There has been a big surge in user generated content in the past year. But what exactly is user generated content and how should brands use it? First things first. User generated content (sometimes referred to UGC) is published information from an unpaid contributor that is used by a website. The info can be anything – a photo, a blog, a video, or a comment made on a social media outlet. Seriously, just about anything can qualify as UGC.

So why do brands use it? The easy answer is resources. Instead of relying solely on a creative team, many brands have turned to customers to create content. Secondly, we don’t have to tell you that there is a constant battle for your audience’s attention and by asking users for content, you are creating a genuine connection.

Here are 5 tips to managing, and getting the most of user generated content:

  • First off, and most importantly, make sure that your campaign goals are aligned with your business goals. Ask yourself questions. Like, “what do you want your social campaign to accomplish?” and “why are you asking customers to share?” The best part, the goal of your campaign can be anything! Really, anything from boosting Instagram followers, to generating more leads (and everything in between). Just remember to identify your social goals and how they will help you achieve your business goals.
  • Next, choose your social network(s). This kind of goes hand-in-hand with aligning campaign goals with business goals. So, choose a channel that reflects your target audience because the best way to reach a potential customer is where they already engage.
  • Once you have engaged with your audience, share their stories. Everyone likes recognition, especially fans of brands they support. After all, they are the reason your brand is still around. However, not all content is good content, so select the highest quality, most on-brand content to promote through your marketing channels.
  • Now it is time to reward your fans. It is important to recognize your most loyal customers. Thank them for being brand advocates and use strong incentives to boost involvement such as prizes, free samples, discounts, or even featuring them in a post.
  • Finally, measure your campaign results. This is the least fun of the five tips here, but quite necessary. Assess the progress you made toward your goals. Did you reach them? Did you fall a little short? Where is there room for improvement? What worked and what didn’t? Take all your insights into account and tweak your goals where need be. This will prepare you for your next social campaign (because really it is all about trial and error).

User generated content has generated some controversy. Of course, most things don’t exist without controversy. A brand can either choose to monitor user generated content, or let users self-police it. But it is up to the brand to decide. From where we stand, it should be a little of both, but be monitored carefully so things don’t have the chance to get out of hand.

With that being said, user generated content campaigns are a great way to get people involved in the conversation. You have a number of people who are posting, sharing, and promoting your brand already! By collaborating with customers, you are creating on-brand content that boosts brand awareness, organic reach, and ultimately site traffic.