user generated content

Video has made it easier than ever for your customers to showcase your products and, ideally, sing your praises! These types of third-party videos are considered “user generated content.” Often thought by viewers to be more authentic than company-produced marketing videos, they can make your brand seem more trustworthy and help win new business.

As the New York Times recently pointed out, nearly anyone can easily create great-looking video with their phone. This is excellent news for brands looking to encourage their customers to create brand-focused content.

So the real question is: How do you inspire people to create videos about your offerings? Read on to find out.

1. Start From the Very Beginning

When you’re thinking about incorporating user generated content into your video marketing efforts, it’s a good idea to audit what is already out there. If possible, try to gather the content you find in one place.

You’ll learn what you have to work with, and also get an idea of the types of things people like to talk about in regards to your brand. This is key information for planning a user generated content campaign.

Search for Your Brand and Products

To begin, conduct a Google search for your brand’s name. This should surface any YouTube videos, websites (including blogs), and social media platforms where your company name is mentioned. A quick search across social media platforms can’t hurt, either, to ensure you catch anything Google might have missed.

In your searches, it’s a good idea to try variations on your company’s name. Include common misspellings, just in case the person who published the content made a typo, or got your name wrong for some other reason. You should also search for any brand-specific hashtags people may have used when talking about your brand.

While hunting for content, keep an eye out for brand-related pictures as well. You may be able to use pictures people have shared to create your video, so it’s worth it to include these in your search, too.

Proper Attribution and Permissions

If you are going to use someone else’s video or picture in your company’s video, one important thing you must do is ask for their permission. Due to copyright laws, social media platform terms, and image licensing, using someone else’s content online almost always requires permission, so asking is your best bet. Just because they made content about your brand doesn’t mean you can use it as you see fit!

Since we recommend thanking people for sharing their (positive) video or picture about your brand anyway, you can simply ask for their permission to use it when you’re thanking them. Most people will be flattered and excited you want to use their video!

2. Help Capture a Special Moment

If you want people to know your company takes user generated content seriously, show them like Adidas recently did at the 2018 Boston Marathon.

Adidas managed to create a personalized video for every Marathon runner by inserting RFID chips into their race bibs so that they could locate them and track their their pace at any point during the race. On race day, they sent out a film crew with eight cameras to capture personalized footage and b-roll. Then, within 24 hours, they edited down the 27 hours of footage they’d captured to create a video just like the one above for every single one of the 30,000 runners.

By focusing on the runners in such a personalized way, yet on such a large scale, Adidas has simultaneously shown their commitment to the community, increased their video reach and engagement, and raised the bar on video marketing.

This isn’t the first or even the most recent time Adidas has excelled with video.

It’s no surprise that the brand is so connected to its audience. In fact, user generated content was specifically cited as a reason Adidas was named an “online genius”… Take notes!

3. Show Some Love to Your MVPs and VIPs

Does anyone in particular come to mind when you think about your customers or clients? Perhaps someone who was an early adopter, someone who renews their subscription every renewal period, or someone who is very active and complimentary in the Comments section of your company’s Facebook page?

Chances are they not only like your products or services, but they know them well. They’ll be able to speak to the pain points that many potential customers like them may be experiencing. Consider reaching out to these people personally to offer a hefty discount or free giveaway in return for a video review.

Do note that certain fields – like legal and medical – have strict rules about incentives like this. Check to ensure you’re not breaking any laws before you take this suggestion.

4. Create Event Experiences They Can’t Wait to Share

When you’re planning an event, don’t just consider the marketing you have to do to promote the event. Consider the marketing assets you may be able to get from the event during your planning process.

Even if your event isn’t quite the Instagram playground the Dream Machine exhibit is (because let’s be honest, that seems nearly impossible), you can still take a few notes from their playbook:

  • Build on a theme or story that unfolds, allowing your guests to experience your event in different stages.
  • Incorporate social media hashtags into the event promotion from the very beginning so that people feel natural and supported about taking event photos and video to share online.
  • Share a lot of event teasers about what guests are in for so that the excitement can build and they can begin to think about how they’ll capture their experience.
  • That said, delight and surprise your guests with some unexpected details or surprise guests once they’re at the event.
  • Invest in plenty of flattering lighting.

5. Make It A Competition

A contest requiring participants to submit video entries is a great way to collect user generated content for your video campaigns. Determine what you’d like to highlight in your next video, and make it the focus for your contest. Assign the contest a hashtag and be sure to interact with contestants as they submit videos.

One of the benefits of social media contests like this are the flexible nature of them. You can design it according to your video content needs and the resources you have to run the campaign.

For instance, you can require that the participants show themselves using your product, or include three reasons they love it. You can also design the contest to be a large, ongoing campaign incorporating online voting by the public. Periodically gift winners a prize or cash, or feature them on your website and social media pages.

User generated content in the form of video provides strong social proof for your brand. Even better, when you re-share it, it shows your customers that you listen to them and appreciate them.


Do you have a unique way of inspiring people to create videos about your business? Or, an interesting way of leveraging user generated content? Please share them in the comments below or on Twitter @sproutvideo!

Written by Laci Texter

SproutVideo blog contributor. You can follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Posted April 25, 2018

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