User generated content: what is it, and why does it matter?

What is user generated content?

User generated content (UG) is, quite literally, content that has been created by and shared by the people who have either bought something from your business or interacted with your brand in some other way.

Traditionally, it has taken the form of online reviews, comments in forums, and mentions (good or bad!) on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. But companies these days are taking the trend for UG content to a whole new level by running full-scale campaigns that encourage their followers to join their own conversation. Why? Because, in return, these ‘interactors’ do a lot of the hard work for them in turns of improving their visibility and helping them reach new customers. A well-curated UG campaign can generate just as much buzz as other digital marketing approaches, if not more.

Why is it important?

User generated content is social proof. It’s evidence that other people enjoy, interact with, or otherwise validate your business online. And social proof plays a huge role in influencing your customers’ perception of your brand.

Think about it this way: we all look to the people around us for confirmation that something is worth pursuing, or is as valuable as we think it might be, regardless of whether we’re having a chat with a family member about their favourite utilities provider or browsing Facebook for recommendations for a local gardener. User generated content just helps to reinforce the fact that “yes, this company is legitimate, and yes, we’ve had great experiences with them in the past, so you should give them a go, too”!

Plus, the right kind of UG content campaign will inevitably help you achieve more likes, more shares, better engagement and a bigger following, and all these factors will help to make sure the social platform’s algorithm prioritises your posts over others.

3 ways to make the most of UG content on social media

1. Introduce branded hashtags

Create a hashtag that’s totally unique to your business or current marketing campaign and encourage people to tag any content they’ve uploaded that mentions your products, services or staff. It’s a quick and easy way to start curating a lovely collection of UG images, and it’s a technique that works particularly well on Instagram.

2. Reward users for their efforts

Everyone likes a ‘freebie’, right? For maximum engagement, offer your followers an incentive to upload their own content and tag it with your branded hashtag. This could be in the form of a giveaway or an exclusive discount – it’s totally up to you.

3. Actively promote your UG content

If a customer has shared a great pic of your product or event, share it from your account and give them a deserved mention by tagging them in your post. It’ll give the contributor a warm, fuzzy feeling – and it’ll prove to other users that people are happy enough with what you offer to share it on their own socials. Alternatively, you can reshare or regram the content straight from the person’s own account.

Dealing with the darker side of user generated content

We all like to think that people only have positive things to say about our businesses – but sadly, user generated content isn’t always packed full of smiley emojis and virtual high-fives. The big issue is that people can generate inaccurate, offensive, or just downright nasty feedback, if they choose to. No brand is immune to this kind of trolling.

If you’ve been unlucky enough to have had negative experience, don’t let it get you down. Tackle any negative feedback or comments with a level head. Respond to the user directly on their original post and encourage them to DM you to discuss the problem in more detail.

For help coming up with killer ways to encourage more interactions from your followers and maximise your UG content, contact Jelly Bean Social today!