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How to Engage Your Community with User-Generated Content

Government agencies and organizations are always looking to find new and better ways to connect and engage with the communities they serve. By leveraging the authentic content visitors and community members share on social networks, governments can not only increase awareness for their organizations but also amplify the reach of their communities.

What is user-generated content?

User-generated content (UGC) is any content—text, videos, images, reviews, etc.—created by people, rather than brands. UGC is prevalent on Instagram, where brands can easily repost UGC from users’ accounts. And it’s worthwhile to do this — 76% of individuals surveyed said they trusted content shared by “average” people more than by brands, and nearly 100% of consumers trust recommendations from others.

The benefits of incorporating UGC into your digital strategy include:

  • building trust
  • expanding social reach
  • increasing social followers
  • boosting authenticity and credibility
  • assisting in crisis management efforts
  • adding value to online community platforms

How are government agencies and organizations using UGC to provide an immediate, authentic, and engaging digital experience for citizens?

Before you venture into UGC, I recommend reviewing content rights. CrowdRiff has a helpful article that addresses frequently asked questions.

This year the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources rolled out a UGC campaign called #PupoftheWeek. The campaign utilizes Instagram to highlight visitors that are exploring North Carolina’s natural and cultural sites with their furry friends.

The North Carolina State Parks 100-mile Challenge challenges every North Carolinian to complete 100 miles of physical activity. Their website shares UGC to show how participants are engaging with the challenge.










The U.S. Department of Interior uses UGC to spotlight national parks using visitor photographs.

As it turns out, dreams really can come true– especially if you’re looking for beauty at Crater Lake National Park in…

Posted by U.S. Department of the Interior on Sunday, December 8, 2019


TSA is the ultimate purveyor of user-generated content. Their very popular Instagram account does a great job of using UGC from other digital platforms to educate the public.

View this post on Instagram

We’re not trying to be humerus here, but as far as plastic skeletons go, this one looks pretty bare bones. You might get some ribbing from your fellow travelers, but make no bones about it, as far as TSA is concerned, your skeleton is good to go. You may want to contact your airline in advance to see if it will fit in the overhead or under your seat. While some airplanes do have closets, we doubt the airlines would be too keen on letting you store your skeletons in them. … This picture is a screenshot of a tweet that was sent to our AskTSA team. … Have you ever wondered whether or not you can pack a certain item? If you're a regular follower of this account, I'm sure you can think of many situations where it would have behooved somebody to send us a picture first. Well, fret no more! Now you can do just that! … Simply snap a picture and tweet it to AskTSA (twitter.com/asktsa), or send it via Facebook Messenger (facebook.com/asktsa) and our team will get back to you promptly with an answer. … And that's not all! Contact the team about any TSA related issue or question you might have. They can even help you if you don’t see TSA Pre✓® on your boarding pass. … Check out our new EXTENDED HOURS! The team looks forward to answering your questions, 8am-10pm on weekdays, and 9am-7pm on weekends and holidays . #AskTSA #TSATravelTips #TSA … #RandomThought – It could be said that two feuding skeletons have a bone to pick with each other.

A post shared by TSA (@tsa) on

The Visit Pittsburgh website aims to put that more accurate picture of the city on full display. Their site is packed with eye-catching images, ranging from skylines captured by professional photographers to meals and events captured by everyday locals and visitors.

Kaytee Smith is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She brings more than 10 years of digital communications and outreach experience to her role as Chief Content Officer at the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, where she helps tell North Carolina’s story and oversees the department’s editorial and content production team. She has a full spectrum of experience across platforms, including video and emerging social media, and works with divisions across the state on digital initiatives and content strategy. You can read her posts here.

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