User-generated content is often shortened to UGC, and it means content that’s been created, submitted, or published by consumers of a particular brand. Many times, it’s the most effective option because it can drive users to a company better than its own content does. Often, contributors don’t get paid, but they’re promoting that business because they like what it does.
Let’s dive deeper and learn why it’s so important and what it means for your company!
What’s User-generated Content (UGC) Mean?
Overall, user-generated content can be of any type, but it often comes as social media posts, videos, images, testimonials, and reviews. Is there any other form of content that helps a brand? Not really! Here’s an example:
Do you remember when Coca-Cola had those personalized soda bottles? The world went bonkers for them. It was “Share a Coke,” and the campaign took off because people could enjoy a beverage with their name on it.
The brand wanted the momentum to keep going, so it asked customers to share photos of themselves enjoying the beverage on social media. In a sense, these consumers became the advertiser.
Some influencers even went so far as to upload video clips online. That is just one of many campaigns that promoted the brand to millions and generated tons of revenue.
What Exactly Is UGC?
The question you’re asking is: “What is user-generated content?” It’s defined as any content type created or put out by contributors (fans). Overall, it refers to videos, pictures, testimonials, blog posts, tweets, and anything else where users promote a brand instead of the company doing it.
UGC sounds like a marketing buzzword, but it’s no fad! In fact, it’s been popular for a while (since the internet came out).
You might remember the Burberry’s Art of Trench UGC campaign. Brands were finally adopting the idea of having fans promote business. Word-of-mouth referrals are the best, even during the digital age.
Burberry asked loyal customers to upload photos of themselves wearing an iconic trench coat. It curated the best ones and showcased them on its Facebook page.
About 86 percent of all millennials and 68 percent of social media users (18-24) use such information when making a buying decision. It’s easy to see how user-generated content can boost a company’s follower count and generate more revenue!
Why Is User-generated Content Successful, and Why Shouldn’t You Ignore It?
Marketers have to think of creative ways to get people interested, and the content created by them often falls flat. That’s why UGC is a constant player and is so successful. Why is that, though?
UGC Puts the Customer at the Front
Customer-oriented companies are rising because businesses must keep up with changing trends. Attention spans are snapped away instantly, so brands have to cater solely to the users or risk losing them.
People are savvier and know when companies use poor marketing tactics. When brands request user-generated content, it’s more authentic and transparent!
People Don’t Really Trust Marketers (It’s about Real People)
During the past 10 years, the sleazy marketer persona has risen. Average people tend to not be impressed by pushy campaigns. They want stories and crave connection and interaction with others.
Everyone has been buying into UGC for a while, but social platforms make it more accessible. Overall, consumers trust content created by other consumers. In fact, 92 percent of people show more confidence in recommendations from people over all other branded content. Therefore, it’s clear that the faith between marketers and people has diminished.
Roughly 63 percent of consumers claim they’d rather purchase from an authentic company over the competition. Authenticity is crucial today. Customers aren’t passive enough to be led by billboards and commercials. They’re active choosers and have a say in brands they do/don’t buy from.
These consumers look at the authentic form of the brand and take testimonials from existing customers to determine if they should buy from that company, too. It’s all about connecting on a human level with brands that understand them.
UGC Creates Community
UGC ultimately brings audiences together. It’s not “us” against “them,” where brands constantly try to win customers over. Instead, UGC creates one big family.
People want to feel like they’re part of something, and that requires influence and a shared emotional connection. However, it works both ways because members must feel like they’re influencing the community, and UGC puts that on the table.
UGC focuses on users creating content for brands. They’re often unpaid and prefer to do it for many reasons. Those can include winning something, building a connection with others, and sharing their experience. Clearly, this is more cost-effective than forking out thousands of dollars for billboards and commercials.
The beauty here is that the users run this show, and marketers don’t empty their pockets out on campaigns that don’t perform well. Consumer-generated content costs less and does more!
UGC ROI Is Higher
Brand engagement rises by about 28 percent when customers get exposed to user-generated content and professional marketing content. Think about the “White Cup Contest” from Starbucks. Customers were asked to draw on the cups and post images to be entered into a competition to find the next limited-edition option.
Over, 4,000 consumers submitted their entries in three weeks!
Where Do You Find User-generated Content?
You know that user-generated content is important for your marketing strategy, but where do you get it?
UGC comes from the customers, so you have to find their promotional content and organize it based on when you need it. You often locate it on social media, but you can create direct submissions and let customers send content to the brand for campaigns and contests.
Certain platforms can help you collect and organize user-generated content to find the best options for upcoming campaigns. You want to locate all the user-generated content available and determine when to use it in the marketing funnel.
Without these platforms, you’ve got to cyber-stalk the customer’s content, which can take hours. Overall, it’s best to use multiple options to locate user-generated content you can use.
Here are three ways to get people to create UGC for you:
Motivate Your Customers to Create User-generated Content
This should be the marketing strategy part that’s always turned on. Customers can always be promoting your products when they use or receive them. The key here is on helping them create user-generated content.
More than half of the consumers wish brands told them what content to share and create. You can generate CTAs for customers to make UGC immediately after purchasing, once they receive the product, and after they’ve used that particular product.
Motivate them to create it by giving them tweets to share and Instagram stories to post. You can also send notes with products and ask them to share the unboxing. Consider sending an email a few days later to request feedback on social media.
Ask Customers to Create UGC for a Prize
That is the part of your marketing strategy that isn’t always on because you’re not running competitions all the time. When you do have UGC contests, you’re in full swing to ask people to share user-generated content in specific ways to potentially be the prize winner.
Chipotle created a UGC campaign on TikTok, and the prize was one year of free food. It asked the audience to make TikTok videos explaining why they should be the winner, and they had to include a specific hashtag.
These campaigns don’t run each day. You may only do them a few times a year to boost brand awareness. Plus, you can run these prize campaigns alongside an ongoing UGC strategy.
Where Does UGC Fit into the Marketing Strategy?
UGC is omnichannel, and you can use it from top-of to bottom-of-funnel content. Companies often utilize it to increase brand awareness and sales since it works well for every stage of the customer journey.
About 48 percent of all customers say that user-generated content helps them discover new products. Plus, companies see a 29 percent increase for web conversions when they use user-generated content!
Such statistics motivate the top brands to focus on user-generated content marketing campaigns. Companies see higher sales and fewer costs when they get customers to be brand ambassadors and do the promotional work for them on various social media networks.
User-generated content isn’t for B2C brands only. B2B brands can be successful with UGC, too. Content generated by the employees gets about eight times more engagement than things shared by the company itself.
While user-generated content improves engagement, brand awareness, and sales, it also fits post-conversion. When a happy customer buys from the brand, they’re featured on social media. That extra interaction boosts customer loyalty because they’re interacting with brands they already love.
UGC is a strategic move to boost trust, brand awareness, and sales. Plus, you spend less on content creation!
How UGC Changes Influencer Marketing
UGC uses influencer marketing to create those micro-awareness moments that increase conversions. However, the focus isn’t on huge celebrities. You’re looking at the nano or micro-influencers with an engaged community already. These average people are often called more trustworthy than celebrities turned brand advocates.
A nano-influencer could be a student who has 1,000 Instagram followers. The person applies for college, gets accepted, and posts a story while holding the acceptance letter. That’s user-generated content. Technically, all influencers create UGC, so all people who make UGC are influencers!
Typically, a micro-influencer has about 100,000 followers and works with brands all the time, so they’ve got expertise in the space. In fact, they have an engaged audience and can leverage social platforms for advertising. It’s much better than creating landing pages on your site because some people might never see it.
Nano-influencers have 10,000 or fewer followers. They’re often social butterflies and community experts with an audience. These people often act normal and focus on entertainment. However, they raise awareness for a brand without thinking about it, resulting in more conversions for you!
Types of UGC
You now know how user-generated content can fit into marketing campaigns and where it comes from. Therefore, you need to understand what types are available to increase brand awareness or sales:
Visual UGC (Videos and Photos)
Visual content is a common type of user-generated content. Remember when Chipotle asked customers to create TikTok videos to show why they should get sponsored? That was engaging content that everyone wanted to see!
Whenever customers share videos and photos of products on social channels, they create visual UGC. If a guest posts a sunset photo from the hotel pool they’re staying at, this is the same thing.
Comments and Testimonials UGC
Comments and testimonials often come after a purchase. Users can visit comment-friendly platforms to find customer comments about products and services. This user-generated content promotes you through virtual word-of-mouth!
Reviews are often left on business or product pages, and about 70 percent of consumers consider ratings or reviews before buying something.
Overall, reviews are best when they’re left under products on the page because bottom-of-funnel readers can see them and feel knowledgeable enough to make the purchase.
However, reviews can be used at the top of the funnel to boost awareness of the product. It’s up to you to determine how to utilize user-generated content effectively!
What’s the Best Type to Ask Users For?
All three user-generated content options are the best. You should have an incoming stream of UGC to use in future marketing endeavors. These campaigns rely heavily on having plenty of options when you need them most.
Best Practices for User-generated Content
You should have all three types of consumer-generated content on hand, but here are a few other best practices to get the most valuable user-generated content available:
Choose an Effective Social Network for the Brand
Brands don’t have to create content on every platform available. Instead, you should focus on the ones that hold your target audience. For example, clothing stores don’t have to spend time and money on Twitter; they might do better on Instagram.
You don’t have to be everywhere. The best thing is to choose the right social media channels for your brand. Go with the obvious ones first and put out fresh content all the time. Add other channels as you can, and choose metrics that each one should pass before they’re successful.
Use Different Types of User-generated Content on Various Social Channels
Each UGC type serves a purpose in a specific part of your marketing campaigns. For instance, a UGC photo of someone enjoying your hotel works great on website pages and Instagram. However, a review is best under product and booking pages.
The key to having a successful user-generated content strategy is determining what platform works best for each type of UGC. You may assume that where the UGC came from is the best platform to use.
However, it’s often better to go beyond the original platform. Use UGC on your screens, website, email, and other social media platforms. It works well because your company doesn’t create it, so the marketing team can adapt it for other channels and leverage the same authenticity that helped it perform great initially.
Use User-generated Content in Your Content Marketing Campaigns
UGC can be used throughout your marketing campaigns (digital and traditional). However, there’s a huge opportunity to leverage it in content marketing campaigns because it is content! All you’ve got to do is repurpose it and provide proper credit so that a larger audience seeks it and increases your brand’s awareness.
When you use user-generated content in your marketing campaigns, remember that each one can be utilized for different purposes. One customer might have done well creating UGC that’s suitable for the top of the funnel, and another might have a video that works for bottom-funnel conversions. Determine which UGC pieces fit into the right areas to use them correctly.
Traditional versus User-generated Content Marketing
Consumers are less passive than ever when focused on advertising. They are active in the decisions made, who they listen to, and what brands they engage with and buy from.
Traditional ads online and through external media are competitive. Even if you spend a lot, you might not get the attention you need. Plus, most consumers actively bypass ads with ad blockers. They’re more likely to go to a site if friends recommend it.
User-generated content also works as social proof! In a sense, social proof is a social and psychological phenomenon where people copy others’ actions to attempt to see the same behavior.
People ultimately look to online reviews and testimonials before buying anything; this is social proof. Think about the Ice Bucket Challenge from the ALS Association. This charity challenge was viral for a few months and boosted awareness for the organization.
However, social proof works both ways. If someone isn’t happy with a product or service, they write poor reviews that could harm you. It’s always a good idea to keep track of what other people say. Respond to each comment you receive, even if it’s negative. Many brands try to smooth the issue over by offering a discount on future orders or giving a refund.
User-generated Content Examples from Different Brands
It’s time to pull it all together and consider some excellent UGC campaigns:
Lululemon is a yoga clothing brand that wanted to bring its audience together to create a community around the company. It used “#thesweatlife” campaign to encourage others to post photos wearing the gear on Instagram.
Overall, the brand saw it as a unique way to bring offline experiences to the online community. It wanted to connect with guests and show how they sweat in the product and use it in their daily lives. A few months later, it had more than 7,000 photos of brand advocates (customers) on Twitter and Instagram with a huge gallery that received over 40,000 unique visitors.
Chipotle Cultivate Festival
Chipotle had a branded festival and used UGC content to bring crowds together to promote the many elements of the event and brand.
It pulled together videos, images, and social shares into one page so that visitors of the festival might scroll through and relive the memories when the event had ended.
Throughout the weekend of this Chipotle Cultivate Festival, the brand got over 1,200 social posts and about three million impressions. While it happened in San Francisco, visitors came from all over the nation to take a peek at what occurred.
It was clear from the posts that Chipotle got the brand sentiment it was after because the underlying emotion in the comments and videos showed happiness, excitement, and fun.
Belkin Lego iPhone Cases
Belkin ran one UGC content campaign that included everyone’s favorite gadget: the iPhone. It partnered with Lego and asked customers to create cases for the phones with customizable Lego blocks.
Those UGC images were posted to Instagram with the hashtag “#LEGOxBelkin.” This could be the perfect example of having customers sell for the brand because it was an effective and simple marketing method. Overall, it showed potential clients just how trendy, diverse, and cool Belkin cases could be and did so authentically and organically.
NASDAQ is actually a strong supporter of UGC content and uses it across many of its brands, such as Biogen, Zebra, ETSY, and Virgin America. In fact, the brand accumulates it and brings it together as social content for social events and on other crucial calendar dates.
Overall, NASDAQ uses it on many channels when it runs a large event so that the social shares are seen on large screens and television monitors throughout the world.
This is just one more reason why UGC is crucial. The online landscape is constantly changing and fast-paced. Therefore, content must be on-trend and quick.
UGC marketing lets brands stay on the ball and be current with customers. In a sense, you aren’t spending millions of dollars and many months coming up with the perfect advertising campaign that’s outdated when it actually airs.
You’ve finally gotten an answer to the question: “What is user-generated content?” Now, you’ve got to find the right tools to manage, locate, and display the UGC you need.
Overall, UGC is a scalable and cost-effective way to build visually engaging and personalized content experiences that customers want and need. In turn, you get rewarded with a higher ROI, positive marketing numbers, and happier customers all around.
It’s not enough to create the best landing pages and have a beautifully-designed website. You’ve got to put yourself out there and showcase your brand on social media. This is the only way to increase conversions and portray your company as a trustworthy, authentic, and transparent option.
The competition is likely doing this already, so you’ve got to start campaigning correctly. User-generated Meta Description: What is user-generated content, and why is it so important? This question is on everyone’s mind, and this guide can help you understand it and harness it.