What is User Generated Content (UGC)?
User-generated content describes any digital content created by individual users and shared online. It is distinct from content created by brands, marketing teams, publishers, etc, because it’s not planned or commissioned and occurs organically.
Different types of UGC
UGC comes in many different forms. Some of the more popular types include:
Video and images
- Pictures wearing or using a product
- Unboxing videos
- Memes about a product or service
- Video reviews
- Live streams and commentary
- Blog posts
- Reviews or testimonials
- Comments on social media or forums
- Stories about personal experiences with a product
- Business case studies
- Original songs inspired by your brand
Why is UGC important?
UGC is a huge opportunity for brands for a few key reasons.
Customers are cynical and often unresponsive to brand advertisements. UGC cuts through the noise because it’s made by real people with a real passion for particular products or services.
UGC can help your brand reach a broader audience because you rely on the content creators’ network, not just yours. Indeed, you don’t even need to have a presence on a particular platform to benefit from user-generated content.
The right piece of UCG can be highly engaging. Again, authenticity is a big part of the appeal. Another thing is that audiences see themselves in the creator, which can heighten their interest.
Demographics and interests overlap
If a user creates a piece of content about a brand, they will likely share it with a network with similar or overlapping interests. This is about more than just reach; it’s about connecting with your target audience.
There is no point pretending otherwise, but one of the best things about UGC is that it’s super affordable and, often, totally free of cost. Another attractive element is that it is easily scalable.
How can I encourage UGC?
There are two ways to get user-generated content: sit back and wait or go out there and make it happen. Here are a few of the ways that you can encourage UGC.
Competitions are a classic way to get user-generated content. The key here is to make the prize:
b) relevant to your audience.
A classic way to get UGC is to ask users to send photos of them with your product and offer the winner a prize. This motivates your users to get involved.
What’s more, competitions are a great way to collect first-party data, which is essential in an era of strict user privacy laws.
#2. Host some live events
One excellent way to kick-start some user-generated content is to host some Instagram-worthy live events. Invite your audience and give them something that is worth sharing.
#3. Launch a hashtag campaign
While there is no guarantee that it will go viral, launching a hashtag campaign on social media can prompt some of your users to get involved. Pick up some momentum, and you never know what can happen.
#4. Encourage product reviews
While paying for an influencer falls inside more traditional marketing content strategies, there are plenty of users with decent audiences who will be happy to trail and review your products. These informal agreements are a great way to promote your product or service.
#5. Make the most of social media features
Social media platforms have lots of features that you can use to drive user engagement. Polls, live sessions, contests, challenges, and behind-the-scenes stories can all inspire your users to post content.
How to use UGC effectively?
Now that you understand the power of UGC, it’s time to think about how to integrate the concept into your overall marketing strategy.
There are three core steps that you can use together to help you leverage UGC effectively. We’ve already dealt with encouraging users to generate content. Next, we’ll look at what you should do with your user content.
Find user-generated content
If you have social media monitoring tools, you can keep an eye out for mentions, videos, and photos from your users. Additionally, collect any content that results from competitions, giveaways, and hashtag campaigns.
Curate and promote user-generated content
Once you’ve gathered all the good stuff, you can:
- Respond to user content and tag them in posts
- Promote photos, videos, memes, and more on your social media platforms
- Repurpose content into your own outreach
- Leverage user testimonials on your website copy
UGC best practices
Keep it real: Don’t manipulate or fake user-generated content. Your audience will probably see right through it because it will feel inauthentic.
Stay aware of copyright: If you’re going to use some UGC for commercial purposes, ensure that you have the rights to the content.
Credit your creators: Credit the creator if you use any user-generated content on your socials or for commercial purposes. A little shout-out can go a long way and ensure you build the sort of trust that turns into loyalty.
Address negative UGC: Of course, not all UGC will be positive. If you do see negative comments, try to address and resolve them. People like when brands take the time to show that their customer’s opinions are important, even if they aren’t particularly glowing reviews.
User-generated content offers your brand a steady stream of relatable and authentic content. UGC differs from professionally generated marketing material because it feels different. When potential users see this content, it acts as social proof for your product or service. It also helps your users imagine themselves getting the benefit of your solution.
UGC is a great way to put your users front and center, build trust, and connect with a larger audience through storytelling. So, make sure it’s part of your 2024 marketing strategy.