What is User Generated Content and why does every brand need it?
What is user-generated content?
User-generated content, or UGC, is any type of content that is created by a user and published on the internet. It can be photos, videos, audio clips or written text. UGC is not sponsored by any company; it just comes straight from a user’s perspective, however it can be then used within social ads once it has been created.
Since it’s so raw and uncensored, UGC can be used in marketing to create a more authentic feeling for the audience. These types of content often give more value to a brand because they feel more organic, honest, and relatable. It’s like your friend giving you the inside scoop on a product vs. seeing it in an ad. When people see UGC online, they’re less likely to assume they’re being sold something and are more inclined to consider the information unbiased and trustworthy.
Here are a few user-generated content examples:
Reviews: the most popular form of UGC. They’re written by people who have used the product or service before, and they can be used on a company’s website or another platform.
Ratings: a quick way to express an opinion about a product or service. Many brands have a rating system that includes 1 to 5-star scale where users can rate the products they have tried or vote for their favourite products.
Blog posts: typically longer than reviews and ratings, blog posts focus on telling a story, passing judgement or making a point. Blog posts often include images and links to other websites.
Videos: social platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are becoming increasingly popular, especially among younger audiences. Some of these UGC videos include tutorials on how to use a product, while others provide insight into what it’s like working for a certain company or industry, as well as personal stories from customers who have used a brands products/services before.
Social proofing is a psychological phenomenon. It leads people to believe that if other people are using, doing or endorsing something, it’s a good idea for them to do so too. In other words, when people can’t figure out what to do in a certain situation, they look around at what everyone else is doing and follow their lead.
This ties in perfectly with the use of user-generated content. Social proofing is the reason you’re more likely to buy a book after seeing it recommended by a friend, or more likely to buy a product if you can see that other people are also buying it. It can be seen as an evolution of traditional personal referrals. Social proofing works because of our instinct to rely on the judgment of others when making decisions, in order to reduce the need for us to expend energy on making those decisions ourselves.
Does my brand need user-generated content?
The simple answer is yes!
Let’s start with the most obvious reason your brand needs user-generated content: authenticity. User-generated content is the most authentic form of advertising. It’s not coming from a paid actor or actress, and it’s not coming from one of your employees. It’s coming from real people who really love your product and want to share that love with the world.
The beautiful thing about authenticity is that it breeds loyalty in return.
Users are way more suspicious these days—they know when a company is trying to “sell” them something, and they’re tired of it. They’re far better at spotting ads now, no matter how subtle or organic they may appear, and the resistance to hard selling means they are less efficient. This gives UGC an advantage! When users get tired of being sold to, they want to find companies who actually care about their customers; and will give them what they need. In a world full of polished glossy ad campaigns created by expensive marketing teams, the unapologetic authenticity of user-generated content stands out like a sore thumb, and people love it! UGC also builds trust with consumers. When potential customers see that other customers have used your product and loved it, they will be much more likely to trust you and try it out themselves. It’s a great way to breathe new life into your brand and reach an audience you never thought possible.
How to start?
Start by simply asking your followers online to submit content related to your brand. If you are a restaurant, ask customers to submit photos of their favourite dish. If you are a clothing brand, ask them to submit a photo of themselves in their favourite outfit from your shop. Once people start submitting content to you, be sure to thank them and let them know how much you appreciate their support. Customers love to feel valued and appreciated.
Now, the best way to incentivise UGC is by offering something in exchange for it. Whether it’s an exclusive discount code, gift card, the product itself, entering into a competition or even just a shout-out on social media. People are more likely to contribute content if they know they’ll get something out of it.
Yes, you heard me right! You can get high-quality images and copy for your platforms in exchange for the cost of a product. This is because people love showing off what they are doing, where they are, and what they own. It’s pretty much why Instagram was invented! Have you ever wondered why people love user-generated content so much?
It’s because it feels familiar, and we are drawn to what feels familiar. When we see other people doing things (especially things that seem like fun) it makes us want to do those things too. It’s kind of crazy, right? But it makes sense. If you see someone you know getting their hair cut and posting about how great it looks, you’re probably going to think about getting your own hair cut soon after!
So, in a nutshell, that is why user-generated content is so powerful: and that is why it works. UGC is a must-have marketing strategy, and your brand will most definitely thank you for it.