What is user-generated content (UGC) and can it help your business? In an age where everything is digital, people often get online to talk about the brands they love. UGC can be anything from a review to a blog post to to images on social media.

In the State of User-Generated Content report, researchers found 43% of marketing teams have fewer than five people on staff. Lack of hands creates issues in coming up with enough content to effectively market a brand. UGC can be the solution with the right strategic collaborations.

You probably know the importance of word-of-mouth marketing via UGC, but how can you make the most of it to attract even more customers? Here are our favorite tips for using UGC in your marketing.

  1. Seek Reviews

    Nearly everyone turns to reviews before buying a new product or service. People tend to trust the words of their peers more than what a brand says about itself. However, if you don’t ask for reviews, you may not receive them.

    People are busy. They sometimes need a nudge to give you a few words of encouragement publicly. Send a text message or email asking how their last experience was with you and then invite them to share their thoughts online.

    You can even provide the links, such as to Facebook or Google, but don’t tell them how they should rate you or ask for five stars. The review should always be honest and authentic.

  2. Tap Into the Power of Video

    Personalization is making a comeback in videos. It might seem hard to personalize for each user at first glance, but with the power of artificial intelligence, it’s becoming easier. Vidyard increased clickthrough rates 4.5 times, and captivated users for 35% longer than non-personalized ones.

    Use a personalized video to invite your users to generate content for you. You can then use those videos to take your brand viral on social media.

  3. Overcome Negatives

    During the life of your business, you’ll sometimes receive a poor review or nasty comments online. Sometimes it is warranted because you messed up. Other times, people are just difficult. Whatever the reason, use bad situations to show your commitment to your customers.

    Respond online and offer to fix the problem. Others will see how you worked to resolve issues and be more forgiving of the errors of the past.

    Did you turn a really bad situation around? Use it as a testimonial. Ask the person to share about the issue they had and how hard you worked to fix it. It might seem counterintuitive at first, but people want to see your commitment to excellent customer service. Use this technique sparingly, though.

  4. Gamify a Campaign

    Want to get your customers really excited about your brand? Turn it into a game. Gamification allows you to have users complete a few tasks and then gain prizes, such as special discounts or early access to products no one else sees.

    You can make the tasks things that further get the word out about your brand, such as sharing on social media, sending a link to a friend and so on.

  5. Hold a Hashtag Contest

    According to Statista, approximately 82% of U.S. citizens use social media, or about 223 million people. Social media is a powerful tool in your marketing efforts and UGC naturally fits with the interactivity of the platform.

    Come up with a hashtag for your brand or campaign that users can get behind. Ask them to use it in their related posts to extend your reach. You can give away some prizes to the person who uses a hashtag with the most interesting photo, gets the most shares, etc.

    You can also tap into trending hashtags if something fits with what you’re doing. For example, you can ask customers to tag your business and use the #SmallBusinessSaturday tag.

  6. Piggyback on Holidays

    Holidays are a popular time for people to shop and discover new brands. Ask your users to share what they bought from you as gifts and the user’s response. You can have them post photos or share stories on your blog or on social media.

    Because people feel more giving during this time, your regular clients may feel more inclined to give you a free shout out as well. You won’t know if they’ll help generate some buzz until you ask them for help.

  7. Turn to Your Writers

    Some of your customers probably enjoy writing. Ask if anyone would like to create a guest post for your blog. Gaining the perspective of your long-time customers adds another element to your website content you otherwise wouldn’t have.

    You’ll need to set up a few guidelines for anyone creating content for your blog. Think about the number of external links you’ll allow and what types of sites. For example, perhaps they can only link to government and education sites to avoid them tapping into resources from a competitor.

    Ask for a certain length for the article and think about the techniques you use to rank high in search engines. You’ll likely have to do some edits to UGC articles, but you’ll still save time and gain the advantage of unique content no competitor has.

Your Fans Drive Your Brand

User-generated content helps drive brand awareness and growth. Don’t be afraid to tap into the resources your customers offer. The more people year your business name, the more likely they are to visit your website and give you a try. UCG can save you money, engage your current audience and bring new traffic your way.

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