User-generated content, or UGC, is a type of content that users create instead of brands. This content supports the brand and provides it with reusable assets without the need for the brand to create them.
There are many types of user-generated content out there that people can create. Often, this content comes in the form of posts from social media users.
For example, social media users on Instagram might create posts about their favorite brands. Athletes might showcase the apparel they use as they demonstrate a specific activity, for instance. Fashion influencers could also promote their favorite beauty products in makeup tutorials. Brands could then share this content on their own channels and connect with new audiences.
An online review or testimonial on Google, Yelp, and other platforms also count as UGC, which is why you want to encourage people to leave reviews if they have a positive experience.
People generally don't trust brands on their own, especially with so many businesses competing for their attention, time, and money. If you want to stand apart from the myriad of competitors marketing to the same audiences, user-generated content is critical.
Some specific benefits of user-generated content include:
When trying to win people over with content, UGC is an invaluable asset to have. Many people turn to other people to help them determine which brands to trust.
Consider the fact that 87% of people today trust recommendations from friends and family based on their brand experience, with 71% also turning to social media influencers, bloggers, and vloggers for recommendations. Consumers also spend around 5.4 hours per day engaging with UGC, meaning this content takes up a considerable amount of their time every day. This level of engagement means that people could spend a lot of time getting to know your brand through the people they already trust.
When a brand promotes itself through its own content, people won't necessarily take the brand's word for it. Instead, people want to know what others' experiences have actually been. They want to see what those close to them and those they follow on social media have to say, as their opinion is likely more honest in their eyes.
Often, people begin to look at UGC toward the end of the customer journey when they're seriously considering a product or service. They may do some initial research on a company's website or social media pages, but they'll ultimately check reviews and recommendations from previous patrons before buying.
User-generated content is also important in making a brand feel more authentic. The fact is that people crave authenticity from brands, and 75% of marketers have found that UGC is instrumental in catering to this need.
When people see that other customers have had positive experiences with a brand and don't come across too much self-promotion, the brand will appear significantly more authentic. Content that comes from your customers, staff, and experts will encourage people to turn to you over other brands.
Also, keep in mind that people will likely be able to tell whether UGC is brand-created or heavily sponsored. This makes it necessary to ensure your UGC is genuine and comes from others. Although sponsored content is still useful, you should ensure that there's plenty of unsponsored UGC to spread word of mouth about your brand.
When people create UGC for your brand, you can use this on multiple platforms. It essentially becomes yours to use whenever and wherever in many cases.
As an example, you may use UGC in a compilation that serves as the main content piece for a video ad. You may also use images in display ads, landing pages, and even abandoned shopping cart emails, among many other places. This helps save you time and effort in creating separate content for these campaigns.
When you give people the chance to create engaging UGC, you're giving them the chance to feel like they're a part of your brand. They'll get more involved and, subsequently, they'll likely become more loyal to you than competitors.
In the process, people become a part of your brand community, which is also integral to successful brands today. Users can share content with each other as a means of connecting their experiences, and you can share content to show that you value what others bring to your brand.
There are three main types of people behind UGC. By encouraging these individuals to create branded content, you'll be able to take full advantage of UGC. These users include:
One of the main sources for UGC will be your customers. They may enjoy a very positive experience with your offerings, in which case they could share their experience on social media with an image or video. They could also produce unboxing videos for followers that involve an honest review upon opening a new product. In addition, they may show a unique use for your offering that you may not have thought of, and which could even help you reach a new market.
There's no shortage of ways customers can serve as your number-one UGC producers.
Employee-generated content, or EGC, is another type of UGC you can use to dramatically increase authenticity. This type of content is helpful in putting a face—or multiple faces—behind your brand. In turn, you won't come across as a mere entity when audiences see that real people are behind the scenes.
One example of EGC involves behind-the-scenes photos of a day in the office. Employees can take pictures of themselves and their teams at work or when enjoying a break during the day. They can then post these images on various social media platforms with text posts to complement them. Employees can also produce videos talking about why they love working for you.
If there are trusted experts in your industry, UGC could entail these individuals sharing their expert opinions on your brand and offerings. Having these individuals create content can lend a great deal of credibility to your brand as people trust these people's opinions above others.
For instance, an expert may share the pros and cons of your product in a critical assessment. This review could encourage people to give your brand a try while also giving you some ideas for future improvements and changes.
There are many types of UGC you can use to promote and build your brand. Some popular types of user-generated content include:
All types of images can function as compelling UGC that you can use across platforms. These may include images of customers using your product or service and clearly enjoying the experience. They may also include a basic image of the customer with an accompanying quote overlay that serves as a testimonial detailing their experience.
You can post these images on social media, your website, in emails, and many other locations where video might not work best.
UGC may also comprise videos of different experiences. For instance, customers could discuss a product and demonstrate it, with many customers producing unboxing videos detailing their initial experience. People may also talk about their favorite brands during tutorials or educational videos for their audiences.
Videos could also include behind-the-scenes footage of your employees and office as a whole during a typical workday. Employees could also discuss what they enjoy about their experience on your team, which could influence potential customers and employees alike.
Don't underestimate the power of rich text content. While people tend to gravitate toward visual media like images and videos, a detailed text post on social media or a blog post can go a long way. Text content could also include a simple blurb from a testimonial or another influential snippet that complements image and video content.
Social media is likely where most of your UGC will come from, whether your audiences are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or another popular platform. Social media UGC could include everything from unboxing videos and customer testimonials to entries in social media contests. Tags and hashtags could also connect posts directly to your brand to help you locate and keep track of UGC more efficiently.
If you're looking for a unique and engaging way to encourage the creation of UGC, Moments by Storyly can help. Storyly's one-of-a-kind Stories are customizable experiences that combine visuals and text to connect with mobile app and website users. Brands can use these to build and maintain relationships with users through effective product recommendations, surveys, and other interactive experiences.
Moments give brands the ability to turn Story creation over to their users. The users can then create and share full-screen Stories instantly on your platform. What makes Moments different from other UGC platforms is the ability to add a direct social layer to this content. Users on an app or website can share their content with both the brand and other users. This capability accelerates peer-to-peer interaction within an app or site while scaling content creation and consumption.
Ultimately, Moments can build a community around your brand through the creation and sharing of UGC on your designated platform. This will fuel more engagement and loyalty in the long term.
If you want to get the best results from your UGC strategy, there are certain best practices to follow in your approach to campaigns. The following are a few key tips to help ensure your efforts succeed:
While you may be free to use UGC on other platforms as reusable assets, it's important to credit the original creator of every content piece.
When using a video from an influencer in other media such as ads or promotional videos on your website, be sure to credit the individual. Include the individuals' names and consider linking back to their social media pages. This will help you avoid any potential copyright issues and prevent you from gaining a bad reputation among your audiences.
If you're worried about people preventing you from reusing their UGC, remember that 72% of users happily accept requests to repurpose their content.
To get the most from your UGC, you also need to ensure you're targeting the platforms your audiences use. Find out what platforms your target market uses most and go after those. Consider creating contests on these platforms and engaging them more frequently with posts.
You may also want to use UGC for everything from your website to your email marketing campaigns. The more use you can get from your UGC, the fewer assets you'll need to create on your own for a complete content strategy.
When developing UGC campaigns and guidelines, find out what kind of content your audience responds to most. What are the specific features that people like about your offerings? What kind of messaging resonates with them most frequently? By answering these and other questions about audience preferences, you can develop some guidelines for various types of UGC. Doing so will help ensure this content successfully lands and maintain consistency across all content.
In today's marketing environment, UGC is everything when it comes to connecting with and gaining the trust of consumers. With the help of Storyly and other reliable tools, you can put together a strategy that makes full use of this content. With the right approach, UGC will complement the rest of your branded content across all of your platforms. It will also make content creation more efficient than ever.
Want to find out more about what Storyly and Moments by Storyly can do for your user-generated content strategy? Sign up for free today and discover the many possibilities.