How to Reap the Benefits of User-Generated Content (Contest Edition)

How to Reap the Benefits of User-Generated Content (Contest Edition)

Social media is being hyped all the time these days as a credible way to boost a business’ marketing, but most companies are not doing it the correct way to get the proper ROI. This has led to numerous large brands like General Motors to abandon social media completely and stick with their traditional marketing.

But new brands like Nasty Gal and Diamond Candles are showing that social media is a great way to drive new reach, user engagement, leads and sales for your brand. Some of them owe their growth almost entirely to the medium, and have proved that, when done right, social media can produce real results to the bottom line.

One of the major ROI from social media is user-generated content.

What is user-generated content (UGC)?

User-generated content is the production of content by the general public rather than by paid professionals and experts in the field. Also called “peer production,” and mostly available on the Web via blogs and wikis, user-generated content refers to material such as the daily news, encyclopedias and other references, movie and product reviews as well as articles on any subject, all of which have been traditionally written by editors, journalists and academics. It is one of the hallmark features that distinguishes Web 2.0.

For businesses in particular, this means any written, video, audio or picture content that persons not associated with your businesses create that includes your products, brand or business. Most user-generated content is a sort of “tribute” to the brand and what it means to the persons who created it.

What are the benefits of user-generated content?

User-generated content is easy to get and highly cost-effective. You can enable your online visitors to enhance your marketing by increasing the interactivity of your site. User-generated content can provide a trustworthy and personal source of information. Allowing users to share their opinion on your site can enrich their online experience and make it more interesting for visitors to browse your site. Keeping new content continually appearing on your site can also help you increase your rankings in the search engines.

How do you get user-generated-content?

The most effective way to do get customers creating UGC is contests. Contests that require user-generated content tend to deepen the connection and result in consumers becoming more emotionally invested in the brand.

Types of UGC contests

  • Essay contests
  • Photo contests
  • Pinterest board contests
  • Video contests


Photo contests

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Photo Contests are an easy way to entice users to upload a photo and have the community vote on their favorite to win. With the popularity of camera phones these days, taking a photo is a very easy thing for most users to do. To maximize entries, choose a photo theme that is easy for most users to get a photo of.

Also – photos are the best type of content, as they are eye-catching and easy to digest, so
this is the most recommended type of contest that requires user-generated content.

Essay contests

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An essay contest is a great way to get entrants to submit their thoughts, feedback and stories for a chance to win. Jeep asked its Facebook followers to share their Jeep Driver’s Seat Story to win a $100 gift certificate.


Pinterest Contests

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LUSH Cosmetics uses Pinterest contests to get users to create boards on Pinterest that contain pictures of the brand’s products and submit the URL of the page to enter. The contestants have the chance to win 6 months of hair care products. This is a great contest option, as it gives your brand reach on both Facebook and Pinterest.


Video contests

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Entice users to create a video and submit it to win a prize. This is bit harder to do than
simply taking a photo, but it has the potential to give you great user content for your brand in your own videos. If YouTube is a major online channel for your brand, then this is a great way to get content for your YouTube channel.


Organic UGC

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This is the best type of UGC, but tends to only work for massive brands like Coca Cola. This is UGC that customers create on their own when a brand is truly a part of their life and they want to proactively show-off their love and use of it. This is not something that is won easily, so don’t put out much hope for it – sticking with contests to get UGC for your brand is much quicker (like 50 years quicker).

Easier said than done I know, but if you are new to UGC, running a contest like the aforementioned may be the easiest way to create UGC. Don’t believe me? Here is a fantastic example (case study) on Kevin Espiritu’s first crack at a contest and the resulting success.

Have you had success creating UGC with contests? Other methods? I want to hear about them below : )

About Nick Steeves

Nick Steeves is the Director of Marketing at Wishpond, a social marketing suite for businesses. Learn more at Wishpond.com. Check them out on Twitter.

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