Does an inexpensive, highly effective marketing tactic that requires minimal time investment sound too good to be true? Well it’s not – and it’s called user generated content (UGC). The best part? Other people do most of the work for you.

Okay, that last bit might have been a bit hyperbolic. While it’s true that a UGC campaign does center on content provided by outsiders, the best campaigns do require some time investment from the marketer running them. There is planning the campaign, and then effectively leveraging the materials that are generated by it, but everything in between is up to brand advocates – your current and potential customers.

What makes UGC campaigns worth that initial time investment? They are a highly effective tactic that results in content that not only are people open to, but they are actively seeking out. According to research by SparkReel, 40% of consumers look for some kind of user generated content before making a purchase. Why? Because potential customers put far more stock in what other consumers have to say about your brand that what you say yourself.

Now that you understand the value of user generated content, let’s look at some places where you can leverage it for your own brand:

1. On Your Website
One form of user generated content that we interact with all the time (and therefore don’t even think of as such) is online reviews. Lots of websites feature reviews and testimonials for their products and services, but there are a few that really take it to the next level. Instead of just encouraging customers to leave a written review, think about ways that you could show people really interacting with your brand.

A great example of this is the vintage-inspired clothing website Modcloth. There is an entire section of the site dedicated to letting shoppers show off the creative ways they use Modcloth pieces to express their style. From each shopper’s photo submission, you can share, favorite, and directly shop the featured pieces.

ModCloth Style Gallery

2. Out In The World
While most small businesses don’t have the resources for billboard advertising, there are still lots of creative places you could display physical examples of user generated content. In your storefront, in a public space (only if it’s legal, of course), or even something fleeting like sidewalk chalk!

One (admittedly aspirational) example is Oreo’s recent Play With Oreo campaign in which they asked artists to create fanciful images that reflected chosen verbs (dunk, play, dream, etc.) in whatever way they saw fit. The artwork is featured in outdoor areas, and alongside other user submissions on an Oreo micro-site. An added bonus of leveraging working professionals to create this kind of content is that they have a vested interest in promoting it through their own networks as well!

Oreo Artwork

3. On Social Media
While user generated content is an excellent tool for generating leads and boosting sales, it’s also incredibly effective for creating awareness. And what better platform for quickly spreading awareness than on social media? By creating a unique and memorable hashtag for your UGC campaign, you can effectively organize the conversation about your brand or cause. If you can combine your campaign with something that’s trending on social media, all the better.

A fantastic recent example of leveraging a trend to create awareness comes from the First Book organization, which works to put books into the hands of kids in need. Instead of trying to start their own hashtag from scratch, they seized an opportunity to partner with the newly-trending Instagram account @HotDudesReading for a campaign they call “Hot Dudes Reading For A Cause.” On the off-chance you’re not familiar, the account features user-submitted images of, well, hot dudes reading around various cities. The campaign asks that Instagram users tag their photos with the hashtag #hotdudesreadingforacause to create awareness and drive traffic to the Indiegogo page where they are collecting donations.

Have you ever tried a user generated content campaign for your business, or have an example from a brand you admire? Tell us about it in the comments section!

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Content Marketing Manager at Webs, where she also manages marketing for Pagemodo – a suite of social media tools. Loves marketing, small businesses, and whales. Get more from Sarah on the Webs Blog, Twitter, and Google+.

4 Responses

  1. Reply
    Mar 23, 2015 - 01:37 AM

    Would be nice to know how to actually enable this especially the photo gallery ?

    • Reply
      Deanna Zaucha
      Apr 22, 2015 - 02:37 PM

      The photo gallery example would probably need a bit of modification. For example, if you gather information from your customers about what they use from your business and feature the photo on your homepage – you could easily have that photo link to other places your website (like your web store) to find those products!

  2. Reply
    Dow Jones
    Apr 01, 2015 - 08:57 AM

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  3. Reply
    Jan 30, 2017 - 01:14 AM

    Thanks a lot for these helpful sharing. Keep in touch with your blog.

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