3 ways to harness user-generated content 

user-generated content

3 ways to harness user-generated content 

Have you ever spotted customers chatting about your business online? It could be a positive review on Google My Business or Facebook, an Instagram post showing your products or a shout out on Twitter. It’s always a buzz to get great feedback from customers. But you shouldn’t leave it at that. Here’s how you can harness that user-generated content to further promote and build the reputation of your business.

What is user-generated content?

User-generated content (UGC) is anything that customers create and post online about a brand or product. It’s organic and authentic advertising that can win you a lot more business than traditional marketing as it’s consumers promoting to other consumers. Essentially, it’s 21st Century word-of-mouth advertising.

So how can you use it?

1. Reshare people’s posts about you

If someone has shared a glowing review about your business don’t leave it under wraps. Shout about it! If they have written to you directly then reply and ask if you can add it to your website or speak to them about creating a case study to share with potential customers.

Likewise, if you’ve seen something positive pop up on social media it is possible to share it with your followers and the wider online community. 

Always do this in a way that gives the content creator credit. For example, taking a screengrab of an Instagram post and sharing it on your own account is copyright infringement. Instead hit the send button under the image (it’s to the right of the heart and comment icons) and share the post in your Instagram Story. Instagram makes sure the original account is shown to your followers.

Here’s more about how to use Instagram Stories for your business.

If you really love an image created by one of your customers on Instagram and would like to post it on your own account, contact that person and ask for permission first. You can do this by sending them a direct message. It’s best practice to write a formal image release agreement too so that everyone is clear on how the image will be used.

On Facebook, it’s easy to share posts by other people as long as they are marked as ‘public’. If this is the case you don’t need to ask permission, just hit ‘share’. The same applies to Twitter with retweets. Again, never screengrab images or reuse them without permission.

If you’re wondering how you can discover user-generated content on Instagram and Twitter keep an eye on popular hashtags associated with your industry or brand.

2. Create a community 

You can encourage the creation of user-generated content by creating a hashtag and asking people to use it on Instagram and Twitter. Keep it short and snappy, make sure it isn’t already being used and ensure it doesn’t have any negative connotations.

Promote your hashtag on your other marketing channels and encourage people to use it. Starbucks is a pro at this. Its #RedCupContest hashtag has thousands of customers posting creative snaps of their festive cups each year. You may even incentivise the use of the hashtag with a monthly prize for the best posts. 

You can also create a Facebook group and invite customers to share their experiences, reviews and questions.

Here’s our guide to Facebook groups.

3. Work with influencers

Another way to initiate targeted user-generated content is to work with influencers on social media. These are people who have an audience that aligns with your own and already create posts that resonate with your customers.

You might send them a product to try or ask them to review your services and then share their experience online. 

It’s important to note that this type of UGC is not as authentic as if a paying customer were to write something about your business. Even if you don’t pay the influencers in cash they are creating content because you have given them something in kind.

However, running an influencer campaign can support and encourage authentic user-generated content to start the online conversation about your brand.

Here are some things to be aware of when working with influencers so that you stay within the Advertising Standards Agency’s rules for this type of ad.

What about negative reviews?

We appreciate not everything your customers post online is positive. Here’s how to deal with negative comments on the internet and stop them from turning into a digital reputation crisis.

If you would like to find out more about harnessing the power of user-generated content for your brand then we can help. Amplify PR is a Southampton content marketing agency with vast experience in digital marketing and social media campaigns. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you.