The use of social media user-generated content (UGC) has been growing in popularity among marketers, leaving those who haven't jumped in wondering whether the time is right to do so. And so, as with any cliché business pep talk: yes, the time is now!

A UGC campaign is the process of acquiring social media content that marketers then use in their own campaigns. And UGC is on the rise. The most recent point of validation of its effectiveness is Snapchat, which this year enabled users to superimpose corporate logos on their photos.

Often, we see clothing companies, travel destinations, and sport teams using UGC; but, in reality, any type of company with a social following can (and should) partake. As the marketing landscape begins to shift to a more UGC-centric direction, what steps can you take to capitalize on this authentic marketing tactic?

Here is an easy list of eight steps to consider when embarking on a UGC campaign.

1. Decide whether UGC is worth your time

User-generated content campaigns usually work best for companies with some sort of social following. If you don't have certain social accounts, say Twitter or Instagram, find out how many people are talking and posting about you there. Do so by using a social media listening tool, like Hootsuite, to understand the volume of people posting about your brand. Consider the data to determine whether UGC would be worth your time pursuing.

Before planning your UGC campaign, you must understand your audience, or ideal audience. Use your Hootsuite research to understand where they're hanging out and what they are posting about your brand. Have they made up their own hashtag about it, for example, or is the one you publicized the go-to one for your audience? Stick with the popular hashtag—and social platform. You will want to centralize the UGC posts so the content is easy to find. The less time you spend crawling through different social accounts, the higher your ROI will be.

2. Establish your goals and make a plan

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image of Kevin Joyce

Kevin Joyce is a marketing analyst for user-generated content (UGC) platform ShareRoot, where he spends much of his time researching and sharing the effectiveness and legal complexities of UGC.

LinkedIn: Kevin Joyce