User-generated content (UGC) is a crucial aspect of modern Digital Marketing strategies employed by numerous companies. It represents an ongoing pursuit of authentic and high-quality material crafted and shared by the audience themselves.
But what exactly does user-generated content entail, and why has it emerged as a top priority in Content Marketing plans worldwide? In this comprehensive article, we will provide you with all the essential information necessary to embark on this path successfully.
What is User Generated Content (UGC)?
Well, it doesn't get any more concise than this: user-generated content is content that users generate. The redundancy here is deliberate, to help reinforce the concept.
However, as simple as it sounds, what it means for businesses in the digital age is a whole new subject that we want to explore. One thing that the internet has taught us is that every consumer is also a creator and distributor.
On social media, messaging apps, forums, and even via email, we're producing, curating, and sharing all the time.
So no matter the scale, internet users are always influencing minds like friends, family and followers. This is an immense power that companies quickly identified as an opportunity.
This comes from two big habits that customers have online: they like to share experiences they love and they like to be the first to bring news to their circles of influence. Everyone wants to be cool and trendy.
When companies associate these experiences with their brands, they start to see people willing to produce content related to them. It's an organic way to get into their lives while promoting a product or service.
What are the benefits of User Generated Content?
It's no coincidence that so many companies are now investing in user-generated content. The cases show a wide variety of benefits that improve Content Marketing strategies, reach and engagement.
Let's see the main ones below!
Free, SEO-Valuable Content
The best thing about user-generated content is that it doesn't require a lot of time and effort from a marketing team. Your role is to format and drive the campaign, as your audience does everything else.
That means a huge volume of content tied to your brand, far more than an in-house or outsourced team could produce.
Over time, frequency alone is enough to improve your SEO. If so many people are talking about you, Google notices.
That's why any user-generated content is cheap and effective, two words every marketing leader wants to see put together when planning a new strategy.
Greater reach on social media
When you think about how connections work on social media, you realize how exponential they are. If you have 10,000 followers, turning them into promoters can get you 100 times that number.
That's why the effort dedicated to engaging your audience should always be directed towards turning these people into champions for your brand. There's no better way to increase visibility than to go viral by becoming part of a positive meme or popular hashtag. So use this to your advantage.
Recent research showed that 92% of customers trust spontaneous user-generated content more than traditional ads.
That's a lot, isn't it? And it makes sense, as customers know that ads are personalized to attract and appeal. When we want to know about a product, we look for reviews and opinions. We ask people we trust.
By having a user-generated content strategy feeding this type of material constantly, you will create authority and value in the marketplace.
“If everyone is talking about this brand, I want to be a part of it too.” This is a constant and common feeling, the FOMO that we talked about above. User-generated content is great for producing a sense of connection.
From the common user to influencers, seeing the brand related to people is a factor that contributes to decision-making.
What can you get out of your leads that are more valuable than data? Anything. For modern marketers, this is the key to creating unique and successful campaigns.
When generating content, users also provide information about their journey and experience. Plus, they're engaged and likely to answer more questions when you ask them.
So, use user-generated content to better understand your audience, their expectations, and what makes them choose you. From there, you can use Business Intelligence to tweak and adapt every aspect of a great Content Marketing strategy.
Source of persona engagement
The ideal scenario for every content producer is to have a large and loyal audience, engaged with their creations. Many manage to reach a large audience but without that much engagement.
A strategy like this, which inverts the role of the producer and places the user at the centre of attention, is a great way to gain the engagement that is lacking.
Low-cost investment and high results
The results are already clear, as we have seen so far. Brand strength, impact on purchasing decisions, broad reach and high engagement are just a few of them.
But what about the costs to invest in it? The investment is low, as it involves the ability to engage your audience around your message more than anything else.
Chances are, you already have most of the channels where you can invite your fans to create content:
- a blog, which they can comment on;
- social networks, for them to comment and use specific hashtags;
- landing pages, to create more elaborate contests and encourage content production.
Where can user-generated content be used?
User-generated content is a constantly growing strategy, mainly because it gives us more tools to produce and share what we want. Therefore, the means we have now are much more advanced than they were ten years ago, but they may become obsolete in the future.
The correct posture is to invest in what is trending, with an eye on the next big hit. So let's see where to use user-generated content now to promote your brand!
Activations on social networks
Social networks are the perfect place to boost Content Marketing strategies. It's where you amplify your reach, connect with your audience, and measure your visibility.
But companies also need to see these channels as a way to bring together spontaneous promoters, who are satisfied and enthusiastic customers, who can use the brand directly or indirectly in the content they produce. To do this, you can use hashtags, create contests and offer rewards.
All you need to activate your customer base is the right incentive. But where can you do it? It depends on the brand persona, the buyer persona and the product being promoted.
For example, if your business sells a visual product, Instagram is the perfect place to go live. If you offer a service, sharing what users do with it is also great. After all, it shows not only the product but also what people can do with it.
However, remember that you must also recognize and share the promoters. It's an exchange that turns customers into influencers.
Did you know that ratings (or reviews) can also be seen as user-generated content? This is perhaps the biggest strategy that most marketing leaders ignore.
This type of content adds value as a direct opinion about a product or service. So it's seen as very honest and straightforward content about your solution. With it, you need to make an effort on two fronts:
- have automated and compelling mechanisms to encourage customers to evaluate the product;
- working with people who create great content and share it on their blogs and social media.
A rule of thumb is to never change what the person is saying in your assessment. Most of the time, it's not even about what is being said, but how you present it.
Bad reviews can be great content when paired with informational and objective points. You can explain why the experience wasn't a good one and how the company is always learning and improving.
Video is becoming more accessible to the general public and is one of the good channels to promote user-generated content. YouTube is still great for engagement and shares. However, its true value has shifted to shorter, more shareable media like Instagram Stories and TikTok.
You can use the same strategies like special hashtags and contests to create great value in user-generated visuals.
You can use all of your social and promotional channels to leverage user-generated content for unique events: a special day or week, a company anniversary, or holiday periods.
A well-organized content strategy for these dates creates a sense of FOMO (“fear of missing out”) in your audience. These people will want to participate with photos, videos and texts to be part of the moment.
The more people you gather for an online event, the more people will want to attend the next one. Content created can be reused and repurposed year-round.
User Generated Content examples
It is always inspiring and enlightening to see how other companies apply methodologies and use different strategies — especially those that are market benchmarks.
Therefore, now consider 4 examples of the use of user-generated content that help us understand how to masterfully execute this tactic and achieve good results:
Another honourable mention to Coca-Cola! If you were on planet Earth in recent years, you probably remember the incredible Coca-Cola campaign that involved bottles and cans personalized with people's names.
The idea was that fans would share tins with their names with their friends. The repercussion was so great that it became a success story all over the world.
We've talked about how user-generated content can be used to showcase what people can do with a service or solution. Adobe's case is the perfect way to exemplify this.
The #adobe_perspective hashtag is a user-generated content campaign that invites designers to showcase their work and help leads imagine what's possible with software.
GoPro is one of the brands that invest most heavily in user-generated content.
Just take a look at the company's channels to observe how the focus is almost entirely on the experiences and possibilities of adventure that can be had with a GoPro, and not on the features and functionality of the product.
With that, the brand became a reference in UGC and has managed to maintain a consistent marketing strategy based on it for years.
As we've already mentioned, contests are great for user-generated content, and few companies do it as successfully as Starbucks. The main strategy is to use something iconic, which is also common in the customer's routine: their branded glasses.
The red cup contest was an event where anyone was invited to create and share their art drawn on the same cups that accompanied the coffee. It was a huge hit on Instagram.
Whichever approach you choose, user-generated content is a new cornerstone of digital and content marketing. With planning, you can increase your visibility and engage many more people with little effort and budget. UGC offers several benefits: free SEO-valuable content, greater social media reach, customer trust, brand connection, data collection, and increased engagement. It is a low-cost investment with high results. UGC can be used in activations, assessments, video content, and special events. Examples of successful UGC campaigns include Coca-Cola, Adobe, and GoPro. Embracing UGC enhances digital marketing strategies and strengthens brand presence.
Want to learn more about how to get your customers to help promote your brand image? Find out now with our advocate with ttagz!