Creating content is an important task for any business, but taking advantage of user-generated content is a way to work smarter, not harder. Savvy businesses supplement their own professionally created content with user-generated content (UGC) to maximize their library of images and other content they can use. 

What Is User-Generated Content?

Before getting started with a user-generated content strategy for your business, you need to understand what user-generated content is. The name is pretty self-explanatory.

UGC is content that your customers created and then published online somewhere. Posts on social media are a common example of this kind of content. In addition to images, your UGC strategy can also include things like reviews and testimonials. 

Where Does It Come From?

Content generated from users can come from a long list of people. While you most commonly think of customers and brand loyalists, it can also come from employees. The source of UGC will likely depend on your brand, the products or services you offer, and your goals.

Customer-Generated Content

Your customers will likely be the biggest group of people providing your company with user-generated content for your marketing needs. They may share content about your brand because you asked them to do so or just because they wanted to.

Common examples include unboxing videos on TikTok or other social media platforms, or photos on Instagram or Facebook of the customer using or wearing your product and enjoying it.

Content From Brand Loyalists

Brand loyalists are a subset of your customers. They are the most dedicated of your customers and the most enthusiastic. Because of that enthusiasm, they are typically more than willing to sing your praises by creating and sharing content with you.

Content From Employees

Some employees may be customers, but employee-generated content doesn’t refer to this. It refers to the content employees create when they are acting as employees. This type of content is an excellent way to boost engagement with your brand and show authenticity as a brand.

A common example of this kind of content would be photos or videos of employees packing orders. Other examples of this kind of content include videos of employees talking about what they enjoy about working for your brand and photos of company events.  

What Forms Does User-Generated Content Come In?

As mentioned earlier, user-generated content can fit into a long list of categories. The following are some of the most common examples:

  • Social media posts 
  • Social media images
  • Social media videos
  • Social media reviews
  • Other content on social media platforms 
  • Online reviews and testimonials (on your website or third-party websites)
  • YouTube videos
  • Live streams
  • Instagram Stories
  • Blog posts
  • Podcasts 

You can find the best user-generated content by looking at more than just Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Look at other social media platforms as well, such as TikTok or Snapchat, depending on your audience. 

Why Should Brands Use User-Generated Content for Marketing Purposes? 

There are various reasons businesses should take advantage of user-generated content. One of the biggest reasons is that using UGC reduces the amount of content you have to create in-house. Furthermore, it also helps with brand authenticity because this kind of content typically comes across as trustworthy and relatable. 

You Can Use It Nearly Anywhere

One of the great things about UGC content is that you can use it nearly anywhere. 

Add clips from user-generated videos to content you create for your branded YouTube channel to highlight the customer experience.

Use reviews as social proof to convince people to buy your products or services and embed reviews on your website to ensure they are seen. Use reviews or user-generated images on your product pages to push shoppers to click “Buy.” Add UGC content to landing pages to appeal to specific demographics. You can even use UGC in email marketing, such as to highlight some of your products or your customer service. Incorporate it into descriptions or images for your Google Business Profile Products.

UGC Boosts Your Authenticity

One of the main advantages of a UGC campaign is its ability to improve the way people perceive your brand. One estimate indicates that consumers are 2.4 times as likely to see UGC as authentic than your brand-created content. Modern shoppers are highly selective about which brands they buy from, and they prefer brands that come across as relatable and authentic. 

user-generated content stat

It Improves Trust

Trust goes hand-in-hand with authenticity. Remember that people trust other people more than they trust your brand. While there is a time and a place for your Google Business Profile questions and answers, customers still know the responses come from you. This is great for basic business information, but not as much for quality or trust. Shoppers get that trust from other users, so a UGC campaign lets you optimize that trust.

It Grows Your Community and Customer Loyalty

When you put your UGC to good use, it will boost loyalty, both on the customer level and in the community. This is due to the fact that your customers will feel involved in your growth; they aren’t just watching from the sidelines. The idea of being a part of something bigger is a big motivator for most people. 

It Is Affordable Compared to Influencer Marketing

Influencer collaborations can result in user-generated content, but while influencer marketing always almost requires some form of compensation, many forms of UGC often come organically and free of charge. 

Loyal customers who don’t have large followings might create content about your brand without being asked to do so, which means there is no need to compensate them financially. 

Just keep in mind that you don’t want to replace local influencers entirely. They are still an affordable and effective marketing tool.

The Bottom Line: UGC Boosts Conversions

All the above reasons to use UGC culminate in an overarching theme: UGC boosts your conversions. It is social proof that shows your brand’s authenticity and builds trust and loyalty. You also get to increase brand awareness on your social media channels, further boosting conversions. The result is a push toward conversion, no matter where in the sales funnel viewers are. 

How Does User-Generated Content Affect Online Reputation? 

As mentioned, user-generated content gives your online reputation a huge boost. It helps people see your brand as more trustworthy and authentic, as the content comes from users.

The important caveat here is that you need to use the UGC responsibly. In other words, be sure to credit the content creator. Otherwise, this can hurt your online reputation. 

3 Tips to Get More User-Generated Content

Since UGC is such an important part of your marketing strategy, what can you do to encourage customers to create UGC?

Use a Review Tool Like Podium to Automate Review Invites

We mentioned that reviews are one of the many types of content included in UGC. One of the best ways to get more reviews is to encourage customers to leave them. Podium can help you with this by automating the process of sending review invites. Once you have more reviews, you can embed them on your website, post them on social media, and more.  

Start a Hashtag Campaign on Social Media

Another great way to get users to share more content is via a hashtag. Try to create a compelling hashtag campaign on social media that your fans will want to participate in. The more people participate, the more user-generated images you get at your disposal.

You can even design the hashtag campaign around a particular theme if you want a specific type of content. For example, maybe you sell athletic clothing. If you want content that will appeal to workout enthusiasts, you can start a hashtag about how people work out in your clothing. Or, if you want to appeal more to an athleisure audience, you could choose a hashtag that encourages people to share images of them relaxing in the clothing.

Collaborate With Influencers

While some user-generated content might come free of charge, influencer collaborations are still often worth the investment. Influencers are more likely to know how to create high-quality content tailored to your specific marketing needs. So, while there will be a small upfront cost for your brand, the content you get will likely be better than that from your general audience.

On top of that, many local influencers don’t require large compensation. Some are even happy with free products or services in exchange for creating and posting content. 

Make User-Generated Content a Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy

If you aren’t already incorporating user-generated content in your content marketing campaigns, you are missing out. You will save on the hassle of creating content and have content that makes your brand seem more authentic. The end result is more conversions and a boost to your sales. 

Isaiah Rendorio
Isaiah Rendorio Product Marketing Manager, Campaigns

Isaiah Rendorio is the Product Marketing Manager for Podium Campaigns—helping local businesses tap into the power of SMS marketing to strengthen customer relationships, increase customer lifetime value, and drive more revenue.

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