User-generated content (UGC) is any content – images, videos, text, reviews, etc. created by unpaid people, rather than the brand itself. Brands will often share UGC on their own social media accounts, website and other marketing channels.
It now plays a big role in marketing because it shows the brand being used in real life by real people. Reports state that 92% of consumers trust organic, UGC more than they trust traditional advertising. This is because brands don’t pay for UGC, it’s unbiased and created by users because they like the offerings of a business. It is perceived as more authentic and honest.
Why you should use user-generated content
UGC acts as social proof to promote your brand’s message, helping you expand your social followers, strengthen relationships with clients, instill trust in the target audience, and boost sales. Here are three key reasons UGC is a vital marketing strategy.
1. Promote authenticity
Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view UGC as authentic compared to content created by brands. That offers brands an important credibility boost.
2. Create trust
Whether it’s a product, a service, or an experience, modern consumers want to know what they’re going to get before purchasing. For example, 30% of millennials wouldn’t go to a restaurant if their Instagram presence wasn’t up to scratch. They don’t trust that the experience would be what they’re looking for.
Here’s an example from beauty brand Burts Bees. They’ve shared a user-generated photo with a customer testimonial, while also encouraging others to share photos using their products. This will help to boost followers’ trust in the products and the brand.
3. It’s cost-effective
UGC is all about the users creating content. They’re unpaid and do it for a number of reasons, whether it’s to build a connection with like-minded people, to share their experience, or to be in with a chance of winning something.
This is of course lower cost than forking out hundreds or thousands for advertising.
Big brand user-generated content examples
Remember when Coca Cola brought out their own personalised coke bottles, and we went crazy for them? It took off all over the world with bottles named after people. To keep momentum going, customers were encouraged to share photos of themselves enjoying a drink with their personalised coke bottle on social media. The result? Coca Cola’s customers stepped into the role of the advertiser.
In 2014, Starbucks ran a White Cup Contest. Customers were encouraged to doodle all over their white Starbucks cups and post their images as entries for a competition to find a template for a limited-edition Starbucks up.
Nearly 4,000 customers submitted entries in just three weeks, showing that people were ready and willing to engage with the brand.
Dune London added shoppable Instagram photos to their website, which featured real customers wearing and accessorizing their offerings. They found that sales in which shoppers interacted with UGC increased by 82%. The photos of others wearing the company’s products gives prospects the extra confidence to purchase.
GoPro helped kickstart the UGC movement several years ago, by using their customers’ content in their marketing. A search for “GoPro” on YouTube yields 40,000,000 results, and the brand has almost 9,000,000 subscribers.
The company now has it’s own channel on Virgin American Airlines and the Xbox console, where viewers can watch GoPro videos. The content is so entertaining, it’ll make you forget you’re watching one big advert for GoPro.
How to encourage user-generated content
Featuring user-generated content can only happen once you’ve accumulated it, so here are some tips on how to encourage its creation.
1. Have clear CTAs explaining what you want users to share
Place CTAs and instructions on your social media platforms and website, asking users to share their experience. When it comes to the instructions, be specific.
2. Encourage users to tag you
This ensures that you’ll be able to find the content that your customers are sharing. If you’re tagged in a photo of video, you’ll receive a notification. Or, you can create your own hashtag and instruct users to use it, allowing you to search for the UGC.
3. Request permission to feature it
Always ask for permission before sharing the UGC. In experience, the answer is almost always an excited yes. Also give credit to the creator in your content.
User-generated content is an incredible asset to have. It will become most impactful when you use it to its full capacity. Sharing UGC in diverse and engaging ways will keep your audience excited. As a result, it will be easier to build relationships and trust.
Plus it doesn’t hurts that seeing UGC will actually encourage additional customers to start creating their own. This triggers an amazing cyclical effect that will advance your marketing on social media.