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We all have a community available to our brand or business – we just may not know it yet. A simple and effective way to tap into this is to add User-Generated Content into your social media mix.

What is User Generated Content?

Along with influencer marketing, user-generated content [UGC] continues to be a popular form of earned content for social media managers everywhere. In simple terms, it is photos, videos, blogs or testimonials that your customers create about your brand, products or services, and then share on their own social channels for their followers to see.

Selfie
Image: Canva

You have the option to passively hit a ‘retweet’ button but, if used correctly, User-Generated Content could easily (and cheaply) work much harder to promote your brand – in a way that is more accessible and personal for your own audiences.

People ‘just like me’ are seen to be more credible than experts, research and CEOs, and using influencers to market content is continuing to increase for small and large brands alike. Consumers are becoming more and more used to sharing their opinions and experiences of brands on social media – and they often respond to User-Generated Content with less scrutiny than a branded piece.

Getting Started:

Start with content that has already been shared with you. These include testimonials on your websites, as well as Facebook posts and tweets that mention your handle. Also, take a look at what photos you have been tagged in on Instagram. As Instagram is a very strong visual-based channel, these images are often of a near-professional quality and are therefore easy to quickly reuse.

Next, implement social listening. Browse Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and review sites for mentions (and hashtags) of your brand, products or services.

As with any form of marketing, there are some best practices to follow before including any User-Generated Content in your social media plan.

The Golden Rules:

1. Get Permission:
This is essential. You do not have legal ownership of this content, therefore you need express permission to use or repurpose their content, and you should keep this on file in case of future reference.

2. Give Credit:
Each and every time you share User-Generated Content, you should always credit the customer who created it. Where possible, tag their social account as well.

Best Practice:

1. Don’t Copy And Paste:
When asking for permission, be sure to add a personal touch to show you really care about this customer and their experience with your brand. Avoid just copying and pasting a message without adding anything that complements it. Be sure to always use their first name.

2. Say Thank You:
If a customer has made the effort to respond and give you permission, it is only polite to send a genuine thank you in return. If possible, set expectations on when and where they can expect to see their content shared by the brand.

3. Follow Them:
This is already an engaged customer and a fan of your brand, so, if you haven’t already, make sure that you have followed their channels so that you can continue to develop your relationship with them (and retarget if appropriate).

Knowing how to grow your audience is essential to ensure brand loyalty to your business. There are lots of tools available to help you do this, and finding the right one for you can ensure you manage your time effectively whilst providing a better experience for your followers.

Lisa Boyles

Lisa Boyes is an experienced social media manager who has led end-to-end activation for some of the UK's biggest brands, including Dulux and Cuprinol. She also helps lone-wolf social media managers to work smarter, not harder, through her #SocialWolfpack community.

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