How Important Is User Generated Content (UGC)?

User Generated Content

Today’s marketing world is a complex and ever-changing landscape, largely driven by the evolving habits and preferences of an online consumer base, especially young people. If your goal is to break through the advertising clutter and to reach your consumers (whether they are millennials or baby boomers, or somewhere in between), you have to think a little differently. Are you ready to color outside the lines with user generated content?

Content Authenticity Is Everything

Before we dive into the world of user generated content, a new approach to marketing that is sweeping the online channels, let’s first consider why some fresh approaches are needed.

Forbes reports that millennials (responsible for about $200 billion in spending each year) are not down with traditional marketing. In fact, a recent McCarthy Group study says that “84% of millennials stated that [they] did not like traditional marketing and, what’s more, they didn’t trust it.” Interestingly enough, 58% of millennials “don’t mind watching ads to support their favorite digital personalities.”

While influencer marketing is one strategy that customers deem “real,” there is also another “authentic” strategy that is connecting with people of all ages: user-generated content.

In the AdWeek article “User-Generated Content Brings Authenticity to Brands,” Pius Boachie explores the power of UGC, especially as customers have grown weary of overtly branded content. Tired of the same song and dance, they are looking for trusted content that grabs their attention. Right now, this sweet spot seems to be in the form of UGC.

What Exactly Is User Generated Content?

UGC is content that customers voluntarily produce related to a brand, motivated by a positive experience or general personal endorsement of a product/service. In other words, they have found a gem in a brand, and are motivated to spread the recommendation to other people that value an honest endorsement.

Right now, Instagram boasts an impressive average of 60 million daily images uploads, where UGC is one of the best ways for brands to highlight their offerings in a fun and credible way. Need more proof? This article states “as more than 64 percent of social media users seek out UGC before making big purchase decisions.”

So, how does your brand start to incorporate UGC into the mix? This article explores a few strategies, summarized below.

Shine the light on your customers: How do your fans use your products? Is this something that they post online, showing fun ways they are using it? If so, feature the top posts on your channels! Not only are you thanking this loyal customer, you may also be exposing new innovative ways to use your brand, and encourage new customers to do the same. And, you get bonus points for using video. UGC fan videos get about 10 times more views than branded content on sites like YouTube.

Make UGC a cornerstone of a giveaway: Customers love the chance to win free things. Use this to your advantage and make user-generated content a requirement for an awesome giveaway. In exchange for this product/service, you’ll be getting invaluable UGC content to use across your channels to boost engagement (including followers) and sales. You can also let viewers vote on the best content to determine the winners, making people feel even more included in this process.

Include fan photos and videos into your campaign: If your customers are sharing your brand to their personal networks, this is a huge honor that you should thank them for in a visible way. Put these UGC visual materials into your advertising campaigns, and let people continue to keep the momentum going by an accompanying hashtag that makes this a team effort with viral potential.

Boost your brand experience: In order to receive UGC, you have to give your customers a “why.” The reason to be a part of your brand needs to be strong enough and fulfilling enough to prompt action from your customers. Create a campaign that provides a one-of-a-kind experience that makes them feel like a part of your mission, and proud to be alongside you in this campaign. This partnership is a loyal relationship that will be invaluable to your brand’s future.

Stepping Into UGC

What about you? Have you tiptoed into the world of user-generated content? What are your thoughts on it? We’d love to hear your experience!

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