As a business owner, there may be times when you feel like you have to do everything on your own. From operations decisions to hiring and firing, the success of your brand rests on your shoulders.

However, if you’re creating an engaging brand experience that your customers love, you could have more hands helping you than you think.

User-generated content can drive your brand forward and help you grow – you just need to know how to tap into it. Check out this guide on user-generated content and how you can apply it to your brand.

What Is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content, also called customer content, refers to any posts, photos, or videos that social media users or customers create in regard to your brand.

Brand-generated content is something that someone on your social media team posts. Customer content comes from the people who visit your business and follow your brand.

User-generated content comes in a variety of forms. A few types of user-generated content include:

  • Reviews left on Google, Yelp, Facebook, Urbanspoon and other sites
  • Photos uploaded to social media that use your business or hashtag
  • Tweets to your brand or about your brand
  • Testimonials from people who have benefitted from your business
  • Videos of people at your business (including Snapchat clips, Instagram videos, and Facebook Live videos)

As you can see, not every type of user-generated content will likely be useful for your brand.

Testimonials, for example, are less likely to be used by a quick service restaurant than by a veterinary clinic or a fitness facility. Meanwhile, that same gym or fitness center can use photos of members who are sharing their results, videos of people working out, and tweets from people about going to the gym.

The more content and the more diverse the content, the better, because it means you have more to choose from and can pick the best options.

Why Is User-Generated Content Useful?

User-generated content is incredibly powerful for your marketing strategy.

First, it allows you to reach more potential customers. If you only have 100 followers, then your potential reach is 100. However, if one of your followers posts about your brand and they have 300 followers, then their potential reach is 300 – meaning the number of people who could engage with your brand just tripled.

Next, user-generated content takes the burden of content creation off of you. Instead of creating content for every day, you can share user-created content and thank your fans for being so loyal. This prevents burnout for your social team.

Finally, the content itself is valuable. User-generated content sees a 28% higher engagement rate than standard brand posts. Plus, 84% of millennials say user content about a brand at least somewhat influences what they buy. You can reach more people and increase the odds that prospective buyers will make a purchase.

How Can You Get Customers to Create and Share Content?

User-generated content can be intimidating for business owners who don’t have a large social media presence. Getting started with content can take some work, but once your audience sees  the benefits of participating and shares their love of your brand, you can develop a steady stream of user-generated posts each month.

Here are a few common ways that companies encourage customers to post:

  • Respond to customers who leave reviews and posts. This lets people know that you are listening.
  • Hold contests to see who can share the most creative post or best caption each month. Reward the winner with a prize.
  • Tag fans when you share their content. This boosts their profile for pages like Twitter or Instagram and encourages more people to tag you in order to get noticed.
  • Ask people to write recommendations and testimonials. Even if people are simply emailing you their stories, you can share their recommendations with the rest of your fans.
  • Let people know that you are social. Include your social media handles on signs in your store so people can easily find you.

Getting customers to share content will take effort. However, this investment can pay off within a few weeks or months of promoting your brand and highlighting fans who enjoy talking you up.

How to Promote Your Brand With User-Generated Content

Oftentimes, getting the actual content is the hardest part of promoting your brand with the help of your customers. However, it does help to maximize your marketing efforts with the valuable user-generated resources that you have. You can promote your content by:

  • Creating a “fan of the week” post where you feature content from a particular follower.
  • Uploading testimonials and customer reviews to your website pages so potential customers can move deeper into the sales funnel.
  • Responding to comments and posts so your fans know how much you appreciate them.
  • Curating photos from events that you have to promote future events and upcoming opportunities.
  • Setting up a brand-specific hashtag that customers can use to tag you when they want to be featured.
  • Recommending fans to your followers to boost their engagement and follower rates. Helping others is a great way to help yourself.
  • Feature user-generated content in your store as well as online by showcasing content on digital signage and video walls.
  • Thanking your fans publicly for all of their love to show that you notice their posts even if they aren’t featured.

You will quickly build up a following of people who post regularly about your brand and share their experiences in your store of business.

Learn More About Customer Engagement With Spectrio

Collecting and sharing user-generated content is a way to boost customer experience. You can reward and thank customers for creating content (which builds brand loyalty) while inviting new customers to become part of your brand.

If you want to learn more about improving customer experience even more – check out our free ebook on exceptional customer experiences. Download The Ultimate Guide to In-Store Marketing today and see how your brand stacks up.