User generated content, or UGC, is a goldmine for social proof. As much as customers value professionally taken images and videos, those who are skeptical about making a purchase are going to seek out social proof. Social proof can come in the form of reviews, testimonies, ratings and UGC. The value of UGC is that it’s visual, and as we all know, a picture speaks a thousand words. Instead of reading about how good your clothing made someone feel or seeing a model in them, showing every day people of all shapes and sizes enjoying your brand’s outfits will be really compelling and helpful. If you sell home decor, seeing how other customer’s creatively utilize your products will spark inspiration and even a little envy, pushing towards a purchase. Whether you’re selling a product or service, customer produced images and videos are a priceless asset. So how do you gather them? Here are 4 ideas to start! 

Have A Signature Hashtag 

Having a hashtag associated with your brand is a great way to encourage your followers to post about you products and creates an easily searchable catalogue of social proof, accessible to anyone online. When creating a hashtag for your brand it’s important to first check that it is not already being used. You can type the hashtag into the search section of Instagram to make sure it is available and not claimed by other images. Another key in creating a hashtag for your brand is making sure it is simple, easy to type, and there is a clear correlation between your brand and the hashtag. Encouraging your followers to use the hashtag when you post your social media images will lead to a useful and ongoing library of UGC content. 

“Photo Of The Week” Feature

Another method to gather UGC is to have a “Photo of the Week” or “Photo of the Month” contest.  Depending on the size and engagement of your following, let your followers know that if they tag your brand they have the chance to be featured on your page (and credited) for having the best image of the week or month. Keeping a rotation of curated user generated images mixed in with your own branded content will keep your social media page looking authentic, creative, and full of social proof regarding how other’s use and enjoy your products. 

Giveaway Contest 

If your brand’s target demographic is known to be social media savvy, a great way to leverage that is to run a UGC giveaway contest. Let your followers know that if they post an image of your product / using your product with your brand’s hashtag they will be entered to win a prize. Explain that the “best” image will win, which will really stretch people to use their creativity and create higher quality images. The nicer the giveaway, the more entries you will receive. By giving away one item, you can have an entire library of curated, beautiful, social media content that can be used for advertisements and posts for the rest of the year!

Discount Incentive

Reviews are a huge influence during the purchasing process. If your website has a review section, make sure it enables people to upload videos and images as well. A great way to grow reviews on your website is to send a follow up email after the initial sale. In this email offer the customer a discount for posting a review and an even higher discount if they post a review and an image. This small incentive will lead to a fully developed review section, as well as a library of user generated content of your products at work.