User Generated Content (UGC) is any content (text, videos, images, reviews) that is created by people rather than brands. We create content all the time, whenever uploading anything to social media or sharing anything with friends. Brands are able to utilize this organic online activity to create conversions and increase brand loyalty. Let’s take a look at how.
UGC is original, brand specific content that is created by customers of that brand. This content can consist of:
- Social media content
- Blog posts
Anything that is made and shared by people themselves is UGC.
Who Makes User Generated Content?
There are three main groups of people who create UGC:
Brand customers can make UGC either organically, or after being asked by the brand. Customers may feel inclined to upload content with no prompting which can then be re-shared by the brand. Otherwise the brand could contact the customer asking them to create content.
- Brand Loyalists
There may be some dedicated, enthusiastic customers who are the perfect people to create UGC for the brand. These people are ripe to reach out for and make content that the brand requires. In some cases the brand could send complimentary products to these people to do an ‘unboxing video’ or something similar.
Often employees are overlooked as UGC creators. But with company encouragement, over 50% of employees are happy to post about the brand they work for. This content can involve packing or creating orders, insights about working for the brand or even more humorous content like dances. This is a great way of building staff loyalty within the brand, and letting staff in on the fun.
Why is UGC Important?
An effective social media strategy has roots in three main elements:
- Responding to the desires of followers in real-time
- Portraying your brands unique personality
- Creating content that keeps the audience engaged
UGC combines all of these three elements. Let’s take a look at some more benefits:
Key Indicator For Authenticity
Buyers are more selective than ever about the brands they engage with. 60% of marketers agree that authenticity and quality are equally important elements of successful content. UGC is modern day word of mouth so consumers view it as much more authentic than brand driven content.
Grows Brand Loyalty and Community
Customers love the idea of being a part of the brand’s growth, not just a spectator. UGC creates a dialogue between the brand and the consumer (or employees), bridging the gap between them. This builds and grows an engaged community which in turn builds brand loyalty.
Creates Deeper Trust
Nowadays, shoppers don’t trust brands themselves. ‘Self-promotion’ is not a good look; it’s what shoppers expect, but they don’t trust it. UGC is far more trusted than brands own content as it functions in the same way that word of mouth recommendations do. Shoppers trust other customers more than they do you. Since you are willing to share the content of these customers, the shoppers will in turn trust your brand more.
Adaptable & Flexible
UGC fits in with an omnichannel approach as it can be employed at different stages of the marketing journey. Its main location will be on social media, but it does not need to be limited to that space. If you are running an email marketing campaign, it can also be used there. UGC images in the abandon cart section can be used to nudge customers into completing the purchase. UGC on landing pages provide immediate reassurance that the products are liked. Calvin Klein has a landing page specifically for UGC, so shoppers can see how other customers wear the brand. In short, it can be molded to fit your business needs.
Influencer marketing runs on a similar principle to UGC but involves a large financial investment. Influencers can cost up to millions of dollars. UGC doesn’t require any of this cost, and has similar results. It simply involves connecting with the audience, and sharing complimentary products if you should so choose. With the cost being so low, it’s a no-brainer to invest in.
Compliments Social Commerce
People are already engaged on social media. 95% of millennials are following their favorite brands on their social channels. UGC combines this knowledge with an ability to make an impact on customer purchasing activity.
Social Commerce is the future of online shopping. It involves shopping directly from social channels and completing the conversion without leaving the app. UGC drives conversions and social media influences conversions. Having the option to influence and complete the purchase on the same site is revolutionary. As we move forward we will see more and more of this, so it’s best to get involved now.
Keep It Consensual
UGC should only ever be shared if permission is granted first. If you share UCG without informing the creator, this will decrease trust rather than increase. Even if the customer used a hashtag or tagged the company, a simple message to gain their consent is crucial. They should also be asked how they want to be credited (their preferred name, social handle etc.)
If you don’t do this, the customer will gain the impression that you don’t respect the customers and other shoppers will see this too. For this reason it’s also best to not create fake UGC. Customers will sniff this out, and respect for the brand will decrease and the image will be damaged. Instead, seek out customers that are willing to get involved; they are definitely there.
Keep It Clear & Fun!
If your brand knows exactly what kind of content they are looking for, let the creators know. Give them clear and specific guidelines that will help them and you. This is not unwarranted; 50% consumers wish brands would guide them in creating content. This can be through creating a trend, challenge, or contest. Create a hashtag and actively remind shoppers that it exists.
Create a community page where creators can interact with each other. Reward customers for engagement and keep in contact via social media. People want this experience to be fun; allow that to be the case.
A UGC strategy can help to achieve real business goals. Decide what these are for you. How does UGC fit in with your campaign strategy? How does it fit with your social media strategy? What do you want to use UCG to achieve? Increasing brand awareness? Driving conversions? Building brand trust?
Once you’ve set your goals, keep a track of how it’s going. Follow analytics to watch what works for you and what doesn’t. You can decide which UGC to create and which socials to share it on; adapt the process to suit your needs.
UGC is a powerful tool that can create conversions and increase brand loyalty. Through letting the customers in on the process, they feel connected to the brand, increasing the chances of lifetime loyalty. As eCommerce continues to move more towards the social realm, UGC is the perfect bridge to bring online stores and social media together.