Creating content every day is not an easy task. You need to always be at your creative best to come up with new ideas. Even the best content creators may feel burnt out after a while. So, what can you do to fill a hole in your posting schedule?
Many brands have come up with a clever solution: Get your audience to create content for you. With the rise of social media platforms, it has become easier to build your brand’s reputation with user-generated content.
Still new to this trend? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what user-generated content is and how you can leverage it.
How to Create a User-Generated Content Campaign For Your Brand:
What Is User-Generated Content?
In simple terms, user-generated content (UGC) is any type of content that fans or customers create for a brand. It can be in the form of blog posts, videos, photos, or even tweets. The core idea behind this strategy is to turn customers into brand advocates.
As a marketer, you need to encourage your customers to flaunt the products that they purchase from you. You can curate the best posts and feature them on your social media profiles and website.
Not only is it a great way to build your brand’s credibility, but also to give a shoutout to your followers. Ultimately, it can help you get more engagement and boost your follower count.
If you are still struggling to understand the merits of user-generated content, here are some statistics. According to a study on UGC:
- 90% of American consumers consider UGC to be the most influential part that affects their purchase decisions.
- 87% of all search engine results consider user-generated content as the second most influential element that affects a purchase decision.
- 73% of shoppers revealed that UGC increases their overall purchasing confidence.
- 61% of shoppers said that UGC gives them encouragement to engage with brands.
It has been a game-changer in the world of marketing. It puts the focus back on the customer and what they have to say about the brand. Basically, it’s a testimonial that can drive trust in your brand.
It’s a big shift from traditional marketing techniques. You’re not going all out with your guns blazing. It’s subtle promotion with more authenticity to it.
Another advantage of UGC is that it can help you build a community of fans. This strategy can make your followers feel like they are a part of a like-minded community.
The best part is that this strategy can also help you get more content for free. So, here is the bottomline on UGC — less money, more authenticity, and better marketing.
The Importance of User Generated Content
Leveraging user-generated content is a brilliant marketing strategy and it has numerous benefits. Here are some of the biggest reasons why you should include UGC in your marketing and content strategy.
It Provides Social Proof
People are often tempted to buy things because they see others using them. That is the psychology of influence. People you hold in high regard can influence your buying behaviour.
From a brand’s perspective, posting user-generated content provides social proof of how people love your brand or products. This, in turn, encourages other consumers to try your products and join the bandwagon of your brand’s happy customers.
This effect is amplified when the user promoting your product is an influencer as they have a larger and more engaged audience than regular people.
It is Authentic
60% of consumers consider UGC to be the most authentic form of content. That is a clear indication that people trust UGC more than they trust branded content.
When real people are seen using your products it has a more potent effect than celebrities and models endorsing your brand. This is because people relate to regular people more than they can relate to celebrities and, therefore, they trust UGC more.
It Saves Time and Money Spent on Content Creation
It goes without saying that if you leverage UGC for your social media posts, website content, or any other purpose, it will save time that you would have spent on creating fresh content.
This is a brilliant strategy to keep a regular and frequent social media content posting schedule, without spending much time and effort on it.
Shows Products in Use
Another benefit of user-generated content is that it shows your products in use and removes any doubts that a consumer may have about using the product. This is especially useful for new and innovative products as people may not know exactly what features it has or how to use it.
You can also leverage influencers for this purpose and ask them to create how-to videos showing the product features and its various applications.
Types of UGC
There are a lot of different types of user-generated content that you can find on the web. In this section, we will discuss some of the most popular types of UGC that brands use.
Reviews, Ratings, Testimonials
The feedback that you get from your current customers about your brand or a particular product is UGC. This is the most common form of user-generated content that is available for every brand. However, it is also something that you can’t control.
You can’t ask someone to give you a good rating, but you can ensure that you provide the best quality product or service and make your customers happy. And, if you do get good reviews and ratings, you can proudly display them on your website and product pages.
According to the ecommerce marketing service provider, Yotpo, adding reviews and ratings for products can lead to 4x conversions.
Comments are also a form of UGC that is easily available for most brands. If you post regularly on social media or have a comments section on your blog, you will find tons of UGC in the form of comments.
You can leverage this type of UGC by taking positive user comments and showcasing them on your website. You can also take multiple such comments and create an image carousel displaying what people are saying about you.
This form of UGC provides strong social proof and can help you get more conversions.
Social Media Posts and Mentions
A lot of your existing users may post about their recent purchase from your brand or share pictures displaying a product from your brand, without you even knowing it.
Social media users share a lot of such content, and it can be useful for your brand. To find such content and ensure that they mention your brand in such posts, you simply need to incentivise them.
You can ask your existing users to share pictures displaying your products and tagging your brand to get a chance to get featured on your page. You can also incentivize them by offering giveaways or special promotions for the best posts. Tactics like these will generate tons of UGC for your brand
For example, Airbnb is a brand that extensively uses UGC for their social media pages. On Instagram, Airbnb’s feed is filled with pictures that their users have shared from their visits to Airbnb properties. And, all they do is ask people to tag their brand and then they repost the pictures with a new caption and give photo credit to the actual owner of the picture.
Videos are a bit tricky in the sense that you can’t always use user-generated home videos directly for marketing purposes. You can, however, take user-generated videos and repurpose them into an ad or promotional video for your brand.
Another way of leveraging user-generated video content is to collaborate with an influencer within your existing user base and ask them to make a paid video.
Lego is a brand that often posts fan-made pictures and videos in which their customers create something using legos. Here’s an example:
Most of the user-generated content that we’ve discussed is unpaid. You can, however, get users to create paid content for you and it can still do the trick. Just find influential people within your network of existing customers and collaborate with them to create content.
This will give you more creative control over the content and it will still be considered more authentic than branded content.
How to Leverage UGC for Your Brand
We have already discussed the various types of user-generated content and mentioned a few ways to use it. In this section, we will discuss how to leverage UGC in more detail.
Use UGC For Ads and Promotional Content
One brilliant way to leverage user-generated content is to create ads by repurposing UGC. You can use pictures of people using your product and create an ad by adding a specific message to it.
You can use footage from your users’ home videos and repurpose it into a video ad. You can create an ad by repurposing any type of the above-mentioned UGC by simply adding the right message to it.
Here’s an example of how Pampers used footage from Serena Williams’ home videos with her daughter to create a promotional video for their brand.
Showcase Customer Reviews and Testimonials on Your Website
We mentioned this in an earlier section, when we mentioned that you can display reviews and ratings on your website. In this section, we will discuss the numerous ways in which you can do so.
You can show product ratings and reviews alongside your product listings on your website. This will help prospective customers make their buying decisions as a high-rated product is synonymous with quality.
You can take this to another level by adding reviews as part of your product listings, as done by the cosmetics brand, Boom, in the below example.
This strategy works because, instead of you listing your product features, you let your existing customers do it for you.
If you don’t have a lot of products and reviews for each, you can simply share customer testimonials on your website’s homepage. A lot of service providers use this tactic to instill trust in their brand.
Repost UGC as Social Media Posts
Reposting UGC is a simple, yet effective way to leverage user-generated content and is increasingly being followed by brands. A lot of brands simply repost pictures of their customers using their products and add a relevant caption.
As there is no shortage of user-generated content on social media, this strategy can fuel your feed forever.
All you need to do is make sure that users tag your brand in their posts. You can do this by simply creating a hashtag to track all user-generated content related to your brand. You can also mention in your bio that to get their pictures reposted, all that users have to do is tag your brand.
Garmin is one such brand that reposts user pictures and adds relevant captions to create their social media posts. They also collaborate with some of their more influential users, which they call, “Garmin Ambassadors.”
Things to Keep In Mind While Creating a User-Generated Campaign For Your Brand
You’ve seen what other brands are doing with UGC. Now it’s your turn to get the ball rolling. Before you set out to plan your UGC, keep these things in mind:
1. Pick the Right Social Media Channel
The first step for you should be to decide on the right social media channel for your campaign. Of course, Instagram is the most popular platform because it’s highly visual. However, before you decide, consider where your target audience spends most of their time.
While photos, videos, GIFs, and Stories work great for Facebook and Instagram, your content options on other platforms will be limited. LinkedIn is mostly about text posts and infographics. On the other hand, YouTube is only about videos.
2. Define Your Goals
User-generated content can help you build your audience and boost your engagement. At the same time, it can improve your brand trust and help you spread brand awareness. Clearly, there are multiple ways it can help you.
Before you create your campaign, you need to be clear about what your aim is. Based on what your ultimate goal is, you can plan your UGC marketing campaign.
3. Give Clear Instructions to Your Audience
Tell your audience exactly what you want from them. Whether it is a video or a photo, be clear about the guidelines of your campaign.
Mention details like submission deadlines, hashtags to be used, and any other rules you may have. If you specify your requirements clearly, your audience is more likely to send you content that you can use.
How Brands Are Leveraging UGC
Whether you’re a big brand or a startup, UGC is for everyone. It doesn’t require elaborate planning or many resources. To get some inspiration, take a look at how other brands are leveraging UGC to grow their businesses:
Buffer, a social media management software company, used UGC for a year on their Instagram channel. Since they didn’t have photos directly related to their product, they got creative with their approach. They featured photos taken by their followers from around the world. To give it an element of relatability, they used clever puns and captions.
Even though the content was far from brand-centric, it helped them get more visibility on Instagram. With the help of the hashtag, #BufferCommunity, they even managed to instill a sense of belongingness among their followers.
Within a year of featuring user-generated content, Buffer grew their Instagram audience by almost 400%. From 4,250 followers, their follower count jumped to over 21,000.
Another great way to create buzz about your brand with UGC is through contests. Starbucks’ White Cup Contest is an excellent example of this strategy. They encouraged their fans to take a Starbucks cup and fill it with doodles.
To take part in the competition, users had to take a photo of their cups and submit their designs on social media with #WhiteCupContest.The design on the winning entry was featured on their new limited edition reusable plastic cup.
In a span of three weeks, they received nearly 4,000 entries from their customers. Not only did this UGC campaign give them publicity, but it also helped them with product design
To get the most out of their marketing campaigns, Aerie often collaborates with influencers for UGC content. They are committed to the body positivity movement and want women to be comfortable in their skin. So, they don’t airbrush the photos they used in their campaigns.
To promote this cause, they collaborated with several micro and nano-influencers who posted unedited photos of themselves. Furthermore, they encouraged users to post their untouched photos wearing Aerie’s swimsuits.
Not only did their social campaign win a lot of accolades, they also got great participation. They received images of women in all sizes flaunting their swimsuits.
Aerie’s UGC campaign had all the right ingredients needed to create a successful marketing strategy: a social cause, influencers, and UGC.
Airbnb uses the power of UGC for storytelling. They encourage their customers to post photos of their vacation homes and experiences on social media.
They feature these posts on their Instagram handle to give their followers a better idea of what they can expect during the stay. What’s more, they add details of the place or the host in their captions to create a compelling narrative.
It’s based on a basic rule in marketing — Show, don’t tell. Instead of just listing the features of every vacation home, they have made an effort to give their users an overview of the whole experience. From this example, it’s evident that UGC can also play a central role in shaping a brand’s narrative.
Furniture and home goods online retailer, Wayfair, uses UGC to give their customers home design ideas. On their Instagram page, they feature how their customers are using their products to perk up their homes.
These posts can add social proof and even inspire their audience to transform their living spaces. For this campaign, they’ve created the branded hashtag, #WayfairAtHome.
Spotify came up with an unconventional idea for their UGC campaign. They didn’t exactly ask their users directly to create content, but they looked up what they had created.
Using anonymous data, they featured some of the strangest playlists that users had created on their app. From funny to outrageous, they showcased it all.
To take the campaign to the next level, they featured these playlists on billboards and memes. In some of the videos, they showcased artists commenting on playlists that included their songs. The whole campaign was a light-hearted take on how users use the app.
But the campaign had more to it than giving users just a good laugh. It highlighted how the app allowed users to personalise their listening experiences. Unlike most UGC campaigns, this one wasn’t restricted to one medium. They explored multiple mediums to engage their audience.
UGC can give you a big edge over your competitors. It’s a strategy that can help you create a powerful presence on social media. The best part is that you can get creative and explore different ways of engaging with your audience. Take inspiration from the examples in this article and get started!