June means summer – and summer has everyone digging out their shorts and t shirts – heading outdoors for great times with family and friends – on holiday, at festivals and generally having fun.

It’s also a golden time for some brands. Hotels are fully booked, cars hired and travel insurance bought. Sunglasses, hot fashions and sunshine skin care are in daily use – and that boosts the likelihood of those products and services being captured and shared in social, big time.

Summer is THE time for user generated content creation. Stats from the original heavyweight of social photo-sharing Flickr, clearly point to big spikes in image uploads in every summer since 2007 and with people sharing more content, comes a big opportunity for socially engaged brands.

It’s a fact that people trust user generated content more than brand generated ads and content – but there are other benefits too, like how cost effective it can be and it’s really SEO friendly too.

The benefits are compelling – so what are you doing about finding, gathering and using the content your customer’s share about your brand? And how are you planning to use it as a rich source of credible content for your own channels long after there’s frost on the ground again.

We’ve mapped out a few winning tactics to help get you started below.

Tactic 1. Live social brand hub

Summary: The ultimate way to capture and leverage hash tagged images – fostering loyalty with brand fans who are already talking about you – and engaging a much bigger potential audience.

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How:

Example: For seasonal product or retailer – “To celebrate summer share a picture of you using our product at your next sunny family picnic or BBQ for a chance to win”

Results: Fun and engaging images, that are both highly personal and naturally sharable. This approach is a great way to identify & engage with your brand influencers too.

Tactic 2. Classic upload to win photo capture

Summary: Great basic mechanism for capturing good quality images via your website or Facebook page

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Example: For national or international hotel chain – “Upload a photo of your favourite place in summer using our hashtag for a chance to win a weekend at our nearest hotel”.

Results: Lovely natural images of people and places that capture the essence of Britain in the summer.

Tactic 3. Reviews & quotes from your social channels

Summary: Product reviews or customer service testimonials can be as valuable as image based content. Copy can be used to give authenticity to your own social channel copy and content-  or used to give additional weight to  product claims you make – with quotes and testimonials.

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How:

Example: “Review today’s ice cream flavour to win a freezer full of your favourite flavour”

Results: High quality, personal product and customer experience quotes and reviews guided by a planned series of questions.

Tactic 4: Integrated social Video uploads

Summary: Similar – but different to image uploads, video is a bigger commitment from entrants, but for creative core brand fans especially, the right mechanic can unlock massive viral potential.

How:

Example: A seasonal brand promotion for a clothes retailer  “Upload a video of you or your mates wearing our brand – and singing your favourite festival anthem. Then win a trip to a great winter music festival & clothes from our autumn winter range.”

Results: From amateur – to remarkably professional clips, that tell an engaging story of your customers’ experience of your products or services in a summer setting. Can be great for introducing new range to existing fans too.

Ways to re-use & re-cycle your summer content

With the right approach, creative and promotion all of these effective ideas capture great summer content and deliver fantastic reach, brand awareness and potential sales – as well as delivering rich content for you to re-use.

A Halloween Facebook post about toffee flavoured ice cream using a quote gathered in the summer
Post images on your Facebook timeline, promotional clips to You Tube and your blog.

CASE STUDY: As a recent example, we ran a successful promotion for Jersey tourism. We took quotes and images customers submitted for entry in the campaign,  and used them for advertising to drive on-going entries. The Facebook promoted posts we ran had strong engagement and click through rates – rising as high as 9.72% for the ad shown below.  Great results, driven purely by the creative use of user generated content.

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Add credible customer reviews to your newsletters and re-work the insights you gather from the entry process for  shareable infographics and “did you know” fun product facts for Twitter.

For a complete range of impactful, creative and highly effective approaches to gathering – and leveraging – great user generated content for summer 2015 and far beyond – get in touch right here, right now!