How to Organize Contests to Get User-Generated Content

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The following is a guest post by Tetiana Legeida. Tetiana is a Content Marketer and Strategist for Judgify — the one-stop software solution for awards events organization. With over 5 years’ experience in Content Management, Tetiana works with insights from the Events Planning industry and PR. 

With the new Facebook news feed algorithm that has shaken up the world recently, Mark Zuckerberg made it very clear: Personal content posted by friends and family is the king.The only way to build a powerful, trustworthy content strategy is to call your customers for help.  What is user-generated content? And how can you get more user-generated content through contests #contentcreation #blogpostcreation #contentmarketing #digitalmarketing

In an attempt to build a strong brand positioning, businesses strive to feed their audience with worthwhile, intriguing content.

However, although you can create exciting content on a regular basis, it doesn’t mean you gain the trust of your audience (and Facebook). The only way to build a powerful, trustworthy content strategy is to call your customers for help.

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What is user-generated content?

UGC (user-generated content) is any type of content that has been created and submitted/put out by unpaid consumers. You probably remember that “Share a Coke” buzz, the campaign in which Coca-Cola produced bottles with clients’ names. Maybe, you’ve also heard that there was a big UGC contest where users posted photos with their personalized bottles.

This project is a great example of user-generated content showing how a world-known brand engages in a global dialogue with its target audience.

Why user-generated content contests? 

To encourage the audience to participate and spread the word about your brand, you need a strong cause. The chance to win a prize and compete with other active followers of a company is what builds great excitement around a campaign. Pick the prize that corresponds to the brand’s values and is valuable to the audience if your aim is to capitalize on company recognition, or offer cash if you need to attract maximum attention.

The benefits of organizing user-generated content contests

What’s in it for you? Drumming up attention for your brand isn’t the only advantage that online UGC competitions can bring to your company. However, if you fail to communicate the right message, choose invaluable prizes, or make the contest offensive to someone, you’ll get the negative hype that your business definitely doesn’t need.

User-generated content contests that rely on deep understanding of the target audience have clear objectives and employ clever, valuable offers can reap versatile benefits:

  • Build credibility. The feedback that comes from an unpaid customer is the most worthwhile. With the help of targeted UGC competitions, brands gain much trust and increase awareness about the quality of their products and services. The global appreciation of a peer-review approach to brand positioning is proved by the stunning popularity of YouTube projects like Taste Test Challenge that focuses on independent product reviews.

  • Capitalize SEO efforts. According to Kissmetrics, 25% of search results for 20 world-known companies are related to the user-generated contents. Spreading the content across multiple websites and social media platforms account for the growth of SEO rankings.
  • Increase revenue. 93% of clients say that they pay huge attention to UGC while making purchase decisions. A buzzy online contest that targets the creation of user-generated contents can maximize company sales and help a brand stay ahead of its competitors.

The ways to use contests to get user-generated content 

From simple Instagram contests to long-term branded competitions taking place on a dedicated website, there are many strategies which businesses leverage to gain customers’ trust. Here are some up-to-date ways to set up buzzy UGC contests:

It’s ALL about sales

There’s hardly a better strategy for companies launching new products than spreading the word about these products across multiple households. A sales-directed approach covers projects that involve independent product/service testing and promotion. The Social Catalog from IKEA demonstrates its successful promotional campaign for their new product collection through a UGC contest. The strong side of this campaign was the high level of credibility while users were encouraged to post only those household items that they would like to take home.

Hey, before you read on - we have in various FREE in-depth guides on similar topics that you can download. For this post, check out:

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IKEA Social catalogue from SMFB on Vimeo.

Turn clients into experts 

Businesses that are limited to conversions and sales only often fail to build long-term relationships with customers. To ensure longevity for your brand, strive to make your target audience more knowledgeable. The clients of Infiniti are well-acquainted with educational contests that offer prizes in exchange for what they learn about cars. Thus, its recent UGC contest asked people to answer a question about one of the company engines and post the answer under a special hashtag on social media. The winners earned a chance to win a pre-season testing of the new Infiniti car.

Trust your audience

It’s hard to think of a more viral UGC creative contest than Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” campaign. In 2013, the company offered one million dollars to a person who’d create the best flavor for Lay’s. As a result, the project gained 3,8 million submissions, viral public voting, and a huge range of creative ideas offered by buyers. So, here’s your takeaway: Demonstrate that you can entrust the destiny of your brand to the target audience. In the end, your buyers are your most valuable asset.

How to organize contests to get user-generated content: The short guide

To ensure you get the right content from the right audience, follow this short UGC contest guide:

  • Select the space. Depending on the goals, audience demographics, and the available analytics tools, your choice of a platform for contest publishing should be strategic. To maximize the impact of the campaign, consider the specific features of every platform: If it’s Instagram, your contest instructions should cover the technique of content regramming. For software-mediated contests, explain how to enter, submit, vote, and track a contest flow efficiently.The most successful UGC contest examples demonstrate that having a dialogue with your target audience is a great perk for any brand. #contentcreation #contentmarketing #blogpostcreation #digitalmarketing #smallbusinessmarketing
  • Develop mutual goals. Think of what the user-generated content can bring to your business and how people may benefit from entering. Only if there’s no conflict of interest between the goals of your brand and your audience, can the project be a success.
  • Make it crystal-clear. Once you’ve chosen the platform, the type of content, and the timeline start working on the participation guideline. Explain every minute detail to your audience; your contest entrants shouldn’t face any roadblocks.
  • Automate. If you expect more action from the audience than simply posting an Instagram photo, use software platforms for contest organization and save yourself a heap of trouble completing the manual tasks.


The most successful UGC contest examples demonstrate that having a dialogue with your target audience is a great perk for any brand. Test contest automation, and start collecting valuable user-generated content to turn your brand into a star.

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User-generated content can tremendously help businesses increase sales and build strong market positions. Here is how to use contests to get user-generated content. content creation, content marketing strategy, content strategy, content contests, content audience

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