In today's digital age, user-generated content (UGC) has proven to be a powerful tool for brands to connect with their online audience on a deeper and more personal level, whether used for organic content or social ads. UGC essentially refers to content created by customers, your employees and content creators. It usually shows them using, wearing or reviewing a product, with the user tagging your brand or using specific hashtags so that your social profiles are associated with the content. It comes in many forms too, such as photos, videos, reviews, live streams and podcasts, which are then shared on social channels.
Why is UGC important?
UGC holds immense power for brands in lots of different ways. Studies show that viewers of UGC are 2.4 times more likely to engage compared to brand-created ad campaigns that might use stock imagery or branded graphics. Consumers often see UGC as the most authentic and trustworthy form of content, creating a sense of credibility and building trust. Think of it as modern-day word of mouth.
UGC also plays an important role in building brand loyalty. By featuring UGC on your channels, you create opportunities for audience-business interactions, spark conversations and nurture engaged communities. Authentic UGC establishes a sense of belonging and connection among consumers, further strengthening their loyalty towards your brand.
Perhaps, most importantly, UGC is genuine social proof of your product/service’s worth. When customers see relatable individuals using or enjoying your product or service through UGC, it significantly influences their decision-making process, making them more inclined to purchase.
How can I encourage UGC?
To effectively harness the power of UGC, there are several strategies you can use:
Encourage customer UGC by creating branded hashtags, organising contests and actively seeking reviews and testimonials from your audience.
If your service operates online, email marketing can be an effective way to generate UGC. Something as simple as a prompt in an email signature has worked for clients in the past. Perhaps your product is a physical one? Consider asking for reviews by adding a specific call-to-action on a business card or receipt.
You can then curate and share the UGC to amplify its impact. UGC itself can then inspire others to join the movement and share their own!
Top tip: Always ensure you obtain proper permission from creators and credit them appropriately when using their UGC. Respecting the rights of the creator is crucial in maintaining ethical practices.
Don’t be afraid to get specific in your requests for UGC. Clearly communicate the type of content you desire and encourage customers to share their experiences, reviews or testimonials related to your brand. This specificity will help generate content that aligns with your brand messaging.
UGC doesn’t just have to come from consumers. Customers love seeing behind-the-scenes photography taken by your employees — showcasing the day-to-day processes at a business adds a personal touch and gives them a glimpse into the inner workings of the company, making them feel more connected and more likely to engage.
By sharing behind-the-scenes moments, businesses humanise themselves by showing the stories behind their products or services. This transparency builds trust and strengthens the bond between the brand and the customer, creating a sense of inclusion and making them feel part of something special.
Don‘t forget to share UGC across various platforms and channels strategically, such as by sharing it on your website, social media posts, online ads and even in email marketing. By diversifying the distribution of UGC, you can maximise impact and reach a wider audience.
What are the benefits?
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of UGC is its cost-effectiveness. Hiring influencers can cost a substantial amount of money, whereas simply encouraging customers to share UGC comes at a minimal cost - sometimes maybe even free!
Did you know that 86% of consumers believe that UGC is a reliable indicator of a brand's authenticity? This authenticity is so important for building trust and will continue to strengthen your brand's reputation. Studies show that incorporating UGC in advertisements leads to a 4.5% higher conversion rate, while brands utilising UGC see a 20% increase in traffic to their website.
UGC empowers your customers to showcase their love for your brand and creates a genuine connection with your audience. Authenticity and trust are the fundamental elements that drive the success of UGC - but be warned! Consumers can spot ‘fake’ UGC from a mile away, so it’s imperative that your content is genuine.
By harnessing the full power of UGC, you can grow your brand to greater heights through the authentic voices of your customers and your employees!