A business’s consumers can sometimes be its biggest fans or its most significant liabilities, depending on how they relate to the brand and how happy they are with its services. A satisfied customer’s endorsement or a positive review works wonders for any company’s marketing efforts, as word-of-mouth is still a very powerful way to gain new followers and clients.
Be it reviews, case studies or simply a social media post, user-generated content (UGC) can sometimes go viral, helping spread the brand’s message far and wide. However, businesses have little control over user-generated content, and misuse and abuse of the brand stem from the same creative interests that fuel the positive benefits of that content creation.
Ten associates of Forbes Communications Council explore how businesses can leverage UGC to keep the brand’s message while still providing a fun escape for the creators and consumers of the material.
1. Ask Your Happiest Customers For Feedback
If you regularly ask your customers to answer NPS (Net Promoter Score) surveys, it’s easy to take the ones who rate you 9 or 10 and present them with a follow-up request. For example, “Please review us on this platform or write a short testimonial about your experience with our product.” If you throw in an incentive like cool swag or a gift card, it becomes even more of a no-brainer. – Udi Ledergor, Gong
2. Promote Creators As Advocates Or Fans
We do this with peer nominations and contests where we highlight the individuals that are doing the work and excelling at it. We then promote the winners helping their own personal brands, hoping to create them as advocates and fans. Over time, most participate and have fun while doing it. They post their own content tagging our brand and helping us use content from them in the process. – James Gilbert, CloudCherry
3. Provide Clear Templates For The Content
With Instagram Story tagging and reposting, it’s easier than ever to share user-generated photos and videos. Instead of a simple repost though, design a portfolio of on-brand templates to drop in this user-generated content. Also, be sure to tag the content creator before you repost. These templates will make your stories feel fresh and consistent with your brand’s visual identity. – Melissa Kandel, little word studio
4. Boost UGC Via Paid Social Advertising
User-generated content is proven to engage significantly better than paid brand content, so marketers should have a strategy in place to maximize the amount of UGC, and put budget aside to amplify the best content. Boosting visibility of UGC directly on Facebook and Instagram is the quickest and one of the most efficient ways to leverage this content. Sharing it on the brand’s own social channels is another option. – Rafael Schwarz, TERRITORY Influence (a Bertelsmann group company)
5. Provide Fun Photo Opportunities
By incorporating a myriad of fun and unique photo opportunities throughout your event, you will not only provide entertainment, but you will gain the benefit of your attendees sharing these experiences online. Be sure to publicize the proper hashtags for the attendees to use to greatly enhance visibility, awareness and branding for your event. – Stephanie Chavez, The Trade Group
6. Make Your Customer A Star
Simply resharing your customer’s Instagram photo, tweet or Facebook post about your brand is one great way to flatter your customers. However, adding something to the original message, such as a GIF or quick note, before reposting engages your customer and makes them feel star-struck that your brand cares about them enough to repost with a little extra love. – Ryan Vet, boon, Inc.
7. Have Users Stick To Your Brand Message
User content is great when you direct it to the right way. When you ask your users to create something, whether it’s a testimonial, an article or personal video, make sure you give them a very clear and easy-to-follow guidelines. The guideline will allow the user to complete the task successfully on their side and will help you by receiving content that fits your goal. – Kobi Ben-Meir, Yalber
8. Repurpose The Most Impactful Content
User-generated content can bridge any authenticity gap that exists between your brand and audience. While your ideal buyer might be fatigued by traditional marketing, they proactively seek and trust recommendations from people they recognize. Use a social listening tool to monitor brand mentions and repurpose user content across your social properties, website, even as creatives for digital ads! – Cristina Garcia, impact.com
9. Ask For Authentic Personal Anecdotes
Bring the audience into your brand’s overall experience. Have individuals share a personal story with an accompanied hashtag to create a border conversation around your product and service that aligns with brand mission and values. It’s not just about the point of sale, incentivizing UGC is about sharing a broader, authentic, conversation about brand values through individual personal anecdotes. – Chris Gonzalez, NeoReach
10. Ride The Influencer Wave
Give the influencers in your business an easy way to post on social media while inside your business. We gave our customer influencers a hashtag (#ghftv) to use when taking photos inside our business that broadcasts in our locations, on our social media and on their social media. They love producing content about their activities and your business can ride their wave of influence. – Debbie Lee, Gainesville Health & Fitness
11. Tap Into The Ancient Art Of Whining
Humans love to whine. It’s in our blood. How often has someone said the expression to you, “I just need to vent,” only for them to be infinitely happier afterward? Domino’s is a classic example of how tapping into your consumers’ gripes can generate entertaining, humorous content that is fun for them to produce and also brands your business as attentive to needs and willing to humble themselves. – Patrick Ward, High Speed Experts