Your Comprehensive Guide to User-Generated Content

If you’ve ever read reviews or looked at pictures/videos of any product before making a purchase, you’ve been looking at user-generated content (UGC).

UGC influences how people perceive brands and whether they will purchase your product. For example, 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

So what is user-generated content? How can it benefit your business? How can you leverage user-generated content?

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In this article, we will answer all your questions. So let’s dig right in!

What is User-Generated Content?

Any brand-specific content – text, images, videos, reviews, etc., created by customers rather than the company itself is considered user-generated content (UGC). They help build trust and demonstrate authenticity among general people.

Here is one of the best user-generated content examples by Starbucks.

UGC example by Starbucks

Source: instagram.com

It is worth mentioning that even when a customer shares your product on social media, it might not reach as many people. Therefore, you need to reshare their post (while tagging them) to reach a broad audience, as Starbucks did in the above example.

Another benefit of tagging the customer is that it makes them feel valuable while encouraging other customers to post pictures of your products.

Why Do You Need User-Generated Content?

As mentioned above, user-generated content helps build trust with potential customers and influence purchase decisions. Here are some major benefits of user-generated content.

1. Makes You Look More Credible

Given the time people spend online, brands today compete for their audience’s attention. Besides, shoppers have become more selective about the brands they interact with.

UGC makes you look credible and appealing to the younger audience, increasing engagement. In fact, consumers are 2.4x more likely to view user-generated content as more authentic than content created by brands.

2. Boosts Sales

UGC acts as social proof that your products are worth investing in. 72% of consumers believe that reviews and testimonials from customers are more credible than the brands talking about their products.

And you’ve probably already heard the quote, “people do business with companies they trust.”

For instance, when you see hundreds (or thousands) of people talking about a headphone from a popular brand, you’ll be more likely to purchase that specific product when looking for a headphone. 

3. Helps Build Brand Loyalty

UGC gives people a unique opportunity to become a part of the brand’s growth instead of just being a customer. This drives brand loyalty as people thrive off being a part of something greater than themselves.

Also, when brands reshare their posts, they feel valued (with many sharing the brand’s post again on their stories). As a result, they’ll share more posts related to your brand as and when they use your products.

4. Gives Consumers a Voice

When customers’ opinions are heard, they’re more likely to engage with and do business with the company. Since UGC mostly happens on social media, it allows users to share their unbiased views and get a response from the brand.

And when, as a brand, you respond to your customers (irrespective of positive or negative opinion), it shows that you care for them. This, in turn, builds loyalty in existing customers and trust with potential ones.

5. Supports Your SEO Efforts

One of the most overlooked benefits of UGC is how it impacts your SEO efforts. When more people talk about your brand online, Google and other search engines crawl them, helping you rank higher.

Plus, it gives you an additional opportunity to include relevant keywords. For instance, when a customer leaves a positive review on your product, you can respond to them saying something like, “Hi [customer name], we’re glad that you liked our [product name].”

This way, you can use your product name more often, naturally, and improve your rankings.

6. Proves To Be Cost-Effective

The average cost of hiring influencers can run into thousands of dollars (if not millions). However, the cost of asking your customers to share feedback or reviews of your products is almost little to zero.

This makes UGC the most cost-effective way to market your products and build brand awareness. Besides, you don’t need to hire a content marketing agency or redirect your resources to produce brand assets or content for your campaigns.

For example, Bose created a hashtag for its products, “#rulethequiet,” and encouraged its customers to use it when posting pictures on Instagram. As a result, the hashtag now has more than 3,780 posts.

Hashtag to curate all the user-generated content

Source: instagram.com

And everything for free. Now imagine how much you’d need to pay if you want this many posts from influencers – probably tens of millions of dollars, right? 

7. Helps Get the Most Out Of Social Commerce

Social commerce is on the rise. Sales through social media platforms are expected to reach $958 billion in 2022. The number is further expected to increase to $2,900 billion by 2026.

UGC and social commerce can boost your conversion rate. For instance, let’s say you’re browsing Instagram and found an amazing pair of sneakers. You click on the hashtag and see several people have posted pictures of them with the sneakers. This makes you feel that the product is worth purchasing.

You then visit the brand’s page, find the item, purchase it, and complete the transaction without leaving Instagram. That’s how UGC can influence your purchasing decision, and combined with social commerce; it’s a match made in heaven.

Types of User-Generated Content

Now that you know what UGC is and the importance of user-generated content, let’s understand the different types of UGC.

1. Social Media Photos and Videos

As we’ve mentioned before, social media is the most common platform for UGC and the most engaging too. Most people share their pictures and videos on their social media accounts and share their experiences with a certain brand (or product) with their followers.

Here’s an example. A customer has shared their experience with Apple Watch and why they love them with a video on Twitter.

Social media UGC example

Source: twitter.com

2. Customer Reviews

This is the most widely used strategy by brands to build trust with potential customers and showcase how they help their customers. However, unlike photos and videos, reviews are usually published on the company’s website, Google, and other third-party sites.

For instance, when you visit Myntra’s website and go to any product page, you will see customer reviews. Many customers even add their photos with the product to show how it looks in real life.

Using reviews as UGC on the company website

Source: myntra.com

3. Recommendations in Forums, Groups, and Tweets

It has become common for people to ask for recommendations online before finalizing a purchase. This usually happens in Reddit groups, Facebook groups, online forums (like Quora), and Twitter.

4. Product Reviews and Unboxing by Experts

Product reviews and unboxing by experts is a trendy concept, especially in the gadget industry, but it works great for any service or product.

For instance, if you’ve ever looked for phone reviews on YouTube, there is a very high probability that you’ve come across videos of Technical Guruji. And with around 21.9 million subscribers, it is a clear indication that people love him and his content.

That’s because experts like Technical Guruji talk about both the good and bad of every product they review.

Note: You can even reach out to experts and offer your product for free in exchange for an honest review on their blog or YouTube channel.

UGC Best Practices

Although user-generated content can positively influence your brand and conversions, it is crucial to follow the best practices to get the best results.

1. Set the Right Goals

When setting up a UGC campaign, it is important to set the right goals. If not, you won’t be able to measure its success. Here are some examples of user-generated content goals you can set.

  • Higher brand engagement: When people share your products and services on their social media profiles, you’ll see more brand mentions, likes, and comments. And it is a clear sign that people love your products.
  • Higher conversion rates: Since UGC helps build trust and credibility, it indirectly improves your conversion rates. You can also convert more people by including customer reviews and photos on the product page.
  • Educate customers: Most often, people want to double-check before purchasing. By tracking popular questions and concerns about your business (or product), you can create a FAQ section to clear all the misconceptions and myths about your product.
  • Save time on creating content: Creating content requires a lot of effort and creativity. However, UGC can help you focus on other priorities if you’re short of resources.

Note: You can have multiple UGC goals as well.

2. Make Your Brand Stand Out

Before you expect people to start sharing brand-related content, you need to give them something to talk about. Think about how you can give them the best possible experience. It could be as simple as customized packaging, a hand-written note, or a surprise birthday card.

You can even incentivize customers to share their experiences on social media while tagging you. The incentive could be a discount coupon, free delivery on the next order, or a cashback.

3. Choose The Right Social Networks

You need to carefully pick the social networks depending on your target audience. For instance, if you are a B2C company with Millennials and Gen Z as the primary target audience, Instagram is the right platform for you.

However, if you are a B2B company, LinkedIn and Twitter will drive better results than Instagram.

Focus on the networks that most of your target audience uses for your UGC campaigns.

4. Always Tag the Customer When Re-sharing Their Posts

When re-sharing user-generated content from your social channels, make sure to tag the original creator in the post. This will enable your followers to verify whether the post is created by someone outside of your company or not.

It also boosts the creator’s morale and encourages them to tag you every time they post something related to your brand.

5. Build a Community

UGC gives you a unique opportunity to build a community of like-minded people (or you can say people who like your brand). However, you will need to make your customers feel that they’re a part of something bigger than a simple repost.

For example, Apple created a “Shot On iPhone” campaign where users were invited to share their best shots online. A panel of judges then reviewed photo submissions from around the world and chose ten pictures that were then featured on billboards in select cities and on Apple stores.

A picture from the Shot On iPhone campaign:

Building a community via UGC contests

Source: apple.com

6. Host a Customer-focused Event

Creating a customer-focused event is one of the best ways to identify and engage your brand loyalists. For example, GoPro hosts the GoPro Creator Summit every year, where videographers, adventure photographers, and GoPro lovers come together to celebrate their passions.

And it will get you free promotions on social media and hundreds of posts (if not thousands).

Hosting events to get more user-generated content

Source: instagram.com

Best User-Generated Content Examples

No matter the size of your business or the industry you’re in, user-generated content can help boost brand awareness, build trust with your audience, and drive more conversions.

Here are some of the best user-generated content examples for you to take inspiration from.

1. boAt

boAt is one of the most popular headphones and wearables companies in India. They get hundreds of user-generated content almost every day. And if that was not enough, boAt recently launched a meme contest where the winners stand a chance to win Bassheads.

boAt contests to get user-generated content

Source: twitter.com

As a result, boAt has received thousands of user-generated content on Twitter.

Takeaway: Come up with contests that excite your target audience to get tons of user-generated content and become the talk of the town.

2. Tripoto

If you’ve ever looked for travel ideas on Instagram, then chances are you’ve come across Tripoto’s Instagram Handle. Tripoto spends a very minimal amount on content creation as almost all their posts are created by their followers.

How does Tripoto use UGC?

Source: instagram.com

Tripoto also has a blog where people can share their travel experiences in-depth, book packages, and attend online experiences.

Takeaway: Create a community of followers and loyalists who tag you every time they post something related to your brand or products.

3. Wear Your Opinion

Wear Your Opinion (WYO) is a clothing brand that sells quirky and customized apparel. However, it has built a loyal following on Instagram (with more than 200K followers).

WYO encourages its customers to share their pictures with t-shirts and other products bought from the company. They then re-share their posts on stories while tagging the customer. They have even highlighted all the stories on their profile with the title, “WYOFam.”

Highlighting UGC in Instagram Stories

Source: instagram.com

Takeaway: Encourage people to share their experiences with your products and re-share them from your social handles. Also, never delete those posts as they act as social proof.

4. Parachute Home

Parachute Home, a direct-to-consumer bedding and bath brand, encourages its customers to use the hashtag #MyParachuteHome in posts featuring the company’s products. They then repurpose those posts and use them in promotional content.

How to use UGC in promotional content?

Source: bazaarvoice.com

That’s not it. The company even features UGC content on an insert card attached with every order. This encourages other customers to click some pictures and share them on social media.

Takeaway: Think of different, creative ways to use user-generated content outside of social media, such as in ads, email campaigns, flyers, and posters.

5. LaCroix

The Instagram account of LaCroix, a sparkling water brand, is filled with user-generated content. From photos of a group of friends to people enjoying an adventure, LaCroix populates its feeds with content created by people who love their products.

How to use UGC to advertise different versions of your product?

Source: instagram.com

What makes them stand out is that they post UGC that includes different flavors to ensure their followers know about all their products.

Takeaway: Showcase how happy people are when using your products. And if you also offer different variations of a single product like LaCroix, diversify your UGC as well.

Summing Up

User-generated content is a great marketing tool to initiate conversation around your products and build trust with potential customers. However, you need to follow the best practices to ensure you’re getting the most out of your efforts.

Have you tried incorporating UGC in your marketing campaigns? How’s your experience so far?

With more than two years of experience in writing, Rohit Rajpal has been helping brands improve their online presence with easy to understand content. When he is not writing, he's busy reading about digital marketing and copywriting. On the other side, he runs his own blog called Learn SEO Pro.

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