Brands want it, fans create it, Google embraces it and Facebook loves it. User Generated Content (UGC) is the “Holy Grail” of social media and content marketing and it’s becoming key to cracking the elusive Facebook fan feed and getting your well-thought-out and “oh so intelligent” posts seen by the rest of the world.
So how do you get more of it without breaking the bank buying commercials during the Super Bowl? Read on and don’t forget to share!
#1. Make it emotional
Reno was tired of being beat down by people who probably had never set foot in the Biggest Little City in the world. So they created a campaign that encouraged people to share why they love Reno and tie it back to a BIG reason and a LITTLE challenge.
This resulted in hundreds of people submitting videos, images and stories on a microsite they created. The content from this site was then shared on the group’s Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. They also encouraged citizens to tag #biggestlittlecity so the organizers could easily track the social conversation.
People went crazy using the hashtag over 2,000 times in a few short months and taking the message to the masses that Reno was experiencing a cultural and technological revolution. The result was an authentic, grassroots movement supported almost entirely by UGC. They even made a TEDx video because of it.
#2. Show me the LOVE
People love contests — and when the reward is right folks will share just about anything. Contesting is one of the best ways to get fans to share content and to spread your message for you.
Contesting and engagement programs such as Offerpop can help even the most HTML-challenged folks create quick contests such as Tug of War, Look Books, quizzes, deals and offers — all designed to get your fans to create content for you by offering a little bit of incentive.
#3. Acknowledge and engage
We all love comments on our blog, Facebook shares and Pinterest re-pins. It’s like Christmas coming early. A good social media manager tracks all of this and responds back with a personal comment, a reciprocal retweet or at the very least a courtesy “like” on their social media networks.
When someone is already engaged with your brand the best thing you can do is continue that conversation by asking questions, offering to provide more information or just checking in every once in a while.
#4. Crowdsource blog content
We all get writer’s block. And lets face it not everyone wants to hear from the same person over and over again.
Why not create a blogger ambassador program and encourage your friends, fans and cohorts to submit content that they create. Snack maker Nature’s Bakery created an entire blogger ambassador campaign working with athletes that have values that the company embraces. The ambassadors not only provide content for their blog through images, videos and stories but they also tag Nature’s Bakery in pictures from all around the world thereby connecting their own healthy audience with Nature’s Bakery and their fan base.
Check out tools like GoodBlogs.com that help you aggregate blogs from writers across the globe for a small fee.
#5. Ask for a Retweet
Ever try asking fans to RT and add a comment, photo or tag a friend? Pretty simple right? Next time you post the most epic 140 characters EVER ask your fans to retweet it and add a quick comment or photo? Heck with Twitter’s new snazzy tagging feature you can even ask them to tag 20 of their friends who might want to be “entered to win.”
See, UGC doesn’t have to be rocket science. It just has to be interesting.
#6. Make it easy
Don’t make your fans go through five steps to share their content with you. Asking them to take a picture, e-mail it to you, sign a photo release form and then fill out a survey isn’t going to get you a ton of content. Make it easy for fans to get their content to you by using a #hashtag.
You can even use apps like Offerpop’s Hashtag Gallery to aggregate all those lovely images promoting your brand and put them on a single page on either your Facebook or website. Pulling all that content together really shows momentum and results in more fans entering the contest. If EVERYBODY is doing it, who wants to be left out?
#7. Say thank you
So you’ve gotten your fans to submit videos, photos, memes and blogs on your behalf. And you haven’t parted with any cash money at all. It’s now time to say thank you and reward those fans for giving you so much royalty-free content to work with.
Pick one and make them the fan of the week, randomly select a photo or video and tag that person letting them know they are the lucky winner this week and will receive (insert amazing prize of your choosing). Give a little and you will get a lot more in return!
#8. Connect it to the customers
People like to share. It’s just natural. And people love to share on social media. Obama ‘s social media peeps captured this with their “Share your Stories” campaign which encouraged people to share who they are and gave people the opportunity to like their favorite stories and share them. It also gave the Obama campaign a boatload of quality, emotionally driven UGC for their other networks and created thousands of “messengers” on social media.
By connecting the content back to the customer and their experiences and emotions brands have a much stronger chance of having their message shared.
What about you?
How do you motivate the crowd, fans and followers to create and share your content? What has worked for you?
Look forward to hearing your stories and insights in the comments below.
Guest author: Abbi Whitaker is the president and founder of The Abbi Agency, a digital communications and public relations firm with offices in Reno and Las Vegas.
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