User-generated content, or UGC for short, is any content created, published, and submitted by users of a brand. In many cases, it’s the most effective content for brands. Often, contributors are unpaid fans who promote a brand instead of the brand promoting itself.
What Is User-Generated Content?
User-generated content (UGC) is any type of content that fans or customers create for a brand. It can be in blog posts, videos, photos, or even tweets. The core idea behind this strategy is to turn customers into brand advocates.
As a marketer, you need to encourage your customers to flaunt the products they purchase from you. You can curate the best posts and feature them on your social media profiles and website.
Not only is it a great way to build your brand’s credibility, but also to give a shoutout to your followers. Ultimately, it can help you get more engagement and boost your follower count.
If you are still struggling to understand the merits of user-generated content, here are some statistics. According to a study on UGC:
90% of American consumers consider User-Generated Content the most influential part that affects their purchase decisions.
87% of all search engine results consider user-generated content the second most influential element that affects a purchase decision.
73% of shoppers revealed that UGC increases their overall purchasing confidence.
61% of shoppers said that UGC encourages them to engage with brands.
It has been a game-changer in the world of marketing. It focuses back on the customer and what they have to say about the brand. It’s a testimonial that can drive trust in your brand.
It’s a significant shift from traditional marketing techniques. You’re not going all out with your guns blazing. It’s a subtle promotion with more authenticity to it.
Another advantage of User-Generated Content is that it can help you build a community of fans. This strategy can make your followers feel like they are a part of a like-minded community.
The best part is that this strategy can also help you get more content for free. So, here is the bottom line on UGC — less money, more authenticity, and better marketing.
Where does user-generated content come from?
Think unboxing videos shared on TikTok or praise-filled posts on Instagram. Your customers are usually the most prominent cohort you’ll look to gain UGC from, either because you’ve asked for it or because they’ve organically decided to share content about your brand.
Loyalists, advocates, or fans. However you label your most dedicated customers, they’re typically the most enthusiastic group about your business. Since loyalists are so passionate about worshiping at the alter of the brand, this audience segment is ripe to reach out to and ask for specific UGC content.
Employee-generated content (EGC) shows the value and story behind your brand. For example, photos of employees packing or making up orders or a video of your team talking about why they love working for your company. This behind-the-scenes content helps establish brand identity and works across social and ads to showcase authenticity.
Why is user-generated content important?
UGC is used across all stages of the buyer’s journey to help influence engagement and increase conversions. Can use the customer-centric content on social media and other channels, such as email, landing pages, or checkout pages.
It takes authenticity to the next level.
Nowadays, brands have to fight to see online, and competition is fierce for audience attention. As a result, buyers are more selective about the brands they interact with and purchase from, especially the notoriously fickle Gen-Z.
And it’s not just consumers who are passionate about authentic content. 60% of marketers agree that authenticity and quality are essential elements of successful content. And there’s no other content type that’s more authentic than User-Generated Content from your customers.
Don’t be tempted to fake your user-generated posts or campaign. Audiences will quickly sniff out the false sentiment, which could seriously damage your brand’s reputation. Instead, always ensure that your UGC comes from one of three cohorts: your customers, brand loyalists, or employees.
People trust other people, so it’s essential to consider UGC as the modern-day word of mouth.
And with consumers 2.4 times more likely to view user-generated content as authentic than content created by brands, the time to invest in an authenticity-driven social marketing strategy is now.
Helps establish brand loyalty and grow the community
UGC gives customers a unique opportunity to participate in a brand’s growth instead of being a spectator. This influences brand loyalty and affinity in a big way because people thrive off being part of something greater than themselves, and creating User-Generated Content allows them to be part of a brand’s community.
UGC also opens up conversations between a brand and consumer, and this level of brand interaction helps build and grow an engaged community.
Sharing audience content also works to develop and deepen audience/business relationships, driving more brand loyalty.
Acts as a trust signal
Remember when Fyre Festival was marketed as an “immersive music festival over two transformative weekends,” but the event was rain-soaked tents in a field with no electricity or food? This is why people don’t trust marketers or advertisers.
Only 9% of Americans trust mass media “a great deal,” which is no surprise given the influx of fake news since the 2020 global pandemic.
Brands need to work harder than ever to establish themselves as trustworthy. And with 93% of marketers agreeing that consumers trust content created by customers more than content created by brands, this signals that UGC is the perfect format for businesses to level up their trust score.
Audiences turn to UGC as a trust signal in the same way they’d ask their friends, family, or professional network for an opinion. Over 50% of millennials base their decision to buy a product on recommendations from their family and friends, so this is where UGC can shine since it is precisely that: a personal recommendation.
Increase conversions and influence purchasing decisions
User-generated content is incredibly influential in the final stages of the buyer’s journey, where you’re looking to convert your audience and influence them into making a purchase.
UGC acts as authentic social proof that your product is worthy of buying. For example, your audience sees people just like them wearing or using your product, influencing them to decide to buy.
You can even show your non-human customers using your product, as Casper does in this UGC post of Dean the Beagle.
Adaptable and flexible
UGC can be used off social in other marketing campaigns, making the strategy an omnichannel approach.
For example, you could add UGC images in an abandon cart email to help nudge the prospective buyer to make a purchase or add user-generated content to key landing pages to help increase conversion rates.
More cost-effective than influencer marketing
The average cost of hiring an influencer can run into millions of dollars. The average price of asking your customers to share posts of them enjoying your product? Next to nothing.
UGC is a cost-effective way to scale your business and introduce a new marketing strategy to the mix. There’s also no need to invest dollars in hiring a flashy creative agency to produce brand assets or content for your campaigns.
Connect with the most important people in your business: your audience. Most will be excited to feature on your channel.
UGC is cheaper and easier to manage for smaller brands or those just starting than investing in larger-scale brand awareness campaigns.
Works in harmony with social commerce
The future of online shopping is social commerce, a.k.a shopping directly on your favorite social channels. The main draw of social marketing is that it allows audiences to convert natively within a social media app rather than going off-network to complete a purchase.
You’re scrolling through Instagram and pause on a cute new bathrobe. You tap to learn more about the product, decide to purchase and complete the transaction in the app. That’s social commerce in action.
UGC and social commerce work well together because UGC is influential in driving conversions. Nearly 80% of people say that UGC impacts their purchase decisions, making user-generated content and social commerce a match made in heaven.
Things to Keep In Mind While Creating a User-Generated Campaign For Your Brand
You’ve seen what other brands are doing with UGC. Now it’s your turn to get the ball rolling. Before you set out to plan your UGC, keep these things in mind:
- Pick the Right Social Media Channel
The first step for you should be to decide on the right social media channel for your campaign. Of course, Instagram is the most popular platform because it’s highly visual. However, consider where your target audience spends most of their time before you decide.
While photos, videos, GIFs, and Stories work great for Facebook and Instagram, your content options on other platforms will be limited. LinkedIn is mostly about text posts and infographics. On the other hand, YouTube is only about videos.
- Define Your Goals
User-generated content can help you build your audience and boost your engagement. At the same time, it can improve your brand trust and help you spread brand awareness. There are multiple ways it can help you.
Before you create your campaign, you need to be clear about your aim. Based on your ultimate goal, you can plan your UGC marketing campaign.
- Give Clear Instructions to Your Audience
Tell your audience exactly what you want from them. Whether it is a video or a photo, be clear about the guidelines of your campaign.
Mention details like submission deadlines, hashtags to be used, and any other rules you may have. If you specify your requirements clearly, your audience is more likely to send you content that you can use.
There are several opportunities for businesses, large and small, to benefit from user-generated content. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to get started — and you probably already have users creating content about your brand.
As you set out to harness user-generated content, remember that it starts first with delivering the value that you promise to your end-users.
You can always use strategies to promote more good user-generated content, but if you consistently exceed your customers’ expectations, the user-generated content will happen naturally.
UGC can give you a big edge over your competitors. It’s a strategy that can help you create a powerful presence on social media. The best part is that you can get creative and explore different ways of engaging with your audience.