Leverage User-Generated Content: 4 Tips For Small Business Owners

What's the easiest way to reach new customers? 

Use the positive reviews of your loyal customers.

Repurposing user-generated content to conquer your marketing goals is one of the most effective ways to tap into a new audience. 

In today's article, we'll talk about the whys and the hows of user-generated content for small businesses. It can be a challenge to build an audience that will sell for you, but it's worth a while. 

Let's start by answering a simple question.

What is User-Generated Content? 

Simply put, user-generated content is any content that your customers create. Whether that's a social media post, a video, or a blog post, it doesn't make much of a difference as long as it's published by your customers who haven't been paid to do it. 

Usually, these people have enjoyed using your product and want to share that positive experience with their followers. 

It's no surprise that more people trust the user-generated content rather than the content created by your marketing team. For example, the latest Nielsen report on the Global Trust in Advertising showed that 92% of customers trust their family and friends' recommendations more than any other type of recommendation. Additionally, user-generated YouTube videos are viewed ten times more than the official brand videos.

Naturally, brands have been using this strategy for a while now, and the results are astonishing. 

Let's take Coca-Cola as an example. In 2016, Coca-Cola launched a "Share a Coke" campaign, initially known as Project Connect. The idea behind the campaign was to print the user's name on a bottle of Coke. What started as a small campaign in Australia turned out to be one of the most successful user-generated campaigns ever. 

Customers were smitten by the campaign. They shared images of their names everywhere. At the time, Instagram had only 10 million users, but the campaign turned out to be successful either way. Coca-Cola managed to sell more than 150 million personalized bottles! 

This is only one example of a great user-generated campaign, but it's enough to show you the effectiveness of original content created by your loyal customers. 

Here's what you as a small business owner can do to achieve the same success and results with a user-generated campaign: 

1. Define your user-generated campaign goals 

Like any other marketing activity, you need to start with your goals - why are you doing this, what are you trying to achieve? You need to sit down with your marketing team, discuss the objectives, brainstorm ideas, and define the precise goals of the campaign. 

It might seem that a user-generated strategy is a bit more informal, but you need to know your goals to see where you are headed. Some of the most common user-generated goals are: increased brand awareness, increased brand engagement, higher conversion rates, improved brand trust, etc. Each of these goals may positively impact your brand, but the important thing is to define it. 

2. Choose your preferred social media network

It's a general rule of thumb that you don't have to be present on every social media platform, just on the ones where your audience is at. However, you shouldn't exclude the possibility of potentially shifting from one platform to another. 

Here's how you can determine which social network works the best for your business: 

  • Facebook is great for sharing video content;
  • Although with a limited number of characters, Twitter is an excellent platform for image sharing and writing threads; 
  • Instagram is the God of all social media networks. It's great for images, videos, reels, and you can leverage the hashtags on Instagram;
  • If you want to connect with your audience in an authentic, more extravagant, and funny way, TikTok is your best choice;
  • LinkedIn is the place to be for building professional connections; 

As you already know, each social network has its pros and cons. That's why it's crucial to do proper market research and discover where your targeted audience hangs out in the online world. 

3. Communicate and collaborate with your audience 

Incorporating a user-generated strategy into your marketing activities means only one thing: communication with your audience. 

First, you should practice clear communication regarding what exactly you need from your audience and what type of content you would like for them to create and share on their social media accounts. Nearly 50% of consumers think it would be easier for both sides if brand managers and social media experts tell the users what type of content they need and want from the customers. 

For some brands and companies, sharing an image or a video on social media comes naturally to the users. GoPro is one such example. But, for most brands, it can be pretty challenging for the users to participate in the word-of-mouth campaign. 

If that's the case with your brand, you should create a campaign exclusively for the UGC rules. 

There are many ways that you can encourage your users to share their experiences and opinions about your product and service online: by asking, writing an email, offering a reward or a discount, etc. 

However, never fail to ask for permission before sharing the content on your business profile. While we're here, you need to distinguish the terms reposting and sharing clearly. Re-posting is taking someone else's content and sharing it as your business post. Sharing is the process of using a built-in feature - like Retweet on Twitter, Share on Facebook, etc. 

Asking before sharing your users content can be beneficial for many reasons:

  • You're showing that you've taken the time to find suitable content for your brand;
  • You're showing that you care about the user's rights on social media platforms;
  • You're showing that you value their opinion;
  • You're setting the foundation for a stable relationship;
  • You're setting high standards for yourself as a business owner and for your business. 

You don't want to build a negative reputation by stealing your users' content, and that's why clear communication and kindness go a long way. 

4. Analyze and measure your user-generated content

At last, you need to know the numbers behind the images and the videos. While working on user-generated content and building an entire strategy can be extremely interesting, you need to know its actual effects to plan future activities. 

This is why it's crucial to define clear objectives at the beginning of this entire process - you'll have something to compare your results and metrics against. You can use the same approach to measure the influencers' performance because the metrics are the same. 

Or you can use social listening tools to discover the effect of your campaign on your potential customers. 

Building a user-generated content strategy can be challenging, but also, it's so much fun! You'll be able to see your products and services from your customer's perspective, and you can turn that into your social media strategy. If you need experts to help you build a lasting UGC, you can always find a professional on our Marketplace Brybe for affordable prices too!