What is User Generated Content?

Mirjana author

Mirjana Rajčić

Chief Business Officer

User Generated Content has increasingly become part of the content marketing strategy. Reasons being, UGC increases sales, expands social reach, builds SEO value for your website, increases authenticity and trust, and strengthens brand positioning and customer relationships.

What is UGC?

Let’s look at the definition by webopedia: it is any form of content that was created by consumers or end-users of an online system or service and is publically available to other consumers and end-users. If you’re a marketer, you see one thing: free advertisement! And that’s true.

But how to get there? How to get that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that everyone craves for, but reach so few. According to SEMrush, 86% of businesses have tried user-generated content, but GoodVid discovered only 27% have a strategy for this content in place. We won’t get into the nitty-gritty of strategic planning, nevertheless, this should be your next step after reading this article.

 Coca Cola's user generated content

Picture 1. Coca-Cola user generated contet

Different Types of UGC

There are multiple ways your audience can create content for you. Especially in today’s online world, the variety is getting wider with every new feature. Here are some of the examples.

Social Media

Most of the time channels like Facebook or Instagram are used as social proof on company websites.

Have you ever seen embedded posts from users of a certain product, usually having a common hashtag?

Yeah, that’s social proof and it’s free company advertising. Basically, it’s a win-win for any company. On one side you get free content, on the other by tracking the content you get to see what people think of your product and can react in case of emergency.

For the customer, being featured on a company website they love is a reward on its own. Just to put the power of social media into perspective: every day 95 million photos are posted on Instagram alone, which makes social media a perfect pit-stop for UGC. YouTube is a huge UGC hub, as the videos stay there until they’re erased, basically.

How many ‘review videos’ have you seen? Plenty. How many were paid? A lot. But how many were made simply because the person liked the brand, or got a nice freebie with no strings attached? A-LOT!

The biggest advantage is that User Generated Content is probably already out there, just not utilizing your company hashtag or tagging, and that’s exactly why you should do social listening and engage with your user’s content.

Star ratings & comments

Whenever you buy something online chances are there are comments or ratings from users who purchased the same item. Let’s be real, once you found the product you’re interested in, the first step you do is go to the comment section. Research by Reevoo found that 45% of consumers don’t trust what companies say about their own products. Utilizing those comments on your website, again, gives you extra points, addressing negative experiences, builds trust in the brand!

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3 Reasons Why You Should Use It Now

The sheer fact that you’re reading this article right now, tells us you know the importance of incorporating UGC into your content marketing strategy. If you’re still a sceptic, here is the truth: it’s not just a trend, or a thing only big companies with great reputation can have. Furthermore, it’s not a bonus, it’s a must-have!

1. It actually drives customer’s your way & grains their trust

Online is where everything is happening and we can think of User Generated Content as online word-of-mouth, which we know is the best marketing you can get.

Did you know that 86% of millennials say UGC is a good indicator of the quality of a brand?

It doesn’t stop there; 68% of social media users between the ages of 18 and 24 take into account information shared on social media when they make a purchasing decision. Let’s think of UGC as a reversed review rating of a product. Instead of creating a positive image of your product once someone is looking to buy it, why not first make a positive and desirable image in your consumer’s mind so that when he has a need for your product, you’re the first one that pops into their mind.

It’s a win-win situation: a customer buys a product he trusts and is happy with his decision and you just got a new loyal customer and brand ambassador!

Bazaar Voice’s research showed that 64% of millennials and 53% of baby boomers want more options to share their opinions about brands, while other studies show consumers trust user-generated content more than all other forms of media. This should be reason enough to go after this form of content creation.

2. It creates communities

Using UGS takes a step back from one-way communication, brand to potential consumers, and bring the consumers themselves to the forefront of the action!  Influence has to work both ways – members also have to feel like they have influence over the community, an element that UGC puts on the table. Healthy communities have a story, and this is what brings them together. Rather than separating, it brings them closer to the company.

3. It’s cost effective and drives high ROI

As the definition of UGC suggests, it’s content created by users, which means they’re unpaid, but nonetheless, do it for a number of reasons, whether it’s to share their experiences, build a connection with like-minded people, or to be in with a chance of winning something.

Now compare that with the amount of effort and cost of TV commercials, billboards, articles, etc. The beauty of UGC is that the users run the show, while marketers don’t have to empty their pockets on campaigns that may or may not perform well.

According to ComScore, brand engagements rise by 28% when consumers are exposed to a mixture of professional marketing content and user-generated content. Note one more time that ‘’users run the show’’. Meaning, it can go haywire, just as it can be a success. That’s why it is important to strategically plan the campaign, provide enough information, freedom, and guidance to the users.

Need Extra Motivation? Here Are Some UGC Examples

Most think it’s a nice to have, but hard to achieve, as the content is in the hands of the user. But here are some planned campaigns that drove content creation right to their backyard, while also managing to filtrate what goes out and pick those most relevant to their brand.

White cup contest by Starbucks

Back in 2014 Starbucks encouraged its customers to doodle all over their white Starbucks cups and post their images as entries for a competition to find a template for a limited edition Starbucks cup. Needless to say, this drew a lot of attention. Nearly 4,000 customers submitted entries in just three weeks, showing that people were ready and willing to engage with the brand.

User generated content starbucks

Picture 2. Starbucks white cups contest

Share a Coke by Coca-Cola

Remember when you could find personalized Coca-Cola bottles with names on them? The aim was to boost top-of-mind awareness, and boy did they do it! Customers were asked to share the pictures of their personalized coke bottle on Twitter and other social media platforms. The company attributes the campaign to a 2% increase in U.S. sales after over a decade of declining revenues.

Chipotle Cultivate Festival

They pulled together social shares, images, and videos onto a single page, where visitors to the festival could scroll through and relive their memories after the festival had ended. Chipotle’s branded festival brought its crowds together and throughout the weekend of the Chipotle Cultivate Festival, racked up more than 1,200 social posts and 3 million impressions. What’s more, over 37.5% of the visitors scrolled through the TINT to load more content from the weekend. Now that’s what we call a successful campaign!

Chipotle's user generated content

Let’s Wrap It Up

There are many kinds of User Generated Content, some you may already have and not even know it. This type of content is the online version of word-of-mouth marketing which is the best you can get. Hence, the importance of utilizing it on every touchpoint with your existing and potential customers.

Yes-the content creation is entirely on the user.
Yes-you can guide them through it and filter out the most important messages for your brand.

No-it doesn’t cost more, au contraire.

Now go out there, plan your campaign strategically, and let it rip!

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What is User Generated Content? was last modified: June 18th, 2019 by Mirjana
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