Social media has been one of the most powerful lead generation channels for online businesses and blogs. It establishes a two-way communication and maximises engagement with a highly targeted audience; you get to hear their valuable feedback and you get to promote your content.
Speaking of content, did you know that your users can become effective assets to fuel your content creation efforts? With user-generated content or UGC, you get to fully engage the audience, create highly relatable content, and increase the buzz around your business. Statistics also show that millennials trust UGC 50% more than traditional forms of media, such as magazines and TV ads.
Today, successful sites in various industries already have UGC campaigns to empower their content marketing and boost traffic to their site. And you can, too, with the following steps:
Learn Your Best Audience
The first thing you should do is to identify who will be most likely to engage your UGC campaign. Start first with those who’ve already posted UGC by performing a quick hashtag search. This can be done in most major social networks, particularly Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
A tip when performing a hashtag search, you can take advantage of a tool like HashAtIt.com. Don’t forget to explore different hashtags that relate to your brand. Also do not limit your search to hashtags that specifically contain your brand name.
The more active you are in social media, the more likely you are to find existing UGC. If you do find them, then you can study your ideal audience as well as use them to market your brand. All you have to do is to re-share them.
To help you identify your ideal audience for UGC, consider the following when performing your hashtag search:
Who are they and what do they do?
Where are they when they posted about your product?
What were they doing with your product?
What were their motivations? Were they trying to show off, to give feedback, or to recommend your brand?
Try to keep looking for as much UGC as possible to narrow down your audience. Once you have identified your ideal audience, you can tailor your hashtag strategy and contest mechanics (to be discussed later) to suit their preferences.
Choose Your Hashtags
Another one of your early priorities when starting a UGC campaign is to choose the hashtags you have to work with. Your brand name as a hashtag is a given. For businesses with a physical store, you can encourage a following by having a sign with your hashtag. Don’t be afraid to include a CTA that directly encourages your customers to post about your products.
Another strategy when choosing hashtags is to be selfless. Again, your target hashtags do not necessarily need to have your brand name in them. Remember that UGC is all about your audience.
For example, if you’re a food website, then you can use something like #ChefForADay.
Hold a Social Media Contest
Having a social media contest is by far one of the most successful UGC campaign strategies. Most major social networks allow pages to hold contests, including Facebook and Pinterest. You may also devise your own mechanics and start a simple hashtag contest for Twitter and other social networks. Also don’t forget that you can come up with a new hashtag for a specific contest.
The best way to hold a social media contest is to encourage your audience to post about how they use your product. For example, Hampton Creek encouraged their customers to take a photo of a dish they made with their Just Mayo product. They also regularly share UGC on their social media networks to maximise user engagement. You can follow HamptonCreek on Twitter to observe their evolving UGC campaigns.
Of course, contests won’t work without a prize. Be smart about your prizes and make sure your audience can appreciate them. Free products, discounts, cash – you name it. You could also feature the top posts on your website to further encourage participation.
Look for Influencers
To supercharge your UGC, you can tap into the social reach of influencers that are interested in your brand. Social influencers are personalities with a huge following on social media. Their interaction with your brand alone is enough to stir up interest amongst their followers.
It is relatively easy to find influencers online (that’s why they can be considered as influencers). A sound strategy is to look for trending posts with a tool like Google Trends. Just be careful when choosing an influencer to work with. Consider their niche, credibility, and their other social media channels to make full use of their influence.
Ultimately, marketers will have to deal with the fact that online users are getting more accustomed to marketing materials every day. It becomes easier for them to spot and avoid an advertisement. However, user-generated content will always remain trustworthy and relevant since they came from their peers.