What is User-Generated Content And How to Get Started [2021 Guide]
Do you remember the time when Coca-Cola introduced its personalized coke bottles within the Share a Coke campaign? The world went crazy!
Consumers were sharing on social media posts of themselves enjoying a drink with their personalized coke bottle.
The outcome? Coca-Cola’s consumers stepped into the shoes of the advertiser effortlessly.
This is what user-generated content is all about!
We created this guide to help you convert your buyers into advocates for your brand by using the best practices of user-generated content.
Below you will find everything you need to know to kickstart your UGC campaign today.
But first, let’s set the basics.
What is User-Generated Content?
User-generated content (also known as UGC or consumer-generated content) is a marketing term that refers to social content related to your brand created by someone who’s not an official representative of your business (usually a customer).
It can be in the form of pictures, videos, testimonials, product reviews, tweets, blog posts, podcasts, and every other content that promotes your brand.
It’s obvious why UGC as a type of content is so influential:
Reasons Why You Need User-Generated Content ASAP
Obviously, UGC campaigns have shown to be a golden ticket in the digital marketing world due to their super-efficiency.
There are many benefits of user-generated content, so no wonder why so many businesses implement it in their main digital marketing strategies.
Here are the main reasons why brands are turning to their audiences to share experiences of their products instead of them:
- UGC promotes authenticity and credibility boost (customers are no longer the passive consumers led by TV commercials and billboards)
- Presents an undeniable social proof (as powerful as word-of-mouth)
- Boosts trust in your brand (consumers trust recommendations from real people)
- Impacts purchasing decisions on a higher level
- It gives the consumer a voice (and shows that it matters)
- It’s cost-effective (users run the show, while marketers don’t have to empty their pockets on marketing campaigns that may or may not perform well)
- It makes people feel they are a part of an online community
- Customer reviews expand your SEO efforts and help you rank higher
Types of User-Generated Content
Now that you understand where UGC fits into your digital marketing strategy, let’s see the most popular UGC types out here to increase your brand awareness and sales without you lifting a finger.
1. Social media photos and videos (Visual UGC)
Visual UGC content is the most common type of UGC and the most engaging, too. It is a very common practice for customers to share a photo or video on their social media accounts, expressing their experience with a certain brand among their followers.
Below you will find an excellent example of visual UGC when a customer shares a photo of a product (gift) they’ve received on social channels (in this case, Instagram stories).
2. Customer interviews and case studies
This is a more traditional approach when it comes to gathering customer experience. But, in some industries long formatted customer interviews are usually a great inspiration for potential customers to identify itself and get inspiration on how or why to use a certain product.
Here is a great example how case studies work as UGC in the software industry:
3. Recommendations in tweets, groups or forums
It has become a common practice for people to ask similar minded people when it comes to purchasing a product. This usually happens in Facebook groups, forums, or through simple Tweets people asking their friends to share recommendations.
Here is an example:
4. Customer reviews, testimonials and ratings
The most powerful UGC type are definitely customer reviews and ratings. Reviews are left on product pages or business listings such as Google reviews and are a huge part of a product’s success. The time a person takes to write a review validates their willingness to help other people who want to purchase that similar product or service. In both cases, positive or negative.
So that is why, brands need to establish a firm process in online reputation management that will include managing, responding, and showcasing customer reviews.
Take a look at the Starbucks example:
5. Blog posts or product reviews by experts
This format is very particular for certain industries, such as travel, tech or gadgets, fashion, food, but in general, can be applied for any service or product. Why, because there are experts that can freely write about your product, you like it or not.
For example, here is a blog type of a review about a MacBook computer:
At this point, you might be thinking, what is the best type of UGC to ask your customers for?
The answer is: All of them!
Here are examples of brands that learned how to maximize the power of UGC.
Hope this will inspire you.
UGC Campaigns Examples
The watch company CLUSE posts UGC pictures on their homepage to help future customers find inspiration from users wearing CLUSE items and inspire others to show off their style. They encourage buyers to tag #CLUSE in their Instagram photos to be part of the photo album below.
The athletic wear company Outdoor Voices is on a mission to get the world moving. They created a successful hashtag campaign, #DoingThings, that invites shoppers to share content while doing anything active in the OV brand clothing.
Unlike the brands that rely on shoppers to share photos when they leave product reviews, the furniture store Jennifer Taylor goes one level up. They pull UGC pictures from customers’ social media profiles into their product pages. To get featured, you just need to tag your content with the hashtag #jentayhome.
The camera company GoPro is a genius when it comes to collecting user-generated content. The brand surprised users with fantastic campaigns regularly. The latest one – million dollar challenge made millennials eager to be featured and share many photos and videos on how they use the brand’s new product, hoping to earn the contest.
What are your UGC goals?
Before we move down to best practices on sharing user-generated content, have in mind that you need to set up a UGC campaign. And like in any sort of marketing strategy, you need to clarify your goals.
Here are some common user-generated content goals you can set:
Higher brand engagement
Consumers tend to spark conversation with their content. Seeing more comments, likes, and mentions of your brand can be clear signs of success. But it would help if you had the right social media management tools to benchmark your efforts.
Higher conversion rates
If you need to make potential consumers comfortable to buy from you, UGC is the right thing to boost. You can increase conversion rates by collecting and displaying lots of reviews that include pictures, too.
Boost trust in your brand
No matter if you have had some bad press recently or are starting fresh, building brand awareness through trust is a great goal. UGC is the easiest way to establish credibility with your consumers, so make sure to track keywords or phrases connected with your brand.
Most of the consumers want to double-check the brand before they invest their money there. Investing in educating customers on your products and services is a crucial thing to do. Start by tracking popular questions and concerns about your business on social media, and provide a straightforward answer to them.
Save time on creating content
This is the perfect way to automatically boost your user-generated content marketing strategy and help your marketing team focus on other priorities. Provide a fruitful ground for customers to speak about you and enjoy the amount of UGC you will receive.
Keep in mind that there are tools like EmbedSocial that can help you collect your UGC in one place and create UGC widgets for any website.
Best practices for User-Generated Content Strategy
In order to inspire your audience to start creating UGC for your brand, you will need to embrace it as a serious strategy for growth.
Make your brand sharabble
So first things first. Before you expect your customers to start talking about you and share content about your products, you will need to consider what is unique about your brand and what you will do to facilitate the experience you want your customers to share.
It can be anything: packaging, some extra mile moment in your customer service, a surprise during delivery, an unexpected birthday card, a showcase of care in their local community, and so on.
Carefully select the social networks
Don’t jump straight to Instagram or put all your marketing efforts into your Facebook page. Think about where your audience lives on social networks and the place where your potential advocates could have the most significant influence. Focus on the social media network that is most effective for your user-generated content campaign
Always request permission to share photos
From the user-generated content example above, you can see that a branded hashtag is a great way to collect user-generated content. However, it’s always a good idea to ask for permission, even when a post includes your tag. Re-sharing that content without explicit consent from the creator can annoy some of your best advocates (you don’t want to do that).
Credit the creator of the content
When you share user-generated content on your social channels, make sure to tag the original content creator directly in the post. This will make it easier for fans and followers to verify that the content is authentic and created by a customer outside your company.
Offer something in return
Social media contests (like the one above) and giveaways are a great way to quickly generate a substantial amount of UGC. So next time you want your followers to provide you with user-generated content, consider what you can offer them in return.
Analyze and measure your content
No matter if you re-share it or not, user-generated content metrics can serve as a great source of customer research. Please take a closer look at how buyers are using your brand and what language they use to describe it. You might discover that they are practicing your products or services in ways you haven’t considered.
Get Started with User-Generated Content
Collecting valuable user-generated content takes more than coming up with a hashtag. Good UGC strategy adds value to the brand and brings user experience to another level.
User-generated content doesn’t just have to live on social media channels. You can quickly expand its reach and value by showing it directly on your website with interactive UGC widgets.
User-generated content platforms like EmbedSocial can help you automatically generate and display UGC in a well-crafted widget that you can publish on your website with a single line of code.
Pick your favorite social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, Google, Twitter, TikTok, etc.) and select what you want to show, whether that be stories, posts, videos, or reviews of your products. Select your preferred template and curate your perfect widget.
The greatest thing is that you can re-use the UGC to generate even more sales by making your widget shoppable.
EmbedSocial platform works with every CMS and popular eCommerce platform, so no matter what website builder you have, we got your back!
Don’t sell your product – show it and let others speak about it. Encourage shoppers, professional content creators, influencers, and industry experts to communicate their thoughts or need for your brand in their own words and style. Be open to critics or attacks, and have the will to turn every negative feedback into a lesson learned.