User-generated content (UGC) is an incredible way to attract new customers, build loyalty, and create unique experiences. But what is user-generated content exactly, and how can you use it to make your marketing strategy more effective?
If you’re looking for fresh, exciting ways to engage your customers, keep reading to learn about all UGC, its benefits, and how to get started today.
- User-generated content (UGC) is original, brand-specific content created by individuals who are not paid to create it.
- Reviews, testimonials, social media posts, videos, blog posts, and articles are some of the types of UGC businesses can leverage.
- User-generated content enhances credibility and authenticity, boosts engagement and customer loyalty, saves time and resources, generates buzz, increases brand awareness, and provides valuable insights and feedback.
- Strategies for encouraging valuable user-generated content include offering incentives, creating a branded hashtag, running a contest, featuring user-generated content on social media, partnering with influencers, and fostering community.
- To ensure legal and ethical compliance of UGC, obtain proper permissions from creators, be transparent and honest, consider privacy laws, and monitor user-generated content for explicit or harmful content.
What is UGC? User-generated content refers to original, brand-specific content created by individuals who are not paid to create it. Instead, these individuals are inspired or motivated to create content on their own because they are passionate about a brand’s products or services.
This can be on any user-generated content platform, from social media to blogs. User-generated content can take many forms, such as images, videos, reviews, blog posts, tweets, and more. The key feature of UGC is that it is created by users, for users.
Types of User-Generated Content
User-generated content can supercharge your brand’s online presence and sales. Below, we explore the different types of UGC consumers can create.
Reviews and testimonials are perhaps one of the most frequently used types of UGC. Reviews help establish credibility and trust, and customers are more likely to buy when they see positive reviews from people who’ve already tried the brand’s product or service. Reviews can appear on a brand’s website or third-party review sites like Yelp.
Airbnb is an excellent example of a company that successfully showcases customer reviews to attract potential customers.
Social Media Posts
Social media is another popular platform for UGC. Customers share photos and videos and participate in brand-related conversations, creating a vast content library. Brands can curate this content by reposting or sharing it on their channels, building a sense of community around their product or service.
For example, Red Bull fans use the #RedBullAdventure hashtag on Instagram to share photos and videos of themselves enjoying the brand’s energy drinks in adventurous settings.
Videos are another popular form of UGC that you’ll find on just about any social media platform, from Twitter and Facebook to Instagram and TikTok. User-generated videos can be hosted on a brand’s website, or the brand can ask customers for footage that they can share on their social media channels.
Brand advocates will also create videos to demonstrate how they use a product, post an unboxing experience, share a review, and more — the brand can then use social listening tools to find these mentions, comment on them, and share with them their broader audience.
GoPro is a great example of a brand that successfully uses customer-created videos, as they encourage customers to upload their content to the brand’s social media pages.
Blog Posts/ Articles
Blog posts and articles are more involved forms of UGC, but they can be incredibly valuable to a brand. A customer who’s passionate about a brand or product might create a blog post to discuss why they believe in it or how it’s helped them. A brand can then curate this content and share it on their website or social media channels.
For example, Moz, a software company, regularly features blog posts written by its customers.
Contests are an excellent way to encourage UGC. Brands can ask customers to submit photos, reviews, or videos to participate in these contests. Brands can then reward winners with prizes or discounts.
Starbucks created an exciting UGC contest by asking customers to create their own unique cups and submit a photo of them using the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. The winning design became the brand’s limited-edition cup for the year.
Who Creates User-Generated Content?
User-generated content is an excellent way to build customer engagement, enhance brand value, and increase profits. But the question remains, who creates UGC? Let’s find out!
Customers are the primary source of UGC. They are the ones who interact with your brand, buy your products, and have an opinion of your brand. By creating content about their experience with your brand, they help to build your reputation and trust online. Reviews, testimonials, and product photos are some of the most common forms of UGC that customers create.
Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your brand through simple campaigns such as photo contests or hashtags. Doing so creates a sense of community and customer loyalty that delivers significant results.
Your employees can be influential content creators when it comes to UGC. They are closest to your brand and can be a reliable source of information. Employee-generated content often portrays your business in a positive light and enhances brand advocacy. Implementing programs that encourage and reward employees to create content will take your UGC to the next level. This strategy will also help secure employee retention and engagement.
Influencers significantly impact social media platforms and can create an enormous amount of UGC. They have specific audiences and can promote a brand to their followers, creating a massive wave of engagement. By collaborating with influencers, brands leverage their massive audience reach and increase overall brand exposure. An influencer marketing strategy also helps target different consumer groups by selecting influencers whose followers match your target audience.
These are the customers who love your brand and actively promote your products in their circle. They want to be part of the story and share good experiences, so their content is always authentic and trustworthy. Brand loyalists show an emotional connection to your brand, which is essential for brand advocacy. Social media accounts of your loyalists are a considerable source of UGC and can help boost your marketing efforts significantly.
Advantages of UGC
Consumers trust content created by other consumers because it feels more trustworthy and genuine than traditional marketing campaigns. Plus, this free or low-cost tactic helps you spread your marketing budget further. Let’s explore more benefits of user-generated content.
Enhances Credibility and Authenticity
One of the key benefits of UGC is that it adds credibility and authenticity to your brand. When potential customers see real people talking about your product or service in their own words, rather than just seeing your own marketing messages, it builds trust and makes them more likely to buy from you.
Boosts Engagement and Customer Loyalty
Another benefit of relevant user-generated content is that it can help you build a stronger connection with your customers and foster a sense of community around your brand. When you encourage your audience to share their own experiences, opinions, and stories related to your brand, it creates a two-way dialogue and shows that you’re interested in hearing from them. This can lead to increased engagement, higher customer loyalty, and even brand advocates who actively promote your business to others.
Saves Time and Resources
Creating high-quality content can be a time-consuming and expensive process, especially if you’re a small business with limited resources. By leveraging UGC, you can tap into the creativity and resources of your audience and save time and money on content creation. To maximize your reach and impact, you can also repurpose UGC across different channels and formats, such as social media, email marketing, and blog posts.
Generates Buzz and Increases Brand Awareness
A UGC campaign can be a powerful tool for generating buzz and raising awareness about your brand, especially if you’re just getting started or looking to expand your reach in a new market. Seeing others talking about your brand online can pique their curiosity and encourage them to learn more. Encouraging your audience to use branded hashtags or participate in contests or challenges can also help expand your reach and build a community around your brand.
Provides Valuable Insights and Feedback
Finally, a UGC campaign can provide valuable insights and feedback that can help you improve your products, services, and marketing strategy. By monitoring and analyzing UGC, you can identify common themes, pain points, and opportunities for improvement. You can also use UGC to test new products or services and get feedback from your audience before investing in a full launch.
Strategies for Encouraging UGC
When consumers see other people enjoying your product or service, they are more likely to be motivated to act. However, getting consumers to create UGC can be daunting, especially if you don’t know how to go about it. Below, we share the top strategies for encouraging consumers to create user-generated content marketing for your brand.
One of the most effective ways to encourage consumers to create UGC is by offering incentives. It can be something as simple as offering a discount on their next purchase, free delivery, or a chance to win an exclusive prize. This tactic can be a win-win situation for both parties, as the customer gets a reward for creating content, and the brand receives UGC to help promote their products or services.
Create a Branded Hashtag
A branded hashtag is an excellent way to encourage consumer-generated content from social media users. By creating a unique hashtag, you can encourage users to post relevant content to your brand. It will also make it easier for you to track user-generated content and interact with your followers. Use social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter to encourage users to use your hashtag.
Run a Contest
Running a user-generated content contest is an effective way to engage your audience and generate high-quality content. You can ask your followers to submit photos, videos, or other forms of content that showcase your brand or products. Make the contest exciting by offering prizes to the winners. Check the platform’s guidelines to ensure you’re not violating any rules.
Feature User-Generated Content on Your Social Media
Featuring user-generated content on your social media platforms can encourage other users to create quality content. It will also make your followers feel valued and appreciated. Reposting user-generated content on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook is easy. Just ensure that you give proper credit to the creator when you share user-generated content.
Partner with Influencers
Working with influencers is an excellent way to drive UGC for your brand. Influencers have a wide follower base and are experts at creating captivating content that resonates with their audience. By partnering with TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram influencers, you can leverage their influence to encourage their followers to create UGC. You can also use the influencer’s content to inspire your UGC campaign.
Finally, fostering a community around your brand can be an effective way to drive UGC. Encourage customers to share their experiences with your products or services by creating a forum or group where they can interact. Consider providing them with exclusive content, early access to new releases, or other benefits to create a sense of belonging and loyalty.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
With the rise of social media and online reviews, businesses have the ability to harness the power of their customers’ opinions to drive brand awareness and sales. However, it’s important to navigate the legal and ethical considerations of user-generated content to build trust with your audience and avoid potential legal pitfalls.
Below, we explain the important considerations to consider when incorporating user-generated content into your marketing strategy.
Obtain Proper Permissions
Before using any user-generated content, it is important to obtain proper permissions from the creator. This not only protects you legally, but it also shows respect for the original creator. This can be as simple as reaching out for explicit written consent from the creator for photos or videos. For written content, such as reviews or testimonials, you can include wording in your terms and conditions stating that by submitting their content, the user is also giving you permission to use and display the content on your website or social media.
Be Transparent and Honest
Transparency is key when it comes to user-generated content. When using content from customers, it is important to clarify that the content is not your own. This means properly crediting the original creator and including a disclaimer that the content is user-generated. This builds trust with your audience and helps avoid any potential legal issues regarding copyright or trademark infringement.
Consider Privacy Laws
When using user-generated content, it is important to consider privacy laws. Ensure you are not using any content that includes personally identifiable information, such as someone’s full name or contact information, without their explicit consent. In addition, be sure to exclude any explicit content or hate speech that might offend or harm others.
Monitor User-Generated Content
User-generated content is a great way to build brand loyalty and drive sales, but it also opens up the possibility of negative or harmful content. It is important to have a plan in place for monitoring user-generated content, whether hiring a social media manager to oversee content or installing filters on your website to flag any potentially harmful content. This helps protect your business from legal repercussions while ensuring a positive customer experience.
Embrace Diversity and Inclusion
When soliciting user-generated content, aim to show diversity and inclusion in the content you feature. Consumers want to see themselves represented in the brands they support, so be intentional in catering to a diverse audience. Ensure your featured content does not perpetuate negative stereotypes or biases.
Measuring the Impact of User-Generated Content
UGC has proven to be an effective way to build brand engagement, generate more leads, and boost conversions. However, to maximize its potential, you need to measure the success of your UGC. Below, we discuss the KPIs to track and the tools and platforms to use.
The first metric to track the success of your UGC marketing campaigns is engagement. This could be in the form of likes, comments, shares, or social media impressions. High engagement rates signify that your UGC is resonating with your audience and that they find it valuable and interesting. You can use tools like Google Analytics, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social to track your social media engagement rates.
The second metric to track is your UGC’s effect on your conversion rates. This could be in the form of sign-ups, product purchases, or subscriptions. UGC can help boost your conversion because potential customers trust their peers more than they trust brands. You can track your conversion rates using analytics tools like Google Analytics or Hubspot.
Volume of UGC
The third metric to track is the volume of UGC. The more UGC you have, the more likely it is that your brand is gaining traction and that your customers are part of your community. You can track the volume of UGC using tools like Brandwatch or Mention.
The fourth metric to track is the sentiment of your UCG marketing campaigns. You want to make sure that the sentiment surrounding your brand is positive. You can use tools like Brandwatch, Hootsuite Insights, or Mention to analyze the sentiment of your UGC. Negative sentiment can blow into a crisis if unchecked, and positive sentiment can encourage more UGC.
The fifth metric to track is advocacy. Advocacy is the percentage of your customers who are promoting your brand to their network. You want your UGC to create advocates who are willing to recommend your products or services to others. You can use tools like Hootsuite Insights or Mention to track your brand advocates.
User-generated content can benefit your business in many ways. Now that we’ve answered the question “What is user-generated content?” you see how it can enhance credibility, boost engagement, and increase brand awareness.
By incorporating UGC into your marketing efforts, you can create a more authentic, engaging, and effective approach that resonates with your audience and drives business results.
Barbara Lawson is a marketing writer with over ten years of experience teaching marketing at a university level. Her content is backed by extensive research, and her expertise in the field is invaluable. Living in the beautiful city of Burlington, Vermont, Barbara enjoys practicing yoga to stay centered and focused.