You’ve probably seen tons of brands on Instagram that share photos submitted to them by their customers. That’s called user-generated content and it’s an effective form of social proof. User-generated content (UGC) is any type of content like photos, tweets, blog posts, videos, and so on, that’s been posted by users on social media.

So, why is UGC so effective? Because instead of your business promoting itself, your happy customers are doing it for you. When users on social media see that their peers are purchasing a particular product, they’ll be more likely to buy it too. In fact, according to statistics, 59% of users use social media as buying inspiration. User-generated content is a powerful way to promote your brand online and generate sales.

Now that you know why UGC is so awesome, check out these 5 ways to collect user-generated content.

1. Create a branded hashtag.

One of the most popular ways to collect user-generated content is by creating a branded hashtag. A hashtag that’s specifically created for collecting user-generated content makes it easy for you to categorize your content, boost engagement, and widen your reach.

Make sure your branded hashtag is memorable and easy for your customers to spell. Then, encourage your customers to share their photos on social media using the hashtag.

For example, Wayfair created #WayfairAtHome so that their customers could share how they decorated their homes with Wayfair products.

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This lets their customers show off their interior design skills and at the same time, lets Wayfair promote their products. They even added a link in their bio so that their Instagram followers can purchase the item too.

As you can see, a branded hashtag will help you collect UGC and promote your business at the same time.

2. Run a photo contest.

Another fun way to collect user-generated content is by running a photo contest. Running any type of online contest is a great way to drive traffic to your site, grow your social media following, boost your engagement, and more. But a photo contest will help you accomplish all of that plus let you collect a ton of UGC.

One of the most famous examples of a photo contest is Starbucks’ White Cup Contest, where people had to submit a photo of their Starbucks cup design to enter. This contest provided Starbucks with loads of user-generated content.

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Using an online giveaway tool you can easily create a contest where people have to submit their photos to enter. People will rush to submit a photo for a chance to win a cool prize.

3. Encourage photos in product reviews.

Online reviews are important. They give your customers a chance to voice their opinions and your business can use that feedback to improve your customer service. But, you can also use online reviews to collect user-generated content by encouraging your customers to add photos in their reviews.

For instance, the online retailer ModCloth, encourages their customers to share photos of themselves wearing the clothing they purchased. This lets other shoppers see what the product looks like in real life and gives ModCloth tons of UGC.

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If you’re running your website on WordPress and WooCommerce, you can use a plugin like YITH WooCommerce Advanced Reviews. This plugin lets users attach images to product reviews so you can easily collect user-generated content.

4. Show off your UGC.

You can also collect user-generated content by simply showing off the UGC you already have.

For instance, when you do get user-generated content, share it on social media and tag the user that submitted it, like in the example below from the jewelry company Secret Wood.

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When your followers see that you share your customers’ photos, they’ll be encouraged to create their own UGC for a chance to be featured on your social media profile. It’s a win-win for both you and your customers.

5. Just ask.

By far, the easiest way to collect user-generated content from your customers is to just ask them! Most of your happy customers would be more than willing to take a quick photo for you if you ask nicely.

So, find a way to ask your customers to create user-generated content. You could create an email marketing campaign, create posts for social media, or add the request somewhere on your website.

You could even create printed material like a postcard that gets added to your customers’ orders, like a lot of subscription box services do. That way, when a customer opens their package, they see the card asking them to take a quick photo and post it on social media right away.

Over to you.

Collecting a bunch of user-generated content may take time, but it’s not difficult. With these tips, your business will be swimming in powerful UGC that you can use in your marketing.

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