What is User-Generated Content?

What is user-generated content (UGC)? It’s not just influencers posting photos of food or clothing on Instagram! Besides offering one of the best channels to drive engagement for your brand, user-generated content is a pretty great way to build a digital footprint for businesses of any size. Not to mention the power of harnessing the incredible breadth of creativity that comes from tapping other people’s brains. It’s easy for brands to get “stale;” by extending your brand development to your community, your brand will stay fresh and remain relevant to your audience.

As a marketing agency in NJ, we see this all the time: our clients come in and report that “interest has dropped off in our brand.” User-generated content may be the best way forward to deepen the connection with your audience. Plus, it will foster heightened engagement and help you stay relevant. Here’s a compelling stat that you need to know: 90% of consumers say that user-generated content makes them trust the brand more. And consumers are 2.4 times more likely to believe that your brand is authentic.

Now that you know why you should be doing UGC, read on to see our 7 Tips for User-Generated Content Marketing and get started leveraging your audience to help market your brand!

The epitome of user-generated content: The Barking Cat Youtube Video. A webpage showing a youtube video.

Tip #1: Choose the Right Platform for User-Generated Content

Is there a science to this? Well, there’s certainly a formula of what works and what doesn’t. As a New Jersey marketing agency, we’ve seen this to be true. Cat videos work! That’s how YouTube rose to fame. In general, videos about anything work well on Facebook along with testimonials. The Instagram crowd prefers to see photos and quotes. On the other hand, LinkedIn is a little more cerebral, and users of that social platform tend to respond well to endorsements and whitepapers.

Tip #2: Provide Clear and Precise Instructions for User Content

People require clear instructions. If you’re going to be soliciting for user-generated content, your community must know what is — and what isn’t — acceptable formats and content. Ask them for stories. Or do polls to prioritize and collect key topics for future content ideas. Providing clear style guidelines is critical; otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time (and money) reformatting what they sent you so that it fits within your brand image.

A long list of hashtags from an instagram post

Tip #3: Create and Use Hashtags, but Sparingly

The old adage, “less is more,” applies to the use of hashtags on social media, too. Back in the day, as in a couple of years ago, marketing agencies advocated the heavy use of hashtags. In fact, it was pretty easy to spot if a marketing agency in NJ — or any other state for that matter — was managing the social posts for a client. You’d see the post, then a long string of periods run vertically, then a zillion hashtags. As it turns out, according to this analysis, one or two hashtags double the engagement that you’ll get. Thinking about adding three or five or more hashtags? Don’t! Each additional hashtag drops engagement by 20%.

Tip #4: Run a Contest with User-Generated Content

Having a contest to meet with a New Jersey marketing agency in itself could be of value, but that could be our bias talking! Give your audience a compelling reason to enter the contest that is relevant to your brand and products or services. Create some urgency and exclusivity by offering a reward. This will motivate people to create user-generated content for your brand. Keep it simple and make the rules easy to follow. Don’t forget to publish the winners so that you can deepen engagement and queue up a future version of the contest.

The homepage of the Backpacks for Life logo, featuring their logo on an American Flag background

Tip #5: Support a Cause Your Users Care About

Generation Z rewards brands that make a social impact. Pick a cause that aligns with your brand’s mission and values. For example, DSM proudly supports Backpacks For Life, New Concepts For Living, and other great causes that resonate with our brand values and our team members. In exchange for user-generated content that they’re willing to share with your community, offer to make a matching donation every time someone tags your brand or donates to your cause.

Tip #6: Host an Expert Q&A for Your Users

People value the opinions of experts and are more likely to engage if are getting useful info from them. You can build interest in a Q&A event by soliciting questions beforehand. Plus, you can drive engagement during the event by encouraging participants to submit live questions. Make smart choices when it comes to selecting experts. Reputation is one thing, but if the expert a snooze-fest when it comes to their online presentation superpowers, you may want to pass. Consider relevant and timely topics plucked from the news headlines. Record the session and post it on your website, social media channels, and YouTube to increase views and shares.

Tip #7: Interact With Your User-Generated Content

Engagement is a two-way street. Posting your message is only half the equation. Be sure to like, comment on, and share your audience’s content once in a while. Replying to users’ comments demonstrates to the community that you are a brand that values engagement. Maintain a strict standard of communication to uphold brand values. Always crediting the original source of the user-generated content also builds trust and credibility.

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