User-generated content (UGC) is powerful because it taps into people’s inherent desire to be recognized and appreciated.

When your brand shares something a customer or fan created, that external recognition not only strengthens the customer or fan’s affinity with the brand, it encourages that person to share the content further with his or her friends. Thus, your brand benefits vicariously.

However, in a world where many marketers are obsessed with short-term tactics to acquire as many customers as they can and as cheaply as possible, UGC is a long-term relationship tactic that won’t run out of style any time soon.

It’s more effective to have your customers promote your brand than just to have the brand do it. With UGC, you can turn your best customers into your best advocates. After all, customer relationships are what help businesses transition from money-making enterprises to sustainable brands.

UGC doesn’t have to replace other forms of marketing, but it can become a powerful weapon in your arsenal.

 

Here are some of the ways you can improve your content marketing using UGC.

Video reviews

Video reviews are treated as a credible type of social proof because the visitor can hear the reviewer’s voice and assess how that person truly feels about a product. (Text reviews are easier to fake and often less organic than a video review. By featuring an abundance of video reviews on a product page – each represented by a distinct aspect of your buyer persona – you can help prospective buyers feel a greater level of trust when deciding to purchase.

Instagramming

Given people’s inherent preference for stimulating images, coupled with the rise of mobile access, it’s no surprise image-oriented social media channels are surging.

Instagram is an excellent tool brands can use to boost awareness and establish niche authority. Posting high-quality UGC can skyrocket your Instagram following and help build a community around your brand.

Starbucks, a Seattle based coffee company , makes excellent use of UGC on its Instagram page. By promoting the #starbuckscommunity, it encourages the users around the world to frequently talk about their experience.

Photo and video contests

Brands have been hosting contests to promote their businesses for centuries. Contests are effective because they leverage numerous psychological factors.

First, people love receiving something for free. Contests also leverage the age-old power of scarcity. People jump at the chance to enter a contest particularly if the prize is unattainable in normal circumstances. You can improve your brand awareness by hosting contests that require entrants to submit UGC. In addition to the lure of the prize, people enjoy the community aspect of such contests and relish sharing their entries with their friends.

Events

At events users can leverage user-generated content through video.

You can hire professional video crew and let the audience do the talk. They’ll give a relatable, third-party opinion and the footage will be an excellent quality so you can show it to your high-end prospects. Additionally, promote a hashtag and encourage your audience to use it during the event.

 

Warning

Before running any UGC campaign, carefully consider what would happen if things turned sour, and only begin if you’re equipped to deal with the consequences.

 

Summary

As with all marketing tactics, you’re most likely to succeed with UGC when your aim is to provide as much value as possible to your audience.

People need a reason to submit their awesome UGC to you – it could be an incentive for posting a video review host, or an amazing prize through an Instagram competition, or a sense of community to be part of something larger than themselves.