User-generated content is a fantastic and fairly simple way to grow your content efforts. However, many brands and businesses make mistakes when it comes to producing and utilising user-generated content.
Don’t fall into the trap of making the same common mistakes. Let us explain the following points to help your brand or business succeed.
- Why user-generated content is important
- Key benefits of user-generated content
- Ways to stimulate user-generated content
- How to successfully leverage user-generated content
- Epic mistakes to avoid
Why User-Generated Content is Important
Firstly, you may or may not be familiar with the term ‘user generated content’ (AKA UGC). In short, it is content that’s created by people, as opposed to brands. What’s more, the content may take many different forms — text, video, images, reviews, or testimonials.
In many cases, people don’t even realise they’re producing user-generated content. As far as they’re concerned, they’re simply showing off an awesome new product, cool item of clothing or fancy pair of sneakers.
Now that we know what UGC is, the question remains ‘why is it so important?’
The standout point about this type of content is that it is customer centric. It is also authentic, which makes it trustworthy in the eyes of the consumer. Big win!
Think of UGC as social proof. Consumers are used to (and to be honest, a little bit over) brands telling them how good their products are. Hearing about a product’s features and benefits from a fellow consumer makes it real. From a brand perspective, this is where the true value of UGC lies. Of course, don’t just take our word for it.
Data shows a growing consumer demand for genuine UG content. A survey conducted by Stackla of 2,042 consumers across the U.S., UK, and Australia reveals almost 8 out of 10 people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. 56% of people say UGC is the most authentic type of content. Furthermore, 58% of consumers say they’ve left a brand website prior to purchase because there were no customer reviews or consumer photos.
Key Benefits of User-Generated Content
UG content has many benefits. Here are just a few of them.
- Consumers like it
- Encourages people to show their brand loyalty (particularly when a brand engages with the content. More on this in a sec.)
- It acts as social proof
- Builds brand trust
- May set you apart from competitors
- Has been shown to influence purchase decisions
- Cost-effective, as it can be leveraged for other campaigns
6 Ways to Stimulate User-Generated Content
Now that we know how amazing UGC is, I’m guessing you’re keen to find out how to encourage people to create content about your brand or products. Here are just a few ideas:
- Run a giveaway that involves sharing a photo or video to enter
- Introduce a hashtag campaign that encourages people to create and post images. For example, a dog treat company might use #sharingiscaring to urge dog owners to post images of their doggo sharing a treat with a fellow pooch.
- Follow up online sales with an email that asks for a review (Dangle a discount code as the carrot!)
- Use polls and surveys to ask questions and gather interesting insights.
- Ask and reward. This must be the easiest way to generate UGC. Yes, it’s obvious but it’s surprising how few brands actually do it. Simply tell your audience what type of content you want and offer a reward for effort and creativity.
- Run a Product Trial with PetsForever. Hello, shameless plug! However, this is a wonderful opportunity to not only generate authentic UGC in the form of images and reviews, but also collect useful insights about your product and achieve a 5-Star Rating Badge (more social proof for prospective customers!).
Oh, and don’t forget to assess and measure what approach works and what doesn’t.
How to Successfully Leverage User-Generated Content
Sure, having consumers create content that includes your brand or product is great, but success doesn’t stop there. As marketers and business owners you need to fuel the creation of UGC and use it to boost conversion rates.
Importantly, brands need to engage with UG content. Don’t just show it to your team and then sit back and do nothing. Be sure to comment and like the content. If people are asking questions about the brand, jump on in and respond. UGC is a fantastic opportunity to start a conversation and showcase your brand personality. Here are a few other ways to leverage UGC.
This is an easy way to make the most of UGC, just make sure you credit the creator. You can even do a shout out asking for more customers to share their images. It’s all about being proactive and creative. Don’t allow amazing UGC to be a missed opportunity. Here are a few more ways to leverage such content.
Share reviews and testimonials
Add reviews and testimonials to your website. Have a go at creating images (Canva is useful for this) or videos incorporating reviews and use these assets across your social accounts. Don’t forget to also include reviews in your subscriber newsletters. After all, reading a particular review might be the deciding factor that leads to a sale.
Consumer reviews can even help drive distribution. If a retailer sees how much people are enjoying your brand, they’re much more likely to want to stock it!
Be creative with customer images
Include customer images in your product listings to showcase how the item looks in ‘real life’. Create a hashtag (i.e., # [brand name] united) that can be used to curate all your customers’ images. This helps to create a community of bona-fide satisfied consumers.
3 Epic Mistakes to Avoid
Without a doubt, UGC is an authentic way to establish trust and confidence amongst consumers. However, it still needs careful consideration to avoid making common slip-ups. Here are some popular blunders to avoid.
1. Ignoring user-generated content
If consumers are already creating content about your brand, you’re mad to ignore it. (Refer to the whole bunch of reasons above!)
2. Publishing content without permission
There’s the myth that because content is ‘social’ its free to use. This isn’t so, as copyright still exists. Be sure to obtain permission from the owner before re-using their content. If the UGC is obtained through running a giveaway or similar, be sure to encourage opt-in to utilise the content for other brand promotions and activities. Don’t forget to always mention/tag the original creator.
3. Failing to represent your community
It’s important to know who your customers are and to make sure this cohort is represented in any UGC you share or repurpose. To do this, make a point of sharing an array of photos and reviews — to demonstrate the diversity of your audience.
Essentially, user generated content is a fantastic way to bring your brand’s promise to life in a real and engaging way. Not only is it an invaluable way to connect with your existing customers, UGC can help boost trust and authenticity and grow your customer base.