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User-generated Content (UGC) and its Role in Marketing

Let’s say you own an ecommerce business that sells a line of custom cosmetics. You want to show your latest products to as many people as possible while keeping your costs reasonable. The tool many business owners would reach out to in such a situation is social media. But you can amplify the power of social media and increase your reach even further using user-generated content, or UGC.

Understanding User-generated Content (UGC)

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You likely have seen UGC and even used it in your business without realizing it. User-generated content is any form of promotional or brand-specific content created by unsolicited social media users and posted by them without any input from a brand. 

These users can create images, product reviews, testimonials, and podcasts showcasing or talking about your product and what they think about it. This works well because many people perceive it to be the truthful opinion of impartial users. 

What About Paid UGC?

Many people perceive paid UGC negatively because the brand or manufacturer plays a role in its creation. It is important to understand that, while UGC creators work with brands and manufacturers, these entities do not have a say in the final output. These creators are as genuine as they would be if the brand was not involved. 

The only difference between them and unsolicited UGC is that the brand foots the bill or provides the products for the creator to test and give their honest opinion. These come very close to resembling reviews, but reviews are much more in-depth while UGC content might cover the basics. 

Types of User-generated Content

Each UGC creator can decide what content they will create for specific products. Businesses that work with them can also dictate the types of content they can create even if they do not have the final say on the output. 

Organic User-generated Content

Users and customers create this type of content without any input from the brand or manufacturer. It is the best type of UGC because you know a customer genuinely loves a product if they have to go out of their way to create and post content about it. 

Testimonials and Reviews 

Both of these count as user-generated content because they are. Businesses can share positive reviews and ratings as social proof on their social media accounts, websites, and advertising materials as long as they follow the necessary guidelines.  

Savvy business owners even make collections of reviews and testimonials, turn them into graphics, and post them on their social media pages for even more reach and social proof. 

Photos 

Photos have remained the most popular type of UGC since the advent of Instagram. This type of content typically includes the customer holding the product, using it, or sharing the results they have got from it. 

Businesses can encourage creators to use a single hashtag when posting photos featuring their products. Doing so makes them much easier to discover and re-share. 

Videos

YouTube and social media videos can also be great UGC for businesses that know how to utilize them properly. They can work with YouTubers who regularly share product hauls or product recommendations so they can feature the business’s products. Whether they do it by featuring the product alone or as part of a group, the business can share the video or a small snippet where the creator talks about the product. 

Businesses can also work directly with creators to create custom videos for their websites. While you do not have control over what the creator says, you retain some control over how the video will be shared. You can place it on your website with the help of a video streaming platform that allows unlimited video storage, post it on YouTube, or create snippets that you can share on your social media pages over time. 

Why User-generated Content Works So Well

Businesses can use UGC across different mediums and at different customer journey stages to create influence, improve engagement, and increase conversions. They can also place this content on landing pages, checkout pages, and landing pages to further improve their marketing efforts. But why does UGC content work so well? 

Authenticity

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With so much competition among online businesses, each must fight to earn the attention of potential customers. Customers are becoming increasingly picky about the brands they buy from, with many favoring authentic marketing content. 

UGC content is highly authentic, which is one of the reasons one study showed 86% of potential customers trust businesses that use UGC content in their marketing. These numbers are higher than the 12% of people likely to buy products an influencer recommends. 

The most important thing for businesses that use UGC is not to fake the content or dictate what creators can say. People have become much better at identifying such content and strategies and will outright reject your business and brand if you do this. 

Brand Loyalty

We are all wired to want to belong to a community or something bigger than ourselves. Creating UGC content helps creators feel they are part of a community that uses a specific product. This helps build brand loyalty and affinity. 

Businesses can also engage with creators who develop content surrounding their products because they can find them easily. This is another way to strengthen the community surrounding our products and brand. 

UGC is Cost Effective

Popular influencers now charge hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds to promote products and brands. Many businesses do not have the budgets for these types of campaigns. However, they can afford to ask customers to share what they think about their products. Businesses that do so do not have to work with ad agencies or run flashy campaigns because the UGC component does not require it. 

UGC is also much easier for smaller businesses to manage. While they can work with specific creators, they do not have to manage them and can often get the content they need for free from users. 

User-generated content is touted as the next big thing in online and digital marketing. It is already producing great results for businesses that are utilizing it, which means you should be using it for your business too. If you do, remember to ensure all content is authentic. Potential customers are more likely to respond positively to such content. 

small business coach