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A Guide to User-Generated Content

Published on May 3, 2018
Marketing | Content Marketing |

So you’ve heard about user-generated content, but not sure what it is or how to get started?

User-generated content can range from video, blogs, images, audio clips and more, all of which is created by consumers of a product or service. Research suggests that this type of content is one of the highest performings for increasing brand publicity, conversions and starting conversations which could lead to sales. That’s why you will find big brands like Starbucks, GoPro, Coca-Cola and many more share user-generated content on a regular basis.

If you are not currently including UGC in your marketing strategy, you could be missing out on lost opportunities to help drive more business. Let’s look at how you can find this type of content and implement it in your content strategy.

Content Menu:

  • How to find user-generated content
  • Requesting permission to use
  • Creating brand hashtags
  • Giving credit
  • Tagged content
  • Reporting on success

#1 – How to find user-generated content

Finding user-generated content isn’t as hard as you might think. There are several ways you can discover this type of content – manually and with the use of automation.

The majority of the time, consumers that enjoy your product and want to show it off to their friends and family will usually mention your Instagram account or brand name in their caption. Some will tend to utilise Instagram’s tag feature and tag your social profiles too.

This is the easiest way to gather user-generated content. However, not everyone will do that. Some users may decide to tag a location they are at, for example, if you own a hotel, your guests could share their favourite photos taken at your property and then tag the location on Instagram or Facebook.

We're loving this view #RightHere @hiltonvenice ?: @alyssakstevens

A post shared by Hilton Hotels & Resorts (@hiltonhotels) on

You will want to regularly check these so you can utilise the content for marketing purposes and increase social trust.

If you’re looking to discover user-generated content that doesn’t feature your products or services, you should look towards hashtags and location tagging, searching specific keywords to find top quality content.

Whilst a lot of users share their content on platforms like Instagram, it’s important to not forget about other social and video channels such as YouTube where users may record reviews and other pieces of content.

#2 – Requesting permission to use

Believe it or not, there was previously a statement in the Instagram terms of service that stated sharing content other than your own was against the platform’s TOS. This meant that reposting other people’s content on your own account was a violation. However, Instagram has updated their TOS now.

The update states you are responsible for any content you post on Instagram. This means if you don’t own the content you share, you’re responsible for making sure you have appropriate permission to utilise the content.

Providing you have permission, then all is good!

If you don’t have permission but want to reshare other people’s content, the best advice would be to ask the original author of the content directly.

This can be achieved effectively with a simple direct message to the content creator. Below is an example of when another Instagram account, direct messaged me asking if they could reshare one of my pictures and provide them with a tip about the location, in exchange for crediting me and sharing to their 23,000 followers.

#3 – Creating brand hashtags

Creating branded hashtags that encourage your audience to share their content and get featured is one of the best ways to increase publicity and receive more content to fill your Instagram and other social profiles.

GoPro along with ASOS do this very well. They mention in their bio what hashtag to use to get featured. This is a great strategy as you will have all the user-generated content in one place and can then go through choosing which to reshare.

By doing this, you’re also telling them they will agree to give you permission to re-share their content on your account. Whilst it’s not completely written, they have partially given you permission.

#4 – Giving credit

Everytime you repost another person’s piece of content, you should always give them credit. It’s the right thing to do and will allow keep you on good terms with those that tag you in the content.

Depending on how you repost the content you may need to add the credit yourself. For example, there are two ways to re-post someone’s content.

  1. Screenshot and upload
  2. Use an app

Both do the same thing, however, with the first option you’ll need to re-add the caption or write your own and tag the original content creator manually.

The second option, using an app will automatically copy over the caption too, so you should be fine to go ahead and share right away – although it’s always good to double check you are giving them credit!

Below is an example of when Hard Rock Hotel Bali reposted my image using an app, crediting my account both in the caption and image.

A simple line like the below will be enough to credit them.

Credit: @usernamehere /  ?  @usernamehere

#5 – Tagged content

Sometimes content creators will tag the brand’s account in their post, there are advantages of this. First of all, the brand will get notified about being tagged and it usually stands out more obvious than being mentioned in a comment/caption.

Secondly, the audience of the brand’s account may decide to look at who’s tagged them in posts and browse the content, which gives the content creators more visibility and potentially attract a few new followers.

When tagging a brand in the content, they may see this as being able to utilise the content for their own account, however, it’s still recommended to get permission, just to be on the safe side.

#6 – Reporting on success

When it comes to reporting on the user-generated content you’ve used, you should consider the following; Impressions, Reach, Follows, Comments and Bookmarks. If you have set-up a contact email, added a website and other contact methods, you’ll also see some of the actions taken on your profile from the particular post.

The above will help you identify what content has performed best, giving you an idea of what your audience would like to see. Using this to your advantage, you’ll be able to grow your account fairly quickly and increase your reach, growth and potentially a rise in sales.

I would recommend using a spreadsheet or your favourite tool to document how the content performs. This will give you a quick overview rather than looking at each piece of content over and over.

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