Savvy business owners know two important things: how to optimize resources, and how to make their customers happy. Embracing user-generated content checks both of these boxes.

Direct-to-consumer companies can tap into the era of selfies and social proof by embracing user-generated content (UGC) in their marketing — and reap the rewards.

As Mad Fish explains, “customers are more than happy to see their posts shared on a brand’s page. They get a free shoutout, and the company gets free marketing.”

And it need not be complicated.

Take a look at two of our favorite ways to embrace user-generated content throughout your marketing this year.

Call your customers to action

“Embracing user-generated content can be as simple as including a call-to-action on a blog post urging readers to share photos of your products with a specified hashtag.”

Encourage your subscribers and followers to celebrate and share their experience with your products with their friends, and voila: UGC. Ask them to tag you so you can share the love, and you’ve just invited them to be part of something bigger than a transaction.

One of our clients, Fukutaro, hosted a giveaway to incentivize their customers to engage:

They then shared their followers’ posts in their Instagram Stories, creating a sense of collective excitement and social proof for all to see.

In this way, USG benefits both the ones posting and engaging, and the ones watching it happen.

Another client, Maruhon Sesame Oil, also garnered engagement through an Instagram contest, resulting in a great post from the winner:

Tip: When hosting a contest on social media, focus on clarity and simplicity. Create excitement around the prize, and make it easy for your followers to know exactly how to enter.

Provide a pathway for your most loyal fans

Marketing is all about meeting your customers where they are on their customer journey.

Make them aware of you, give them the tools they need to consider buying from you, help them decide, and then: nurture your loyal fans.

The direct-to-consumer athleisure company Outdoor Voices invites some customers to become brand ambassadors. Ambassadors get complimentary apparel in exchange for posting photos of themselves wearing it — an effective approach to micro-influencer marketing.

Tip: Assume your customers are looking for more than a transaction. As you gently nudge your audience along the customer journey, give them opportunities to engage with your brand in a public way. 

User-generated content is a budget-friendly content marketing technique that encourages consumers to share the products they buy from you and invites them to engage with your company in a deeper way.

Seize the opportunity to have your customers create content for you, and everyone benefits.