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5 User-Generated Content Mistakes to Avoid

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You’ve probably heard the words user-generated content a lot over the past few months if you follow any marketing companies on Facebook, or regularly keep up to date with social news. The new initiative for brands is to get users to generate their own content that brands can then use on their own social channels – for an easy and simple way to improve a company’s visibility, traffic, authenticity and ultimately drive sales. But how do you do it correctly?

We’ve got five of the most common mistakes here, so that you can learn to avoid these in your next – or your first – user generated content campaign.

What permission?
The first and probably biggest mistake we see regularly is that brands think that they can publish user content without their permission. Whilst the user-generated content is created voluntarily and can be submitted to your page voluntarily, you should always detail your contribution and distribution rights in your campaign terms and conditions, and also keep up to date with the terms and conditions of the publishing platforms that you are using.

Make sure that if you are asking users to upload content, that you ask for their permission to re-use it, and that you make it clear that all content created and shared on social media as part of the user generated content campaign, or as something that falls into a stream using a particularly defined hashtag, may be used in other marketing tactics and channels – not necessarily just social.
By defining these terms for your audience, you’ll immediately generate trust with the users submitting their content, and you will ensure that you will not end up with any tricky customer complaints after revealing any campaigns that do use the user generated content.

Ignoring the conversation
Apart from publishing without the user’s permission, this is perhaps the second most important mistake to avoid. You cannot ignore your customers when they are engaging with you through their generated content – you need to engage with them, thank them for their imagery, and provide them with positive feedback on it. They should have some type of reward for submitting, even if it’s just a like from your brand.

Not only will conversing with your customers drive engagement and increase customer loyalty, it will also make them feel better about submitting their content to you for your use and keep them coming back for future campaigns too.

Once & done
If you’re running a user generated content campaign, it’s probable that your team have put a lot of time and a lot of effort into generating that content. So why waste it? We see plenty of brands make this mistake and only use the content once. You should be repurposing your user generated content for other marketing channels, taking the best ones and running with them. After all, you’ve spent the time and the effort generating that content so you need to be extracting the most value from it possible.

A simple way to ensure you use your customer content more than once is to compile a list of those that drove the most engagement, save them in a folder, and take a look at them when you’re in the planning stages for new campaigns to see where they could fit in.

Represent your audience’s creativity
As with anything on social, your user generated content needs to be relatable, true to brand and interesting and engaging for your audience. You must ensure with your user generated campaign that you include an assortment of photos, reviews, videos, questions and more – showing the diversity of your audience and product and not just a snapshot of a few that you like as a brand.

You need to be highlighting the creative entries, even if they provide a different angle to how you would like your product to be used and engaged with. It will be these that generate interest and provide your potential customers with a broad spectrum of information to be able to base their purchase decision on.

Appeal to your audience
As with anything on social, your user generated content campaign needs to work for your audience or there’s absolutely no point doing it. The campaign needs to relate to your brand identity and attract the attention of current and future customers. If your campaign isn’t in line with your brand, your customers will not relate and your participation will be low.

You’ve just got to really think about your audience and learn how to ask the right people, for the right content, in the right way. Think of what makes people love your product – design, taste, experience perhaps – and create your campaign based around that passion and interest.

Follow Shauna Madden:

Shauna is the Head of Content for Social Heroes. She has spent several years spearheading PR campaigns for giant companies in the North of the UK with incredible results.