How to Run an Effective User-Generated Content Campaign on Social Media

Whether or not you’re familiar with the term “user-generated content”, odds are you’ve seen some form of UGC on social media. User-generated content is exactly what its name suggests — content created by other users around a specific topic. When one of your followers takes a photo of your brand or product and uploads it to social media, they’re created user-generated content for your brand. Great, right? Well, potentially. The most important considerations here are how much control your brand has over the creation of this content, whether your brand is utilizing UGC to its fullest potential and what, if any, systems you have in place to track this type of content.

So how can brands answer these questions and effectively leverage user-generated content? By hosting their own UGC campaign on social media. Whether you’ve never even heard of a UGC campaign or you’re a seasoned pro, the below tips will guide you in strategizing, implementing and tracking your most effective user-generated content campaign on social media.

Common Pitfalls of UGC

Before we dive, let’s talk about some common pitfalls we see across the board from brands looking to host a UGC campaign.

1. Brands don’t consider tracking ahead of time — Hosting a social campaign is exciting. From strategizing to content creation and influencer partnerships, it’s easy to let details like analytics tracking fall to the wayside. If there is one piece of advice you walk away with, please let it be this. Tracking is crucial to measuring the effectiveness of any social campaign, and if you don’t work out the details ahead of time, UGC campaigns can be particularly nightmarish to track after the fact. Of course, there are a number of ways to track content and engagement, whether it’s through a campaign hashtag or a third-party platform like Woobox or Heyo. Whichever route you choose, work out the details before you launch to avoid a mess down the road.

2. Hashtags aren’t branded — If you do choose to take the hashtag route, great! Inviting your audience to create content around a specific hashtag is a simple way to generate content. Choosing your hashtag is not so simple. Depending on the success of the campaign, this hashtag could become a key branding aspect for your business. If it’s not recognizable as belonging to your brand, you’re missing a huge opportunity and you run the risk of collecting content that has zero to do with your brand under this umbrella hashtag. Your hashtag should be short, very clearly related to your brand and easy to remember.

3. The incentive for participation is weak — While your audience may be active on social media regularly, asking them to create content related to your brand and share that content with their followers is a big ask. Make sure that the incentive to do so is compelling. A $5 gift card for one winner won’t cut it. Get creative! Partner with other like-minded brands for a giveaway package, or cater lunch for the winner’s entire office. Wherever possible, offer incentive beyond the product or service you’re selling.

5 Tips to Create a Successful UGC Campaign

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about strategies you can implement to create an effective UGC campaign for your brand.

1. Don’t be boring — Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many brands fall back on the same old tactics. Don’t ask your audience to take a picture holding your product and post it to social media. That’s lame. Instead, pull at their heartstrings or appeal to their interests. Make it exciting for them to create content for your brand. Ask your audience to share an experience, invent something new using your product as a base, share their favorite hacks using your product. The sky is the limit, so don’t put yourself, and your audience, in a box.

2. Email-gate submissions — This isn’t absolutely necessary, but email-gating your contest using a platform like Woobox is a great way to build your email list and remarket to your audience down the road. You might also consider a Facebook like gate or Instagram follow gate, depending on the goals of your campaign. Keep in mind, though, that the stronger the barriers to entry, the less participation you may see, so think hard about what your objectives are with your campaign before adding barriers to entry.

3. Allow submissions in a variety of formats — Like we mentioned before, don’t put your audience in a box. Open up your campaign to a variety of submission formats so participants are free to stretch their creative muscles in a format that speaks to them.

4. Promote the campaign strategically — Promoting your UGC campaign will be key to its success. One great tactic for organic promotion is to enable “voting” on submissions. This will incentivize participants to share their content with their followers to encourage votes, effectively marketing the campaign for you. Make sure you also take advantage of promotional opportunities beyond social media, like in-store signage and upcoming events. Of course, it never hurts to put some advertising money behind your campaign, as long as you target effectively and advertise on the appropriate platforms.

5. Pick a timeline before you launch — Decide if and when your campaign will end before you launch, so that you can clearly relay this information to your audience. Some brands choose to run on-going campaigns with a more “evergreen” strategy, while others run timely campaigns with a sense of urgency for participation. Both concepts can work, as long as you’re strategic about which you choose.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to launching an effective UGC campaign that fulfills your business objectives and increases your bottom line. Have questions or want to throw ideas around about an upcoming campaign? Shoot me an email and let’s chat —

Taylor Rohwedder

WIMZE Digital Helping brands connect, communicate, and inspire.
WIMZE Digital provides full-suite digital marketing services to help businesses grow their audiences and interact authentically in the digital space.