Modern marketing needs often push content creators to be innovative. This means creating and combining different types of content in order to find something that best resonates with your audience. Well, one such type of content is UGC or User Generated Content. While not all brands stand to benefit from UGC, everyone should be aware of it and the potential benefits it brings. So, let's take a closer look at the outline of the potential importance of UGC for your brand.
What is UGC
UGC refers to any content that is created and shared by users or consumers rather than by the brand or company itself. It can take various forms, including text, images, videos (especially short video formats), reviews, testimonials, social media posts, blog posts, web stories, and more.
What usually happens is that individuals who have had experiences with a brand's products, services, or overall brand experience go out of their way to create content. These users voluntarily share their opinions, stories, and feedback, often through online platforms and social media channels. The bigger the channel a user has, the bigger the reach their UGC will have.
The key characteristic of UGC is that it is created by real customers or users. This fact alone provides a level of authenticity and unbiased perspective that other types of content cannot provide. Regardless of how transparent your brand is, there is always a degree of bias you will have with your products. This is pretty much assumed by all customers. This is why UGC is highly valued by consumers because it comes from individuals who are not affiliated with the brand, making it more trustworthy and relatable.
If you are clever, you can leverage UGC in your marketing strategies by curating, promoting, and sharing the content created by users. This can be done by featuring UGC on your website, social media channels, or other marketing materials. Both direct ads and programmatic ads can host UGC. Through it, you can build credibility, foster engagement, and establish a sense of community among your customers.
Which brands stand to benefit from using UGC
With what we've written, it might seem that every brand stands to benefit from UGC. While, to an extent, this is true, it is practice not brands that can benefit from it. B2B companies that work in high-end, highly technical industries may not benefit as much from UGC as their content can be difficult to describe by standard users. But, companies that primarily cater to standard customers can see benefits from UGC. Almost as a rule. Here are some examples of brands that can particularly benefit from using UGC:
Fashion and apparel
Brands in the fashion and apparel industry can benefit greatly from UGC. Customers often share outfit photos, style tips, and reviews of clothing items they have purchased. They can also give context to where they wore your brand and how much they enjoyed doing so. In this way, UGC provides fashion brands with both social proof and inspiration to potential customers. Plus, it allows the customer to voice their opinion and concerns that the brand might not be aware of.
Travel and hospitality
Travel brands, including hotels, resorts, airlines, and travel agencies, can leverage UGC to showcase destinations and travel experiences. Travelers often share their vacation photos, videos, and recommendations on social media platforms. You can use this to promote your offerings and create excitement around various destinations. A well-made video about an exotic vacation can be all you need to draw people in.
Food and beverage
When it comes to the food and beverage industry UGC is highly important. People frequently share pictures of their meals, recipes, restaurant experiences, and reviews. Food brands, restaurants, and cafes can benefit from UGC by featuring customer photos and testimonials, which can entice others to try their products or visit their establishments. Modern customers are reluctant to visit a place unless it has some positive reviews. Therefore, by utilizing UGC, you will easily convince first-time customers to pay you a visit.
Beauty and cosmetics
The beauty industry thrives on UGC. A quick YouTube search will show you that consumers love sharing their makeup looks, skincare routines, and product reviews. Beauty brands can showcase UGC to demonstrate the effectiveness of their products and engage with their audience through tutorials, before-and-after photos, and testimonials. People love discussing different brands and how effective they are in what they set out to do. And the sooner you become a part of that discussion, the better.
Fitness and wellness
It shouldn't go without mentioning that UGC plays a significant role in the fitness and wellness industry. Similarly to beauty and cosmetics, people are more than willing to share their workout routines, progress photos, healthy recipes, and wellness tips. Fitness brands, gyms, and wellness centers can leverage UGC to inspire others, build a supportive community, and promote their services. Especially if there is a large number of fit and healthy users promoting the brand.
How to help your audience create UGC
So, let's assume that you are one of the brands that stand to benefit from UGC. How are you supposed to go about convincing your users to create it? You can leave it up to them and hope that your brand quality will be enough. But, we would instead advise that you take a more active role.
In order to convince your audience to create user-generated content (UGC), there are several key strategies you can employ. Firstly, you need to clearly explain the advantages of creating UGC. Highlight that it provides an opportunity for individuals to express their creativity, share their unique perspectives, and become an active part of your community. Emphasize that their content can reach a wider audience and potentially make a meaningful impact.
Secondly, you need to help with sharing UGC. Share compelling examples of UGC that you feel best represent your brand. Demonstrate how it has enriched the community, fostered connections, and contributed to the overall success of your organization or brand. Seeing tangible results can motivate your audience to participate. The best course of action is to make UGC an active part of a broader marketing strategy. That way, you will get the best results from your users.
Of course, you shouldn't expect your users to create UGC for nothing. Once you understand the importance of UGC for your brand, you'll see that offering incentives is a smart move. It could be as simple as featuring their content on your website or social media channels, providing recognition, offering exclusive access or discounts, or hosting contests with prizes. Incentives can motivate individuals to contribute and increase their sense of value and appreciation.
But, just because your users are motivated to create content doesn't mean that their content will show your brand in a suitable way. This is why you need to provide clear guidelines and support. Make it easy for your audience to create UGC by providing clear guidelines and instructions. Clearly outline the type of content you're looking for, any specific themes or topics, and technical specifications if applicable. Additionally, offer support and assistance to those who may need help or have questions.
Connect with your audience
Your main goal should be to build a strong community around your organization or brand, where individuals feel connected and engaged. Therefore, you should encourage interactions, discussions, and collaborations among community members. When people feel like they belong to a supportive and inclusive community, they are more likely to participate and contribute. You should also actively engage with the UGC created by your audience. Like, comment, and share their content to show appreciation and encourage further participation. By amplifying their voices and showcasing their contributions, you create a positive feedback loop that inspires others to join in.
You should also share stories and testimonials that demonstrate the impact of UGC. Showcase how user-generated content has influenced your organization, its products, or services. Highlight instances where UGC has brought about positive change or contributed to the growth and success of your brand.
Lastly, you should try to provide easy-to-use tools. While it is easier than ever to create content, you should look for different tools that can make creating UGC that much easier. Remove any technical barriers that might discourage participation. The easier it is for your audience to create and share their content, the more likely they will be to engage.
Highlighting the importance of UGC for your brand
By now it should be obvious that you need to take an active role when it comes to UGC. Unfortunately, what we've outlined so far might seem too arduous for some. So, let's take a moment to take a more in-depth look at the importance of UGC for your brand.
Authenticity and trust
As previously mentioned, UGC is created by real users who have had experiences with your brand, products, or services. This authenticity helps build trust among your target audience. In an era where consumers are increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising, UGC provides a more genuine and unbiased perspective. When potential customers see real people sharing their positive experiences with your brand, they are more likely to trust and believe in your offerings.
Engagement and interaction
The second thing to note is that UGC encourages active participation from your audience. By involving your customers in content creation, you create a sense of community and foster stronger relationships. When customers contribute their own content, such as reviews, testimonials, or user stories, they become active participants in shaping the brand narrative. This level of engagement helps strengthen customer loyalty and encourages them to become brand advocates. The more they engage with your brand, the more they will feel a connection with it.
Expanded reach and visibility
Through your users, UGC gives you the potential to reach a wider audience. When users create content related to your brand, they often share it on their social media profiles or personal networks. This sharing extends the reach of your brand to new audiences who may not have been exposed to your products or services otherwise. Additionally, UGC can be discovered through relevant hashtags or online communities, further expanding your brand's visibility.
While UGC can sometimes be arduous to manage, it is a relatively cost-effective way to generate high-quality content. Instead of solely relying on your own marketing team to create all the content, you can leverage the creativity of your customers. UGC reduces the need for extensive content creation resources and allows you to diversify the type of content you share. This approach can save costs while maintaining a steady stream of engaging and authentic content.
Innovation and product feedback
All successful brands try to learn as much as they can from their audience. This is one of the reasons why marketing analytics is so important, and why it is essential that you have constant feedback from your customers. Fortunately, UGC can provide valuable insights into how your products or services are being used and perceived by customers. Customers often find innovative and creative ways to incorporate your offerings into their lives, and by showcasing UGC, you can inspire others to do the same. Additionally, UGC can serve as a valuable source of feedback. It allows you to understand your customer's needs, identify areas for improvement, and address any issues or concerns raised by your audience.
Lastly, you should keep in mind that well-made UGC often captures genuine emotions, stories, and experiences related to your brand. When customers share their personal stories, it creates an emotional connection with other users. Especially if they know a thing or two about video storytelling. Emotional connections are powerful drivers of brand loyalty and advocacy. By sharing UGC that evokes emotions, you can tap into the human aspect of your brand and create a deeper connection with your audience.
Now that you realize the importance of UGC for your brand, we hope that you will give strong consideration to tackling it. To effectively utilize UGC, it's important to establish guidelines and encourage user participation. Actively curating and promoting the most relevant and impactful UGC helps showcase the best content and maintain consistency with your brand image. Additionally, engaging with users who create UGC and showing appreciation for their contributions further encourages participation and strengthens the relationship between your brand and its customers.