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Does your brand’s social media strategy need an upgrade? One answer to your problems could be user-generated content. User-generated content (UGC) is original, brand-related content created by the brand’s audience. UGC can be images, videos, comments, or other digital assets. It can be the gateway to social media success and higher levels of engagement for your brand, because you can use it to further your social media strategy, transform your social channels, and build a greater connection to your community.
One of my favorite examples of a brand integrating UGC into their social media strategy comes from Skype. On Facebook in November 2021, Skype posted a series of videos from two customers, James and Naya, who used Skype to communicate while in a long distance relationship. The shared UGC story received significantly higher engagement than other posts on their channels, and helped to bond their community through shared stories.
Highlighting customer-centric content on your social media channels can help influence engagement with posts and increase conversations about products. Featuring a customer’s content also increases their loyalty to the brand as it forms a personal connection with your social media channels. Using UGC can also help your brand to feel authentic and trustworthy as posts feel more genuinely human when they’re built on customer opinion.
In this blog, I’ll cover the four best steps to optimize UGC opportunities within your social media strategy.
If you’re new to using UGC in your social media strategy, it’s important to start with clear, realistic objectives. Having a clear goal enables you to collect relevant content for your brand campaigns that can be used in the future. Your goal could be anything from boosting engagement levels to attracting new followers.
If your goal is to attract new followers, look for content that praises your brand and talks about how it has positively impacted a customer's life. Those testimonials are powerful materials for marketing material, stories, or organic posts. They help to associate positive public opinion with your brand, and may encourage new members to join the community or purchase the product.
If your goal is to start a new TikTok account, then you could search for short-form videos or pre-existing TikToks that positively mention your brand. Then, you can repost them as videos on your own channel. A great example of this is the GymShark TikTok account. GymShark frequently reposts existing TikToks, from both small and high profile accounts, where people are wearing GymShark clothes. GymShark reposted a TikTok from @the.johnsonbrothers and received over 600K views and 90K heart reacts, demonstrating that reposting content can help a brand to gain higher levels of engagement and visibility on TikTok while also humanizing the brand by featuring consumers.
Your social media channels are incredible resources for collecting UGC — for several reasons. First, social media channels are often the highest-volume point of contact that brands have with their customers. And since most of these engagements aren’t customer support-related, many of them will be positive. Another advantage of gathering UGC from social media is that your social media team is (or should be) already monitoring incoming comments. This makes it easy to select the positive ones and evaluate their worth. It’s important to keep in mind that UGC usually highlights a personal experience with a brand and how said brand/product has positively affected someone. These comments praise the brand and express gratitude for the product, and that makes them incredibly valuable as content to repurpose.
If you want to repurpose a particular piece of UGC for one of your social media channels, it’s important to first engage that user by showering them with brand love responses (more on that below), before asking for permission to use their content in future campaigns to promote your brand. Consent must always be obtained before using UGC to avoid legal issues and maintain trust within the community.
Interacting with these positive comments can help to strengthen brand affinity and encourage more consumers to share their experiences. The perfect example of this was from Coach, who saw a post from @paigeharris.co’s Instagram account and then asked permission to use the image in the future. You should also nurture brand-consumer relationships like this one by tagging the user when you repost their content.
Another way to use your social media channels to collect UGC is by keeping an eye on comments and posts that tag your brand. If these are in the form of Instagram stories then they can simply be reposted onto your account, offering a quick and easy way to benefit from UGC. This tactic is especially useful if you're working on rebranding or selling a business.
Social listening platforms can help brands easily and efficiently identify UGC. You can use social listening to search for mentions of your brand when users do not directly “@” your social media accounts. This allows you to keep track of conversations surrounding your brand and find great UGC opportunities where users speak honestly about your brand to their followers (and yours!). Social listening also creates more opportunity to find content with images and videos included.
Additionally, social listening can be leveraged to tap into existing earned and trending content. Earned content is any material (such as comments, reviews, etc.) written about a brand that the brand didn’t pay for or create themselves. Being aware of trending content should help to inform how you source UGC that fits with current trends so that it can be reposted on your account for extra visibility and create a buzz around your brand. Building social listening into your UGC strategy will help you save time and find the most relevant content.
Ever heard of brand love? The final technique to transform your UGC strategy is to have a clear set of moderation tactics that aim to encourage positive conversations with community members to spark excitement about the brand.
If a consumer takes the time to share a positive comment on your social media account, you can be sure that person is looking for a conversation. In a Khoros survey of more than 1,000 US consumers, customers who were able to ask questions and interact with brands directly felt a deeper sense of loyalty and connection to the brand by 52 percent.
This is because moderation allows you to shift sentiment and control the conversation on your channels. Moreover, positively engaging with members creates more UGC and nurtures the community surrounding your brand. In the below example, Facebook Portal replies positively to a member’s comment and asks them a question to prompt a brand love response. This moderation tactic successfully creates UGC, which the brand can use in future campaigns.
By implementing a range of techniques into your social strategy, you will increase engagement levels, and in turn generate even more UGC. Engaging members in a friendly way can also lead to a better quality of UGC and a more positive community. Adding UGC to your social media strategy will ensure your posts are more relatable and strengthen the trust between your brand and audience. This is intrinsic to creating a successful social media channel.
It’s important to have a clear goal and CTA for the audience to ensure that you collect relevant content for future brand campaigns. To collect UGC, your social media channels are a really important resource. Building social listening into your strategy will save time and help you find the most relevant content. If you pair this with having a clear set of moderation tactics that aim to spark positive conversations within the community, then you are headed for success.
How can you put this plan into action? Khoros’s social listening solutions are best-in-class tools for any brand looking to get more in touch with their users, especially through UGC. If you’re interested in creating a world-class UGC strategy, get a demo today.