The do’s and don’ts of user generated content for brands

Credit: Unsplash
Credit: Unsplash

User-generated content (UGC) is an easy and super valuable way for brands to engage with their audiences. It’s also a great way to fill social feeds while regular productions are more difficult to pull off during the pandemic.  

But like any other social strategy, reposting comes with risks -- especially in today’s world of disinformation and inflammatory content. If the content is not strategic or properly vetted it can turn into a PR nightmare. 

Here are three do’s and 3 don’ts when reposting UGC: 

Do

1. Plan carefully

Just like you would with any other marketing tactic, start with a solid plan before sharing anyone else’s content. Stick to your overall brand message and determine which details you want to come through. Set standards for visuals, tone and copy. 

You don’t have to reshare every post your brand is tagged in. Consumers appreciate authenticity and consistency in brands. 

2. Develop themes

If you do choose to repost UGC, group content into themes and craft visual story highlights around them. 

This strategy allows you to highlight users and their excitement for your brand, while crafting a story that fits with your brand. It also makes your followers feel heard and like they’re part of the larger brand identity. 

3. Create an aesthetic

Some users upload and tag content that's creatively on brand and fits into a company's overall aesthetic. Others, not so much. 

Instead of just reposting content as is, take the time to edit posts to elevate the content while maintaining brand consistency. You can add in graphics, copy and colors palettes that tie back to your brand. If reposts are sloppy and off brand, users will get confused and unfollow quickly. 

Don’t

1. Don’t skimp on verification

Probably the most important tip: never let UGC content go unchecked. Verify the source before reposting or sharing content on a company channel. 

Too often, PR and social media managers assume content is from a trusted user. But if it comes from a disputed or controversial source, it’ll land your brand in hot water. Verification is key in the age of disinformation and catfishing. 

2. Don’t treat consent as optional

Sometimes users will tag you in posts that are so good, you may want to use them in a larger ad campaign. But if you don’t do your due diligence, you can get yourself into trouble. 

Volvo was recently caught in a copyright infringement lawsuit by a model and photographer claiming false endorsement and misappropriation because of a reposted social media story. Seek out the proper approvals before repurposing user content and give credit where credit is due. 

3. Don’t be shy

Positive media coverage builds brand trust and loyalty. Don’t be afraid to highlight it with followers and fans. 

Social media makes it easy to share positive press, which helps validate your position in the market to a broader audience. But make sure to reshare from the source itself. This allows followers to see where the story originated and easily navigate to the article. It also puts you in good favor with the outlet by offering the reach from your brand channels.

Allison Brennan is director of strategy at Blue Sky Agency

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