User-generated content (conveniently abbreviated to UGC) is exactly what it sounds like. Webopedia defines it as “any form of content such as video, blogs, discussion form posts, digital images, audio files, and other forms of media that was created by consumers or end-users of an online system or service and is publicly available to others consumers and end-users.”

The best part about user-generated content? It’s authentic, word-of-mouth promotion. Because word-of-mouth is so powerful, UGC can end up being more effective than even your best advertising efforts. And that’s worth taking advantage of.

Here’s six easy ways to start getting more user-generated content.

Create a unique hashtag. Start by thinking of a unique, snappy hashtag that captures the essence of your product, service, or brand. Promote it in-store, on your website, and slap it on your marketing material (e.g. print it on shopping bags). When it comes to this hashtag, it’s all about positioning. Don’t forget to use the hashtag in your social media posts too.

Hold a contest. If you really want to incentivize customers into creating user-generated content, try holding a contest on social media. Contests can allow customers to flex their creativity, whether you’re asking them to submit a photo, a video, or even a funny caption.

Offer a reward. If you really want customers to create content, raise the stakes. When there’s a reward on the line, your fans will be more than happy to create content. According to a study from TurnTo, 32% of customers surveyed cited “no incentive to contribute” as their primary reason for not contributing any UGC to a brand. Make sure you give them that incentive.

Encourage positive reviews. Did you know reviews also happen to fall within the realm of user-generated content? Reviews are actually some of the most important, most influential form of UGC, as they directly influence whether or not a customer will seek to make a purchase. To encourage positive reviews, optimize your presence across review sites, respond to reviews (both positive and negative), and do your best to keep learning from every review you recieve.

Share UGC. One of the easiest ways to get more UGC? Share UGC in the first place. By sharing UGC, not only are you placing more eyes on valuable content that you’ve already earned, you’re directly demonstrating to your audience that their content could potentially be featured by your brand.

Thank customers. Always remember to thank your customers. Whenever a customer takes the time to produce user-generated content, a quick “thank you” can go a long way. The smallest brand engagements can be far more memorable than you might think.

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What kind of user-generated content has your brand received? Sound off in the comments!