How to Use Contests to Collect User-Generated Content

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Don’t you envy brands that have hundreds to thousands of fans raving about their company?

It seems like people give these brands a lot of attention at their request. They leave great reviews, comment on their blogs, share their favorite brand’s posts with their friends, and more.

What’s even more interesting is that the more these people do it, the bigger and faster the brand’s audience grows.

To give you an example, let’s consider Starbucks…

Starbucks ran a contest in 2014 where they encouraged their fans to decorate their iconic reusable cup with their own drawings to show their artistic side. The fans needed to upload these photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, and use the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

#retoast #whitecupcontest #plspickme #love #starbucks #starbuckslook #please #willdelete #repost

A post shared by Breana? (@ratherbdrawing) on

Those who saw this were intrigued, and so they wanted to doodle away as well.

Contests and User Generated Content: A Match Made in Heaven

User-generated content or UGC for short basically refers to any type of content – a blog post, video, reviews, blog comments, photos… anything that people post online out of their own free will.

As you can tell from our example, contests are a great opportunity to collect user-generated content. You reward participants who perform a certain action, such as leaving a review on your product page of taking a photo of themselves using your product. The idea is simple, right?

What Makes User Generated Content so Compelling?

Before we go through the steps to run a contest in such a way that encourages user-generated content, first you ought to know why UGC is so important for your business.

1. Influences buying decisions

There’s no better way to convince people to try your offer than to make them see that others are using it as well – and are happy doing so. Isn’t it that you check what others say about a particular product or service before you invest in it? According to a survey, 85% of consumers say that they find UGC more influential than content created by brands themselves.

2. Builds a bigger audience

Still growing your fan base from scratch? Got only 100 people following you on Instagram? Don’t worry. User-generated content will help increase those numbers. One concrete example is encouraging the use of unique branded hashtags on Instagram to increase awareness of your business:

3. Makes you worthy of your audience’s trust 

Picture this out. You meet someone for the first time, and that person tells you that he is trustworthy. Would you believe him? Obviously not. Building trust takes time, and it takes more than merely promoting yourself. This is why user-generated content works so well – it involves other people who vouch for you.

4. Sparks more sharing and conversations

When people willingly create content about you on social media, their friends see it. This, in turn, invites people to participate. Greater participation shows signs of success.

5. Saves you the hard work

 Last but not least, UGC helps your marketing efforts by saving you time in creating content yourself. After all, crowdsourced content has a greater impact on your audience. What’s more, UGC goes beyond driving top-of-the-funnel leads – it can generate sales.

Why a Contest, of All Strategies?

The very reason why contests work is that they capitalize on rewards. Rewards, aka “free stuff,” are a timeless way to motivate people to act. Offering people something will also compel them to give back something in return. It’s a simple psychology technique.

However, here’s the thing: Your prize or reward has to be appropriate for your audience so that they will become interested.

How to Run a Contest for Gathering User Generated Content

In this section, I shall walk you through the steps you should take to run a contest that encourages user-generated content. Ready?

Step 1: Identify the kind of content you need to collect.

First of all, you need to clearly determine the type of content you need from your audience. Whatever it is that you want, it should be tied closely to your end goal. Is it to build a solid reputation online? To go viral in your niche? Make sales?

Consider the following types of user-generated content:

  • Testimonials – The best source of testimonials are people who’ve read your blog posts, listened to your podcast, or tried your product or service. The key to attracting qualified participants is to use the right prize.
  • Customer stories – Have them share a video or a written post on social media about their best experience with your business. Instagram and YouTube are great platforms for this type of UGC.
  • Shared photos – Invite people to share a photo of their favorite travel destination, favorite dish, or idea of a perfect workout. This all depends on your niche.
  • Audience feedback – Surveys are perfect. It’s quite challenging to get people to participate in a survey, but with the right incentive, it can be done. 
  • New product ideas – Don’t just gather opinions about your current offers; let people share what they want your business to provide. They might be thinking of a new tool, functionality, flavor, or recipe.
Step 2: Pick the right contest prize.

If you want to give people a solid reason to create content for you, then entice them with the right prize. It’s easy to assume that offering the latest iPhone or an expensive trip is the best way to go.

While these pricey incentives are sure to garner more participation, they may not give you qualified leads – if you also intend to grow and nurture your email list in the long run on top of collecting UGC.

Choosing an appropriate and attractive prize is not as difficult as you think. The best way to do this is to think about the audience you serve. If your business is about travel, it makes sense to offer travel accessories.

If you offer an online service, why not offer your service for free for a limited time?

Read more: 50 Creative and Small Prize Ideas for Different Industries

Step 3: Decide how you’re going to collect the UGC.

There are different ways for you to gather user-generated content from your contest participants.

For instance, in the successful “Share a Coke” campaign, Coca-Cola printed popular names on their bottles and had people share their experiences on social media.

You can use this method – ask people to upload or share their content on social media.

If you’re looking for testimonials or comments, give your audience the link to the exact product page or blog post where you want them to write a testimonial or comment.

If it’s something more personal like a survey, you will need another tool – a popular and free option would be Google Forms. Add the link to your form on your contest landing page.

Collecting User Generated Content Using UpViral

The UpViral tool enables you to offer points for any action you want people to take within your contest to increase their chances of winning – this unique feature of ours is called Custom Actions. That custom action could definitely be submitting user-generated content.

Inside the UpViral tool, you’ll be asked to specify the name of the action and the URL where you want people to visit. We’ve anticipated that some participants might cheat, so we added a form where you can have them answer a specific question that will allow you to verify their action:

Once you’ve set a custom action, it will show as a button on your social share page. Of course, you can choose a nice icon to represent the action as well as a color that complements the overall design of your share page.

What’s interesting is that you can set more than one custom action – as many as you would like.

That means you’ll be able to collect different types of user-generated content or decide that user-generated content collection will be just one of your other custom actions which are non-UGC in nature.

Final Thoughts

While I’ve shown you how you can gather user-generated content inside your contest, don’t skip this important part of your contest – promoting it as best as you can. ?

A contest that isn’t promoted doesn’t get any traction. It needs eyeballs to get conversions. You can do a few things, from writing a blog post about it or running a Facebook ad.

That’s it, and I hope you can get your UGC contest up and running as soon as possible!