What if we told you that there’s an easy way for your business to get high-quality, high-engagement content at little to no cost? What if we told you that some of this material already exists? Consumer-generated content is the magical phrase of today’s best marketers because it receives the most engagement—across all social networks. What is this magical thing and how can you use it? This post will tell you!
Consumer-generated content creates an interesting, relatable narrative that complements your brand. Consumer–generated content is spontaneous, natural, and generates organic engagement. It’s the stuff social media networks are made of.
What is Consumer Generated Content?
Consumer generated content is defined as “any form of content such as blogs, posts, chats, tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio, or other forms of media created by users of an online system or network.”
In other words, its content created by customers of your business. The photos and videos that people post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube at your business or using your products. This content is just sitting, waiting for you to use it as a business owner! On average, social media audiences consume more than 5 hours of consumer-generated content per day, and companies who use consumer-generated content in their campaigns have 20% more influence on consumer purchase decisions than with other types of advertising.
In short, the best way to promote your brand is to demonstrate how real people use your product or service. It makes your product more “real” and your brand more relatable. People are naturally eager to hop on the latest bandwagon—if they see a friend or acquaintance raving about your product on Facebook or elsewhere, they will probably be curious enough to find out more.
How to Use Consumer Generated Content
Using consumer generated content is a great way to incorporate more variety into your social media posts, all while boosting engagement. You can use consumer generated content in many ways, and save time and money in doing so!
Repost Photos on Social Media
The most common way of using consumer generated content is to repost photos on social media. Instagram and Facebook are the most popular platforms for this.
You can share a photo of your product taken by a fan or customer to your Facebook or Instagram page. Add a clever caption and be sure to tag the person who took the photo. This re-posted photo will serve as a mini product review. It proves your product is real, useful, and being purchased! It also flatters the user whose photo you are re-posting, because it indicates that you think their photo is worth sharing.
Share Customer Stories or Quotes
Positive reviews and comments need not be confined to Yelp! or other review sites. Go ahead and repurpose them for your company page! You can pull positive comments from all your social media networks, and post them directly, or repackage them. Create a photo out of a quote or use quotes to accompany your own content. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Highlight Real Customers
Today, a brand isn’t just a label; it’s the promotion of a certain type of lifestyle. That’s why it’s important to highlight the people who actually live your brand. Do a feature on a customer, or promote their social media accounts on your channel and ask them to do the same for you. Consider these high value users as “brand ambassadors.”
How to get these ambassadors? You don’t have to be a big company to get local influencers to start talking. Ask top customers to send you images that showcase your brand or brand values. Start a hashtag and encourage them to use it, or even offer some free products or special bonuses for your top clientele. This can motivate them to take their spending more public on your behalf. You could even make a Facebook or Instagram video featuring these top customers, or showcasing a reel of user-submitted video clips.
An extremely popular of both using and generating consumer-generated content is through a social media contest. This is a fun way for consumers to engage and have a good time creating their entry, which could be a photo, video, or anything else you can think of. Contests that require consumer-generated content as the entry ticket create LOTS of content and LOTS of buzz.
Regardless of the size of your company or your budget, you’re sure to find a contest or other initiative that works for you, whether through Instagram or Facebook. Check out these 10 examples of Facebook contests and Instagram giveaways for inspiration.
Build a Consumer-Generated Album
You should compile all user-generated content into one place so that people can easily see it, and so that you have access to it later. A good way to do this is to create a long-term Facebook album with customer-submitted photos, or use a custom hashtag on Instagram to create a stream of consumer-generated content. This collection of photos provides an attractive narrative new customers can scroll through.
How to Get Consumer Generated Content
You can get consumer generated content in many ways. You can also mine preexisting content. A combination of both techniques is your best bet for securing the most and most high-quality content. Here are some ways to easily get consumer-generated content:
Run a Contest or Giveaway
Contest and giveaways are a good way to both use and collect customer generated content.
There are many ways to do this. You can encourage people to participate in a hashtag contest, by hashtagging brand-relevant photos with a pre-specified hashtag. You can also encourage customers to snap and upload a photo of themselves using your product. This style of entry is more visually interesting and engaging than simple photos of the product itself. There are many different options, but whatever you pick, be sure to highlight and promote all the winning entries.
Pandora’s UK branch ran the #MyRingsMyStyle campaign in promotion of Pandora’s new stackable rings. In the contest, Pandora encouraged its Twitter followers to post an image of themselves wearing stack rings—from Pandora or elsewhere—for a chance to win several hundred dollars worth of Pandora jewelry. As you can see, Pandora got a treasure trove of beautiful imagery in return.
Run a Feature
If you have many followers, your company page likely has some social traction. Parcel off some popularity by running promos for your customers. Feature a user or a user’s photo on your Instagram page, for example.
Link to the user’s Instagram page in doing so, as well. You can also run contests or promotions for users for the chance to be featured. Ask them to tag you in the posts they want to be featured, and select among the best. Features are a great way to “give back” to your top fans. Here, GoPro featured a user-submitted photo and linked to their Facebook profile.
Host an Event
Company-hosted events are a great way to connect with customers, boost engagement, and get a lot of buzz. Events can be anything you can think of: launch parties, meet-and-greets, in-store sales, holiday parties, and more. Regardless of what type of event you choose to host, be sure that you create an event page and an event-specific hashtag. Once your event is live, help boost the hype by reposting participant photos and republishing consumer-submitted content on Facebook and elsewhere.
Use Custom Hashtags for Your Business
Another way to quickly find content that people are posting about your business is to use a create a custom hashtag for your business on social media. By using a hashtag for your business, you can easily search the hashtag for photos that also use it. This is one of the reasons it’s important to chose a unique hashtag for your hashtag marketing and to use it on all of your photos. The more you use a hashtag, the more likely your customers will too and the easier it will be to find content for your business.
Have you used consumer generated content in your marketing? Let us know in the comments below!