When making purchasing decisions, what are you more likely to trust; a glossy ad, or a raving review from one of your friends? If you are like most consumers, it will be the latter, we are more likely to trust recommendations from our peers. This is the idea behind user generated content.
User generated content (UGC) is any type of content created by people who interact with a brand. The users can be customers, employees, or any engaged member of your audience. And the content can be in the form of product reviews posted in an eCommerce store or review website, or, most popularly, on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
This type of content is gaining traction with over 86% of companies today using it as part of their marketing strategy. Let’s take a deeper dive into why UGC is becoming so popular.
Benefits of User Generated Content
Aside from being a free and thereby cost-effective marketing tool, UGC presents a wealth of benefits to brands.
UGC is an authentic and more trustworthy source of information for consumers as it provides an unbiased opinion of the products or services on offer. A global study by Nielsen found consumer opinions posted online were one of the top trusted forms of advertising, with two-thirds of those surveyed stating that they believed in this format. The credibility of this form of marketing content is magnified in the emerging markets of Asia-Pacific and Africa & the Middle East, with 70% of consumers in these regions completely trusting such opinions. Compare that with the minuscule 20% of consumers who trust information coming directly from brands, you can see the potential value UGC has for your business.
Additionally, consumers rely heavily on reviews and recommendations from their peers before taking the leap to make a purchase. 70% of shoppers will turn to UGC before making a purchase, with a further 41% checking out four to seven reviews to gain valuable insight prior to purchasing. This trend is more pronounced among millennials with a study finding that 84% of these powerful spenders attribute UGC as having an influence on what they buy.
This genuine source of information benefits both consumers and businesses. E-commerce stores which feature UGC can see a 29% increase in conversions. This was the case for American Eagle’s Aerie brand. By creating a UGC campaign which focused on body positivity, the brand was able to increase sales by 32%.
Aerie took their campaign from online to offline, featuring their user-generated content in store alongside the branded hashtag. This worked in tandem with their un-photoshopped ads, further emphasizing body positivity and real women. (Source: Business Insider)
Engagement also soars when companies incorporate UGC into their marketing strategy. Ads based on UGC receive a whopping four times higher click-through rate than traditional online advertisements. This further solidifies UGC as a cost-effective marketing weapon because the higher click-through rate results in a 50% drop for cost-per-click.
Key messaging also translates better when UGC is used together with professionally produced ads. A study by Comscore revealed that 65% of consumers perceived the key message better with a further 89% grasping the importance of the key message.
Elevated engagement is also true for social posts that leverage UGC. Compared to standard company posts, social posts using UGC gain 28% higher engagement.
With carefully planned UGC campaigns, not only can you watch engagement levels between your brand and consumers soar, but brand awareness in turn will also surge. Well thought out UGC campaigns will encourage people to participate, propelling brand mentions as well as forming a community around the brand. This all works together to bring more eyes to your business.
That being said, let’s get into the best ways to create UGC campaigns.
Best Practices for UGC Campaigns
Set goals for your UGC campaign
As with any good marketing campaign, first and foremost comes the setting of goals. Common goals for UGC campaigns include:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Increasing conversion rates
- Building brand trust
- Educating consumers on product or service use
- Providing additional content on social channels
Once you have your goals in mind, you will have a better idea of the UGC type you need for your campaign in addition to where and how to present it.
Select your platform
As there are varied types of user generated content, naturally, there will be multiple options for where to host your campaign. This should be informed not only by your goals but also by your target audience.
For instance, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, you will need to select the most popular social media platform amongst your target consumers. On the other hand, should you wish to have higher conversion rates, it may be best to include UGC within your eCommerce site, especially on product pages.
Additionally, you should bear in mind the type of UGC you want to share when selecting a platform. Different types work better on different platforms. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular social platforms for UGC.
- Facebook - videos with rich storytelling works well on this platform. It is, however, somewhat difficult to achieve high views organically so consider running paid Facebook Ads featuring UGC.
- Instagram - this is the holy grail of UGC! Here you can repost videos and photos to your Instagram page or stories. UGC campaigns centered around hashtags are done with great success here. It enables you to easily find and monitor the content being shared about your brand. The recent introduction of Instagram Reels has allowed users to be more creative when it comes to creating videos, which means even better content for you to share.
- Twitter - this has a very small character count, so the type of UGC here will be mostly visual alongside hashtags. You could also consider retweeting mentions of your brand. However, be selective when doing this so your feed, and consequently your followers’ feeds, isn’t filled with “self-indulgent” spam.
Unify the content
All good marketing campaigns need their elements to be united by a clear message so it resonates well with consumers. Furthermore, the UGC campaign should complement and work well with your other marketing content.
This could be achieved by sticking to a similar aesthetic when you are sharing user generated content, for example, by incorporating your brand colors in a shared post. You could also develop a theme around the content you repost that is in line with your existing marketing efforts.
GoPro’s Instagram page is filled almost exclusively with user-generated content. All of the UGC consists of action shots taken during extreme sports and outdoor activities. This is in line with the adventurous spirit of the brand and their slogan “Be A Hero”. By placing such an emphasis on UGC for marketing, they allow their customers to be brand advocates, to become heroes for their brand, in turn forming a strong community. (Source: GoPro Instagram)
Aggregate your UGC content
If your UGC campaign goes to plan, you’ll hopefully be inundated with tons of content ready for you to share. This means you’ll need to find a way to easily and automatically collect content for selection.
The easiest way to do this is by asking participants to include a specific hashtag when posting on Instagram, Twitter or TikTok. This will allow you to search for the hashtag and view every post that includes it. For Facebook content, ask participants to tag your Facebook page on their posts. Social listening tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social can then be used to set up search streams that display posts using your hashtag, and/or Facebook and Twitter mentions in real-time.
Social listening tools allow you to track and collect posts based on specific hashtags or page mentions. (Source: Hootsuite)
An alternative could be to set up a dedicated email account for people to send their UGC if you wish to use a different platform or run ads. If you want to include user-generated content on your eCommerce website, consider adding a product review app to your store.
Credit the original poster
From a legal standpoint, it is important to credit the original poster and ask for their permission to repost. Not only does this ensure the compliance with intellectual property and copyright laws, but sending a humanizing and courteous message can also increase sentiment towards your brand.
Later provides a great example of how to ask for permission to repost on Instagram. By expressing their feeling towards the image and assuring the user that they will be credited, they’ve formed a connection and made it easy for the original poster to agree. (Source: Later)
Analyze the campaign
All marketing campaigns must finish with analysis, how else will you know whether you’ve reached the goals you set for yourself?
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all provide insights such as post engagement levels, post clicks, click-through rate, number of likes, and number of shares, within the platform. It is key to keep in mind that at the end of June 2021, the detailed reports and data on Facebook Analytics will no longer be available. You can switch over to Facebook Business Suite to continue to collect insights from Facebook and Instagram.
Ways to Use User-Generated Content
It’s time to have a quick look at the different tactics you can implement UGC to get your creative juices flowing.
Branded hashtags can be employed to drive conversation and brand mention on social media. This could be through competitions, seasonal or holiday-themed content, or an “of-the-day” theme. Here you need to make sure that your hashtag is unique, related to your brand’s ethos (if it includes your brand name, even better!), and promotes highly shareable and engaging content.
The #ShareACoke campaign is an impressive example of how personal and encouraging hashtags can go a long way in boosting social media performance. This campaign earned over 500,000 UGC posts and an additional 25 million social media followers. (Source: Coca Cola Twitter)
User-generated content can also be used for advertising campaigns. As mentioned previously, UCG advertisements work best in a video format on Facebook for lower budgets but they also perform impressively on other social or paid platforms.
Pampers’ Love, Sleep & Play campaign called on parents to send videos of their children through Facebook. The submitted clips were then stitched together to create the above video. This adorable ad connects well with their target audience and brings about positive sentiment for the brand. (Source: Pampers YouTube)
Don’t think that advertisements using UGC are limited just to video. Also use images from your customers for ad campaigns on social media, as the jewelry brand, Mejuri, has above. (Source: Later)
Seeing a real person’s demonstration is such a credible way for consumers to understand how to use your product or service? Not only does it make it more relatable to your audience but it also fosters a sense of community and strips away the corporate image that may be associated with standard product guides.
Beauty brand Supergoop features tons of videos of real people using their products alongside personal tips on how to use the products. (Source: Supergoop Instagram)
UGC on eCommerce site
If you want to drive sales and see conversion rates increase, adding product reviews on your eCommerce site is the way to go. This can be straight from social media, per request in a post-purchase email, or you could enable written reviews and star ratings directly on product pages. To do this you’ll need to download a product review or social proof app.
Steve Madden lets their customers leave product reviews with pictures on their website. As it’s hard to assess the quality and fit of fashion products online, photo reviews give customers extra assurance. (Source: Steve Madden)
Embedded on popular product pages are carousels featuring images from Instagram of their customers wearing their products. Product review apps like Yotpo can help you do this with ease. (Source: Steve Madden)
Aside from allowing customers to leave detailed product reviews, the inclusion of reviews with star ratings can also allow visitors to base their product searches on ratings.
A study by Baymard found that 45% of online consumers list the ability to view reviews and rating as a primary reason for shopping online. This shows the value of ratings to online shoppers, so another great way to use UGC could be by adding the star ratings to the filter and search options on your site. Considering that only 47% of eCommerce sites offer this function, you can really get ahead of your competitors by including this. Boost Product Filter & Search can get you ahead of the game, as it allows Shopify merchants to include average star ratings as a filter option.
Steve Madden also lets customers filter their search based on customer star ratings, tapping into the need that is not being satisfied on most eCommerce websites.
UGC is a fun and creative way to engage with your clientele and diversify your marketing efforts. Best of all, it’s free and has proven to drive sales due to its authenticity. We hope this article has given you all the information and motivation you need to make this a lucrative element of your marketing plan.