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How to run a user generated social media campaigns

User Generated Content

User Generated Content

Everyone and their dog has been a content creator for years now, and shrewd brands have long-since understood the power of harnessing public power for their own marketing aims.

User generated content (UGC) certainly has huge potential. Brand engagement increases by 28% when people are exposed to a combination of user-generated and professionally produced online content. Consumers aged 25-54 share 70% of all UGC they find, with 93% of people finding this type of content helpful when it comes to making a purchasing decision. Here’s proof. 

But while the demand is there— 50% of all consumers want brands to ask them to create content— the industry is still slow to pick up. Only 16% of businesses actually request content from the public. This means those that do stand to benefit enormously from diving into this area of marketing.

Before you do, though, get to grips with the latest in our series of expert guides, with our digital team coming up with the following pearls of wisdom in a bid to advice you on running a user generated social media campaign. All of which, of course, stems from their learned experience working Smoking Gun’s client accounts.

*Channel is key

pick your social media channel wisely, don’t aim to cover all bases in your campaign, focus on a platform based on its merits:


Best for sharing video content and stories about your brand. Great for sharing videos to get more engagements with the possibility of going viral. Due to it being tough to reach audiences with organic posting, it’s important to note paid budget is key here.


Although there’s a smaller character count, Twitter is great for sharing quick, short snappy posts, all with a simple re-tweet


The home of the #repost, Instagram is known as the go-to for user generated content, by searching a hashtag you can find lots of UGC content from fans to share and engage with, while using plenty of hashtags from the brand, so there’s far more chance your output will be seen and perform well organically


A little trickier compared to other channels, if LinkedIn is your chosen strategy, ensure all content is relevant to your brand’s goals  

User Generated Content

*Analyse demographics properly

Conduct social listening to find out not only what your audience is saying, but on what channel. Look at competitors within this context too

*Conduct a risk assessment

You’re effectively asking for the public to produce marketing content on your behalf, and there are countless examples of campaigns turning sour. Look at your demographic analysis to judge sentiment around brand and product, then start finalising campaign ideas, avoiding subjects that could be hijacked

*Don’t forget it’s ‘user’ focused

It’s really easy to overlook the point of UGC but vital that you don’t. Yes, you want the content to link to your brand, but it should be based on consumer product or buying experiences, or customer stories about their relationship with your business.

For example, social media management app Buffer invites account holders to post photographs of where they are based. Online furniture store Wayfair asks shoppers to share images of their purchases in situ at home. Women’s clothing company Aerie invites customers to Instagram themselves in swimsuits, unedited, to encourage healthier body images, and donates $1 per post to an eating disorder charity.

*Remember this is part of a wider social media strategy

Weave UGC into your overall content plan, for example by reaching out to the public once a week with in-house content that can be repurposed, to consistently gain engagement from fans.

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