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What Is User Generated Content and How Is It Helpful?

Monika Jansen
user generated content

One of the small business owner’s greatest assets is their customers. The people who know and love you, buy from you and refer friends to you, engage with you on social media and read your emails are the best kinds of customers. They are also very likely (and happy) to contribute to your brand in some small way.

And that’s where user generated content comes in. Content that your customers create and share builds trust and credibility and strengthens their relationship with your brand. It can come in many shapes and sizes:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Stories
  • Poems
  • Guest blog posts
  • Curated products or gift guides
  • Product or service names
  • Mascot names

The list goes on. So, how do you encourage user generated content? Let’s take a look at some fun ideas:

Hold a contest

This is the most obvious way to gather lots of submissions (content) that you can share on your website and social media. Just make sure you choose a theme that most of your customers can relate to and a prize that people will be excited about. (When in doubt, cash is king.)

You could even get your community super involved with voting. Your team can whittle down submissions to the top five or 10, and then you could open voting to the community. Though this is more work, you will likely see a surge of activity, as all of the finalists will share the voting information like crazy with their own networks.

Ask for post-purchase feedback

Not as sexy as a contest, but just as useful! After a customer (new or returning) makes a purchase, ask them for specific feedback on quality, customer service, timeliness of delivery/project completion, etc. Just two or three glowing sentences is all you need!

Get your VIP customers involved

Ask your best customers if they’d like to write occasional guest blog posts or curate a gift guide around an event, holiday, or season. If you live in a popular destination, you could even ask for their top spots to dine, drink, shop, relax, people watch, get pampered, etc.

Create a hashtag campaign

Create a long-running or limited-time-only hashtag campaign around a theme that is tied to your brand. Your community need only snap a photo, post on social media, and include the hashtag. You could even create a gallery of your favorite pics on your website.

Ask questions

Super simple – and it taps into people’s love of sharing. Post the occasional fun, thought-provoking, sentimental, silly, etc. question on social media and watch the responses roll in (make sure you comment on each person’s submission!). You could even do a fill in the blank, like “The only flavor of ice cream worth eating is _______________.”

How do you encourage user generated content?

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Author information

Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen is a freelance copywriter and editor who helps with companies of all shapes on sizes kick their content up to the next level. You can find her online at