One of the smart tactics many brands are leveraging is incorporating user-generated content into its social content streams. The idea is that you take content that your customers or fans are creating, and highlight it alongside your own. It gives the content creators a platform to get more exposure for their work, plus it helps the brand in getting more content. For example, Visit North Alabama is one of my favorite accounts to follow on Instagram. They often use pictures submitted by followers in their Instagram feed, such as this beauty:
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Each month we choose someone who uses our #visitnorthal hashtag on his or her pics. This month’s winner is @lane_leopard_photography! Lane, send us a dm with your address, t-shirt size, and color preference (gray or blue). Use #visitnorthal on your north Alabama pics and you could be next month’s winner. ?#️⃣?
National Geographic has taken this idea a step further with its Your Shot community. Your Shot invites photographers to submit their photos to ‘assignments’ that are posted on the site. The assignments revolve around a particular theme, such as ‘Close Encounters’ or ‘Adventures in the City’. The submissions are reviewed by editors at National Geographic as well as the larger community on the site, and the best ones are selected to appear on the site.
When asking for customers/users/community members to submit content that you will use, there must be a clear benefit to the content creator in doing so. In this case, the benefit to National Geographic is obvious; They get a ton of gorgeous pictures submitted from talented photographers.
But what is the benefit to the photographers? Besides additional exposure for their work, these photographers also have a chance to have their work critiqued by National Geographic’s editors, as well as by the community at large:
This is invaluable advice from both the editors and the community at large. The community can comment on the work as well as select the elements of each shot that they appreciated. It can give the photographer detailed guidance on where his or her work is excelling as well as what they can improve on.
If you are going to test the user-generated content waters, make sure that the users you are appealing to have a clear incentive to share their content with you, and that there is a clear benefit to them from doing so. By agreeing to share their photos with National Geographic, the benefit these photographers get is clear, and who knows, a few spectacular shots might even land an aspiring photographer on National Geographic’s short list the next time they are hiring.
Remember, if you give your customers/users a clear benefit to share their content with you, they will be more likely to share content with you, and the content they do share will be of higher quality. The goal is to have a clear win-win for both you and your customers/users.