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User-Generated Content: What It Is, Where To Find It, & How To Use It To Get Free Advertising

User-generated content, or UGC, has become a crucial part of social media marketing in recent years. Not only does it help to create a strong relationship between brands and consumers, it also provides businesses with great content to share and helps foster organic word-of-mouth advertising.

Since it’s crucial for businesses to know how to collect and use this data in a way that supports this relationship while also benefiting their business, we’ve created a how-to list to help you understand UGC, all of its benefits, and most importantly – how to get it.

What is user-generated content?

User-generated content refers to any photo, video, review, comment, and more that is created by the consumer of the brand rather than the business’s creation. Typically this content is shared on consumers’ social media pages in an organic fashion to tell their friends and followers about a visit or experience to a particular business.

What are the benefits to user-generated content?

User-generated content is a great way for businesses to get their name out there via word-of-mouth. When consumers post a product from your brand to their followers, you are receiving free advertising as a result. By reposting these, you show your consumers that you appreciate and listen to their feedback, make them feel special by spotlight their posts and experiences, establish and strengthen your B2C relationships, and foster a connection that will likely lead to them doing business again with you in the future.

Why is sharing user-generated content on your business page so important?

Reposting user-generated content to your business page is important because it showcases consumers interacting with your business and/or products, which allows potential customers to see an unedited version of what they are actually going to receive – thus creating trust in your brand.

By reposting user-generated content, not only does your business gain free and unique content to share but you also encourage your followers to share their own user-generated content to their pages, which can help increase social media reach and growth plus expand your word-of-mouth advertising to new audiences.

Another benefit your business can takeaway from user-generated content: consumer insights. By looking at what your audience is posting, your business can gain important insights on what is working and what is not as well as better understand your consumers and get a closer look at what your next business move should be by seeing what they are enjoying the most from you and your business.

Where can you find and collect user-generated content?

Look through your tagged pictures (profile tags, geotags, and Story tags) on all social media platforms your business is on. You can also scour through product reviews on Google, Yelp, and other review-based websites, search your name on Twitter and Facebook, and create Google alerts for mentions anytime something new is shared online that mentions your business.

How can your business encourage user-generated content?

Make it a point to repost user-generated content when you come across it in a way that is organic to you and your business’s social media pages. You can also include verbiage in your captions about how nice it feels to you as a business owner to see these posts and flat-out ask your followers to share their own experiences and tag your business when they do.

As your followers see you do this, they will begin to share their own posts and talk about your business and/or products to 1) support you and 2) in hopes of getting reposted. 

Instagram Stories are another great, simple way to easily collect and share user-generated content. When a consumer tags you in their story, simply be sure to repost their post to your business’s Story to showcase their experience that they chose to share. Pro-tip: Instagram will send you a message whenever someone tags you in a Story, however if you do not follow them these will show up in Message Requests in your inbox! Be sure to check this folder in your DMs often as Stories only last for 24 hours, and once they disappear you can not see them again.

Another way you can encourage your followers to post more pictures of your business and/or products is by creating your own hashtag for them to use. This way you can easily have all of your user-generated content in one area to see what your consumers really enjoy, and it makes it easy for others who view the hashtag to see all of your “reviews” in one place.

Lastly, try running a giveaway based on your followers sharing user-generated content. This is a fun way to incite them to share plus reward them with a fun prize from your business, which they’ll likely want to share on their own social media pages, too.

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Step Out Buffalo Business

Step Out Buffalo Business is a business focused publication featuring tips and tricks for entrepreneurs and small business people in Buffalo & Western New York. We write what we know and when we don't know, we ask an expert in the field. We've gained our knowledge through experience growing businesses in various industries.

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