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Widen marketing hacks: How to collect user-generated content by watching hashtags on social media

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What marketer doesn’t like free content to engage its audience? Let me rephrase that… What marketer doesn’t like free, high-quality, authentic user-generated content from an extremely engaged customer community that inherently breeds more high-quality, authentic user-generated content that fuels greater creative capacity, boosts marketing reach and builds your brand? All marketers want this. Period.

“It's the present for us and the future for others,” says Matt Gelineau, Senior Multimedia Producer at BEAM Interactive, the digital agency for MINI USA. “User-generated content is especially liked because people are savvy of marketing, and it’s a breath of fresh air to the consumer.” 

To help MINI USA save money while increasing audience engagement, BEAM Interactive helps MINI USA curate high-quality, user-generated content to augment their product photography and creative asset library. They then repurpose the user-generated content across other MINI campaigns and brand domains, like you see on the MINIUSA.com photo challenge page

Today, Gelineau leads the automated workflows, producing over 2,400 user-generated assets, which are part of their digital asset library of 14,000 assets in total. MINI USA’s content curation strategy makes the brand more authentic, transparent and engaging. The MINI USA story is a featured case study in our Connecting and Curating Content webinar. You can also revisit the MINI story posted earlier in the year. Overall, the digital marketing efforts from BEAM Interactive boost the authenticity of the MINI USA brand experience and helps them capitalize on the owner passion it helps deliver!

MINI Photo Challenge
Photo challenge page under the community section on MINIUSA.com

Believe it or not, this is something you can do on your own. Pacific Cycle did! You don’t need to rely on an agency or sophisticated technology setup to make the collection of user generated content a reality for your organization and your brand. 

We share with you the steps involved with a DIY automation blueprint for collecting user generated content from social media. Of course, the process of connecting and curating content becomes a lot easier for organizations who use the Widen Media Collective to centrally organize and distribute all visual content and brand assets.

This blueprint is credited to Michael Gilday, worked to establish the workflow foundations by connecting all the tools. See related article on MediaPost.

Widen User Generated Content Automation Blueprint

For Widen Media Collective customers who want to follow the blueprint, it looks like this... 

1.  Activate the Dropbox plugin through the features page of your Media Collective site.

2.  Configure your upload profile in Admin Tools to sync up with your Dropbox account.

3.  Setup an account with IFTTT (or other cloud connector service) to sync social media sites like Instagram with Dropbox.

4.  Setup your IFTTT recipe to watch hashtags on social networks. Instagram proves to be the most open social network for watching hashtags and grabbing content (over Facebook and Twitter).

5.  Set your trigger to send files to your Dropbox Collective Apps folder.

Steps not represented in the middle of it all include the need to hold a contest or event to rally your audience and get people to post photos and videos to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using your hashtag. You’ll increase the likelihood of audience participation by promoting your event hashtag across all channels and customer touchpoints. 

6.  Collect FREE assets in your DAM site automatically using the automated workflow made possible with IFTTT and the Dropbox plugin.

You’ll need to do some DAM chores like weeding out the junk, entering metadata and any other necessary admin detail. There are a number of ways to automate metadata entry upon ingestion through the upload profile settings. 

Share new assets in a shared collection for internal collaboration or in a global collection for external sharing by partners and customers. Share your favorites on your website and social networks to increase awareness and improve the likelihood for more people to share high-quality content.

7.  Everybody wins!!! You strengthen affinity with your brand by improving audience engagement while collecting authentic, high-quality content to support your marketing mix.

Want help in doing this for your brand? Get in touch with me anytime @jakeathey. I’m happy to talk through any of our experience in setting this up like we did for the #WidenSummit event in October.


Not yet a Widen customer? You can still do much of this by using IFTTT to connect social media with Dropbox. Check out this slightly revised automation blueprint below and view some of the IFTTT recipes we’ve cooked up.

Automation Blueprint for collecting user generated content via social media using IFTTT and Dropbox

How to collect user generated content via social media using IFTTT and Dropbox


Sample IFTTT recipes that we setup for the #WidenSummit. Try them out at IFTTT.com.

If Instagram Then Dropbox
Example 1. If anyone posts a photo or video to Instagram using #WidenSummit, then that file ends up in my Dropbox folder synced up with the Widen Media Collective.

If Gmail Then Dropbox

Example 2. If anyone sends a photo or video to our summit email address using #WidenSummit in the subject line, then that file ends up in my Dropbox folder synced up with the Widen Media Collective.

If Twitter Then Google Drive

Example 3. This is more of a manual process, but if anyone tweets at @WidenEnterprise or uses #WidenSummit on Twitter, we’ll retweet our favorites and those tweets will be logged in a Google spreadsheet. Then, we manually select the photos we want and place them in my Dropbox folder synced up with the Widen Media Collective.

Again, get in touch anytime @jakeathey to share other marketing hacks.

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