Creating consistent brand content and staying up to speed with consumer needs can be a mentally straining process for small business owners. The beauty of user generated content is that it’s already created, so all you have to do is share it. If you aren’t familiar with UGC and how to find it, check out our previous blog post where we discuss how it can benefit your brand.
Smaller businesses may not have as much UGC as a large corporate brand, so a strategy must be put in place to encourage consumers to share their opinions. Below are a few effective strategies to drive UGC.
Host Contests & Giveaways
An easy way to build buzz around your business is to host a contest. For an added incentive, there could be a prize or product giveaway for the winner. People love to share their own content, and even more to win free things! Whether the prize be as little as a repost on your account, or as big as a free unreleased product, it will serve as a sweet incentive for users to participate.
The fun part about running a contest is that you decide the parameters. Be sure to pick a start date and an end date to create a sense of urgency to enter. The structure of the contest will depend on what type you want to run; photo challenge, like challenge or comment challenge.
A photo challenge is one of the most popular contests on Instagram and the best way to gain UGC. The entry rules are up to you and how involved you want the user to get, just be sure that they are clearly written. For example, to enter, the contest users have to follow your account, repost an image that you’ve created and tag a friend in the comment section. This type of contest gives you three different layers of engagement and has the potential to give you massive exposure. If only 100 people enter your contest and each have roughly 200 followers on Instagram, it opens the door for potentially 20,000 impressions.
You could also create a selfie-based contest. Instead of users re-posting your own image, have them take a selfie and tag your brand in it to enter the contest. Perhaps, you could give them some creative inspiration for a user generated post that they share on their page and hashtag your brand. Take a look at Constant Contact’s #CCPhotoADay challenge:
This type of contest allows the user to have creative freedom and also provides you with diverse content to share.
Like and Comment Challenge
This contest is very simple for the user as it only requires them to like or comment on the picture to be qualified. Some users may enjoy a contest more if it requires minimal effort to enter, so this could be a great option for small businesses to start off with. Check out this giveaway contest by Birchbox:
Their rules required the participant to follow the account and tag 3 friends in the comment section. Their plan with this contest was to have their existing fans seed their post out to non-fans, in hopes that they will participate in the contest and ultimately ‘like’ their page. The product giveaway leaves a little incentive to be a part of the challenge.
Start a #Hashtag Campaign
Hashtags go hand in hand with contests and giveaways. For a memorable campaign, you should create a specific contest hashtag. For example, if you’re running a cute dog contest, create a unique hashtag such as #aDOGable to play on the word “adorable”. Then, require that all entrants for the aDOGable contest must hashtag it in order to qualify. Not only will this increase brand awareness, but it will compile all of the UGC from the contest into one feed for easy viewing.
Unique brand hashtags by themselves are a great way to encourage conversation among your fans. According to studies, a whopping 75% of social media users utilize hashtags and 41% click on the hashtags to explore new content.
Brands such as Dunkin’ Donuts understand the power of hashtag campaigns. In the past, they’ve launched a #mydunkin campaign that demonstrates the passion for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Some fans who used the hashtag were chosen to appear in six television commercials that were solely based on their UGC.
Once you’ve created your branded hashtag, be sure to share it everywhere. Hang up a sign with the hashtag on it in your establishment to encourage usage and add it to all marketing materials and spread it across all social platforms. The more people that use your hashtag, the better.
Create a Branded Photobooth
Offering a custom photo booth inside your business or at an event will give consumers something exciting to post and share. Ray Ban had a custom photobooth created for their “Never Hide” campaign, which aimed to spread the message that being yourself is the most fashionable statement one could make. Ray Ban had their photobooth installed in multiple department stores. Users were invited to try on their polarized glasses, take pictures for free and redeem printed copies with Ray Ban’s Never Hide watermark on it.
A creative alternative to a physical photobooth is hosting a digital one on your website. Fanta, the popular beverage brand, created a Halloween based “Freaky Foto Booth.” To access the booth, you had to register on their site by providing your e-mail, name and birth date. From there, you could upload a selfie and dress yourself up in a spooky costume. After snapping your picture, you’d receive an e-mail with the link to your photo. Not only did this campaign encourage UGC, but it effectively grabbed the user’s information to market to them in the future.
In order to see user generated content grow, you have to give users something to talk about. Conversations on social media are a two-way street, and it is imperative as a business that you are talking back. By implementing these strategies into your social media plan, you’ll effectively give your audience something to discuss.