How to Get More User-Generated Content for Social Media

Smartphones have made amateur photography and videography higher quality and more popular than ever before. Luckily for marketers, that means that your clients, fans, and guests are more likely to share photos of your brand online. These photos and videos can capture authentic moments, tell unique stories about your brand, and provide social validation of your product or experience.

How do you capture this user-generated content to use on your own channels? How do you find it in the first place? Here are some tips for successfully finding and using user-generated content (UGC) on your own social channels:  

Use monitoring software to catch your ALL OF YOUR brand mentions

Not everyone will search out your brand’s username before mentioning it in a post or check to see what your preferred hashtag is. Others might tag you in the location of their post and not in the text itself.

A good social listening tool helps you catch ALL these mentions so you can reach out and ask users for their permission to share. Some tools will even automate the asking process for you. At Thin Pig, we use Sprout Social and a host of other tools to monitor and post on all of your social platforms. Sprout Social also has some great advice for which user-generated content works on each social network.


Make it easy to share on your website

Accepting photo submissions on your website allows you to make it easy for those who want to share their photos. It is also easy for you to share the Terms of Use. Though it may seem counter intuitive, some folks may not share their photos on social media, but they’re perfectly happy to share them with you.

You can offer incentives, like a prize every month for the best photo or even for a randomly drawn submission. There are a number of tools out there that make the photo submission process easy, from simple web forms to fully-functional contest platforms.

Always ask and be clear on usage

It’s always better to ask permission to share even if someone messages you their photo or uses your hashtag. Most of the time, people are happy to share their photos, and personally asking them to share can increase their engagement with your brand. A direct message or comment on an image are good ways to ask.

Some brands may wish to link to a terms of use that users can agree to. Remember, getting permission to share on a social channel does not give you permission to use that image or video elsewhere. Be clear with users if you’d like to use the image anywhere else, and get their permission to do so. And remember to provide photo credit to the photographer!


Share more frequently and engage with user content

Though sharing UGC can take more time and effort than simply posting another of your owned photos, it has the potential to increase engagement AND the frequency of your brand mentions.

When you show fans that you are likely to share posts by fans of your brand, they’ll be more likely to mention or tag you. Even if a user’s post isn’t high enough quality or quite what you’re looking for in a share, be sure to engage with it by liking and commenting to encourage future posting.

Need help with social media management and  content? Get in touch here or call us at (425) 223-5919.

Prepare For Instagram Marketing To Become Pay-To-Play

Thin Pig Note:  One of our favorite things to do is to spend time collaborating or just shooting the breeze with like-minded folks.  One of our favorites that we have had the good fortune to do both with is Brooke Sellas, of B Squared Media. Brooke is our guest blogger this week!

“Prepare for Instagram marketing to become pay-to-play.” I’ve said this to clients and friends alike since Facebook bought the visual platform back in 2012 for one billion dollars. We only need to look to Facebook to understand the path that Instagram is sure to go down. And many marketers are starting to take notice. First up, here are the reasons you should formulate a plan to pay-to-play on Instagram.

Facebook Ads Revamped

Have you tested Facebook’s Instant Experience ads yet? If they don’t sound familiar, you may know them better as Canvas ads. In Facebook's words, Canvas is “a full-screen ad experience built for bringing brands and products to life on mobile.” This type of ad allows advertisers to deliver fully immersive, interactive ads that are hosted completely on Facebook, eliminating the need for users to click out of the app to engage with content. A few months ago, Facebook renamed the format and added more features, making the format even more lucrative for advertisers.

 As explained by Facebook:

“Instant Experience better reflects what this ad solution offers people. Over the past year, the number of Instant Experience campaigns has more than doubled and Instant Experiences are loading faster than ever - now 15x faster than standard mobile websites - to seamlessly connect people to businesses.”

 Here are three key areas that might convince you to try Instant Experiences:

1.     Easy-to-use, immersive and dynamic templates

2.     Re-engagement functionality to make it easier to connect with your audience

3.     Analytics capabilities by automatically linking to the Facebook Pixel

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Get Creative

One advantage of Instant Experience ads is that they are very easy to make! Facebook launched a couple of different templates each designed for a different marketing objective. The most noticeable change is the easy-to-use design options that clients can use to build their ads, including:

●      Instant Lookbook: Ideal for fashion or other e-commerce products

●      Instant Storytelling: Focuses on video

●      Instant Storefront: Mimics the layout of a lifestyle magazine

●      Instant Customer Acquisition: Functions as a mini landing page with a clear CTA button


Convert Within The App

Before Instant Experience, if you wanted to collect contact information (i.e., generate leads) users had to navigate away from the app to your mobile landing page, adding another step in the process. Thanks to the new Instant Form template, you can gather leads without ever having to direct users away from Facebook.


Tracking And Analytics

One of the most exciting features of Instant Experiences that Canvas ads lacked is the compatibly with Facebook’s tracking pixel as well as third-party pixels like Google. This means that advertisers can track clicks and performance using Facebook’s native analytic tools or third-party software such as Google Analytics.


With easy to use templates and load times that are 15x faster than traditional retail sites, Instant Experiences should help brands better connect and engage with potential customers on Facebook and Instagram. If you haven’t considered using these ads before, it may be worth considering them in your next campaign.

Ol’ Crimson is Coming Home

After 15 years and 216 appearances on ESPN’s College Gameday, Ol’ Crimson is Coming Home. This, most likely, does not mean anything to most of you. However, as a lifetime Washington State Cougar fan and Alumni, this is a day to celebrate.

Typically, on our blog we discuss the newest trends and best practices in Social Media, Video Production, Graphic Design, etc. However, since I’ve got the reins this week, I’m going rogue. Mostly because I haven’t been able to think about anything else since ESPN announced last week that it was bringing College Gameday to Pullman, WA. Let me give you some history of why this is such a big deal and bring you all up to speed.

Washington State University (WSU) is located in Pullman, WA. A small farming town with 33,000 full time residents and less than 20,000 students, 75 miles south of Spokane, WA, which is the only city within a four-hour drive that you might have actually heard of. WSU’s football team has seen success over the years, but is widely considered as a PAC 12 Conference underdog. Competing against schools like USC, Stanford, Oregon, and Washington, who have major cities and money to back their recruiting efforts. Being the underdog has never hampered the unwavering passion of the Cougar fan base though, which has been visible every Saturday during the college football season over the last 15 years.

In October 2003, Cougar alum Tom Pounds (class of ’81), drove from Albuquerque to Austin for the Kansas State vs. Texas game with a home-made WSU flag to wave in the background on the set of College Gameday. What he didn’t know is that this would start one of the best traditions in college football. Since then, Ol’Crimson, the crimson red flag with white logo, has made it to the next 215 Gamedays and traveled to 72 cities, in 34 states, which included 70 different college campuses. For the majority of this streak (2005 – 2014), WSU was 36-85 and owned the worst winning percentage among all Power 5 programs. However, the streak continued thanks to the die hard Cougar fans across the country who volunteered to wave the flag each Saturday.

As the tradition gained steam over the years, people began to take notice. Including the crew of ESPN College Gameday, who regularly talk about Ol’ Crimson on their program. However, the Gameday buses never made their way to Pullman. That is until now! Nearly 15 years to the day since the tradition started, WSU will host College Gameday and Ol’ Crimson will get to come home.

“I can’t define it, I can’t tell someone who isn’t a Cougar what it’s like. There’s something that happens at Washington State; you quietly and subtly become infected. Washington State is a passion. Being a Cougar is a passion”. - Jim Walden, WSU’s Head Football Coach 1978 – 86

Gameday Update

Cougar Nation showed up in full force with estimates ranging from 15,000-30,000 people in attendance for the 6a.m. start of College Gameday. The Cougars went on to beat Oregon, 34-20, capping what some say was the best day in WSU history.

The Authorization Process for US Advertisers to Run Political Ads on Facebook

With the midterm elections almost upon us, people in the United States are getting inundated with television and radio ads for local elections. A new trend over the past decade has been the proliferation of the use of social media to inform voters and increase awareness about particular candidates or issues. Questions about the use of social media in the 2016 Presidential Election even led to Congressional hearings where executives for Facebook and Twitter testified. One of the central questions of these hearings was what steps are these companies taking to ensure foreign actors are not using the power of social media adverting to influence U.S. elections. In response, both companies vowed to implement new procedures to prevent foreign actors from running political ads about American elections.

A few weeks ago when creating a Facebook advertising campaign for a client of ours (when to a presidential historian), I was surprised at the notification that my advertising campaign was not approved due to the ads being related to politics or issues of national importance. Although the specific ads I was trying to create was not political, I decided not to request a manual review but rather to investigate the requirements to be authorized to run ads related to politics or issues of national importance.

To better understand the process, let’s first review what Facebook considers Ads Related to Politics or Issues of National Importance. Facebook says that any ad that meets one of the below requirements will be considered in this group, and hence require authorization to run these ads:

  • Is made by, on behalf of, or about a current or former candidate for public office, a political party, a political action committee, or advocates for the outcome of an election to public office; or

  • Relates to any election, referendum, or ballot initiative, including "get out the vote" or election information campaigns; or

  • Relates to any national legislative issue of public importance in any place where the ad is being run; or

  • Is regulated as political advertising.

Facebook has defined issues that are considered of national importance to be the following (but Facebook expects this list to grow over time): abortion, budget, civil rights, crime, economy, education, energy, environment, foreign policy, government reform, guns, health, immigration, infrastructure, military, poverty, social security, taxes, terrorism, and values.

There are some practical limitations on the actual ad if it falls under this definition. First, each ad must have a disclaimer provided by advertisers that shows the name of the person or entity that paid for the ad. Facebook provides additional specifications for the requirements on their website. “Once authorized, you can run ads related to politics or issues of national importance on Facebook and Instagram using any ad format except dynamic ads and boosted continuous live video. Currently, these ads can't run on the WhatsApp, Messenger and Audience Network placements” (Facebook support document).

Another interesting element is the existence of the Ad Archive. The Ad Archive is a public, searchable database of every “ads related to politics or issues of national importance that have appeared on either Facebook or Instagram. The Ad Archive may include both historical and current ads.” In essence, the information you see in Ad Manager will be public to anyone if the ad is about politics. This includes:

  • Active or inactive: People can see whether or not the ad is currently running.

  • Disapproved notice: If an ad in the Ad Archive was active but then became disapproved, it will show as “disapproved” in the Ad Archive.

  • Duration: People can see the duration of the ad (ex, October 18, 2018 - October 23, 2018).

  • Impressions: People can see a range for the number of impressions the ad received (ex 1K-5K), not the exact number.

  • Amount spent: People can see a range for the amount spent on the ad (ex, $1K-$5K), not the exact amount.

  • Demographic information (Age and gender): People can see the the % of people by age and gender who had an impression on the ad.

  • Location: People can see information about the location(s) where the ad was viewed.

The authorization process is actually pretty straight forward. In general, it seems like they are most concerned that you are a citizen of and live in the country you want to be authorized to run ads in. For the U.S., you need to first turn on two-factor authentication. Two-factor is a solid security measure everyone should be using, but takes on added importance when you are potentially running ads for specific candidates. The second step is confirm your primary country location (ie. where you live). This is confirmed by receiving a letter in the mail to your mailing address with a 6 digit code that you then have to enter on Facebook. Next, you need to scan and submit a copy of a government ID (US passport, driver's license or state ID). Finally, you need to provide the last four digits of your social security number.

It will be interesting to see over the coming elections if these seemingly thoughtful processes created by Facebook will reinstall trust in their advertising platform as it concerns political ads.