Ready for a marketing lesson? Today we’re talking about user generated content, or if you’re really cool, UGC.
User generated content, as you can probably guess from the name, is any content (reviews, blogs, photos, memes, social media posts, etc) that comes from people who use your product or services. Examples of UGC could be Amazon reviews, client testimonials, tweets, Instagram pictures, etc.
Why get into user generated content?
You may be wondering why you should collect user generated content. After all, you've spent tons of time + energy crafting your own content. Well, here are a few reasons why I love UGC:
- It’s cheap. Your users do the work for you.
- It harnesses the power of word-of-mouth.
- Your product becomes personalized through the lens of a customer.
- You expand your reach to the followers of the reviewer/user.
- You get actual feedback from real users and build relationships.
- It’s a ton of fun!
Ready to start? Here’s some ways to get encourage your fans to generate content for you.
Make Your Product / Service Easy to Review
Start with the basics: make it possible for people to engage with you. To build a brand that people want to review and engage with, they have to know there’s a point to it and that you might see it.
Make sure you’re represented on reviewing platforms and on social media. Make contact forms readily available online so people know where to get in touch. Turn on comment functionality and add a review feature to your online store.
Here’s a short list of some sites you should be reviewed on: Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Business, Yahoo Local, LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, CitySearch, TrustLink and Trustpilot.
Be Active in the Review Process
Once you’ve done the previous step, take stock of the places where you do have reviews. Take a temperature pulse on your online presence: what comes up when you Google your business? What are people saying? Is it negative, positive, or absent?
If the reviews are positive, awesome! Here's your chance to follow up with a “thank you.” If you find negative reviews, reach out to the people who left them and get more information. If you have a satisfied customer, mention that you’d appreciate it if they left their thoughts in an online review on the platform of your preference.
You can use your social media platform to invite people to review you, or you can add in a request for reviews to the bottom of your email campaigns. Remember not to ask people to leave you a positive review, just ask for their opinions.
A fun and easy way to get some UGC buzz going is to host a contest. I like ones that focus on posting visuals, because I think they have more impact than just “leave a review and win a prize” type posts. Create a hashtag, explain the specifics, and ask them to tag you in their posts.
Be sure to read up on the rules for giveaways on different platforms. Rules for these contests change a lot, and you don't want to risk being flagged.
The main thing to remember with contests is to keep them simple and fun.
Social Media Counts
This correlates to the previous tip, but remember that social media posts are user generated content, and you should treat them like the goldmine they are. Share, like, and comment on all the chatter around your brand or product.
Maintain a good social media presence, if only for the reason that you want people considering your brand to know that you take your public profile seriously. If they see you engaging with other followers, they’ll be more likely to start talking to you themselves.
Create Case Studies
One strategy I don’t think people use enough is a case study.
Remember those satisfied customers we were talking about earlier? They’re great candidates for a quick case study that highlights how useful your product was to an actual person.
Have a quick 20 minute phone call, record the whole thing, and then describe that client’s business challenges and how you helped them overcome them in a graphic. Remember that, for this to fall into the category of user generated content, it has to be an actual user. Don’t make stuff up.
One of the reasons UGC is important because it promotes your product in a natural and authentic style. For that reason, never use seedy practices like buying favorable reviews online. It’s gross and you don’t need to go there.
With a little outreach on your end, some savvy digital media management, and some elbow grease, small businesses can put the power of user generated content to work for them.
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Andréa Jones is a social media strategist who works with lifestyle brands to build their online presence through targeted social media and content marketing solutions. She's also the founder of SavvySocialSchool.com – a membership community with everything you need to achieve visibility, growth, and engagement on social media.