Coming up with fresh and engaging ideas for social media content to promote your brand can become exhausting. With shifting algorithms and hard-to-keep-up-with trends, the pressure to churn out more and more new posts has never seemed higher. We have good news–you don’t always have to do all the creating.
While you should be an advocate for your brand, it’s smart (and efficient) to let your customers take the stage too. You shouldn’t have to concept and create every piece of social media content on your calendar because at least some of it should be coming from your followers or customers.
This is known as user-generated content or UGC.
UGC refers to content that is created and posted by anyone who is a consumer of your brand rather than a representative. Think back to all of the times you tagged your favorite coffee drink brand in an Instagram Story or filmed an “unboxing” video of your new vinyl and used the artist’s hashtag on TikTok. These are prime examples of user-generated content!
Using this content created by your followers is a powerful tool, and the data supports it. Sixty percent of consumers believe user-generated content is the most authentic and influential form of content. This is easy to agree with too since most of us check reviews on just about everything we buy online to make sure it is legit.
When you approach it correctly, using user-generated content can actually increase people’s trust in your brand, get more people to visit your website, and can turn your followers into your ambassadors and advocates.
Cultivating, finding, and using UGC
We’re sure that you have plenty of attention-grabbing ideas for social media content that you want to create. We aren’t about to tell you not to use them. However, finding and cultivating UGC is an effective way to add to that growing library of content. Here are some tips that will encourage your customers to start creating content with your products that you can utilize to promote your brand.
UGC ideas for small businesses
When it comes to selling your products, the things that your customers say about your brand have more influence than you might think. And who better to weigh in on promoting your business through your customers than drag queen icon Trixie Mattel–founder and CEO of Trixie Cosmetics, a Los Angeles-based beauty and makeup brand–and Lindsay Hearts–founder and CEO of Foxblood, a Los Angeles-based online boutique for babes that wear black.
- Find and share content that shows your products in action
You want to be able to show people what your products are like in action, whether you sell clothing, makeup or jewelry. You can get the best professional photography of your products (which, we can help you with by the way), but seeing it in action–specifically in the hands of or on the faces of your customers–is some of the best advertising.
“At Trixie Cosmetics, it’s important to us to show products in the hands of beautiful people,” says Trixie. “Letting the inspired minds of makeup-centric folks tell our story is our whole vibe. Makeup is a tool that should be shown in action!”
Start the process with some posts of your own. Set the example by posting photos in which you use your products and encourage followers to do the same. Make the instructions (and the hashtags that your followers and customers can use) clear and provide those instructions repeatedly to get the desired result.
“[Using UGC] can start small and start with you,” Lindsay told us. “[You] can post a personal photo that incorporates your products and post it on your business account. This will tell your followers that you are relatable. You don’t need to necessarily start asking for UGC from your customers or followers, you can start by incorporating your products yourself. Don’t ask, just do.”
Be the leader of your brand, and, when people start to follow, make sure to reshare their posts on your social media channels after getting the original poster’s permission. Make sure that you are still promoting future engagement with these posts too, including those two or three branded hashtags. Along with this, you can use a social media listening tool like Sprout Social, Agorapulse or Mention to pick up on the use of your brand mentions in posts.
- Encourage and read reviews so you can use words as well as photos
Customer reviews are extremely important to your brand because, if those reviews sing you praises, future customers will trust you far more than they would otherwise.
As Trixie tells it: “It comes from genuine interest in what happens to your product after it leaves your warehouse. It’s easy to stay inspired by the story of your product when you pay attention to the ending.”
You can always send your customers a follow-up email that prompts them to submit a review or feedback. When you have reviews that you can use to show the quality of your products, screenshot them to share or consider turning your customers’ words into a nice graphic using an app like Canva. However you do it, make sure to share what your customers think so they can speak on behalf of your brand.
Getting UGC for personal brands and artists
When it comes to your social media content, you need to research strategic ways to amplify your name and grow your overall audience. That means when you are looking for UGC to use, you want to find content that encourages connection and community. Here are some ideas to generate that kind of content:
- Encourage customers to use your hashtags
If you read our last blog, you already know that hashtags are powerful. Use them to encourage engagement with your brand. For example, if you are a lifestyle brand, you can create a custom hashtag for your followers to use when they post ideas and content that matches with that lifestyle. Or, if you are a band or artist, hashtags are a great way to get your name out there, whether it is tied to a photo that matches your aesthetic or a photo that shows your artwork in its new forever home. When you create hashtags for your followers to use, you are encouraging engagement that provides you with user-generated content and makes it easier for you to find that content too.
- Create a campaign that encourages conversation
Let’s talk about…talking. Social media gives people the ability to engage in an ongoing conversation, which is awesome news when you are the one bringing up the topic. This one will require a little extra work on your part, but the results are going to be well worth it.
Brainstorm a campaign that is going to generate a conversation with your followers and audience members and, by default, create some content for you. For example, think about a YouTuber who discusses a bad experience at a restaurant and encourages their audience members to share any similar stories they have in the comments. Those stories can be used in a later compilation video or can even just be used to spur more ideas for the future.
So how can you do this? Create that conversation! Get people talking about your work and using your hashtags. If you are a band, prompt your audience to talk about their favorite song of yours and why it’s their favorite, or maybe gather stories of how people discovered your music. Encourage people to share photos to show they are part of your follower base by using your hashtags, especially if they do so while using or wearing your merch.
One last note: Make sure to keep things legal!
User-generated content is effective for promoting your brand–unless it prompts a lawsuit. You don’t want a potential customer or follower to turn into an enemy because you used their content without their permission. When you are finding UGC to flesh out your content calendar, make sure to keep things legal! Always:
- Ask permission from the original poster to use, reshare or feature their posts
- Use the original poster’s username in your image caption
- Tag the original poster in the reshared or reposted content
Keep in mind that, while you might not be creating this content directly, you should still account for it in your social media strategy. Taking into account every type of usable content is a worthwhile way to show customer appreciation, and build a name that people take notice of, can relate to and trust.
Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Contact page to start building your content calendar with the help of an expert at RM Creative Services. We can help you learn how to use UGC, create organic content, and build a content calendar that will put you on the path to reaching your goals for your brand.