What if you could have other people create content for you that would perform way better than the content your company produces?

It's the dream scenario. Your customers save you time, and your followers trust their content more, which boosts your engagement and click-through rates. That's the principle behind user-generated content (UGC).

Let's look at Coca-Cola. In 2014, they launched their "Share a Coke" campaign. The company's hypothesis was simple: Get people to post photos on social media through their relationships with others (cans and bottles featured titles like "Mom" and "Friend"). Adding a first name to each Coke bottle made people more inclined to buy and share their Coke bottles, and it proved successful.

After years of declining soda sales, this campaign prompted a 2 percent increase in soft drink sales. That buzz attracted new followers, and Coca-Cola gained about 25 million Facebook followers.

UGC like the "Share a Coke" campaign create compelling experiences for your customers — which translates into powerful ROI for you.

By the numbers — Why UGC works

  • 85 percent of consumers say they find UGC more influential than brand-created content, according to Offerpop data.
  • Millennials trust UGC 50 percent more than any other media type, found Ipsos and Crowdtap research.
  • UGC content gets 6.9 times more engagement than brand-created content, found Mavrck data.
  • 90 percent of shoppers say UGC influences their decisions to make a purchase, outranking all other forms of marketing. Plus, shoppers are also willing to pay more and wait longer for products paired with UGC, found TurnTo Networks and Ipsos.

4 ways to create more UGC

1. Make it a targeted campaign. For this to work, you need to treat it like any other marketing campaign. Create goals, set benchmarks and develop a promotional campaign to get the word out. You'll absolutely want to create a brand-specific hashtag, like #ShareaCoke, to make it easier to find and engage with UGC.

2. Get specific. Tell people exactly what you want them to do. Do you want them to dance with your product? Take a short video as they unbox it? Be specific! When you give more guidance, users will feel more comfortable submitting content because they have a how-to guide. Plus, you'll increase the chances of getting the exact videos and photos you want.

3. Shape your campaign around life events, like engagements, weddings, births, vacations and holidays. Already, 79 percent of people use social media to share life events with their friends and family. It's a moment they want to celebrate and one for which they'll often need more products or services. In fact, 51 percent of people make a purchase for a life milestone after seeing the product on social media, according to 2017 Q4 Sprout Social research.

4. Reward your participants. If you have a huge following on social, the chance to be featured may be enough of an incentive for your fans. If that's not the case, get creative. Give away promo codes or a small gift to everyone who participants in your campaign. Or hold a contest!