Everything You Need to Know About UGC
The recent explosion of Barbie and Ken selfies shows the power of user-generated content (UGC). Sure, the movie had its fair share of media coverage thanks to a star-studded cast, but it was the fans that really lit up social media with their Barbie-related content and memes.
It’s such a simple premise. Fans visit a dedicated filming location to snap a picture which they’re encouraged to share on their social channels alongside the hashtag #BarbieTheMovie. The result? The movie gets a ton of exposure and fans get to share their excitement about the upcoming film.
Brands that once relied on traditional forms of advertising, like billboards, TV commercials, and even paid digital campaigns, are now inviting their audiences to create content and, in the process, promote their products and services.
What is UGC?
UGC is any content shared by a customer, fan, or member of the public — not content shared by a brand or brand associate. The term can refer to different types of content, from a customer review left on Amazon to an unboxing video on TikTok or an outfit tag on Instagram Stories.
Why is UGC so powerful?
Today’s consumers are more skeptical than ever. They want to be in control of who they buy from, and have less of an affinity for slick, brand-created ad campaigns. Instead, they seek out authentic content that ultimately answers their questions—cue the importance of UGC.
In fact, consumers are 2.4x more likely to view UGC as authentic compared to content created by brands themselves and 72% of consumers consider customer testimonials (a common form of UGC) as more credible than a brand talking about its own products.
It expands your reach
When someone posts a piece of UGC, your brand is instantly visible to their network. Imagine the potential that creates — if 100 people share your brand with their audience, you can reach millions of potential customers.
It’s the new word-of-mouth marketing
Over 50% of millennials choose to buy a product based on a recommendation from family and friends. UGC is essentially a personal recommendation that leverages the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
It builds trust
7 out of 10 consumers are likely to buy more from brands they trust. It plays an important role in the decision-making process, especially when there is so much choice. 93% of marketers agree that consumers tend to trust content created by customers more than they trust content created by brands.
It acts as social proof
UGC is perfect for tackling hesitations, objections, and commonly asked questions. When a shopper is on-the-fence, they often head straight to the reviews section to see how other customers fared when they purchased.
It helps you build a rich content library
There’s only so much content you can create with your in-house resources. Encouraging your audience to share their own content can help you scale your efforts and build a rich, diverse content library quickly. Not to mention, UGC is often free! Make sure you secure usage rights and create a library of content you can share across your branded channels.
It increases conversions
UGC reassures shoppers and gives them the confidence to buy from your brand. But it’s also a great way to inspire engagement. In fact, one study found that people who interact with UGC are 100.6% more likely to convert than those who don’t.
Who and what: The different types of UGC
UGC can come in many shapes and sizes, but there are two main categories to consider:
- Who is creating the content
- What kind of content they’re creating
Here are some of the most popular types of UGC.
- Images: tagged photos on Instagram, snaps on Stories, and photo reviews
- Videos: product reviews on YouTube, unboxing videos on TikTok, or a product tutorial on Instagram
- Social media content:Tweets about your brand or a tagged comment recommending your product on Facebook
- Testimonials: Amazon reviews or forum posts that sing your praises
- Live streams: an Instagram Live or a Twitch stream about your product
- Blog posts: a detailed review of a product or a list of recommended items
UGC isn’t just created by customers — although they can often be the most powerful creators. Here are some key players who can often be found sharing content about your brand.
Your customers are your biggest advocates. They’ve already purchased from you and are therefore in an excellent position to recommend someone else buys from you, whether it’s friends and family on Facebook or their small following on TikTok.
Use a tool — like Aspire’s Shopify integration — to discover influential customers who might be interested in generating UGC in exchange for free products.
Your most loyal fans
People who buy from you often are your biggest advocates. They’re enthusiastic about your products and are more than happy to shout about your brand from the rooftops. They’re also the perfect people to encourage UGC from.
Use a social listening tool to monitor who’s talking about you online. You can even get alerts when new UGC goes live.
Nobody knows your brand better than the people who live to improve it and advertise it every single day. Employee-generated content essentially turns your team into influencers and encourages them to promote your products or brand to their network.
Dedicated UGC creators
UGC creators are a new breed of influencers. Today, there are dedicated UGC creators whocreate sponsored content to promote a business — but unlike influencers, UGC creators are not obligated to post the branded content on their own channels. In other words, brands work with UGC creators simply to create content, rather than to gain exposure. It’s not UGC in the traditional sense, but this can be a great starting point to encourage your real customers to create and share content.
6 examples of UGC in action
Here’s how brands are leveraging UGC to boost brand awareness, affinity, and even sales.
Accessories brand CLUSE has a UGC lookbook on its website. It invites its customers to share pics and videos of how they style their products using the hashtag #CLUSE. It then shares the best to showcase on its website.
2. Outdoor Voices
Athletic clothing brand Outdoor Voices is on a mission to get people outside and moving. As part of its campaign, it encourages shoppers to share what they’re getting up to alongside the hashtag #DoingThings. The brand showcases the entries in a dedicated Instagram Stories Highlight and also shares the best ones on its feed.
3. Muji Pen Art
Muji Pens ran a UGC contest inviting people to share a picture of a drawing they made using a Muji pen. It resulted in more than 6,000 entries, generating a ton of exposure for the brand and helping them create a diverse library of content they could use moving forward.
4. Love Corn
Snack brand Love Corn is a pro at finding and sharing UGC. It has a dedicated Instagram Stories Highlight that showcases the pictures and videos that fans of the snack have shared.
5. Drunk Elephant
Cosmetic brand Drunk Elephant is big on TikTok. It encourages beauty fans to share their product-related content using the hashtag #DrunkElephant. The result is a browsable library of tutorials, reviews, and unboxing videos that act as powerful social proof for future customers.
YETI invites customers to share their photos and videos on Instagram under the hashtag #BuiltForTheWild. It then adds each photo to its website with a shoppable link to the relevant products.
How brands can make the most of UGC
UGC can have a huge impact on your brand, but there are lots of different avenues you can go down. What works for one brand might not work for yours and vice versa so treat it as a game of trial and error and follow these best practices to make the most of your campaigns.
1. Have a plan
The best UGC campaigns have a focus. Take Muji or Outdoor Voices campaigns from above, for example. Each one provides a prompt that encourages people to share the type of content the brand wants to collect. Think about what kind of UGC campaign you want to run or whether you want to compile a library of every kind of UGC.
For example, do you want shoppers to share how they style your product? Do you want them to create unboxing videos? Or do you want them to post a heartfelt review?
Then, think about how you’ll collect and curate the content. Consider the following questions:
- What’s the purpose of my UGC campaign?
- Who do I want to get involved in the campaign?
- What will I do with the content when I’ve got it?
Having a plan will help you map out your next steps and give you a purpose for your campaigns. Plus, it’ll make it much easier to track your success!
2. Start small
The easiest way to start a UGC campaign is to find people who are already repping your brand. Look for people who are already sharing reviews, videos, and photos and reach out to them. Once you’ve got a small group of people who are already on board, you can quickly create a snowball effect and encourage more and more customers to share their stories.
3. Give your audience instructions
50% of consumers want brands to tell them what type of content to create — do you want videos? Photos? Reviews? Where do you want customers to share their content?
The more specific you are with your instructions, the easier it is for customers to create the kind of content you’re hoping for. Don’t be afraid to lay out guidelines, including your designated hashtag, UGC you’ve loved in the past, and what and where they should post.
4. Tap into influencer-generated content
Influencer-generated content is a great launch pad for a UGC campaign. Partnering with influential people in your niche will bring mass awareness to your campaign and encourage their dedicated audiences to share their own content.
5. Measure and learn from your success
The quickest way to see success with your UGC campaigns is to track what works and what doesn’t. You can use a social listening tool to monitor the reach of each piece of content and identify who your top performers are.
Make sure you’re tracking the performance of the campaign against your goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) too. For example, if you want to increase conversions with UGC content, make sure you regularly check in on how many click-throughs and conversions you’re generating.
Get started with UGC marketing
UGC has many benefits — it increases conversions, builds trust, expands your reach, and provides you with a rich content library you can pull from at any moment. And while it differs slightly from influencer marketing, the two can coexist in perfect harmony.
Before you get started, consider your end goal. This will drive the entire premise of your UGC campaign and ensure you’re working towards your goals and KPIs. Most importantly, have fun. UGC campaigns are great for connecting with your community and building solid, long-lasting relationships with your customers. Ultimately, it’s a win-win for everyone involved. Customers get to share their experiences Everything you need to know about UGCand you get access to a wealth of powerfully authentic content.
Ready to go? Book a demo to see how IGC and UGC can create the perfect marketing mix.
Learn more about how to leverage this type of content in our ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Content.