharing.

Often, all that’s needed to encourage posting are guidelines and starter ideas. According to Adweek, “more than 50 percent of consumers want some direction, but only 16 percent of brands provide any.”

Create a hashtag campaign and post on your social accounts asking followers how they will incorporate your product into their summer plans, or encourage them to share their favorite product features.

When fans of your brand are given the chance to be featured on your social channels, they’ll likely want to participate in the hashtag.

Whenever someone is featured, they’re likely to share it with their friends and create additional buzz and awareness.

Another benefit of hashtag usage is it can be considered implied consent.

If a customer uses a brand’s stated hashtag, it can be reasonably assumed that the customer intended for the image to be used by the company.

For example, Airbnb encourages their consumers to use their #livethere hashtag.

With 1.9 million followers on their Instagram account, the brand is a great example for how to repurpose gorgeous on-brand photos from their customers in a consensual manner.

  1. Provide additional incentives for sharing.

From the start, homemade chocolate company Owow Chocolates found a way to encourage brand loyalty and shares from consumers.

Founder Mike Peates said in a Virgin Media interview: “My view was that we would grow our early adopters and through that, our brand presence would swell.”

While in start-up mode, Peates sent packs of chocolates to people he’d been talking to and encouraged them to share their thoughts on Twitter. The kind and thoughtful gesture worked, and Peates had customers sharing praise early on.

Aside from free gifts, giving customers the chance to win a prize by entering a contest via using a hashtag and posting a relevant photo can be another way to incentivize brand-focused posts on social media.

This also tackles the usage rights issue.

For example, let’s say you launch a social media-based contest that your customers can enter by including an associated hashtag in a social post.

For them to be eligible to win the contest, you instruct them to visit your site and officially enter by checking a box that accepts the terms and conditions, stating within those conditions where you plan to use the content.

  1. Ask for permission and give credit.

Typically, users are excited and honored to have their content reshared by a brand. However, you’ve probably heard those nerve wracking stories about companies repurposing an image from a customer only to be slapped with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

To avoid anything of that sort, be sure to ask for permission and give credit, especially if your hashtag wasn’t used in a post.

See how Old Navy asks for permission from the user below. Along with praise for the photo, explicit instructions for giving permission are provided. As you can see, the user enthusiastically complies with the request with a big fat “YES!”

This is an example of explicit consent, in which a brand asks for and receives specific permissions to use the content.

Additionally, when reposting, be sure to mention the user’s account handle to give credit where credit is due.

Oftentimes, users will share that the brand shared their content, which is additional added value, particularly if the user is an “influencer account” and has a large following.

  1. Encourage influencer sharing.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that a social media influencer with a large following, such as a food or lifestyle blogger, tends to post on-brand photos or videos.

They might feel honored to be asked to use a hashtag by your brand directly, especially if you offer to reshare to your community.

In simple terms, it’s an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” request.

For example, culinary community site Food52 asked the following user to include their hashtag in her photos in exchange for regramming them.

Later on, you can repurpose and showcase the influencer’s posts on your blog or website for additional exposure and brand equity.

  1. Embed UGC in your site.

lululemon athletica is a fitness brand that sells yoga, running, and cycling clothes for the wellness-minded lot.

Building on the popular social media trend to share fitness progress in posts, they encourage customers to Tweet or Instagram pictures of themselves active or exercising in lululemon and to include the hashtag #thesweatlife with their submission.

In addition to being a highly successful hashtag in general, lululemon created a subsection of their website to intentionally showcase these images, allowing potential customers to click through.

If you’re interested in creating a similar subsection on your website to showcase user-generated posts, check out tools such as Stream, which can be used to aggregate content and display social posts on your website.

Don’t let user-generated content go untapped. Find ways to leverage it, and increase your leads and conversions.

Your customers know how to create content that speaks directly to your target audience in a way that will resonate and encourage others to trust your brand and offerings.

After all, they are part of this targeted audience!

If you found these tips to be helpful in developing your future content marketing plans and want to share the insight, post this article on LinkedIn!



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