If you are looking for a way to connect with potential customers online, user-generated content is a great tool to use. UGC can help give your social media presence a personal side and help consumers connect with your brand. But what is user-generated content? And is it useful to your business?
What is User Generated Content or UGC?
User-generated content is any content such as images, blogs, reviews or videos that have been created or generated, by customers. For example, if a person has taken a picture of a new bag they have bought and posted it online, that is user-generated content. Perhaps someone has ordered a new subscription box service and uploaded a video of their unboxing to YouTube, that is UGC. User-generated content can be created by customers or what is known as ‘brand loyalists’, people who vocally support a brand or service and frequently post content supporting the brand. By moving the tried and tested word-of-mouth online, UGC is a modern-day recommendation on a global platform.
Why is User Generated Content Successful?
UGC marketing is successful in part because it is created by ‘real’ people rather than being the product of a marketing department. Customers trust other customers, friends and family’s opinions over industry-generated media and it is for this reason that user-generated content campaigns are so successful. Younger audiences, such as Gen Z are becoming more picky about which brands they interact with. Now, successful marketing is anchored in authenticity and there is nothing more authentic than user-generated content.
What Types of User Generated Content are There?
User-generated content can cover every aspect of online life. From TikTok unboxings to website reviews to podcasts, there are endless types of content that can be brought under the umbrella of UGC. UGC can be harnessed in a number of ways, both organically and through organised UGC campaigns. One well-known example of a user-generated content campaign is Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. In this campaign, customers were encouraged to share a picture of their name on a coke can or bottle online with the #shareacoke hashtag. Aside from creating a huge amount of brand awareness, the campaign was able to be tracked through the #shareacoke hashtag creating a huge amount of brand-centred content and discussion online.
Another example of a UGC campaign which takes customer creation literally is Starbucks’ #WhiteCupContest in which customers were challenged to decorate one of Starbucks’ iconic white cups and share their designs online. This was then repeated with their red Christmas cups and was extremely popular causing a huge amount of online content to be created and shared. These are the main types of user generated content you might come across online:
- Product reviews
- Live streams
- YouTube Content
- Blog Posts
- Social media content such as tweets
How Could Using User-Generated Content Benefit Your Business?
If you are looking for a way to appear more authentic in your marketing, user-generated content is a fantastic tool. UGC can establish a brand presence on social media making it a great brand awareness tool. It can also help engagement on your website and social media platforms with visitors likely to stick around and engage with your brand. If your user-generated content campaign is centred around a competition offering discounts to winners, for example, you could see an increase in sales as customers interact with your brand.
If you are a small business, UGC can be a great low-cost or free marketing tool that can help you connect with potential and existing customers. Rather than taking out expensive ads that could get ignored, if UGC is right for your brand, it could help you show up to the audiences you are trying to target. User-generated content can help build an online community that is engaged and supportive of your brand. One example of user generated content for brand awareness is the #CanvaDesignChallenge from the design software Canva. By encouraging users to create their own design using their software and share using social media, they are able to get more visitors to the website to see how their software works and share their brand on social media in one swoop.
Using User-Generated Content the Right Way
Whilst UGC marketing is an innovative tool that gives customers control, there are a few key rules when it comes to using it properly. One of the most important things when it comes to user-generated content is to make sure that it is authentic. It might be tempting to create your own version to look like it has been user-generated but this can go wrong very quickly. Those who use social media to interact with brands, particularly young people who are exposed to social media marketing every day will be able to work out when content is not genuine very quickly and this can drastically damage your online presence and brand reputation.
Another issue many brands and businesses face with UGC marketing is simply sharing customer content to their own website and social media accounts without reaching out to the customer who created the content. It is very important you contact the creator before using any user-generated content on your own platforms as, even if the content contains your product, they are the creator and owner of the content. This could be as simple as commenting on the original post or sending a direct message to the creator.
Having Clear Goals and Messages for Your UGC Campaign
When it comes to creating a user-generated content campaign, it is important that you have pre-set goals and a clear message. For example, what content would you like to see users creating and how does this align with your brand? Will this campaign be led by brand-awareness goals? Make sure your UGC matches your overall marketing goals to give the campaign a purpose you can measure.
Where to Share UGC Campaign Launches
There are plenty of ways to kick your UGC campaign off to a great start, whatever size your business is. If you are a brick-and-mortar store, a simple poster in your shop saying ‘tag us in your posts for x% off’ or telling customers as they complete their purchase is a great way to spread the word. Online, a social media post announcing your competition can help create traction and get people to share your content.
Top Tips for User Generated Content
- Always ask permission to use any customer produced content or any UGC you find online
- Give the original creator credit when you use their content by tagging and crediting them in your posts
- Keep UGC campaigns fresh by switching them up as and when they are needed
- Curate content that reflects your brand such as outdoor experiences for an outdoor clothing brand or home improvement projects for a home improvement brand
- Keep it simple. When running your user generated content campaign make it clear the type of content you are looking for to make it simple for users to engage
- Engage with users by thanking them for their submissions, liking their posts and other genuine forms of engagement
- Offer your customers an incentive to get involved. For example, you could launch a competition for the most innovative use of your product or a seasonal challenge that offers some value to your users
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