As a brand owner, you’re always on the lookout for ways to elevate your online presence through various marketing efforts.
Social media platforms, in particular, have proven to be an integral part of businesses’ marketing strategy, especially with the rise of influencer marketing and user-generated content (UGC).
You don’t say… *tries to open a new tab to search for UGC.* 🧐
Well, let’s save you the stress as this guide will most likely have answers to questions you have on the topic.
By the end of the guide, you’ll have learned:
- What UGC is
- How it differs from traditional marketing strategies
- What the benefits of UGC are
- The different types of UGC
To make things more interesting like we always do 😊, we’ll also share some examples to inspire you and help nail your marketing campaigns.
Sounds exciting, right?
Well, let’s kick things off!
What is User-Generated Content (UGC)?
User-generated content is any type of content created by existing customers instead of by brands themselves.
Existing customers and creators can create content in different formats, from social media posts to videos and blog posts, to share it online with their audience.
By doing so, they become brand advocates, using their creativity to produce authentic content on behalf of the brand.
According to author and marketing expert, Seth Godin:
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.”
Who better to tell those stories than your customers themselves?
This is something that companies have discovered to be of great benefit to them and 78% of marketers say that they use UGC in their content strategy.
The reason isn’t far-fetched, it’s a result of the several benefits that it brings.
Studies show that when individuals create and share content online, it gets 28% higher engagement than content produced and shared by companies.
One company that has taken advantage of UGC is Samsung.
When they released the Galaxy A smartphone, they prompted fans who had the device to post creative social content with the hashtag #danceawesome.
By doing so, creators were given the chance to enter a contest to win the smartphone.
Here’s one example of the many videos shared on TikTok, one of the most popular platforms for UGC.
This post alone has gained over 2 million views and 250,000 likes so far, giving the company a huge amount of exposure.
The event boosted the awareness of the product and the brand and, of course, put a little something in the hands of whoever won the contest.
if you think about it, it was a win-win situation for everyone involved
Author’s Note: Establishing branded hashtags helps you measure the total reach of your social media marketing campaigns.
Now, let’s dive a little deeper into the world of UGC and see where it comes from.
Where Does UGC Come From?
User-generated content comes from your existing customers or creators sharing content for their own audience.
This helps brands raise more awareness through the power of word-of-mouth since they’re not “promoting themselves.”
They’re allowing others to create promotional content on their behalf.
A common practice for brands is to repost or share the UGC on their own social media channels.
The fact that a post has been created by members of their audience makes the content feel more authentic and powerful to anyone who sees it.
Now, how do you find such creators?
The most common way is via your social media channels.
You can incentivize your audience to produce content featuring your brand or product in exchange for a reward such as a giveaway entry or a shoutout.
Here’s an example of what we mean:
Light Centre asked their audience to participate in a challenge for a chance to win a free month of classes.
…and you know what happens when people hear the word ‘free’. 😉
Author's Tip: If you’re looking for a faster and easier way, you can always use a trusted partner like Insense to help you find the right creators to collaborate with.
How Does UGC Differ From Traditional Marketing?
This is an important question to consider especially if your brand has had good results from using traditional marketing.
You want to know whether to totally make the switch to UGC or use both methods.
The truth is this isn’t a simple binary question.
However, what we can do is compare the two tactics so you can spot the key differences between them.
Let’s get into it.
To help you understand UGC, here are some of the major benefits that characterize it:
- Measurable results
- Doesn’t require expertise
Let’s do a breakdown of each one.
Element #1: Cost-effectiveness
First of all, UGC is one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing.
Brands can take advantage of it for little to no cost at all and that’s impressive.
Your followers produce UGC for free without being asked. You can ask them for permission to use it and incentivize them by offering perks.
More on that later!
Element #2: Measurable results
It’s easier to measure UGC performance in metrics, compared to TV ads for example.
Impressions, likes, comments, and engagement rates can be tracked and give you a good idea of what your conversion rates are.
Such key performance indicators (KPIs) can be accessed either directly through a user’s account, or via a third-party tool.
Element #3: Time-efficient
Once you set up your UGC campaign and share it with your followers, all you have to do is wait for them to create content and share it on their platforms.
It’s one of the most time-efficient practices when it comes to content marketing.
Whether you want to repost some - or even all - of the UGC on your social channels is entirely up to you.
Element #4: It doesn’t require a great amount of expertise
While knowledge and experience are often essential in most traditional marketing efforts, that’s not always the case with UGC.
A good UGC campaign can still be a challenge, but if you know who your target audience is and have a good grip on social media, then the process won’t be as difficult.
Element #5: Honesty
Who would you believe more?
A brand telling you how great its product or service is? Or an independent content creator recommending the brand to you?
Chances are, you'd be inclined to go for the latter, especially if that creator is someone you follow and trust.
80% of respondents in a survey said UGC plays an important role in their purchasing decisions.
Overall, while UGC isn’t like the only golden marketing strategy out there, it does have some key elements that give it a good amount of credibility.
The examples we’ll share with you will speak for themselves.
There are different forms of traditional marketing available, but there are some things they have in common such as:
- Being really expensive
- Difficult to measure results
- Requiring skills and experience
- Being difficult for people to trust
Let’s have a closer look.
Element #1: Costliness
Marketing techniques such as paid social and TV ads rarely come cheap.
Obviously, the higher the spend the better the reach, but they’re not always accessible for smaller brands; that's before we even think about print ads and billboards.
According to Statista, the cost of a 30-second TV commercial in the US can range anywhere from $3,240 to $62,400.
Smaller businesses need more cost-effective ways of marketing their brand which is why traditional advertising is often out of the question for them.
Element #2: Difficult to measure results
While using UGC offers access to a wide variety of metrics, many traditional marketing techniques – such as TV and print ads – don't facilitate such insights.
Thus, brands aren’t able to measure their campaigns’ effectiveness and don’t have enough data to refine them.
You can’t keep track of how many views you got from TV ads.
Element #3: Time-consuming
A constant struggle marketers face is to find ways that’ll give them more for less.
Most traditional ways of doing marketing require a heavy time investment to set campaigns up, run them, and measure the results as much as possible.
Think of the difference when running paid ads with your own content versus UGC.
In the first case, you’ll need to create engaging content from scratch, while in the second one you get others to create it for you.
Producing it yourself, you want to make sure it’s perfect and that can take a lot of time.
Element #4: Require skills and experience
Creating TV ads, running paid social ads, printing promotional material, and more, all require a certain amount of expertise.
This is why they’re often done by professionals with some years of experience, compared to UGC which can be approached by almost anyone.
Plus, in traditional advertising, honesty and authenticity are often overlooked. Brands don’t even consider them.
Element #5: Not easy for an audience to trust
Consumers are targeted with a plethora of advertisements on such a large scale that the element of honesty and authenticity is often missing.
According to research, the average person is exposed to somewhere between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every day, in all shapes and sizes.
Thus, brands tend to overlook the factor of authenticity and fail to find more creative ways of promoting their business.
As a result, their marketing efforts don’t have the expected outcomes.
All in all, UGC offers certain advantages compared to traditional marketing techniques.
Let’s have a closer look at the main benefits of UGC.
What Are the Benefits of Using UGC?
So far, it’s pretty clear that UGC can play an integral role in a brand’s content marketing strategy.
It’s your best bet especially when resources aren’t abundant and you want more for less.
There are several reasons why UGC should become a part of your marketing campaign, but we believe the following benefits can give you a good idea of its worth.
Benefit #1: UGC increases brand awareness
As a marketer or business owner, your ultimate goal is to get your brand in front of as many people as possible.
By investing in a UGC strategy, you’ll collect a larger amount of content than you could create on your own.
This equals more awareness, as the creators would have first posted on their profiles, and higher engagement rates for your brand, as there’s a good chance people will engage with it.
Imagine the difference between publishing a post on your Instagram account and motivating your followers to create dozens – if not hundreds – of posts themselves.
The metrics in the examples we’ll feature later on will speak for themselves.
Overall, the more recognition you get from UGC, the better the results for your business will be.
A study by Bazaarvoice supports this claim with 84% of millennials saying that UGC plays a role in their buying decisions.
Benefit #2: UGC is cost-effective
It’s not always easy to find marketing solutions that cost little or nothing at all.
UGC is one of the few that offer this; customers are creating the assets for you and, as a result, they’re bringing in their own audience.
To put it simply, you pass the content creation process on to people who are already aware of you and you simply curate it and track the results.
What’s better than that?
This can cost you almost nothing – at least in monetary terms – since you can offer shoutouts in the form of reposts, contest entries, and free trials.
Even if you decide to work with creators to produce UGC, it’s still cost-effective.
That’s way less than what traditional marketing costs.
Benefit #3: UGC creates brand loyalty and trust
Possibly one of UGC’s strongest advantages is the fact that it creates trust and loyalty around your brand.
Promoting your product and having others promote it for you are two very different things.
Think about it.
Users are on the receiving end of so many ads and other promotional messages that their purchasing decisions are only really swayed by sources they trust.
UGC plays a key role in this because it boosts brand loyalty in ways other tactics can’t, whether that’s through social media posts or product reviews and testimonials.
Reports from a Kantar study proved this. It showed that product recommendations from friends and family have a trust score of 93 above review sites and news and information websites.
Put another way, consumers trust recommendations from other people more than those from brands themselves.
This is what a good UGC campaign does best.
It gives real people the chance to express their positive views about you, in the form of a high-quality and creative piece of content; thus providing you with social proof as well.
Benefit #4: UGC is authentic
Marketers often invest a lot of time and money in crafting the perfect digital marketing campaign but they don’t realize that it lacks an important aspect: authenticity.
Authenticity is one of the things that consumers always seek in a brand, especially when looking for new products.
As a consumer yourself, how inclined are you to buy from a brand that doesn’t share user opinions and content that showcases its products being used?
Chances are, you’d opt for a brand that promotes its customer experience through real people’s stories.
UGC can offer all of the above through authentic forms of content that'll make your brand stand out from the crowd.
Just look at the following Instagram post, by creator Anouk Antonissen:
By actually using Clay and Glow’s product, she shares her personal experience with her followers which will potentially prompt them to try it themselves.
Overall, content generated by users offers perks that are difficult to find in other marketing tactics.
Let’s check out the most prominent types of UGC.
4 Types of User-Generated Content You Need to Know
So far, it’s clear that UGC marketing can work wonders for brands – when done right.
Since content created by users can differ, we thought it'd be helpful to list the main types so you have a better understanding of what it consists of.
Type #1: Social media content
Possibly the most common type of content is visual UGC shared on social networks.
Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and more recently TikTok, have all played a huge role in the growth of UGC over the years.
How many times have you seen an Instagram story from a friend showing the hotel they're staying at while on vacation?
If you haven’t, you probably live under a rock or something!
While it’s only one of the countless examples we could talk about, it can be classified as UGC and the brand can take advantage by reposting it.
The great thing about social media is that you can find creators in any niche, such as travel, beauty, lifestyle, and more.
Additionally, it’s an excellent way to drive holiday sales by sharing your customers’ experience when using your products; think about the factor of authenticity we covered earlier.
Overall, leveraging your social channels by sharing UGC is a no-brainer when it comes to raising brand awareness and attracting potential customers.
Type #2: Video content
According to a survey by Wyzowl, the number of businesses using video as a marketing tool has increased by 41% since 2016.
Plus, 86% of marketers say that video has increased traffic to their websites.
Those stats alone give you a good idea of how important video content is in today's market for expanding your brand recognition and raising engagement levels with your target audience.
It also enhances a brand’s credibility; imagine your customers filming their experiences shopping, traveling, eating, or just relaxing while using your product.
Others are more likely to judge that it’s safe doing business with you because of that.
Canon is one of the many brands to use videos in its UGC strategy by prompting the so-called “Canon Creators” to express their creativity with its latest cameras.
Other examples include GoPro, which uses UGC to show how its products are used by customers, through some highly engaging YouTube videos.
If you’re a business owner or marketing manager, we strongly suggest adding videos to your campaigns, as one of the most effective forms of visual content.
Author’s Note: What many ecommerce brands do is collect their UGC – such as unboxing videos – and use them in paid ads campaigns. It’s a great way to promote your brand’s credibility to even more people.
Type #3: Testimonials
The next type of content we’re going to cover is testimonials.
If there’s one thing that’ll make even the most skeptical buyers choose you, it has to be customer reviews.
According to a Sprout Social study, 88% of consumers are likely to buy from a brand after reading online reviews about it from other customers.
Whether they’re third-party reviews on Yelp, your Facebook page, or Google, or direct reviews on your website; having your customers express how they feel about you is an excellent way to gain trust!
What’s more, it can potentially provide you with some incentive for improvement; after all, they say that the customer is always right, don’t they?
What many brands do is encourage their users to publish their feedback by incentivizing them with gift cards, free trials, and more.
If you want our opinion, we recommend you follow the same tactic.
Digital payments company Square decided to not only use testimonials but also combine them with video content.
Very smart, right?
What it did was capture the stories of small businesses using its services and share them in a YouTube series called Square Stories.
This is a great example of how real-life testimonials can be repurposed into different content types to strengthen your brand’s trustworthiness.
Type #4: Blog posts
Blogging has been around for a long time, so there’s every reason for you to include it in your next UGC campaign.
It’s one of the best ways to combine authentic content with organic exposure, which is why so many marketers take advantage of it.
Don’t think of it as just text – make sure to enrich it with visual content and ways to make it more engaging for your users.
For instance, up until recently, SEO company MOZ had a posting community where its members could write and upload their own blog posts.
Similar to how Reddit works, other members could upvote or downvote each post and the most popular pieces of content would be uploaded to the company’s main blog.
In our opinion, this is a very smart move that makes the most of UGC and also cultivates an online community of internet users.
All in all, UGC can come in many shapes and sizes; whether a certain type works for you is up to you to decide.
Based on your niche, target audience, and social platforms you use, you can test which forms of content are ideal for generating positive results.
Let’s now have a look at some UGC examples to inspire you for your next campaigns.
Chapter #1: Why is UGC so Important?
UGC is important to brands for several reasons.
To begin with, it allows customers to become a part of your brand’s growth.
They get to create content that potential customers can see, which will help them make purchasing decisions.
And statistics prove it.
9 out of 10 consumers read reviews before making an online purchase.
More than 50% of millennials rely on recommendations from friends and family when deciding whether to buy a product or service.
“But, those are reviews and recommendations.”
Well, they are content created by users, which makes them UGC and authentic enough to build trust with other people.
What’s more, consumers are 2.4x more likely to say that UGC is authentic.
Chapter #2: Pros and Cons of UGC
We’ve already established that UGC is great.
In order not to sound biased, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of this content format.
- Regular influx of content: Less time will be spent creating content as you’ll be leveraging users’ creativity.
- Improves engagement: Since it’s produced by your customers, other users can relate to it and this sparks engagement.
- Great for SEO: UGC is appealing and if uploaded to your site will get people to spend more time on your website.
- Credibility: There’ll sometimes be the question of whether the people producing content are experts. You know, what if they’re wrong with their claims?
- Negativity: There’ll also be cases of users putting out content that might be damaging to your brand.
- Legality: You might need to get permission from users before you can use their content for your marketing campaign.
Chapter #3: UGC Statistics
With many consumers losing trust in brands and mainstream media, brands must look for alternative ways to gain their trust.
One such way is using UGC.
Does it work?
Let’s share some statistics that can help you answer that question.
- 92% of consumers say they trust UGC more than traditional ads
- Posts featuring UGC had 6.9x more engagements than posts with brand-generated content
- 70% of respondents said they’ll make purchase decisions based on real people's reviews
- Consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful compared to influencer content
- 25% of search results for top global brands are linked to UGC
- 93% of marketers say consumers trust content produced by other consumers
- 75% of marketers say they’re aware that UGC makes branded content more authentic
Chapter #4: UGC Examples
In this section, we’re going to cover some examples of companies that have found true value by using UGC with the help of Insense.
We’re featuring case studies from a wide variety of sectors so you can get an all-around understanding of how you can adapt when using UGC.
Example #1: Cleanly
Cleanly – otherwise known as ByNext – is a state-of-the-art laundry service app that aims to take cleaning to the next level.
Although the company was already taking advantage of UGC through the power of video marketing, it began looking for a way to elevate the process of finding authentic, engaging, socially native, user-generated content along with its paid advertising campaigns.
This is a practice many brands use, especially in the ecommerce industry, and works as a great holiday marketing idea.
By using Insense’s integration with Facebook Ads Manager, the brand was able to successfully run UGC as paid ads on Facebook and Instagram.
As a result, it saw a 2.3x lower CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) compared to past campaigns, as well as a 2.1x higher CTR (click-through rate).
This is a good example of how UGC isn’t only useful when it comes to organic reach, but it can also be used for paid advertising purposes.
Example #2: MEC
MEC, or Mountain Equipment Co-op, is a Canadian retailer in the outdoor recreational gear sector.
The company decided to leverage a new UGC strategy because the one it had been using didn’t have the expected outcomes.
By partnering with Insense, it managed to collect custom content and handle a wide range of campaigns to boost its brand awareness; both from creators it had already partnered with as well as with existing ones it found in the platform’s database.
Holiday gifting and the promotion of new products were the main objectives that UGC was used for, and rightly so.
The brand also hosts the MEC Race Series in certain parts of Canada, so finding creators from those regions was a key element in promoting the race through UGC.
MEC also incentivized its users to share their own content to participate in a contest; this is a common tactic we briefly covered earlier in this guide.
By sharing their best adventures on Instagram, tagging the company, and using a specific hashtag, they got the chance to win a $5,000 gift card.
The result of this was over 1,000 Instagram posts of UGC that brought the brand a huge amount of awareness and recognition, all because it had provided an incentive.
Example #3: Teddy Blake
Our next example is from Teddy Blake; a company that’s been offering hand-made Italian handbags since 1958.
Like Cleanly, the brand wanted to use authentic UGC and use it in paid advertising campaigns.
Since we’re talking about an expensive product, the brand ideally wanted to find creators who already owned its handbags, so shipping wasn’t necessary.
This was made possible with the help of Insense, where the right creators were identified and prompted to create high-quality and engaging content.
A doubling of ROAS (return on advertising spend) by running ads with the content the creators generated.
Needless to say, the extra exposure the brand gained through the content’s organic reach was huge.
Overall, UGC is one of the best options out there for ecommerce and social ecommerce brands seeking marketing techniques with high conversion rates.
Example #4: Just BARE
Just BARE is a Colorado-based poultry company with an emphasis on sustainability and providing products that are healthy and organic.
The brand wanted to attract potential buyers through the right use of UGC but had some criteria:
- Creators should be food lovers
- They should be relevant to the brand’s niche
- Their audience should be in the central USA
- They should be able to share a chicken recipe through an engaging story
Simple customer photos and videos weren’t enough; the right amount of attention had to be given to both the persona and the demographics.
Those criteria were fulfilled with the help of Insense’s platform, where the right types of creators were identified to create a campaign for the holiday season.
It's a time of year on which brands sharply focus much of their marketing.
In fact, according to a study, brands allocate almost 25% of their annual budget to holiday social media marketing.
Just BARE chose a great time of the year to use UGC and managed to collect videos of its users sharing their favorite recipes with the company’s products.
This is a great example of how video content can be integrated well into a brand’s content marketing strategy.
However, this doesn’t mean that UGC is restricted to big brands with many resources; on the contrary, anyone can take advantage of it as long as a few steps are followed.
That's why we’ve put together a simple, step-by-step guide for you to get started with UGC.
Chapter #5: UGC Best Practices
To some extent, it’s easy to source UGC for your marketing strategy.
The tactical part is ensuring you have a successful campaign when using it.
How can you make that happen?
Here are some best practices to follow:
- Always have a goal: What do you want to achieve when you launch a UGC campaign?
Do you want to raise more awareness for your brand? Increase engagements? Get more leads? You need to decide on a goal before you start your campaign.
- Be open to using different UGC types: You need to think of different ways to collect UGC for your campaign.
Asking your customers or reposting is one way. You can also create a hashtag trend so people can get creative. Using different types of UGC will help you increase your brand’s reach.
- Ask for permission to share: Always remember to ask your customers for permission before posting their content.
Doing this keeps you clear of copyright concerns and shows your audience you value their contribution.
- Guide your audience: If you want to run a campaign that’ll help you get UGC (contests or giveaways), be sure to be very specific with your guidelines telling people what you want.
Is there a color scheme you’d like to use? Hashtag? Even a feature?
Provide them with the necessary information they need to produce the kind of content that’ll match your brand.
Chapter #6: How to Create UGC
As you know, brands can’t just produce UGC. What they can do is ask or incentivize customers and creators to create it.
On that note, you can also partner with creators to produce UGC at scale for your campaign.
Here are some things they need to keep in mind when creating the UGC.
They need to:
- Have studied and followed the creative brief prepared by the brand
- Understand the brand, its product, and the audience
- Ensure they’re in the same niche as the brand or can relate to them
- Have made use of the product or service
- Put on their creative cap so people can enjoy and relate to the content
- Be very natural and authentic when producing the content
Chapter #7: How to Measure UGC
If you happen to launch a UGC campaign that’s ‘successful’, how do you know if it's truly successful?
What do you need to measure to let you know if your investment has paid off?
Well, you can measure your ROAS by tracking certain key performance indicators (KPIs).
But first, you need to have a set of objectives so you’ll know what KPIs you need to measure.
So if your goal is to increase engagements on your website, the KPIs you need to keep track of are the time users spend on your site, along with bounce rate, clicks, and views.
- Conversions: You want to track the number of clicks on your website or social media page, cost of acquisition, conversion rate retargeting, and cost per click
- Brand awareness: Hashtag usage, shares, likes, click-through rate to your website/store, retweets, comments
Chapter #8: UGC Platforms & Tools for Better Campaigns
Are there tools out there that you can use for better UGC campaigns?
That’s what we’ll show you in this section.
Each of them has unique features and capabilities that can help you launch the best UGC for your brand.
Tool #1: Insense
The first tool we’ll talk about is, obviously, Insense.
We're not ones to brag, but we’ve had great success when it comes to generating authentic and engaging content for a brand.
Our friendly user interface allows you to seamlessly discover and collaborate with creators, as well as amplify your campaigns by running targeted ads through our Facebook Manager integration.
Whatever your sector, you can collect UGC from various types of content creators in niches like:
Plus, many more that’ll help you nail your UGC campaigns!
The pricing is straightforward.
It consists of four plans for you to choose from based on your needs.
We’ve even got a designated UGC pricing plan if you want to scale your UGC production and it’s the most popular.
The Advanced plan is ideal if you run a large brand.
And should you want to give the platform a try, you can opt for the Trial Month plan to get started.
Tool #2: TRIBE
The next tool we’re showing you is called TRIBE.
TRIBE is an Australian influencer marketing platform that connects brands with creators and helps them generate high-quality branded content.
It prides itself on making the whole process of generating content from users as easy as possible and has a database of various brands and creators.
Some of its clients include Olay and Unilever.
In terms of pricing, it offers four flexible plans.
All of them provide you with the tool’s basic features, but the Enterprise plan offers an unlimited number of users and a white-label platform experience.
Overall, TRIBE is a good choice when it comes to creating UGC campaigns.
Tool #3: Taggbox
Our list’s third tool is Taggbox.
Taggbox is a popular UGC platform that helps brands raise trust, engagement, and awareness.
It allows users to leverage UGC across various touchpoints, such as email campaigns, social ads, ecommerce, and web pages.
It also offers integrations with various third-party tools like MailChimp, Buffer, Instagram, and Slack for an easier and faster experience.
Some of the brands Taggbox has worked with include PayPal and Nescafe.
What does the pricing look like?
The company has classified its pricing into four different tiers, based on the UGC’s usage.
Options range from digital displays and social media feed campaigns to product pages for ecommerce sites and the chance to repurpose content from users.
All in all, Taggbox has a solution for almost every UGC case one might need.
Tool #4: Yotpo
The fourth and last tool we’re going to feature is Yotpo.
Yotpo offers the chance for brands to generate UGC not only in the form of visual content but also in ratings.
Clients like Vanity Planet and Steve Madden have used the tool’s capabilities to curate content and customize, share, and leverage it through paid social ads.
What’s more, the tool offers a beautiful dashboard, allowing brands to track their campaign’s performance in real time to stay on top of it.
The pricing plans are once again structured based on each use case.
There’s a free plan including the platform’s basic features, as well as three paid one plans.
If you’re a larger business with more needs, you can request a demo for the Enterprise plan.
Chapter #9: UGC vs. Influencer Marketing
The main difference between UGC and influencer marketing is that UGC is produced by customers who’ve used and enjoyed your product while influencer marketing involves partnering with influencers and creators to create content where your product is featured.
The two terms are actually quite similar.
In influencer marketing, influencers and creators who are social media users with a pretty good follower count in a particular niche create content that you can use for your marketing campaign.
You’ll be leveraging the popularity and ‘influence’ of the influencers to your benefit.
…and you gotta pay them for their efforts.
UGC, meanwhile, kinda takes its cue from influencer marketing.
But in this case, customers are the ones producing the content and they’re doing so because they found your product useful.
This is something they do on their own from time to time, occasionally in response to a brand’s request.
In UGC marketing campaigns, your customers become your brand ambassadors, spreading the good news about your product or service.
Chapter #10: UGC vs. Stock Photography
The difference between UGC and stock photography is simple: UGC is authentic while stock photography screams ‘traditional ads’ which we know consumers no longer fancy.
UGC is produced with intent such that anyone who sees it knows the reason it was created and can resonate with it.
The intent could be to show what a product helped them with, how it transformed them, or something similar.
Stock photos are images, graphics, or even videos created by professional photographers with no specific intent in mind.
Most times, they’re created in the hope that people will pay for a license to use them.
While stock photography might be easy or cheap to get, you want to avoid it because it’s not always relatable to your audience like UGC.
Chapter #11: UGC Video Content
UGC video refers to video clips produced by actual customers rather than actors or influencers.
Like most UGC types, video clips can make your customers feel more connected to your brand than most media forms.
The clip could be someone showing their friends the best makeup kit they’ve ever used or their experience since they started drinking a particular protein shake.
When potential customers see videos like this, it gives them a unique angle to your product that regular branded content might not.
You can curate UGC videos for your website or social media profiles.
Chapter #12: UGC in Ads
UGC is equally effective if you want to run paid ads. Potential customers at different stages of the marketing journey can relate to it.
Let’s look at reasons why UGC should be a part of your paid marketing campaigns:
- Serves as social proof to potential customers
- Increases engagement in your campaign
- Can be used as the ad creative for different types of campaigns
- Deepens relationship between customers and brands
- Efficient for creative testing
- Costs less to acquire UGC compared to influencer marketing
- Easy to get content at scale
So, how can you source UGC for your campaigns?
- Step #1: Ask your current customers
- Step #2: Collaborate with an agency
- Step #3: Find creators to work with in a creator marketplace
You could combine the different ways if you want. The first step could be matched with step 3 for example.
Chapter #13: UGC and Contests
Running contests is another way to source for UGC. It’s an opportunity to increase your brand exposure and engagements, and grow your community.
Here’s how to run a contest to gather UGC:
- Choose what type of UGC you want (testimonials, reviews, videos showing product in use, etc.)
- Decide on what the reward will be (cash, shoutouts, giveaway entry, product bundle, gift card, or merch)
- Provide clear instructions to guide people through the contest
- Announce and promote the contest, preferably on social media
- Collect entries and draw winners
- Announce the winners and runners-up
Author’s Note: Remember to obtain permission before using the content you collected to avoid copyright issues.
Chapter #14: UGC and Email Marketing
Is that really possible? Can it even work?
Well, yes it’s possible and it can work. You’ll be leveraging two of the top marketing strategies to your advantage.
If you’d like to try it, you can follow the process below.
- Source for UGC (we’ve shown you how 😏)
- Use it in your newsletter. You can use images of reviews or testimonials produced by customers
- Incorporate it into your marketing funnels
Chapter #15: UGC on TikTok
Videos on TikTok have been known to go viral within a short time and that’s because the platform supports UGC.
The average user spends about 11 minutes per session on the app because the videos are engaging.
Let’s show you different types of UGC you can create on TikTok:
- Reaction: This video shows people reacting to your product being used
- Before & after: A video showing what your customers have experienced before they used your product and afterward
- Us vs. them: A comparison between your product and your competitors
- How to: An explainer video showing how to use your product
- 3 Reasons why: A bullet list highlighting several things customers love about your brand or product
Chapter #16: UGC on Instagram
Instagram is another platform that supports UGC. Again, you wouldn’t have to create it; just source, ask for permission, and use it for your campaign.
When it’s used for your IG campaign, you’d have:
- A regular supply of content
- More people engaging with your brand
- Potential customers seeing your brand from a customer’s point of view
To start using UGC on Instagram, here’s how to begin:
- Gather UGC by creating a branded hashtag, running contests, or encouraging other IG users to share content
- Select UGC that matches your brand and its message
- Ask your customers’ permission and share it to your Instagram Feed, Stories, or Reels
Chapter #17: Visual UGC
Visual UGC specifically means UGC in video, photo, or image format.
You know, something visually appealing.
Why is visual UGC important?
- Helps ensure new customers have personalized shopping experiences
- Provides a good understanding of the product
- Makes your ad look authentic
- Shows that your product matches customers’ needs
- Serves as social proof
- Shows how your product works
- Increases engagement and conversions
Chapter #18: UGC and eCommerce
If you run an ecommerce business, you should consider using UGC for your marketing campaigns.
It can help you attract customers and get them to take actions that can improve your conversion rate.
And that’s because you’ll be using content produced by existing customers that new customers can relate to.
UGC will show them:
- How your product works
- Why they should use it
- The changes they’ve experienced and more
So, potential customers will have all the information they need to make a decision.
Statistics show that websites that use UGC have experienced a 20% increase in return visitors.
That’s something you’d like to have, right?
Chapter #19: UGC in Fashion
Fashion brands are also able to use UGC as part of their campaigns.
ASOS, a fashion brand, posts a lot of UGC on its social media profile, showing its products ‘as seen on’ its customers.
Here’s a screenshot of one of their posts:
How can you source for UGC?
- Ask people who’ve featured your product in their posts for permission to use them
- Ask customers to leave a review on your store or website
- Collaborate with creators to produce UGC
So, if a customer shares a video of them wearing your latest footwear, that’s UGC in fashion.
Here are some benefits of using UGC in fashion:
- Makes your brand and product more desirable
- Portrays your brand as authentic
- Boosts user engagement and sales
And of course, you’ll have access to content you can use.
Chapter #20: UGC and SEO
UGC can be termed useful content produced by your customers for other people.
SEO, on the other hand, ensures that your content is visible to people who are searching for information on Google and other search engines.
Google, in a recent update, stated that its search algorithm will favor results (content) that are valuable.
By valuable, they mean content that was produced with people in mind instead of content created just to rank high on the search engine results page (SERP).
This is what Google wrote about the update:
“This ranking update will help make sure that unoriginal, low-quality content doesn’t rank highly in Search, and our testing has found it will especially improve results related to online education, as well as arts and entertainment, shopping, and tech-related content.”
What we’re trying to say is that UGC and SEO are concepts that match each other and here’s how:
UGC fits the description of what Google terms ‘useful content’ as It is:
- Useful to people
- Deemed trustworthy
- High-quality content
- Appealing, authentic, and engaging
Making UGC a part of your marketing strategy will help optimize your website or social media profile and make it visible on search engines.
Chapter #21: UGC for Retail
Retail store owners, we haven’t forgotten about you – we couldn’t even if we tried.
It’s also possible to use UGC for retail stores considering people look up reviews before visiting a store or shopping online in today's world.
- Ask customers to leave ratings or reviews if your store is registered on Google.
- If you have a social media presence, partner with creators, preferably those who’ve visited your store, to produce UGC.
Then, you can feature the UGC on your website to make it more appealing to visitors.
Chapter #22: UGC for B2B
Business to Business (B2B) brands will also find UGC to be very helpful as the social proof it brings can make potential customers (other businesses in this case) see reasons why they should buy your product or use your service.
Using UGC for your B2B brand can help you:
- Build credibility with your audience
- Strengthen your relationship and customer loyalty
- Widen your brand reach and increase engagement
B2B brands can get UGC by asking customers for permission to use their content.
“But they’re brands; brands don’t often produce content showcasing other people’s products.”
Well first, remember people are behind brands so if they’re satisfied with your product or service, they can put out a post narrating their experience.
You can also ask them to produce content about how helpful your product has been or drop a review for you on online review platforms.
Chapter #23: UGC and the Metaverse
The metaverse is a new term that’s become popular in recent times.
It refers to the hypothetical and visual iteration of a virtual world where people can go about their daily activities without doing them physically.
It’s a world where people will be on the internet.
Now, UGC is already a core building block in the Metaverse. It’s what makes the virtual world a place where people can interact, learn, and evolve.
Similar to the UGC we have on the web, it might seem mundane or not important in a way but it’s what the Metaverse requires to be an interactive platform.
Alright, let’s get practical for a bit.
How to Get Started with UGC for Your Brand
Even though some of the world’s biggest brands like Samsung use UGC, it’s not restricted to them.
Businesses of any size and industry can take advantage of it to raise awareness and increase sales.
While it’s not rocket science, there’s still a process you should be sure to follow for your UGC campaign to be a successful one.
Step #1: Identify your channels
The first step is to make sure you've identified the right channels for your UGC strategy.
This is vitally important since it’ll determine the effectiveness of your campaign from the very beginning.
If you’re present on social media and want to establish yourself as an authority in your field, then using UGC through social networks is one of the best ways to do so.
Your focus shouldn’t only be on where you have a presence already, but where your target audience is.
Instagram is often the go-to for UGC, with over 1 billion monthly active users and visual content being at the forefront.
An emerging platform that’s starting to take chunks of market share and viewing hours is TikTok, where short videos keep users engaged and are perfect for generating content and cultivating a community.
Other options include Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube, but we recommend choosing your channels wisely based on where your audience has the most presence and how capable you are of integrating your content with them.
Step #2: Set objectives
Every campaign should have an end goal by which you can determine whether it was successful or not.
Ideally, you can follow the SMART rule when setting your objectives:
- Specific – they should be clear and well-defined
- Measurable – they should have criteria to measure their progress
- Achievable – they should be realistic
- Relevant – there should be a key benefit attached
- Time-bound – they should have a deadline
A bad example of an objective sounds something like: “I want to raise brand awareness.”
While a good objective would be: “I want to achieve a 6% engagement rate in 3 months.”
All of the above depends on which platforms you’ll run your UGC campaign on.
Social media UGC is heavily measured by impressions, likes, shares, and engagement rates.
In blog posts, the key metric is social and organic traffic.
Whatever the platform, your content strategy needs specific goals and guidelines to be successful.
Step #3: Collaborate with creators
After you’ve set up your campaign’s structure, it’s time to reach out to your audience.
You can either do this directly through your social media accounts or via a trusted creator marketplace like Insense.
What you need to remember is that you must incentivize your audience to create content for you, just like MEC did, as we saw earlier.
Another good example is Starbucks. During Christmas 2016, it motivated its followers to post a photo using the company’s holiday cups and adding the hashtag #redcupcontest, in exchange for a contest entry.
Over 35,000 posts willingly promoted Starbucks' Christmas cups.
Overall, remember to be clear and transparent with your audience when it comes to requesting content from them.
Step #4: Track your results
You’ve successfully created your campaign.
The only thing left now is measuring its performance to know how well it went.
This step is tightly correlated with the second one since you need to have your objectives in mind when measuring your results.
KPIs such as likes, impressions, and engagement rates are key to measuring the extent of your brand awareness, while indicators like ROAS help determine your conversion rates.
All in all, combining the use of data with your campaign is a must when it comes to the successful implementation of UGC.
So finally, let’s wrap this up! 🥳
Now Over to You
If you made it to this point, congratulations are in order!
It was a long but interesting read, but you made it through and we’re glad you did.
With all the information we’ve provided in this guide, we believe you know how important UGC is for your brand.
Think you’re ready to kick things off?
Then feel free to book a demo with us. Someone from our team will be waiting to hear from you.
Alright, have a good one and we hope to see you soon!