Have you considered collaborating with your fans?

Do you know how to create a user-generated content campaign?

When you include fans, you not only increase brand awareness, but you also collect great content that can be repurposed to achieve other business goals.

In this article, you’ll discover how to run a successful user-generated content campaign for your business in seven steps.

Why Fan Content?

Social media and smartphones have made it easy for customers to create high-quality content and distribute it to their personal networks. In many ways, social sharing has become modern-day word-of-mouth marketing. Every time customers share a photo of your products or services, your brand receives a mark of social validation. These posts serve as online endorsements that are interpreted as objective and authentic.

Contests and campaigns are among the most effective ways to encourage fans to post photos and videos about your brand. Why? Interactive social campaigns give your customers an explicit reason to upload and share great content with their social followings. In turn, their followers will engage with this content and your brand’s organic reach will grow.

Here’s how to run a social campaign to generate great fan content for your brand.

#1: Find or Create an Evergreen Hashtag

To track the content that your customers will post online, you need to create an evergreen hashtag that represents your brand as a whole. It can be anything from #yourbrandname (#Nike, for example) to #missionstatement (#JustDoIt). Even if you haven’t promoted a brand hashtag, your customers may have created one for you.

Once you’ve created or identified your hashtag, make sure that it’s highly visible. Display it in your social posts, in your email signatures, on package inserts and on your website. The goal is to make it easy for customers to discover your hashtag and interact with your brand.

#2: Map Campaign Goals to Business Goals

After you’ve established your evergreen hashtag, outline what you want your social campaign to accomplish. Why are you asking customers to post and share photos of your products or services online?

The goal of your campaign can be anything. Decide whether you want to increase followers on Instagram, generate more leads, increase sales or simply collect more usable content for your brand. What’s important is to find your focus and identify how your social campaign will help you achieve your business goals.

#3: Choose Social Networks

Now that you’ve laid the foundation for your campaign, you need to decide which social platforms to use for conducting your collection and outreach. Remember that the channels you choose should reflect your target audience. The best place to reach potential customers is on the platforms that they’re already active on.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s a breakdown of the demographics for each social network.
Demographics-of-Key-Social-Media-platforms

#4: Reward Loyal Customers

Offering prizes, free product samples, discounts or even public recognition is a great way to boost participation in your campaign. These are all strong incentives to get your customers posting.

To spark conversation around your social campaign online, it’s important to recognize your most loyal customers. Thank them for being brand advocates and delight them with prizes and discounts. If you don’t have the resources to offer financial rewards, consider validating your customers as social influencers by displaying their high-quality photos on your website.

#5: Display Collected Content

Once you’ve collected a pool of customer content, put it to use. Fans love being recognized by the brands they support.

Select the highest-quality and most on-brand content to use on your marketing channels. It should be displayed both online (digital ads, email marketing, product pages, etc.) and offline (live displays, packaging, etc.). An efficient and effective way to generate more content and conversation around your products and brand is to highlight customer photos on your website or repost it on your own social channels.

#6: Engage With Campaign Participants

As the online buzz around your brand starts building, it’s essential to engage with your campaign participants. This means you should like and comment on the content that your customers post. When customers see you engaging with real people, it helps to validate your social presence and humanize your brand.

Take this opportunity to ask for photo permission rights and create a first touch point with your most loyal customers. Reaching out to them directly on social media is the best way to begin the collaboration process.

#7: Measure and Analyze Campaign Results

As you wrap up your campaign, assess the progress you made on your original goals. Expect to measure both quantitative and qualitative results.

By analyzing your campaign’s submissions, you may uncover surprising new information, such as how your customers are using your products post-purchase, realizations about your target audience demographic, and so forth. Take all of these insights into account as you begin to prepare for your next social media campaign.

Conclusion

To increase organic shares on social media and stand out in your followers’ news feeds, you’ll need to create lots of original and compelling content. But it doesn’t have to take endless time and resources.

You have millions of people at your fingertips who are already posting and sharing photos about the places, products and brands they love. Collaborating with customers to create on-brand content helps improve brand awareness, organic reach, and website traffic.

After you’ve collected fan content, there are endless possibilities for how to use it to improve your marketing. Whether you want to place customer photos in Instagram display ads to avoid ad fatigue or display them on product detail pages to give an authentic view of your products, the options are limitless.

This article was originally published on Social Media Examiner.