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Back-to-school season is upon us! And even though we may still be a few weeks away from that fateful first day back, parents and students across the nation have already started gearing up for the new school year. Last week, we shared some of our favorite back-to-school marketing stats (like how last year back-to-school spending was projected to reach $82.8 billion). This week, we’re coming at you hard with one of our favorite marketing tactics perfect for capturing those back-to-school dollars: User-Generated Content. 

Why User-Generated Content? 

To start with, if you’re not already familiar with the term, user-generated content (UGC) is any content that your fans create on your behalf. If you’ve ever been tagged in a customer’s Instagram feed, then congrats, that’s UGC.

So, why should your back-to-school marketing plan use UGC?

Because it works! 

User-Generated Content Best Practices

While every UGC campaign is going to be different, here are a couple general best practices you can study up on. 

Keep it Simple

Don’t make your audience bend over backward to submit their content. After all, they’re the ones doing YOU the favor. In that same vein, don’t make your content requests overly complex. 

Keep it On Brand

Remember, every interaction you have with your audience is an opportunity to reinforce your brand identity. Be sure your UGC efforts tie into your brand. It should “make sense” to your audience why your brand has chosen to sponsor a specific UGC contest. 

Keep it Rewarding

You don’t have to give away a new summer convertible, but you should offer some sort of reward or incentive to those that participate in your UGC efforts. Again, you’re requesting that your audience take a bit of time and energy out of their day to help you out. The better the carrot, the more entries you’re likely to get. 

Keep it Legal

A small but mighty note, determine ahead of time if you’re running a UGC contest or sweepstakes. Contests have a judging criteria where you can select a winner, sweepstakes are random drawings. Friendly note, you can not require a purchase to enter AND conduct a random selection. That’s called a lottery and it’s super illegal. 

User-Generated Content Contest Ideas Perfect for  Back-to-School Season

Alright, class is in session. Pencils down and eyes up. Here are a couple of our favorite back-to-school UGC contest ideas. We’ve broken this down by a couple of different industries for extra credit. 

UGC Back-to-School Ideas For Fashion Brands and Retailers

When it comes to fashion brands and retailers, your UGC efforts should revolve around your apparel selection as clothing accounts for the majority of back to school spending (according to 73% of parents surveyed)

  • #FirstDayOutfits – Ask your audience to give a sneak peek of their chosen outfits for the hallowed first day back to school. Be sure to ask them to tag your brand and share how they’re outfit makes them feel. 
  • #MustHave – Have your audience share their #1 absolute must-have item for back-to-school.
  • Shopping Spree – Encourage your followers to snap a picture of their back-to-school shopping experience tagging their mom, friends or both. 

UGC Back-to-School Ideas For CPG and F&B Brands

For CPG and F&B brands, the return of the lunch hour can have a big impact on sales during the back-to-school season. 

  • #PackItRight – Have your audience highlight their favorite item in a home-packed lunch. 
  • Say Goodbye to Summer – Ask your audience to shoot a short video or story that highlights something they’re going to miss about the summer being over. 
  • Snack Time – Whether it’s a quick bite before football practice or a late afternoon treat, encourage your audience to share what their goto snacking option is. 

UGC Back-to-School Ideas For Schools, Colleges, and University

Back-to-school season isn’t just about brands and retailers, it’s also a huge moment for schools and institutions of hiring learn. We know, shocking.

  • #FirstDayBack – Encourage your followers to create content around the hype and excitement of the first day back.
  • Freshman Fever – This ones targeted more to the new recruits, but consider creating a UGC contest aimed specifically at Freshman entering a new school year. 
  • Back-to-School Events – Take the focus off of your students and shift it to your school events by asking your institutional fans to create content around the various back-to-school events you’re running. 

Go Back-to-School With Honors

This back to school season, graduate your marketing efforts by leveraging the content creating prowess of your fans! Whether you’re a fashion brand, small business retailer, CPG brand, or anything in between, be sure to mix in a little user-generated content into your back-to-school marketing mix. 

Need some help with your UGC efforts, with SocialToaster’s Advocacy Marketing Platform you can easily solicit, manage, and reward your biggest fans for creating user-generated content. Schedule your free demo to learn more!