Do you allow your social media visitors to create and post content? If not, why should you even allow your communities to do this? There's actually a legitimate business case for UGC (user-generated content), as it offers these benefits:
- Your visitors experience more of your website. They get to see fresh content, and you don't have the sole responsibility for generating it.
- Your visitors trust your information. Because UGC is more personal and relevant to your website's visitors (and comes from a more objective source), they trust it more than information your company publishes.
- Your visitors become more loyal. When they return to your website repeatedly, it becomes a community they enjoy being a part of.
What's the net effect of all these benefits? If people have a better experience, trust your information more and become more loyal to your company, they're more likely to purchase. If you're wondering how to encourage more user-generated content, take a look at a few examples from bigger brands.
Twitter & The Guardian
This prominent British newspaper ran an "Own the Weekend" campaign, where Twitter followers were encouraged to do something cool that weekend, take a picture and tweet it to the newspaper using the #owntheweekend hashtag. To reward their behavior, they were entered into a drawing to win an iPad Mini. One of the keys with this UGC campaign—an easy call to action.
Facebook & T-Mobile
On Jan. 28, T-Mobile started getting customers to break up with their former cell phone carriers. They're offering new cell phone deals with new plans, and paying early cancellation fees. They asked people to share a picture when they visited their store, and in return, they could end up on the front of a Web page promoting the special. They got 903 likes, 242 comments and 122 shares. Facebook is an easy one. Just ask users to share photos. The key is making sure they get some reward for taking the action.
Pinterest & Lowe's
Okay, so Pinterest is a little trickier to come up with UGC ideas. Lowe's actually perpetually runs a UGC campaign where they feature projects built by external bloggers. The caveat, though, is that the materials of everything they pin can be purchased at Lowe's. What you can learn from this company is that sometimes it works to reach out to build a community of external resources. UGC can be an ongoing thing that slowly builds a long-term audience, compared to a one-and-done campaign.
Tumblr & Iceland
Tumblr doesn't get much respect from big brands, but it should, and it definitely has its place in the social media world. Surprisingly, one survey claims it may be more popular than Facebook among people ages 13-25, so don't write it off. This one's a bit dated, but it shows you don't have to be super high-tech to make UGC happen. Iceland's tourism board, Takk Takk, created a presence across many social media platforms, including Tumblr. All they did was ask users for pics and videos of Iceland. Then, they reposted those across all of their channels. They saved huge amounts of money and still got high-quality photos. They managed to give their country an authentic, first-person voice, as many posts begin "Hallo, I am Iceland and I want to be your friend..." It's tough to stand out on social media, so doing small, but ultimately powerful, things like this can help you stand out.