In today's digital landscape, user-generated content (UGC) has emerged as a powerful force that revolutionizes the way businesses connect with their audience.
It has become a driving factor behind marketing success, fostering authentic engagement, building trust, and propelling brand loyalty to unprecedented heights. With social media platforms booming and consumers craving authentic experiences, harnessing the power of UGC has never been more crucial for businesses seeking to thrive in a crowded marketplace.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the ins and outs of UGC and equip you with the strategies and tools necessary to leverage this trend. Whether you're a marketer, entrepreneur, or simply curious about the digital landscape, get ready to unlock the secrets of UGC and take your brand to new heights in 2023!
Benefits of User-Generated Content
User-generated content offers a myriad of benefits to modern businesses. I mentioned earlier that UGC helps increase brand authenticity. That’s because people tend to trust what other people think about brands and their products. It’s interesting to note that 62% of potential customers are more likely to click on ads and content that feature customer photos.
Therefore, when potential leads see your customers using and enjoying what you offer, they’re more likely to trust your brand and eventually make a purchase.
UGC also enhances customer engagement. After all, people like creating their own content. This enhanced engagement allows businesses to build a solid community around their products. With continued engagement, the community grows stronger. Loyal customers feel more directly involved in brand growth through their authentic content. This can help in increasing conversions.
Now let’s look at the different types of UGC you can use in your marketing and social media strategy.
Types of User-Generated Content
There are many types of user-generated content. The form you should use should depend on which one generates the best marketing results for you.
Social media mentions
The first and best-known types of UGC are social media content and mentions. Audiences like to share their experiences with their friends and followers. These are different from online reviews because here, a customer mentions a brand without necessarily directly promoting it. They may simply be showing themselves enjoying the product. Here’s an example of a user ‘promoting’ GoPro.
Online reviews and testimonials are also popular forms of UGC. These are your modern forms of word-of-mouth marketing. They’re effective because 92% of online shoppers read reviews before purchasing a product.
Your customers can express their thoughts and opinions about your products and services in countless ways. Some may leave written reviews on your website or social media pages. Additionally, you may receive feedback from customers in the form of surveys or questionnaires.
Notice how Brooklinen incorporated written reviews into one of its marketing emails in this example:
Audio and video testimonials
Check out these video testimonials from Pillow Cube:
The pillow brand incorporated user-generated video content from TikTok into its homepage. By using videos created by actual users, Pillow Cube is able to show potential customers the real-life benefits of their product, such as improved sleep quality and comfort. This approach not only provides social proof and credibility, but it also creates a deeper emotional connection with the audience.
When it comes to user-generated content, you have many options to choose from. You can also choose the best content distribution channels for your marketing strategy, such as social media platforms, email marketing, and influencer partnerships. By diversifying your content and distribution channels, you can reach a wider audience and drive more traffic to your website.
Best Practices for User-Generated Content
To maximize the benefits of user-generated content, there are a few best practices you need to implement.
Start by clearly defining the rules and guidelines that will govern your UGC campaign.
For instance, always request permission to repost content. This is mandatory to prevent any legal action against your brand by customers. Just send the original content creators a private message. Get their approval for reposting.
If you asked your audience to create UGC for you, outline your submission process. The simpler the process, the better. Check out this sample process from Starbucks:
It’s simple and easy to understand.
You can also organize contests that reward UGC contributions. Just make sure you create a branded hashtag for these campaigns if you run them on social media. This way, you can easily find UGC about your brand on these social platforms, and use it.
Canon, for instance, uses the hashtag #ShotOnCanon, for its UGC campaigns:
However, simply reposting all user-generated content (UGC) about your brand is not enough. You still need to moderate it to ensure that it aligns with your brand values and guidelines. We will discuss this further later on.
You can also use influencer marketing and collaborations to generate UGC. To start, have an influencer post their own content about your brand. This can encourage other users to follow suit. Use an email finder to obtain the contact details of your chosen influencer and reach out to them for collaboration.
Analyzing User-Generated Content
Let’s say you’ve launched your UGC campaign. Does that mean you’re done? Not really. The golden rule is that you need to monitor content performance after publication.
So, you still need to know whether the UGC you used for your campaign is contributing to your marketing goals, and, ultimately, to your business goals.
This is where your key performance indicators come into play. You should have set these prior to the UGC campaign launch.
Let’s assume your UGC campaign goal is to increase engagement to boost conversion rates (business goal). If you launched your campaign on social media, your engagement KPIs could be the following:
Of course, you still need to check whether or not this engagement boosted conversions, as you had intended. So, if the resulting increase in engagement had a positive impact on conversions, you can say your UGC campaign was successful.
When setting your KPIs, look at your UGC campaign goals, business goals, and, to a certain extent, your UGC platform.
Other KPIs you can measure are:
- Bounce rate
- Time spent on the site
- Website visits
- Promotion code use
You could monitor your UGC campaigns manually. But that’s time-consuming. So, I would suggest using platforms like StoryChief.io. The platform gives you insights into your content’s performance across different channels from one dashboard:
If your user-generated content (UGC) campaign meets your marketing and business key performance indicators (KPIs), repeat the same strategies when launching another UGC campaign. If it falls short, go back to the drawing board and make adjustments. This will ensure better results when you launch your next UGC campaign.
Overcoming Challenges and Risks with User-Generated Content
UGC comes with its own challenges and risks. In this section, you’ll learn tips to overcome some of the common ones associated with this type of content.
- Maintaining brand consistency and quality control: Content that comes from different people can have a diverse look and feel. The challenge for brands using UGC, then, is to ensure UGC is on-brand and high-quality.
You can use a UGC tool like StoryChief.io to manage all content before reposting.
- Managing negative or controversial UGC: Users don’t always have a positive customer experience with brands. As a result, you may also find negative UGC. Just address the issue asap and face it head-on. You’ll ensure the aggrieved customer feels heard. At the same time, you’ll show your audience you act on complaints immediately.
- Dealing with intellectual property and copyright issues: As I mentioned earlier, litigation can be a nightmare for brands. Make sure you ask for permission to use UGC from the original creators. Just send them a private message.
Case Studies: Successful User-Generated Content Campaigns
There are a couple of brands that have mastered the art of UGC. Let’s explore a few of them and see how they achieved sweet UGC success.
Example 1: Starbucks' White Cup Contest
Starbucks noted a trend where their customers would doodle on their white paper cups. They decided to turn this into a contest. They encouraged users to post a photo of their doodled cups on Twitter or Instagram.
For the UGC campaign, Starbucks used the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. It generated over 4,000 entries in only three weeks. The winner had their design featured on a limited edition reusable plastic Starbucks cup.
Example 2: GoPro's Photo of the Day
GoPro encourages UGC by allowing their users to have their photos and videos featured on their platforms.
GoPro had received over 128,000 photos and 93,000 videos by 2013. GoPro didn’t only get to engage potential customers. They also managed to promote their cameras. The campaign also helped GoPro create excellent content for its own marketing channels.
Example 3: Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" Campaign
In 2013 and 2014, Coca-Cola replaced its logo with the commonly-used names in each country. These names were printed on the bottle labels, as shown below.
Customers also had the chance to customize their bottles during the Share a Coke tour. Coke noticed a share increase of 4% in their category and a 7% increase in young adult consumption in Australia alone.
Example 4: Apple's "Shot on iPhone" Campaign
Apple introduced this campaign to promote the improved cameras of their latest iPhone series. iPhone users were encouraged to post their best photos using the new feature.
The winner’s photo would then be featured on billboards and in Apple stores globally. To date, #ShotOniPhone has received more than 15 million submissions on Instagram alone.
User-generated content is a key factor in brand success today. It gives brands an authentic feel while boosting customer trust. In this guide, you learned everything there is to know about user-generated content.
You learned the different types of UGC like social media posts, and written and video customer reviews.
Apart from that you also learned some UGC best practices, like the importance of seeking permission to use UGC before reposting. You now also know that you should come up with a simple UGC campaign process. Monitor your UGC campaigns, too, to ensure they’re reaching your marketing and business goals in the first place.
When coming up with your UGC campaign, take inspiration from the campaigns launched by brands like Coca-Cola and GoPro we mentioned here.
Now that you’re well equipped to use UGC, it’s time to go out and harness its power for brand success.