5 Ways Brands Can Encourage User-Generated Content [With Examples]

September 12, 2019 by Rafaella Aguiar

Last Updated: October 18, 2019

user-generated content

Have you ever sat at your computer, staring at the calendar for the next month, knowing you should come up with some content ideas for social…and just not having any inspiration?

Well, while you’re waiting for that perfect bolt of lighting to hit you with the best idea for a campaign, we have a few ideas for you too.

We understand that creating original, new, relatable, top-quality content that resonates with your viewers can become difficult at times, and it can cost you both time and money. But have you ever tried using user-generated content?

User-Generated Content

If you don’t know what it is, user-generated content (or UGC), is content created by consumers of your product or service. This can be social media posts, reviews, testimonials or any other content made and published by your users.

With UGC, you can save some of the time and money you usually would have spent planning out your upcoming social media content. In fact, you can even stockpile some UGC so you have access to it when you’re going through another lull in creativity.

juneshineco posting user-generated content

UGC does more for you than just help you fill in your content calendar. It can also help you significantly increase your brand reach and awareness. When your users create this content, typically they’ll post it on their social media accounts and tag you. In doing so, they’ve just shared your brand with all of their friends and followers. And since they’ve posted about you in a positive light, those followers are likely to want to check out your page too.

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“User-generated content is a great way to curb marketing spend by tapping into your brand ambassadors. One simple way to do this is to repost content created by your biggest fans by downloading their Instagram videos and reposting them to your account with credit.

Most creators love to have their content reposted because it provides them a wider audience for their content and they receive an endorsement from their favorite brand. Remember to always ask permission to repost content before doing so!” — Lauren Pope, Senior Content Specialist at G2.

Even if you have an overwhelming amount of content ideas and plenty of posts already pre-written, you probably still want to consider adding some UGC to the rotation. People trust UGC more than traditional advertising.

It will also likely help you increase Instagram engagement, as people tend to like seeing UGC better than branded content.

Baird Hall founder of Wavve's tip for using user-generated content

“At Wavve Zubtitle, user-generated content has been a critical aspect of our marketing strategy from day one. Allowing users to tell their story and show off their success is much more powerful to prospective buyers compared to traditional marketing channels. These effects are amplified when UGC is shared on social media.” — Baird Hall, Founder of Wavve Zubtitle

Sometimes your consumers might even be more creative than you. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been using the same strategy, the same pattern and the same type of content for too long, it might be time to inject some UGC into the mix. This will bring you new, creative, original content that’s ready for sharing. But how are you going to attract this user-generated content?

5 Ways to Get More UGC

There are many ways to get UGC from your consumers, and if we don’t mention your favorite here, leave us a comment! These are our five favorite methods.

1. Use a Branded Hashtag

Yep, the good ol’ hashtag. If you can create a unique hashtag that doesn’t already have posts associated with it, you may have found a gold mine. By creating a hashtag that is associated with your brand, or especially if you have one with a strong message, you can encourage people to share their photos and stories, which you can share in turn with your followers.

One great example of this is Aerie’s #aeriereal campaign. The campaign and hashtag began in 2014, and momentum for the brand hasn’t slowed down at all. In fact, in 2018 Aerie reported a 38% increase in same-store sales. With nearly 200,000 Instagram posts using the hashtag, it’s clear that Aerie found a cause that resonated with their followers and encouraged them to share their stories, and helped them increase Instagram engagement.

Aerie's branded hashtag campaign

2. Host a Contest

Another great way to inspire your audience to create content for you is to host a contest. You can raffle off some swag or let your followers vote on their favorite to win an impressive prize. Let your consumers submit their photos, videos and stories through social media or your website. Share your favorites with your followers, and then give away some great prizes. This will motivate your audience to participate, and will help you get some excellent user-generated content.

GoPro does an awesome job with this, as you would expect from a company that sells cameras. There are about 6,000 videos from GoPros posted online daily, and the company decided to capitalize on that. They offer users a chance to win a daily mention, or the “Creator’s Challenge” where users can enter to win large cash prizes.

GoPro's Instagram contest with user-generated content

3. Use an Influencer Platform

If you’ve wanted to connect with influencers to promote your brand, but haven’t quite figured out how yet, an influencer marketplace platform might be just what you need. Tribegroup.co does just that. There you’ll describe what you’re looking for and influencers will submit posts for your approval. If you like them, they’ll post them to their page.

example of using an influencer platform for user-generated content

Over 11,000 campaigns have been launched through tribegroup.co, including brands like Ikea and Reese’s. If you haven’t tapped into the world of influencer marketing, this is a great way to start. Influencers can help you increase Instagram followers and improve your brand reach, so may be a smart move on top of getting you more UGC.

Kyle Wong, CEO at Pixlee's tip on user-generated content and using influencer platforms

“Working with influencers can help spur user-generated content as your followers will find the right influencers relatable yet aspirational. Discover and manage influencer relationships with an Influencer marketing platform to get the best content.” — Kyle Wong, CEO at Pixlee

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4. Instagram Takeovers

Takeovers can be a great way to create user-generated content. With an Instagram takeover, you let someone else run your Instagram account for the day. They post stories, interact with your followers, and give value while creating great content. The takeover itself is a great tactic to help reach more people, because the person taking over your account will likely share it on their account, which helps you increase Instagram followers and UGC.

example of an Instagram takeover on the NFL Instagram via user-generated content

Chances are the person taking over your account will have some outtakes or behind-the-scenes footage that they’ll share on their account. When you share their UGC, you’ll create a feeling of recognition with your audience, because they were already used to seeing that person.

5. Pop-Up Shops

Especially if you have a physical product (but even if you don’t), having a pop-up shop can be an awesome way to increase your UGC. With a pop-up shop, you create a one or two-day small event where you bring your products, services, or some sort of giveaway to a popular place. You can sell it, sure, but you can also capitalize on a great UGC opportunity.

Barkbox's pop-up shop creating user-generated content

Take BeautyKind, for example, an online makeup shop that donates 5% of each order to the customer’s charity of choice. A few years ago, BeautyKind set off on a college tour to get their name out to more people in their target demographic. At their pop-up shops, they asked people to post a picture with #BeautyKind. Users then collected their printed photo (printed by BeautyKind) and showed it to a worker to receive a free S’well water bottle with their school’s logo on it, as well as a $25 BeautyKind gift card. The tour visited 12 colleges, collecting thousands of hashtagged posts that reached over 5.6 million accounts. It certainly helped increase Instagram engagement.

Have you incorporated user-generated content into your social media planning? If not, now might be a good time to start planning a UGC campaign. Let us know which of these you’re planning on trying, or if you have another idea of how to get more UGC from your audience.

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