Have you ever seen a post about a product that convinced you to press “add to cart” only to realize it was a friend who had shared this compelling content to social media? That’s UGC! User-generated content, or UGC for short, is brand related and voluntarily created/shared by said brand’s customers. This content can take the form of images, videos, blogs, podcasts, and more. UGC is incredibly authentic because it is usually created in the exact moment that a customer has been made happy by a product or service. It shows an individual’s genuine appreciation for a brand, meaning any claims made about the product/service are likely to be credible.
There are many ways that a brand can benefit from UGC, but these are our top two…
- It helps you gain consumer trust. This is a crucial part of marketing these days because buyers have never been more wary of brands. We’re all well aware of what an ad looks like and that its sole purpose is to sell us something. That works sometimes, but most consumers need more. They need proof that what you’re selling will be the right solution for them and this must come from an unbiased source, such as family, friends, and even strangers. That’s the power of UGC, but you don’t have to take our word for it...
- 70% of consumers trust online peer reviews and recommendations more than professional content and copy. - The Guardian
- 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people, even if it’s people they don’t know. - Nielsen
- 75% of consumers claim that UGC is more authentic than brand curated content. - TINT
- 93% of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a purchasing decision. - M2 Technology Group
- 86% of Millennials believe that UGC is a good indicator of a brand or product’s quality. - M2 Technology Group
- 44% of Millennials trust experienced consumers over family and friends when it comes to making a purchasing decision. - TINT
- It increases engagement and customer retention rates. According to M2 Technology Group, websites with UGC experience a 20% boost in return visitors and up to a 90% increase in time spent on site. When it comes to social media, UGC posts see 28% higher engagement than standard brand posts.
Another benefit of UGC is that it can save you time and money in some ways. This type of content requires less resources than traditional advertising. However, companies could be creating similar, less produced content for themselves. Things like selfies and behind-the-scenes video clips shot on cell phones require very little effort. When posted on the right platforms, that type of casual content is a great way to bypass UGC while still coming off as authentic. Although not always as effective as UGC, a top benefit of creating your own content is that you have complete control over how your brand is being portrayed.
Another way to take control of your brand messaging is to utilize influencer-generated content (IGC). This content is created with intention and brand collaboration. Also, the influencer is compensated in the form of a fee or free products/services from the company. Paying an influencer can be quite pricey, which eliminates it as an option for some smaller brands. It also takes time and persistence to find the right people, connect with them, and convince them to work with your brand. While it has to be said that influencer marketing can be very effective for the right companies and is typically seen as more trustworthy than traditional advertising, according to M2 Technology Group, consumers actually find UGC 9.8 times more impactful than IGC when making a purchasing decision.
It can be nerve wracking to let your customers share your story. The results may be iffy sometimes, but most of the time they’re actually quite powerful. To take control while still utilizing UGC, carefully monitor what’s said about your brand online. Dedicating the appropriate amount of time to this process guarantees that any inappropriate or negative content is dealt with quickly. As long as you’re on top of monitoring, UGC can really refresh your online presence by incorporating new perspectives.
Another thing that brands often worry about when it comes to UGC are the legal implications of using content someone else has created. In general, the internet is a place for open sharing, especially social media. Most people appreciate when others find value in their posts. The key is to credit the creator appropriately when sharing their content. This can be as simple as tagging them in your post. It’s also good practice to ask the creator if you can share their content before doing so. This is best done via direct message. In your message, be sure to cover all the bases by telling them every way you intend to reuse their content. If you want to be extra careful, save evidence of these conversations in case you ever have to prove that they gave you permission.
The last little issue that might arise is the quality of the content. Unlike your marketing team or a professional influencer, UGC is created by everyday people who are posting content for fun, not to sell something. If you see photos that you really wish you could reuse that aren’t quite up to par, there are a few things you can do. First of all, engage with all UGC whether you can use it on your own page or not. Next, is a photo is lower quality than you’re used to, considering sharing it to social Stories. It’s okay for this type of content to be more casual since it will disappear after 24 hours. You could also ask a user to retake a photo or inquire about any other content they might already have that would be better for you to share. If you let them know your plan is to share their photo with your larger audience, they may be willing to step up their game. Free content for you is also free promo for them.
If you don’t see a lot of UGC come in unprompted but would like your brand to benefit from it, consider running a marketing campaign. UGC campaigns require you to create a branded hashtag so you can more easily track what people are saying about you. Make sure to use a hashtag that is unique to your brand so your UGC doesn’t get lost in the sea of social media content. Consider associating the hashtag with a contest. If you incentivize posting, you’re likely to get more users involved.
Make sure you post the UGC you collect everywhere. As you saw in the stats above, this content can improve both social media pages and websites. These engaging images can also make great social media ads and be interesting additions to marketing emails. There are really so many things you can do with UGC, and the benefits of doing so are proven, so what are you waiting for?