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customers creating user generated content

The Rise of User Generated Content

User Generated Content – Content For Fans, By Fans

As consumers, opportunities to create user generated content occur daily! It’s Tuesday morning and you’re tired because you stayed up too late last night discussing with your friend Becky about who should or shouldn’t have gotten a rose on The Bachelor. Mornings like this call for a grande, iced, sugar-free, vanilla latte with soy milk from Starbucks. You make your way into the crowded shop, place your order, tell the barista your name “It’s Sarah with an ‘H’!”, then you wait for your drink.  

They call your name and you pick up your grande, iced, sugar-free, vanilla latte with soy milk.

Hara is your new name according to your cup. But hey, you did say your name was Sarah with an “H”.

Starbucks user generated content

What Is User Generated Content?

The above scenario is one that any Starbucks drinker knows all too well. You tell the barista your name and get back some variation of it written on your cup. It’s amusing, so you take a picture and share on social media with the caption, “My new name,” and a Starbucks location tag. By doing so, you created content for Starbucks–content they didn’t have to pay you to create OR post! THIS is user generated content.  

User generated content happens when an average customer becomes a company’s advertiser. It’s content that has been created and shared entirely by an unpaid contributor, customer, or fan and comes in the form of pictures, blogs, tweets, videos, or testimonials. (But really, the possibilities are endless). 

Your Business Should Value User Generated Content

Word-of-mouth recommendations are extremely valuable to brands, and user generated content gives way for such recommendations. These days, buyers want to know what kind of value they’ll receive from your product or service–and who can they trust better than your current customers themselves?

82 percent of Americans say they seek recommendations from friends or family when making a purchase decision. Recommendations coming from trusted sources are seen as more authentic than paid advertisements from the company. Not to mention, they’re a better indicator of the product’s quality.   

For businesses, user generated content is also cost-effective. When your fans create and distribute content for you, you don’t have to pay for ad placements or other types of expensive advertising. User generated content reaches your target audience at little to no cost.

User generated content gives fans the opportunity to be a part of your brand. It creates a sense of community, eliminating the “us” against “them” idea in which brands are constantly trying to win over their customers. It also gives your fans the chance to be featured on your brand’s website or social media pages, a goal many fans strive for.

encouraging user generated content with hashtag

How To Turn Your Users Into Content Generators  

Brands with a strong and engaging fan base often get the best user generated content. Follow these steps to turn your fans into advertisers.

Choose social networks that are sure to resonate with your users

You’ll want to pay close attention to which channel your users prefer to interact with and share about their favorite brands. Then encourage them to do so! Not only are your customers more likely to do so, but they’ll also be sharing where your prospective customers are looking.  

While user generated content exists in a variety of capacities, a majority exists on social media. Learn the fundamentals of social media and how your business should be incorporating it into their marketing strategy with our Social Media Handbook.

Create goals and guidelines for your user generated content

Set specific goals you want to achieve and guidelines for how you are going to achieve them. Goals might include: increase brand engagement, increase conversion rates, build brand loyalty, or gain brand awareness. This will help you obtain quality content that will spark more brand interaction.

Guide your fans toward creating valuable content 

Let your fans know that you want to see them using your brand. Tell them to post about their experiences or why they continue being a fan. If you are going to repost their responses, you’ll want to make sure their posts follow your brand rules and guidelines. Be specific with what you are looking for in the posts. Choose a type of user generated content such as social media contests or campaign hashtags, and have your fans contribute to your brand’s personality.

Think your brand has a strong visual aspect? Encourage your users to create content and promote your brand on Instagram–a visually based platform, not enough businesses take advantage of!

Emphasize community

Build a community with your fans–one that sparks engagement. Interact with fans by answering their questions, giving recognition and acknowledging their efforts. Show your brand’s human side. This can greatly increase your brand’s credibility with your fans.

Measure your content results

Track the overall engagement with the user generated content. Analyze the use of hashtags, brand tags, keywords or customer experiences. Examine what types of content your fans create and which type is the most engaging for repost purposes or for future content from the brand itself.

User generated content is a great way to build relationships and establish credibility with your fans. So take a step back from your brand’s social accounts, and let your fans do some of the work.

When you understand your target audience, creating a strategy centered around user-generated content is a breeze! You’ll understand what types of content your audience wants to see, know where your customers are most likely to see content, and gain insight into what drives your customers to create and share their own content and more. Download your copy of our Understanding Your Target Audeince guide.

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