User-Generated Content (UGC) is any form of content, such as images, text, videos, audio posted by users to social media, it also includes reviews and forums. User-Generated Content helps brands businesses increase revenue and stand out from the competition. It can engage new and existing consumers, helping your brand reach more people authentically. Instead of the brand itself promoting content, consumers and creators talk and post about products and services. This increases brand engagements because consumers are exposed to marketing and UGC content. It is more memorable than mainstream content, causing increased click through rates and high web conversions on online purchase paths.
The Power of UGC
Content generated by customers, fans, or employees is seen as more authentic because it is unbiased and honest. It spreads awareness about your brand image, helping you stand out from the competition and driving engagement. Content created by customers or employees can be extremely cost effective, while maximising ROI. UGC adds personalised messaging to customer touchpoints and an alternative to traditional advertising. Combining UGC with marketing plans helps your brand stand out and engages with customers in an honest and organic way. This also helps build stronger customer relationships because it reaches out to your customers and addresses their concerns and problems.
Consumers will share experiences with their friends and family, and word of mouth becomes an important part of sharing UGC and brand content. 92% of customers turn to people they know for reviews and referrals which is more than any other source before purchasing a product (Nielson.com, 2013). Existing customers can therefore become brand advocates and representatives, promoting the product on social media. This enhances brand images with organic and positive word of mouth marketing. To learn more about word of mouth marketing and how online content can promote this, read our WOM blog here. This type of marketing will also appeal more to younger audiences, with 84% of millennials reporting that UGC on websites has influence on their purchase decisions.
UGC can also be used on social media to create brand desire. By sharing exceptional UGC, this creates brand desire and buzz to showcase brands, experiences and products. This also allows people to experience your brand for the first time, fostering brand loyalty and potential long-term relationships to increase sales. For example, Netflix uses UGC to promote fan posts and hashtags to spread the word about new premieres for shows and movies. UGC shows that people are excited about new shows and involves Instagrammers coming across Netflix’s account to see what the buzz is about, increasing traffic.
UGC establishes trust and credibility with consumers, so tracking keywords and phrases that are associated with your brand helps measure whether people are providing positive feedback. User-generated content will have more credibility than content created by a company or independent source. For example, people will not go to a restaurant if they cannot see the Instagram presence or online reviews, they will not trust the experience is what they’re looking for. User engagement is also a key metric that influences purchase decisions, therefore reliability and trust in a brand result in repeat purchases and customer retention. The UGC content of other customers enjoying the restaurant acts as a form of social proof, reassuring customers they will enjoy their experience or product.
Consumers believe and find UGC content or reviews from friends and family more trustworthy than other sources. 92% of consumers trust recommendations from family and friends (Nielson, 2012), and 70% trust online consumers reviews (Statista, 2021). This also helps drive purchasing decisions, for example the use of Instagram stories to share UGC designed to drive purchases. The immediacy of stories and highlights helps create an album that drives interest for potential customers. UGC promotes authenticity, with consumers being 2.4 times more likely to view UGC as authentic compared to brand created content (Businesswire, 2019). This helps boost credibility and trust and allows consumers to know what the brand is about.
UGC can be part of your social listening program, so keep an eye out for all mentions of your brand on social media by searching streams. Listen to what your customers are saying about your brand on social media, it might offer different ways and perspectives to improving your product. Customers will consider UGC reviews or ratings before making a purchasing decision, with aleast 41% of them reading four to seven UGC reviews to gain important insights on a product (Gallegos, 2017). UGC can therefore be a great source for customer research as you can see what consumers think about your products and make changes. Ratings and reviews also increase traffic and increase conversion rates. You should encourage customers to leave reviews about your brand, either on your website, Facebook pages, Yelp, Google, or TripAdvisor. These on-site and off-site user generated reviews can help conversions.
UGC content can also increase social media engagement and following, and you can offer competitions, prizes, rewards, samples, or discount codes to loyal customers who share content. By showing you care about customer experiences and offering rewards, you can build brand loyalty, also building a better customer-client relationship. Social media or hashtag contests help create unique hashtags and encourage customers to share your brand. Users can share content under this hashtag which can boost sales and lets them win prizes. This pushes your hashtag or trend, increasing engagement with your target audience and building brand awareness.
For example, Apple’s UGC marketing campaigns also provide an example of brand trust, authenticity and boost of engagement and sales. Their campaign #ShotOnIphone ran on social media platforms when Apple tried to restore lost trust after claims that their iPhone had bad quality low-light photography. This affected branding and sales, therefore they asked customers to share photos using the hashtag. The content featured high-quality low-light UGC photos, helping gain social proof and brand advocacy for Apple products, increasing their sales and UGC content.
Social Media Influence
Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok generate content by customers, boosting audience engagement. It acts as a powerful platform for brands to drive awareness and engagement. It also builds consumer trust with authentic user-generated content. Social media also motivates consumers to express themselves and share opinions through creating content and sharing discussion.
Instagram product pages encourage customers to contribute their own images and the use of actionable hashtags encourage this. You can strategically place these to help customers understand what information they should post and share. This encourages customers to share content, reviews and posts. Customers can use hashtags to share reviews, they might get a reward, discount code or sample in return.
A good example of user-generated content strategy is GoPro, who use content across all their social media channels from customers and build brand loyalty. They encourage users to share brand content with hashtags such as #GoPro #GoProCommunity and #GoProAwards. Around 6,000 GoPro videos are shared on platforms daily, and users are encouraged to share for competitions and prizes. Their following has now reached over 16.2 million and there is a continuous flow of content created by users, showcasing content, and engaging with the community. It also inspires and encourages users to buy GoPros and create unique UGC content, as UG photos are more likely to convert customers than non UGC. The brand also capitalises on selfies and features many UG selfies, showing adventure shots and customers enjoying their products.
Influencer content can also help encourage other users to share content or participate in a campaign. Influencers can influence the purchasing decisions of friend groups and followers. UGC platforms cover micro to macro influencers, whereas influencer platforms cover macro to mega influencers. This creative content helps customers enter your sales funnel, trust your brand and drives engagement.
UGC is a highly impactful method to advertise your brand that creates authenticity and consumer trust. User-generated content is the future of digital marketing and adapting will help businesses in the future. Here at Free4you, we partner with brands to ensure they are correctly and credibly represented across all key touchpoints with UGC. We increase consumer confidence and trust by scaling ratings and reviews, images, insights and much more through the power of sampling. Our social media influencer network enables brands to reach engaged consumers and build trust through UGC. We also help reach millions of consumers via our influencer network with unique UGC. To learn more about what we do, you can check out our social media for updates and information.