To create engaging and effective content on social media, it takes lots of coordination, creativity, and time. When you’re a small organization, it can be difficult to have enough of all three of those ingredients to go around⁠— so borrow some from your fans!

Just like when you call on a neighbor to get that extra cup of sugar for your baking needs, you can do the same for your social media needs! In the marketing world, this is called user-generated content (UGC). By definition it is simply content created and posted by users online. However, in practice, it is content that is authentic and interesting that your company can share with less energy and focus devoted to the task.

When you’re a small company, results matter much more than the time and effort put into the task.

Creating a campaign to collect user-generated content doesn’t just save you time though. It shows that your brand keeps open lines of communication with followers and develops are an opportunity to collaborate with your most loyal supporters. Recommendations are also the most effective technique for marketing. People trust what their friends trust! Each person who shares positive content about your brand will not only provide you with quick content but also pitch to their friends your products and services.

Sold on user-generated content yet? Here are a few steps to start putting this technique into practice!

Create buy-in from your biggest fans.
Brainstorm a list of your best customers and reach out to them to see if they will participate. If you already have an active following on social media, just message them on the platform. If your social pages need some help, reach out to them in a way in which you frequently communicate like in-person, over the phone, or through email.

This strategy works well for fundraising campaigns like on Giving Tuesday! If you have a few key volunteers or donors ready to share your content and endorse your mission, it is more likely others will participate.

Develop a clear campaign.
Create a very direct call to action for your followers through event participation, hashtags, donations, recommendations, or contests. Think about the content that would most help your organization and align your plan around the easiest way for participants to send you that content. For example, if you want better reviews on google, send an email and hand out flyers with a direct link for someone to leave a review. If you want great photos, create a hashtag on Instagram.

A key tip for campaign success is to promote your social media campaign outside of social media. Especially if you don’t already have a strong following!

You should also make sure that the content you are asking people to share is something that is simple and can promote themselves positively. If your product or service helps people with a sensitive issue, try to reframe in a way that makes your customers feel comfortable.

Ask for permission.
It is a simple task, but can easily be overlooked, to get the okay from your fans. Create a simple statement to send to people that compliments their content, asks for permission to share the content, and explains how the content will be shared (website, social media, marketing materials, etc.)

This is your opportunity to also engage with people who believe in your brand and find out a little more about how your product or service benefits them.

If you’re short on time and creativity, we recommend switching your focus to user-generated content! This strategy will not only save you some time but provide you with great content.

Submitted by Maura Warner, Marketing Manager