How to use user-generated content on social media

User-generated social media is fantastic! So why do so few companies engage with it? Honestly, a lot of people don’t know what user-generated content is – or how to use it. So here’s the 411.

The basics of user-generated social media content

User-generated content refers to social media posts that users make. When talking about companies, user-generated content are posts where users discuss your business, products, or services. The advantage of user-generated content is that it feels authentic and viewers trust it more. Think about it this way… If someone tells you they’re kind, you may or may not believe them. But if five of the person’s acquaintances tell you they’re kind, you’re much more likely to believe that. After all, why would these people say this if it wasn’t true? In the same way, posts you create about your products and services can always be dismissed as being biased.

User-generated content, however, can’t.

Remember that genuine user-generated content isn’t ads you arrange with influencers. While there may be a place for these ads in your marketing plan, real user-generated content will be seen as more authentic and trustworthy as those folks aren’t being paid to say good things about your company!

Most companies share user-generated content through reposts. This not only encourages followers to talk about you to be featured, but it also increases trust in your business, products, and services and drives purchasing. It also means you don’t have to create all your content yourself, saving you time!

How to get user-generated social media content

One: Be clear about what you are looking for

Many followers want to be featured, especially by businesses they love. So put a call out for the kind of content you’re looking for! For example, you can suggest that your followers take a picture with their favourite of your products. Always make sure to say how to share that with you – through a specific hashtag or tagging you in the post, for instance.

Two: Search for content

Stay on top of hashtags related to your business, its products or services, and any promotions you are running. If you see content that’s related to you, save it and share it!

Three: Credit the poster

Never infringe on another’s copyright – meaning, don’t steal their work! You don’t want to take someone’s material, you want to share it. In order to achieve that, make sure that you always give credit to the poster. Consider thanking the poster too, especially if they have put a lot of time and energy into their post!

Four: Offer a promotion

One of the best ways to get user-generated content is to offer a promotion. A common promotion is a discount. For example, you may want to give a discount code to anyone who shares a photo of them with your product. If you are doing this, follow up with the code quickly and make sure it is working before you make the offer!

Five: Run a competition

Another great way to promote user-generated social media content is with a competition. This has the same advantages as a promotion but often costs less. Not sure what contest idea is right for you? Here are a few ideas to get you started!

Debunked: Instagram algorithm myths you’ve probably heard

Lately, there have been a lot of Instagram algorithm myths that have worried businesses. Here are the myths and the truths behind the “algorithm” that determines your brand’s success on Instagram.

Five social media myths about Instagram algorithms

One: You must post every day

This is one of the biggest social media myths. While many articles will recommend that you post daily or even twice daily, that may not always be the case. Posting more often can help with you need to grow your following, but recently, our crew at Legendary has noticed that posting too often may cannibalize the engagement you would have received on past posts. So if you’re looking for higher engagement, though, posting daily may actually be a negative, swamping your followers and discouraging them from liking and commenting on your posts.

The social media scheduling app Later has a great article that breaks it all down.

So what do you do? Test what works for your account. If your followers engage with daily posts, great! If not, try posting every 2-3 days so you get better engagement on each post.

Two: If a user swipes past one of your Instagram Stories, they won’t see your future posts

This myth circulated on Instagram, warning users not to swipe past Stories unless they never wanted to see posts from the creator again.
Of course, that isn’t true! But it did worry brands into thinking that if they didn’t have amazing, engaging Stories every single day, followers would flip past them and then never see content again.

Real deal? Stories gauge interest based on likes, comments, etc. But if someone swipes past a video, your content isn’t going to be hidden forever. So don’t stress about every one of your Stories being “perfect”. It’s more important to just be authentic and share so the right audience can find you.

Three: Comments only count if they’re over three words

There is a popular rumour that Instagram’s algorithms only count comments over 3 words. Again, not true: Instagram’s algorithm doesn’t look at length, it just looks at genuine engagement. If you’re finding that you’re not getting the attention and engagement you want, here are a few things to try:

  • Ask questions
  • Run a contest or giveaway
  • Sharing personal stories that followers can connect with

So you can stop worrying about word counts and start focusing on the social part of your social media.

Four: Swapping to a business profile will damage your standing in the algorithm

At one point, there was the belief that individual profiles got more attention than business profiles. That made companies reluctant to have a business profile. Again, no need to worry! Instagram doesn’t prioritize individuals or businesses. They are given equal weight in the algorithm.

Just choose the appropriate profile and get posting!

Five: Instagram’s algorithm hides posts  

Another huge myth is that Instagram hides posts. For a while, a ton of businesses were sharing posts asking followers to like or comment on posts so future content wouldn’t be hidden.
Instagram’s algorithm decides what content is shown first and what content is pushed down further – it doesn’t hide content per se.

So just post what works for you and focus on engaging naturally with your followers!