Dana Sullivan Kilroy is a communications professional with more than 20 years of experience delivering compelling content. Her work has appeared in national, award-winning publications and sites, including: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Fast Company, Inc.
The holiday season offers tons of opportunities for engaging with your customers, and to get a peek into how they are using your products and services. This year, user-generated content contests continue to fill social media platforms because they're generally easy to build, and fun for users. Tapping into user-generated content — often referred to as just UGC — allows you to give a little (a prize or discount offer) and get a little (such as demographic data, or email addresses).A UGC contest means that you ask participants to contribute content in order to enter your contest — for instance, they share photos, stories, or videos in exchange for a chance to win or access your offer.
By asking for users' content, you're giving participants an authentic way to engage with your brand.Hashtag contests, a type of UGC contest, are also ideal for the holidays. This type of contest is huge on Instagram, which is already a high-engagement platform. A hashtag contest requires users to post a picture or video to Instagram or Twitter, and use a designated hashtag in the caption. This automatically enters them into a contest. It's a great way to use the existing functionality of Instagram and Twitter, and help expose your brand to new people on those platforms. ShortStack just launched its new hashtag contest, which you can read all about here, and you'll find all of our holiday templates -- plus tutorials and tips for how to use them -- on our holiday marketing page.
Create a community around your brand by having users contribute to your contest or promotion. When participants have a say in the outcome, they're more invested in it and perhaps even more willing to share your promotion, exposing your brand to a wider audience of like-minded people. You can even offer extra points or entries to participants using ShortStack's Refer-a-Friend feature, which automatically tracks how many people have entered a contest based off of a participant's shared post.
Best Practices for Hosting a UGC Campaign
If you're planning to run a UGC campaign for the holidays, here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Make it easy to participate. Keep your contest simple. Nothing is more frustrating to a participant than having to jump through a ton of hoops to enter. If you're running a UGC video contest, consider letting people upload short videos straight from Instagram instead of requiring a 10 minute long, highly produced video that requires time and equipment. The simpler your promotion is, the more submissions you're likely to get. Using ShortStack, you can streamline the entry process and make it mobile-friendly, too!
- Make sure the prize you're offering is worth the effort required to enter.We've written extensively about the power of an effective prize, and you can read all about that here. Your prize should match the effort of entering. For instance, a free sticker probably isn't a big enough prize if you're asking people to make a two-minute video. A prize is all about creating perceived value of the prize itself, and of your brand and services. The prize should be rewarding and enticing based on what you're asking from users.
- Ask for entries you can use for future marketing campaigns.If you're collecting great stories or visual art, consider asking your participants if you can use these in future marketing efforts. Images and videos of people out in the world using your product are invaluable, and they help build authenticity with potential customers. The UGC you're collecting is gold. What better way to show off your brand than by your actual customers who love it?
- Follow the law.One of the questions we get asked most frequently has to do with legal issues. Legality can be daunting, especially for small business owners, but it's important that you cover your bases when running a promotion. While we don't offer official legal advice, this post about social media contest rules may help you on your way. If you're offering a prize, we always recommend running your contest by a lawyer.
Now you know a bit about how to use UGC as part of your marketing plan, we hope you'll have fun creating UGC contests of your own. If you liked this post, don't forget to subscribe to our blog. And if you haven't already, set up your free ShortStack account so you can build UGC contests and other promotions.
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