Today, consumers crave authenticity from brands, and user-generated content (UGC) is the best way to give them just that.
This change in consumer behavior is caused by the fact that people don’t trust advertisements like they used to do.
But not only that, people don’t trust content created by brands as much either.
76% of consumers say they’re more likely to trust content shared by “normal” people than by brands.
And it makes sense, that a brand will speak highly of its own products.
So consumers still need validation that what a brand says is actually true. UGC does that and much more.
But what is UGC and how can you incorporate it into your marketing strategy? Let’s take a look.
What is user generated content
User-generated content is any piece of content (video, image, text, etc.) created by individuals and posted to social media. As the name implies, this is content created by users of a specific social media platform and not brands.
UGC is nothing new. People have been posting about products and services since the beginning of platforms.
That’s because it is a natural thing for people to do. Consumers naturally want to show, recommend, and talk about the products and things they like.
Brands have an important role in the lives of consumers so it’s natural for a person to share them organically with their friends and followers on social media.
And their friends are open to seeing this type of content.
Because people show, recommend, and talk about products they genuinely like based on their experiences, not for personal gain (in most cases). More on this below.
However, it’s worth mentioning that content created by influencers also counts as UGC, and is still more trusted than brand content even if there is a personal gain.
Why you need user generated content
As a brand, consumers’ opinions matter.
Their opinions have more influence on purchasing decisions than what you might think.
Especially if those people are friends, family, or peers.
83% of consumers say word of mouth has an influence on their purchasing decisions.
User-generated content is essentially online word of mouth.
Let’s take a look at the specific business benefits of incorporating user-generated content into your strategy.
UGC is authentic
Authenticity in this context means that something is truthful and believable.
Content from a brand can be truthful, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that people will believe it since they know there is monetary interest and because there are many examples of false advertising.
People find the content shared by other users truthful and believable in most cases and that’s why it’s so powerful.
90% of consumers say that authenticity is key when deciding which brands they like and support.
UGC provides your brand with this authenticity.
UGC increases consumer trust
To add to the previous point, user-generated content increases the overall trust in your products or services.
If you see a lot of people using, recommending, and mentioning a product you will assume that you can trust that it’s good.
And it’s the same for the opposite case. If you hear a lot of people you know talking badly about a product you will automatically not trust the brand.
Consumer trust is crucial for these reasons.
UGC drives brand awareness
Another benefit of user generated content is brand awareness.
With more people talking about you online, more people will discover your brand.
In a way, your customers are spreading the word about your products and services for you.
And it doesn’t matter that your customers don’t have large social media followings.
In the end, the numbers add up. So, more UGC will mean a larger reach.
In addition, the awareness that real people create among the people they know is highly valuable because those people will be more likely to convert, which is the next benefit we will talk about.
UGC converts better
We said that user generated content converts better, but why is that?
Because 67% of people say that they are more likely to purchase a product after a friend or family member shared it on social media.
That’s exactly why.
Trust and authenticity play very important roles in purchasing decisions. When you have these two things together, your content converts better.
This is why so many companies are starting to feature UGC in their ads.
According to Shopify, ads featuring UGC get 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click than average.
UGC builds your brand community
You might have noticed that nowadays there is a lot of focus on building a community around brands, or at least being part of another community.
And that’s because, as we said before, consumer behavior is changing and now more people are choosing to support the brands that offer a better relationship.
Building your community means making an effort to connect with your customers on a deeper level through communication, good user experience, and providing value to their lives.
By sharing and interacting with your user’s content, you show appreciation and build the relationship with your audience.
But also, your community grows as more people create content and talk about their experiences with your brand.
UGC is cost-effective
Organic user generated content is free! That’s very cost-effective.
However, in most cases, there won’t be enough organic UGC being created that you can use, so you need to encourage, incentivize, and manage it through an ambassador program.
The good news is that even then, it’s very cost-effective.
An ambassador marketing program lets you reward your brand fans for creating constant UGC through free products, commissions, cash, or discounts.
These compensation methods make it extremely cost-effective to have hundreds of your customers producing high-quality content.
How to get and use user generated content
With all that out of the way, let’s take a look at the two things you need to know in order to incorporate this into your marketing strategy.
How to get UGC and how to use it.
The first step is to gather every piece of UGC that is posted on social media relating to your brand.
You can do this by looking at your tags and brand hashtags. Ideally, there will be many pieces of content talking about you in a positive light.
It would be great to have usable UGC organically and consistently, however, this will likely not happen on its own.
And if you are looking for a specific piece of content perfect for another marketing campaign, you might have a hard time.
To encourage users to create UGC, you can:
- Create a contest where people have to submit pictures with the products
- Create a social media challenge or hashtag
- Ask for product reviews with images
- Tell your followers to show you how they use your products
But the most effective way is to…
Start an ambassador program
Starting an ambassador program is not as difficult as you might think.
In this type of program, you simply invite your customers and followers to represent your brand through the creation of UGC in exchange for exclusive rewards.
This way, your biggest brand fans are the ones creating amazing content consistently that you can repurpose for other campaigns.
Now picture hundreds of your customers creating UGC each month, driving awareness, referrals, and more.
Below, we give you an example of a great ambassador program you can get inspiration from.
Now that you have collected quality user-generated content, you can repurpose it in several ways.
The first thing that you can do is share your customers’ content on your social media pages.
This will make your feeds look authentic, relatable, and human.
But it will also show your products or services being used by actual customers.
Use the content you gather and display it on your site to improve your conversion rates.
If you’re selling your products directly through your site, UGC is arguably the best thing you can show to potential customers.
UGC results in 29% higher web conversions than websites without it.
It works the same way as online reviews, which have an important influence on purchasing decisions.
It’s a fact that ads showing UGC have better results than other types of ads, as we mentioned previously.
And this strategy is especially effective with Gen Z.
84% of Gen Z consumers are more likely to trust a company if it uses actual customers in its ads.
So you should test your best UGC in your ad campaigns to try to gain the trust of the viewers.
In addition, this method is cost-effective since you don’t need to spend as much time and resources producing the ad image or video.
You can also use it in promotional emails.
The point is that user-generated content can improve all your marketing channels because it provides validation to your products.
Showcasing genuine customer experiences will always have a positive impact.
Any way you choose to do this will also build your community.
Example of a brand successfully using user generated content
A company that really understands the importance of UGC is Slice. Slice empowers a network of 17,000 independent pizzerias by giving them the tools they need to compete with big pizza franchises.
Driving UGC is something that is extremely important, not only to the Slice brand, but to the independent pizzerias they partner with.
The local pizza app knows that user content is one of the best ways (if not the best) to promote independent pizzerias as well as their own platform.
And if their partners grow, they do too.
That’s why they started the P.I.E. society (Promoting Independents Everywhere).
This ambassador program consists of having 1 representative of each state (50 total) to visit local pizzerias and create user generated content.
In exchange, the pizza ambassadors get:
- Year’s supply of free pizza
- A content creation kit
- $500 toward travel throughout the year
- Slice gear
This creative ambassador program lets Slice expand to every state of the United States while creating a factory of quality user generated content to promote the pizzerias and the app.
Consumers discover new pizzerias through authentic content by other consumers, Slice grows alongside its community, and ambassadors get free pizza. That’s a win-win-win.
Slice’s Director of Content, Cara Meiselman, told us that the most important thing for driving brand growth is to:
“Think about how you can give back to your community. How do you benefit them? How do you make your community feel supported? Figure out the ways you can support the business and consumers authentically.”
For Slice, UGC is the answer to those questions.
Over to you…
Now, it’s time that you pay more attention to your customer’s content.
Use that content as much as possible throughout your marketing campaigns and also encourage it.
And finally, start a brand ambassador program to have a consistent stream of UGC.