The hottest thing in social media marketing right now is influencer-generated content. This is because people are much more likely to trust a person’s word than that of the brand itself. While every brand is going to say their product is awesome, hearing it from that girl you follow on Instagram who’s actually using it (or pretending to) is much more believable.

Marketing is all about infiltrating people’s minds on both a conscious and sub-conscious level. For this to happen, your brand needs to be seen. To do this, it’s critical for brands to put out new content often and to hit them from all directions. Realistically, though, creating that much content on a consistent basis can sometimes be difficult to maintain. This is where influencer (or user) generated content comes in.

User-generated content (UGC) is when consumers create their own content highlighting a brand that they then post to their personal social media feeds. They do this either because they really like the brand and want to share it with their followers or because they’re being paid to promote the product in a natural, holistic way. In both cases, UGC turns out some pretty unique content that the brand wouldn’t have come up with themselves.

The following are 4 strategies that brands can use to encourage their followers to create branded content.

Photo Ops

You know those stupid stand-in photo installations with the holes cut out for your face? They NEVER make for an attractive photo and yet people still run to them. Every time. This is because people love a good photo op- even if it makes them look ridiculous.

A great way to get people to post about your event is to have a branded media wall or installation.  Something as simple as a wall made of flowers or one that’s covered in awesome graffiti (think Wynwood Walls) will have people lining up to get their shot in front of it. Have you ever known someone to go to a cool event and not document it? No. People will take every opportunity they get to show their followers that they have lives. They need you to know they were there even if it means missing the entire event taking photos.

Offering attendees as many photo opportunities as possible will snowball into posts, likes, tags and shares on social media. The more spots to take cool photos, the better. Just remember to brand the heck out of it.

Share, Tag, and Feature

Another easy way to encourage your followers to create UGC is to feature them on your page. Having them tag your product not only extends your reach but creates micro-influencers for your brand. By featuring them on your page in return, you’re forming a personal connection and making them feel like a special part of your online community.

Initiating this strategy can be done by including a call-to-action on their receipt/packaging or including it in your social media posts. A clothing brand may ask their followers to “Show us your style” while a food brand may ask them to “Share your meal with us”.

Community Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to promote and track your brand and the performance of its campaigns. Asking people to use a community hashtag will encourage users to identify your brand and contribute to your social media marketing.

A great example of using community hashtags is the uber-popular clothing brand, Revolve. With millions of followers, Revolve entices consumers to hashtag #myrevolve when wearing their product in return for featuring the good ones on their brand’s Instagram and website.

Competitions

Holding competitions is a great way to get followers engaged and posting about your brand. The best contests to get people involved are ones that offer a prize for the most creative post. Giving out a product, service, or experience can cost little to nothing for the brand and the ROI can be huge.

With tons of people posting content about your brand, not only are you getting awesome material that you can re-post, you’re gaining visibility. Your brand’s reach will be extended from just your followers to theirs too.

 

Getting your followers to post content featuring your brand is like creating your own little army of online marketers. Any brand not employing this strategy is missing a huge opportunity. It’s easy, fast, and cheap- and those are the best kinds of things.