Brandie McCallum

Crowdsourced Content Should Be Fun, Not Scary or Risky

By: Brandie McCallum | November 2, 2016 | 

Removing the Fear From Crowdsourced ContentI am a total foodie.

My camera roll is full of pictures of dinner, breakfast, wine, and desserts.

I am the person who snaps a picture of the plate before even lifting my fork.

The wine glass needs to be at a certain angle and SNAP!!


Smile for the camera, food.

Seems silly, right?

It can be—if the restaurant ignores my picture.

When I post to Instagram and/or Facebook, I tag the place and, if they have one, I use their hashtag.

And mostly, I hear crickets, which I don’t understand.

Why is there such fear in sharing, liking, or even commenting on crowdsourced content shared from the community?

Brands often fear what is being posted: It won’t be on message, on brand, or will be poor quality.

All are valid points, but they shouldn’t prevent any comments, shares, or likes.

How Brands are Using Crowdsourced Content

The community wants to love the brand and they want to be acknowledged, be appreciated and mostly, to know they are loved!

So how do brands do this?

Simple: Ask your community to share their experiences with your brand—and then respond to them.

Give them a like, comment on, or re-share their pictures, videos, and posts!

Many brands put the ask in their bio with their branded hashtag.

Journeys takes it one step further…they listen, respond, and ask.


Start small, use a specific hashtag, and create five to 10 posts using that hashtag.

This will help explain to people what you are looking for and why.

Want another example?

Check out how Blue Apron has asked for and uses the hashtag #BlueApron in pictures on their Instagram.

They encourage their customers to do the same, because they want to know how it’s going when you get their meal box and what you do with it!

What to Do With Your Crowdsourced Content

You don’t have to share everything your community creates.

But you should respond to everything.

Comment and let people know you are appreciative if they mention your handle, use your hashtag, or tag your location.

Yes, even for the negative comments.

Especially for the negative comments.

To quote Jay Baer, Hug Your Haters.

Hopefully when you and your team created your marketing plan, there was a piece on how to handle negative responses.

If you don’t have that piece, create it now.

Want to really encourage and create a stronger, more loyal community?

Send them a handwritten thank you card or some swag.

Look at how Under Armour has done that for their #YouvsTheYear campaign.

Under Armour challenged their community to run 1000km for the year of 2016.

Then, across multiple platforms they commented, sent gifts, and created a strong fan-based community inside a Facebook group.

When you surprise and delight people with your appreciation, they will likely share even more of your stuff, and build more crowdsourced content for you.

Are You Ready to Start Your Own Campaign?

Here are four easy ways to get crowdsourced content going, without a lot of time, expense, or risk:

  • To create a strong hashtag strategy, decide what you are asking for and why.
  • Determine the best hashtag for you. Use Hashtagify or RiteTag to be sure it’s not already in use.
  • Set your goals, address how your team will handle negative or hijacked posts, and make sure you have included getting permission from people to use their pictures and posts.
  • Use Keyhole or Hashtracking to keep track of your hashtag. Follow the analytics and see what is resonating.

Now it’s your turn.

What are your favorite brands that are great at using crowdsourced content?

About Brandie McCallum

Brandie is a freelance Community Manager & Traveller. She lives and breathes marketing and community. She loves to help people discover their people and make the connections no one else sees! She frequently talks #BewbLuv and her journey with breast-cancer.

  • Love the examples you share here, Brandie!

    I think many brands underestimate the negative impact *not* embracing fan love can have on their brand—and the future lifetime value of that customer and their referrals.

    I think Fluevog does a good job at amplifying and soliciting fan content. (and it makes me want to buy more shoes!)

    • brandie mccallum

      Thanks so much @erika_heald:disqus I love love Fluevog!! Several years ago, they interacted with me so much on Twitter, I made a special trip to their grand opening of the SF store!! They love their fans and show it!!

  • Such a great post, Brandie. Loved your “appearance” on ContentChat too. So much fun.

    You make some valid points. Too many brands ignore this golden opportunity which is their community. Some are afraid to interact, others think it’s their “right,” while others simply don’t know what to do.

    That’s a shame, because your community wants to know it matters to you. They want to be heard.

    • brandie mccallum

      Thanks so much @corinamanea:disqus!! I agree people just want to heard and feel the brand loves them! I had a great time and hoping @erika_heald:disqus asks me back again!!


    Crowd sourced content is way more powerful if less professional looking than your own Branded Content. It is also a more authentic influence marketing. These people are promoting your brand for you!

    And simple listening tools can help you identify opportunity to engage your fans. It helps to have a dedicated feed say on Hootsuite with your brand or product name because 95%+ of all mentions will not include you directly. I did a recent look at Wendy’s on Twitter. For every mention of Wendy’s as @wendys there were 20 mentions the brand would never see unless they had a feed for it.

    • brandie mccallum

      Hi @HowieG:disqus!! I agree it can look less professional yet, that’s part of the charm… it’s not as polished and stuffy as the normal branded content. I think that makes it more impactful.
      Yup, brands need to listen for when people don’t @ them or misspell their name. Responding to those comments are more impactful, IMO… people aren’t expecting it.

  • Love this!! I’m off to follow you on Instagram now. My husband now knows not to start eating until I’ve taken him a photo and given him a nod!!

    We’re not really getting a lot of crowdsourced content right now but I hope we will get more and more as we expand our social reach.

    Thanks for the tips 🙂