Today's digital landscape is filled with an overwhelming amount of content, making it difficult for programs to make an impression. How do YMCAs, camps, after-school programs and participation events stand out from the crowd?
User-generated content (UGC) is any content, whether text, videos, images or reviews created by people rather than brands. UGC works because it is created by independent users who have no inherent loyalty to the company. As a result, it’s easier for the general public to trust that the content's messaging is authentic.
Here we discuss UGC's importance, benefits to the audience and the brand, and ways to motivate your customers to create user-generated content:
Audience Benefits Of UGC
- Connection - Content created by readers speaks to their interests, challenges and aspirations.
- Captivating Storytelling - By becoming active participants in the content creation process, your audience is automatically interested in the narrative.
- Personalization - Social media audiences love to see themselves reflected in the content. They feel valued, reinforcing their relationship with your brand.
Brand Benefits Of UGC
- Engagement - Inviting your audience to partner with you prompts them to engage actively.
- Shareability - With audience participation, they are more likely to share the content, expanding your brand reach
- Evergreen - User-generated content has a long life; it can be repurposed, inspiring future ideas.
When social media first emerged, brands could only encourage more extensive conversations with followers by using hashtags, allowing them to easily find and gather content related to an online campaign. Today’s UGC campaigns are far more creative with fans, rallying them to share pictures and videos that they have created.
Inspire your users to produce UGC with these ideas and tips for content:
Campfires with s’mores, radiant sunsets and gleaming lakes evoke summer memories perfect for many social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but especially Instagram.Instagram is known for its captivating visuals. Urge participants to share a range of images from t-shirts, cabins, desserts and crafts to reuniting with old friends and counselors. Other ideas:
- Share the first-day photo. Like we mark our child's first day of school with a photo we later share on Facebook, ask users to take a picture of their camper's first day and share.
- Show a throwback photo of an old camp photo and then ask your audience to offer a more present-day photo.
These programs offer unique learning opportunities and exclusive content, depending on your schedule, various things can be shared.
- Class themed projects: art galleries, lego building or story time.
- Video testimonials from the participants.
- Written reviews from parents.
- Virtual race meets create great UGC because participants are likely to share their perspectives and unique locality. In-person meets create moving images of mass participation.
- Ask users to share screenshots of race tallies/results/location.
- Written or video testimonials from participants.
Did you know UGC video gets 10X more views than branded content? User-generated videos offer tremendous potential for shareability. Examples of UGC videos:
- Runners crossing the finish line.
- Volunteers handing out water bottles.
- Campers running an obstacle course.
- After-school programs that involve motion: swimming, exercise, dance, etc.
Offer a Contest
Contests and giveaways are a way to engage with participants instantly. Giveaways can range from a free week of overnight camp to a free class session to a free race registration.
- Encourage visuals. A contest of the “best of” first-day photos or best action photo (you'll also get more audience participation by having users vote on the winners).
- Prompt participants to vote on the best counselor/instructor. Ask them to “add a comment below,” writing why a counselor/instructor is their favorite. Like and/or comment to win contests elicits engagement with your base.
- Share or retweet (RT) to enter. By pairing the contest with a share or RT requirement, you can reach more people.
Whatever your program or event’s goal, some methods for prompting UGC may work better than others. Experiment with different ways to engage with your audience. The more you inspire user-generated content, the more connected your audience will feel.