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How to Incorporate User-Generated Content into Your Social Media Strategy

With the widespread use of smartphones in today’s digital age, many everyday consumers now have the capability to capture high-quality content. And with billions of images being shared across social media every day, it can be difficult to get your business’s message to stand out. Research shows that user-generated content (UGC) is more memorable, credible and influential than content produced by a brand or business, showcasing the immense potential value it can unlock for your business when used strategically and consistently. Keep reading below to learn more about the benefits of user-generated content and how to incorporate it into your social media strategy!

What is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content is any type of content created by an individual person rather than by a business. This can include anything from social media posts, images, videos, reviews, etc.

What are the Potential Benefits of User-Generated Content for My Business?

1. Provide social proof and build trust with your audience

User-generated content has the power to provide social credibility and increase trust with your target audience. Research shows that users tend to trust the recommendation of a real person over what a business says about themselves. This is especially shown to be true for Millennials and Gen-Zers, where authentic content from a real person goes much further as they can relate more to everyday people or those they know. Target strategically leverages user-generated content through a separate social channel called Target Style”, where users can see various Target fashion and beauty products in action and users are encouraged to tag them using the hashtag #TargetStyle. This provides users with content from everyday consumers just like them and provides Target with an ongoing repository of content to pull from.

2. Grow your digital community and foster customer loyalty

By leveraging user-generated content on a regular basis, your business can continue growing your digital community and build a team of customer advocates who are loyal to your brand. User-generated content opens up the unique opportunity for businesses to talk with their audience rather than at them, which is a key component in building customer loyalty. UGC also provides more touchpoints between the business and their target audience, which fosters connection and deepens customer advocacy. Many of today’s biggest fashion brands also leverage user-generated content to foster a sense of community and customer advocacy, including sportswear brand Balance Athletica. Balance Athletica utilizes influencers called “Elite Leaders” and customers alike to showcase their pieces on real women. In general, the more casual, laid-back content shared from real users performs better than the more polished, professional photos shared by the brand.

3. Increase audience engagement and influence purchase decisions

When customers see that your business values and showcases user-generated content, it builds a sense of community and desire to belong, which encourages other customers to partake and submit their own user-generated content and share their experiences. Additionally, when users can see how other customers use your products or services, it can be the determining factor in influencing their final purchase decision. High-quality user-generated content can inspire and provide more social context for those who may not be familiar with your business and offerings. Eyewear brand Zenni Optical recently renewed their entire brand strategy and among those changes was the implementation of user-generated content. They understood the difficulty it can be buying something online without first being able to try it on yourself. To make the process of purchasing glasses online easier, Zenni Optical showcases users trying on particular frames directly on each product page, while also showcasing real users wearing their glasses on social with the hashtag #JustGotMyZennis. These changes alone have grown their digital community immensely while making them one of the best-selling websites for eyewear today.

How to Incorporate User-Generated Content into Your Social Media Strategy

In order to begin incorporating user-generated content into your social media strategy, your audience must first capture and share this content. One of the easiest ways to start garnering this content is to ask your audience directly and start a hashtag. By using one hashtag for all of your UGC, you’ll be able to easily track content submitted in one place and choose the best content to share.

To encourage your audience to start using your hashtag, consider sharing small incentives, such as offering a coupon or small gift to those who share user-generated content. Before resharing any user-generated content, always ensure to ask the user for permission first, whether they tagged your account directly or used your hashtag. Additionally, if you are going to share their content across multiple social channels, ask how they would like to be credited on those other channels (i.e. if they shared on Instagram but also have a Facebook page they would like tagged when resharing on that channel). For any UGC your business receives, ensure to show your appreciation by liking, commenting or directly messaging the user.

As your business begins to generate and incorporate user-generated content, take time to review and learn from the content submitted to inform and improve your strategy, such as additional hashtags or language being used that you could incorporate. Have more questions on how user-generated content can be of value to your business? Avenue's proprietary digital marketing services provide customized digital solutions for our client's needs. Contact Avenue to learn more!

Please note that Avenue has no affiliation with any products, services, or websites referenced in this blog post. Avenue is a digital marketing agency in Portland using business as a force for good. Our proprietary suite of paid advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media services help brands and businesses of all sizes grow sustainably and successfully. For more information, we invite you to visit our services page.

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