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Marketing 101

User Generated Content Overview

What is UGC and why should I use it?

The term User-generated content has been around long before it was actually invented and used. When UGC initially started to be used, it wasn’t for marketing or advertising—it was for gathering information.

The massive, multi-volume Oxford English Dictionary was actually composed of user-generated content. In 1857, Richard Chenevix Trench of the London Philological Society sought public contributions from throughout the English-speaking world for the creation of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

So what exactly is UGC? User Generated Contents is any content that your user, audience, clients, customer, or members generates for you. Meaning they are contents that are not created by the brand or business itself but by anyone unaffiliated to it. Anytime your customers or clients are talking about you, that’s UGC.

What does that mean for you, someone’s who’s creating content for your brand? How can you leverage it for your business?

UGC gives an authentic view of your business and builds trust.

You can talk all day about how good your brand or product is whereas if your customers said it, people will believe that. And consumers believe recommendations from strangers more than the brand promoting them.

It is said that ninety-two percent (92%) of people are more likely to trust recommendations from another than they are branded content even if they are saying the same thing. And ninety-three (93%) of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by customers more than content created by brands. People trust people. (State of UGC 2021 Report)

It also is one of the best ways to turn your customers into brand ambassadors and your biggest advocates. UGC creates brand awareness without even running ads.

Eighty-six percent (86%) of millennials consider UGC to be a good indicator of the quality of the brand. Meaning, if a lot of people are talking about you when you’re not in the room, that’s a good sign. It helps to get a very accurate representation of what you can offer or provide as a business.

Now, what are the types of UGC? What are the examples of it?

UGC falls into three categories: text, pictures, and videos.

  • Social media content.
  • Reviews and testimonials.
  • Blog posts.
  • Video content (including live streaming and AR lenses/filters)
  • Q&A Forums (including comments)
  • Case studies.

Any of these that other people say, do, or post about your brand or product is UGC.

UGC is similar to word of mouth but digitized—it builds communities.

As humans, we want to feel the connection to other people and we love to find what unites us even if it's just using the same brand of shampoo. Many leading brands have managed to build a connected audience and that means that their customers are people who feel connected to other customers. And it’s not just about the product they’re buying but the community that they’re buying into. Just like Apple, Nike, Starbucks, etc.

If you can manage to create a community around your brand or product then you’ll have a group of people who are loyal to your brand for the long haul.

So we can really say that UGC is a very powerful way to market your brand.

Take Starbucks for example. Starbucks' famous #WhiteCupContest(2014) and #RedCupContest(2016) are perfect examples of how to get customers to promote your brand.

Asking fans to submit cool photos of their coffees for the chance to win a Starbucks gift card—and their fans always participate.

Starbucks taps into the holiday spirit each year, encouraging customers to submit thousands of photo entries; all involving their iconic red holiday cup. This UGC campaign is naturally, but not overtly, sales-driven. What do customers need in order to participate? A red Starbucks cup. How do they get the cup? By making a purchase.

Setting up your business to collect UGC

UGC is applicable in whatever business you have. You can be an SME or Big brand and UGC will still work wonders for your business. And don’t think UGC isn’t valuable if you’re running a B2C business. The same rings true for you. 74% of consumers use social media and different channels or platforms to help them decide what and from whom to purchase.

Now, to start collecting UGC for your account you can do the following to generate the kind of UGC that you need for a marketing campaign that you have in mind.

  • Consider which platform is most effective for your campaign
  • Do you have a Facebook page? Instagram? Are you on Twitter or Youtube? Which platforms do you think your audience or customers are mostly in?
  • It’s extremely important to not just know where your audience lives socially, but where your potential advocates could have the most influence.
  • It is important to know this so that you will also know what User-Generated Content that will work on each network.
  • Set Specific User Generated Content Goals
  • Your user-generated content plan has to have specific goals and guidelines to work its best just like any other content strategy.  
  • According to SEMrush, 86% of businesses have tried user-generated content, but GoodVid discovered only 27% have a strategy for this content in place.
  • User-generated content can make or break your marketing strategy. Sometimes it sparks conversations, increases engagement, and builds trust but if used the wrong way, this content will have your followers packing up and leaving.
  • That’s why you have to–like any sort of marketing campaign–create goals.
  • Do you want more engagement or you want to increase your conversion rate? Do you want to increase Brand Awareness? Do you want to build brand trust? Or you just want to save time on content creation?
  • Depends on what goal you have, you can set what kind of user-generated marketing campaign you want to do.
  • Tell your audience what content you're searching for
  • Make it clear and specific what types of content you’re looking for.
  • Whether you’re asking for images or customers’ thoughts, your advocates need the proper guidance. Without a clear goal and ask of your audience, you might confuse users or get a ton of the wrong content.
  • Just like the UGC campaign of Starbucks, they got mechanics for the participants to follow so that they will get the right kind of content that they are looking for.
  • Focus on the community aspect
  • User-generated content can create communities. It brings the chance to connect with new people through conversation. Your whole point is to build credibility. And if done correctly, you’ll drive users down the marketing funnel.
  • Your followers are extremely important to your social media strategy, so treat them well. Answer questions, give recognition, be there during product launches and show your human side.
  • By doing this you can find and get good feedback from your audience, customers, clients, or members that you can collect as a UGC.
  • Use user-generated content tools to help you collect UGC
  • Don’t miss a great opportunity to share user-generated content because you missed someone using your brand in a hashtag.
  • The idea of using user-generated content from your brand’s community goes beyond just re-sharing social posts from fans and followers on your social profiles.  UGC can be used across different channels and platforms, from contests to shoppable social media galleries to visual product reviews.
  • Collecting them can be daunting on your part because of this. So you need to find the best tools that suit your need to make it easier for you to collect them from different platforms and channels and not miss a single good user-generated content.

User-generated content can be tricky but if you follow the steps above, you can use it to your brand’s advantage.

How to implement UGC

As you already know, the opportunities with user-generated content are endless. There are tons of brands already creatively using it to grow their online following and drive sales. Even big brands that don’t seem to need this anymore are continuously using UGC.

To help you start implementing this here are some ways you can use it to incorporate it into your marketing.

Host a UGC-based contest (give incentives)

One of the best ways to inspire users to share content on your behalf is to incentivize them.

According to the survey, only 32% of people created and shared UGC because they wanted to win a prize. Instead, 60% preferred to share UGC because it allowed them to get more likes or to have their content featured by a popular brand. And this opens up a perfect opportunity to host a UGC-led competition with your community.

Not only that you will grow your community but it also increases your brand awareness.

Ask for Opinions or Feedback

Don’t be afraid to ask. That will make them feel that their opinion matters to you. The more people get involved, the more they’ll be invested in your business and feel connected to you. But you have to give them a chance, so create opportunities.

For example, if you’re rebranding, take a poll to see what people think about your new look. Or you can ask people to make suggestions for a new logo design. (You can even make a contest out of it.)

It is one way to show that you are a customer-centric brand. Most powerful brands are the ones that realize that it’s not about the product, it’s about the person using it.

Post or Share Reviews

This might be the simplest way BUT it is one of the most effective ways to get your audience to trust your brand.

When you share genuine user reviews of your products, you are sharing valuable (and persuasive!) content with your audience. And since 92% of people believe in reviews rather than the brand promoting itself, this is a very effective way for them to trust your brand and convert them into loyal customers.

By sharing consistent, and genuine reviews and openly discussing issues with your customers on the public forum can help build a community that really trusts your brand and products.

Set-Up Influencer Partnership

40% of millennials actually feel that their favorite YouTuber understands them better than their best friends, which is an astounding fact because that shows how powerful influencers actually are.

And 80% of social media Livestream viewers say they’re likely to buy a product as a result of the endorsement of their favorite influencers.

Having your product reviewed by an influencer or even just getting a shout-out in a story of somebody who has influence can do wonders for your brand. It even has a bigger impact than running a Facebook ad, because people listen when their friends talk.

So don’t be afraid to reach out to influencers or collaborate with people who have an influence on a certain space and let it be on their terms. The more real the content is coming from them, the more people are willing to listen.

That’s what big brands have realized. That's why they started interacting with influencers. It is an even 300% increase in the number of micro-influencers used by companies since 2016.

Expanding your UGC

There are many different ways to get your audience involved so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ask them to.

Whether you plan to host a Facebook Live, post UGC to your Instagram feed, or integrate product reviews into your shopping pages and ads — strategically using UGC in your marketing can really boost your sales and grow your online community.

If it is your first time implementing UGC in your marketing strategy and thinking about the ways you can incorporate them with your current marketing strategies in mind, Margo can help. Our professional team and business management software that combines marketing management tools with hands-on experts, giving you the power of a marketing agency from the palm of your hand.

You may not be ready to hire full-time marketing staff to do these tasks for collecting and implementing UGC, but now you can supplement you and your in-house staff with trusted, vetted expertise and operational support with Margo Network.

Now that you’ve realized the importance of UGC and how powerful it can be, go out there and get your audience to be your biggest brand ambassadors!

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