User-generated content, or UGC, is exactly what it sounds like: content generated by customers about a brand. UGC is usually thought of as social media photos and/or videos, but product reviews, blogs, and content on other forms of media count, too.
Why should you care about UGC? Think about it: it’s content already created about your products or services and then shared online. Your company doesn’t have to use your own resources to create that content in-house.
UGC also boosts your brand’s visibility in an organic way; rather than pushing products or services through your own marketing tactics, customers influence other customers. Because one consumer has nothing to gain from sharing positive feedback about your brand (unless they’re an influencer), another consumer is probably more apt to trust what they have to say.
It’s social proof at its finest. If other people are talking about your brand or engaging with it, that must be the “right” thing to do. Social proof affects buying decisions big-time. When you have UGC generating positive word-of-mouth for you, it benefits your brand.
So, how can you take advantage of user-generated content… and how can you encourage your audience to create it? Consider running a social media contest for your brand.
Plan your contest in advance
Before you jump headfirst into running a social media contest, you have to plan ahead. Here are some things to consider before the contest begins:
What do you hope to achieve through this contest? Do you want more followers? More likes for your Facebook page? Better engagement? More visibility to potential new followers?
Decide what your contest winner will win. Maybe you can give away a free product or service from your company, a good discount, a gift card, or in-demand items like electronics or event tickets. Be sure that your prize makes sense for your brand and your contest goals.
We’ll get into platform-specific contest rules in a second, but overall you’ll want to decide what social media channel you’ll use to host the contest, how users will submit a contest entry, how long the contest will be open, and how you’ll pick a winner.
Running the contest
Make sure you have the resources to collect your submissions, whether it’s a tool, app, or someone on your in-house team monitoring the contest. Consider how time-intensive the submissions will be; for example, a video will take longer for users to create than a quick photo. That will help you decide how long to let the contest run.
Tagging and hashtags
Users can tag their contest submissions either by tagging your brand’s account, using a unique hashtag that your brand creates, or both. Check that your hashtag isn’t widely used for something else to make it easier to collect submissions.
Hosting a contest on Instagram or Facebook
Now that you have the basics of planning a social media contest, let’s look at how you might host one on Instagram or Facebook. Instagram is a visual-heavy social media platform where users can post photos, videos, and Instagram stories. Facebook is much the same, with the ability to link to UGC content much easier. Depending on your audience and which platform they’re most active on, you’ll want to take advantage of that with your contest. It’s possible to use both platforms for a contest, so make it clear if you choose that route.
Where to get started
First, create an Instagram or Facebook post announcing your contest and explaining the rules. Be concise and brief so your followers will know exactly how to enter and what they can win. Basic giveaway rules often ask contest participants to like the post, follow your social media account, and tag another user. That boosts your follower count, engagement, and visibility with other users. It can also spread the word about your contest. Note: this is especially effective on Instagram.
From there, you can get creative with how users participate in your contest. For extra chances to win, they might:
- tag multiple friends
- answer a question in the comments
- share your post in their stories
- repost your post on their feed
- create their own post and tag your account with a @mention or hashtag
You can even set up opportunities for extra entries off of social media. For even more chances to win, you might ask participants to sign up for your email newsletter, make a purchase on your site, follow your blog, follow your brand’s other social media accounts.
Whatever you decide, don’t forget to include this important contest information in your post:
- What the prize is
- How to enter
- When the contest begins and ends
- Any terms and conditions they must agree to
- How a winner will be picked; e.g., will it be random or will their entries be judged?
Managing your contest
You’re also going to need tools that will get your contest up and running, especially if you expect to have thousands and thousands of entrants. Here are a couple of contest tools that can launch your giveaway, keep it organized, and help you pick a winner.
Rafflecopter is a popular tool, probably because of its simplicity and familiarity with contestants. Rafflecopter can also be integrated with Facebook, so Facebook users simply have to be logged in to their account in order to win.
Gleam is a slightly more robust app than Rafflecopter thanks to its features. Gleam tracks entrants to verify if they complete certain actions for your giveaway. You can also customize which platforms you want to use for entries.
Random number generator
If you have a small budget and a low number of entries, you can get away with using Google’s random number generator tool to pick a random winner. As the contest goes on, you can check in periodically to count valid entries and add them to a spreadsheet. When the entry period ends, plug the total number of entries into a free number generator. The tool will then provide a random number, which you can find on your spreadsheet and deem the winner.
Ending your contest — and announcing a winner
Last but not least, let’s talk about how you end your contest and announce a winner. How you announce the winner on your social media platform is up to you. You might:
- Edit the caption of your giveaway post to say “giveaway closed: congrats to [@winner]!”.
- Announce it in a comment within the post
- Announce the winner in a Facebook Live or an Instagram Story to get followers to watch those feeds
Whichever you decide, remember to edit your giveaway post to thank your followers and state that it has ended. You can also archive the post itself so it doesn’t show up on your feed. That way you don’t have users entering long after the giveaway is over.
Make the most of social media with UGC
Hopefully, your big takeaway from all of this is: If you’re not leaning on your users to spread the word about your brand, you’re missing out. Your customers are sharing stories about your brand every day. A social media contest will acknowledge engagement with the brand and reward followers for brand loyalty. Plus, it’ll encourage higher engagement and better brand reputation in an authentic way.
Does your social media strategy need a fresh start? A social media audit with V9 can help. Get back on track with your goals, post scheduling, industry best practices, and more. Plus, we can help you get that UGC campaign off the ground!