Gloria Chow is a passionate entrepreneur who runs multiple online ventures. She founded Venturer as the go-to guide for new and intermediate online entrepreneurs.
UGC can refer to pictures, videos, testimonials, tweets, blog posts, and is the act of users promoting a brand rather than the brand itself. Know how you can boost your marketing by using UGC.
Almost every day, customers across industries are consuming and creating user-generated content (UGC). Many would read product reviews before a purchase decision because they are more authentic than ads. Users create content to express their opinions or share their experiences.
UGC can benefit businesses in many ways. Ads based on UGC received four times higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click compared to average ads. Many companies are now reposting UGC on social media - not only does it increase engagement, but it also takes the pressure off marketing teams to continually create original content.
1. What is User-Generated Content?
User-generated content is any content created by users and customers. Some examples of UGC are:
- Reviews and testimonials left on your website
- Social media posts that mention your brand by customers
- Comments on your social media posts by your users and customers
- Blog posts written by a customer about your company or products
- Product reviews left on any third-party review site
2. User-Generated Content on Social Media
For many brands, social media is the primary platform for UGC. Instagram is where brands usually find a lot of visual content created by customers - images and videos mentioning your brand.
On YouTube, brands can discover long-form video product reviews by creators. UGC on social media can influence consumers' decisions, both positively and negatively. It is, therefore, especially important to do it right.
3. Why is User-Generated Content important for Brands?
User-generated content is important for brands in a few significant ways: it builds an engaged community, creates trust, increases reach, and ultimately improves the bottom line.
Building an Engaged Community
Before social media, it is not easy for consumers to communicate with brands directly. Social media now offers a gateway for brands to connect and listen. Traditional marketing used to be a one-way street - brands talking to customers. But now, a successful marketing strategy usually incorporates a two-way communication - let customers participate.
By utilizing UGC, brands encourage real users to tell real stories. One wildly successful example is Calvin Klein's #MyCalvins campaign in 2014 that attracts hundreds of thousands of twentysomethings posting photos and videos in Calvin Klein cotton underwear.
In 2015, there are over 179,000 photos tagged #MyCalvins on Instagram. But it doesn't end there. In 2020, it has grown to more than 845,000 images.
A successful UGC campaign can make customers remember for years and continually participate in it on social media. It can help you build an engaged community that is proud of using your products and make customers want to be part of it.
In the era of heavily photoshopped ads, consumers are getting more skeptical of brand-created content. Therefore, they turn to look for content posted by users to get a sense of what they are going to get before they order.
It does not only apply to products, but also services and experiences. Millennials would check out a restaurant's Instagram page before going to a restaurant, and 30% of them would not go to a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak.
By Instagram presence, they look at the restaurant's profile and content created by diners. Positive UGC builds trust and makes their visit decisions easier.
The same applies to reading product reviews before buying. Before making any big purchase decisions, it is common to search for reviews online because we want to hear from real users.
If you look at a marketplace like Amazon, a big section of the product page consists of the buyer's reviews. We also look it up on product review blogs and websites.
Nowadays, as YouTube becomes the second largest search engine next to Google, more product reviews are in video format.
Positive feedback by other users creates trust towards the brand, which ultimately drives the purchase decision. It is an integral part of the customer journey that brands cannot miss.
UGC on social media is very likely to be seen by the user's followers, friends, and family. Because the content is created by someone who they are familiar with or personally know, they will be more likely to engage and share the posts to their network.
When hundreds of thousands of users create content that mentions your brands, the reach can beat a million-dollar marketing campaign. The exposure provided by social media can be extremely powerful and translate into sales.
Improving the Bottom Line
Besides building an engaged community, creating trust, and increasing reach, ultimately, businesses want to see an improvement to the bottom line. One famous example of using UGC to brand success is Daniel Wellington.
Daniel Wellington became a top brand by its unique social media marketing strategy centered around inviting micro-influencers and influencers to create and post content of its products. Its influencer marketing strategy has made an enormous success for the brand.
It became the fastest-growing company in Europe between 2013 to 2015, with a 4700% growth. In 2016, the company posted revenue of $230 million and a profit of $111.5 million.
4. How Do You Get User-Generated Content?
With so many benefits present in UGC, how do you encourage users to generate content for your brand? Fortunately, it does not require a complicated strategy or substantial financial investment.
Create a Branded Hashtag
The simplest way to start is to create a branded hashtag on Instagram, like Lululemon's #thesweatlife. If your customers love your brand, they are likely to share content about it. Creating a branded hashtag encourages them to tag it, and it will enable you to quickly repost quality images and videos.
Create a Location Tag
It is an incredibly useful strategy for businesses with a physical address, like restaurants, retail shops, and beauty salons.
When customers visit your stores and share their experience on social media, many would naturally add a location tag to their posts. Creating a location tag for your business allows users to quickly locate your store, encouraging more visits.
Host a Competition or Giveaway
You can host an image or video competition for your branded hashtag, and whoever gets the most engagements on their posts using your hashtag wins! You could offer a product or service of your brand as the prize.
Hosting a giveaway is another popular strategy for gathering and sharing user-generated content while giving back to active users. Users submit photos by posting entries on their social media account using your branded hashtag or a specific hashtag created by your brand. Many would ask users to do the following to drive higher engagements and growth:
- Follow your brand account
- Share using your required hashtag
- Tag 3 friends in the comments
It is also a popular strategy to partner with influencers to host a giveaway. This way, you can leverage the following of both parties to cross-promote.
Partner with Influencers
Many influencers can create high-quality content for your brand while exposing your brand to their followers. You can invite them to try and review your products on social media. Many of these reviews can become valuable UGC that you can repost and share across different channels.
Brands with a smaller budget can consider partnering with micro-influencers, who usually have less than 10,000 followers. Some even find partnering with micro-influencers more effective because of their higher engagement rate.
When partnering with influencers, it is essential to pick the right influencers for your brand to reach your desired audience. If you sell healthy snacks, you may want to partner with fitness influencers.
Also, encourage influencers to express honest opinions about your company and products - too many brands provide influencers with a script to post on social media. Followers can easily tell if it's scripted, and it won't be effective. Keep in mind that the heart of any UGC strategy is authenticity.
Sharing and Reposting UGC
With social media management tools, you can easily identify brand mentions and repost UGC on your social media accounts and website. Keep in mind that it is crucial to credit the user who created the content.
In fact, many social media pages ask users to use their branded hashtags for a feature opportunity. It can effectively encourage users to participate in your UGC campaign. For example, over 729,000 posts have tagged #timeoutnewyork for a feature opportunity on the 506,000-follower @timeoutnewyork.
5. A B2B Case Study
Although many of the above examples are B2C, B2B can also effectively use UGC to boost their marketing.
One perfect example is Square with Seller Stories. It shares stories of businesses that use Square. By collaborating with users to generate content, it fosters a more engaged community and connects with its users.
Although many factors contribute to Square's success, one of the key factors is definitely building a sense of community for its users. By creating an elegantly integrated system for small business, many Square users find it looks 'smart and cool' to use it and happily share it on social media.
Over to you!
No matter how big or small your brand is, you can immediately incorporate user-generated content into your brand's marketing strategy. A UGC campaign can provide your brand with tremendous benefits with a low cost and little time required.
Start experimenting with user-generated content today!
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