User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool for connecting with customers and generating buzz about your business. When users share pictures, videos and statements about your products and services, they’re also sharing with their own social circles, and recruiting new customers. But driving user-generated content isn’t easy. To get the conversation going, here are 4 easy ways to incentivize user-generated content.

4 Easy Ways to Incentivize User-Generated Content


By leveraging a bit of healthy competition, a contest is a great way to energize customers and incentivize user-generated content. There are many ways to incentivize user-generated content with a contest, and which you choose will depend on what type of business you have and what your customers respond to.

Whatever type of contest you choose, be sure to provide a reward that is truly valuable to your customers. It might be a collection of valuable products, free memberships, a vacation, an audience with an expert or celebrity, or something else.

Consider the following options:

  • Create a new product: Lays has successfully generated buzz and engaged customers with their “Do Us a Flavor” contest since 2013. This is one of the best examples of a successful user-generated content campaign, and lays out a good roadmap for all types of businesses.
  • Go around the world: Ask your customers to submit pictures of themselves using or enjoying your product all around the world. Make sure you have clear criteria for winning; the photo with the best quality, the location farthest from your headquarters, the location that is hardest to reach, or something else.
  • Create a masterpiece: If your product or service helps customers build or create something, this is a perfect opportunity for a contest. Again, make it clear how you will decide the winner; you might have a panel of expert judges, votes decided by the public, or another method.


A giveaway is similar to a contest, except the winner is randomly selected. This method for incentivizing user-generated content doesn’t rely on competition or inventiveness, but it can be just as effective. If there is not a clear method for assessing a winner of a contest based on skill or creativity, or if this doesn’t make sense for your services or products, a giveaway is a good alternative approach.

Once again, it’s important to deliver a prize that your customers really want. It’s helpful for the prize to be related to your business, but this isn’t essential. It’s also helpful to deliver multiple tiers of prizes, such as a third, second, and first prize, so customers have more incentive to enter.

Consider the following options for prizes you might offer:

  • Cash prize: A cash prize is highly practical, and will engage almost everyone in your audience.
  • Vacation: Everyone needs a bit of time off. Offer your winner a vacation package and your audience will picture themselves in a far-off local.
  • Free Products: This will be especially appealing to true fans of your business, or anyone involved in your industry.
  • Free Membership: If you offer services instead of products, a free upgrade to a better service tier or a free membership for a set time will be compelling and easy to provide.
  • Product Partnership: Can you forge a partnership with another business to combine a giveaway and prizes? A landscaping company might partner with a flower shop, for example, or coffee shop might partner with a coffee roaster.
  • Supply for a Year: A year’s supply of your products can be a big prize for casual and dedicated fans alike.
  • Special Event Ticket: Is there a big event in your industry that everyone wants to go to? Put a ticket up for grabs.

Promote Your Customers

A bit of recognition can go a long way, especially in the age of social media. Give your customers a chance at the spotlight with free promotion. This is a great way to incentivize user-generated content and forge stronger relationships with your customers and fans. Let your customers know that you will repost their videos, photos or statements, and ask them to submit their work.

There are several ways to go about this. Consider which of these might work well for your business:

  • Repost a video to your channel: Adobe Create Cloud provides a great example of this on their YouTube page. They regularly spotlight creators, simultaneously showcasing the power of their products and the skills of their audience.
  • Repost a picture: This can work with almost any social platform, but works especially well with Instagram. AirBnB does a particularly nice job showcasing beautiful pictures provided by their audience.
  • Make a commercial: If a customer’s user-generated content catches your attention, they might be a good candidate for a longer feature, which you might use on your website or in a commercial.
  • Feature on your blog: If your blog gets regular traffic, this is another great place to feature your user-generated content and promote your customers’ work as well.

Easy Rewards

Audiences don’t necessarily demand big rewards for their content. Instead of a big contest or grand-prize, offer to reward every instance of user-generated content with a smaller reward, such as a coupon or free product.

If you’re worried about fulfilling all of these promises, you can restrict your video criteria. You might require that a user-generated video be a certain length, or you might restrict one reward for each person. Or, you might also make several requirements for your users, such as requiring them to post their video on several platforms. You could also limit rewards to the first 50, 100 or 1000 participants. With any of these methods, you’re still likely to receive a lot of user generated content.

No matter what method you choose, be sure that you are monitoring your channels closely. If your customers aren’t feeling seen, it can quickly derail your user-generated content campaign. The internet can also be a chaotic place, so it’s important that you monitor the conversations happening around your brand, and address any problems quickly. With careful attention and plenty of sharing, you can incentivize user-generated content from hundreds or thousands of happy customers.

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Posted in: User Generated Content (UGC)