With the exponential rise in social media use, there is a ton of buzz in the marketing industry about user-generated content. As brands look for effective ways to reach their target audience and drive sales in a competitive digital space, user-generated content (UGC) is becoming a more cost-effective and reasonable marketing strategy than ever before. Brands that are serious about their growth have added UGC to their marketing strategies. But how can you make full use of UGC? In this article, we discover 5 ways brands are taking advantage of UGC.
User-generated content is any type of content that has been created, submitted, or published by contributors outside of your brand. These contributors can be followers or users of your products or services. UGC can be any form of content such as images, text, videos, reviews, and testimonials. Regardless of your business size, you should encourage your users to share content related to your brand. And if they are already sharing, use it!
Now, let's see the ways brands are taking advantage of UGC.
Incorporating UGC into your marketing campaign is an effective way to generate more interest and drive sales for a new product launch or an existing product.
The goal of most promotional campaigns is to acquire new customers. But the reality is that brands struggle with creating sustainable marketing strategies. For instance, let’s say that your main strategy for customer acquisition is social media advertising. Do you have the budget to continue to run ads? Or a solid team that optimizes the ads for conversions on your chosen channels?
For most brands, the answer is usually no.
To build a solid marketing strategy for acquiring new customers, you need to focus on tactics that are sustainable and can help your business scale in the long run. This is where UGC comes into play. Compared to most marketing strategies, brands can use UGC with considerably less marketing costs. And with the increase in social media use, more and more customers are sharing their experiences with brands online. Brands can also run contests where they ask customers to share UGC in exchange for a prize. Brands can then easily curate these UGC and use them for promotion.
And UGC works great as a promotional tool. Here are some stats to support this:
So the more you incorporate UGC in your promotional strategies, the more likely you are to acquire new customers.
Some examples of brands using UGC to promote their products:
Parachute, a bedding and bath brand, regularly encourages its customers to share photos of themselves using the company’s products with the hashtag #MyParachuteHome. Parachute then shares the customers’ photos on their social media pages.
Parachute takes it a step further by integrating UGC with other promotional strategies. For example, the brands use the photos from customers in retargeting campaigns instead of using stock product images.
Image source: Bazaarvoice.
By using UGC, Parachute saw a 35% increase in click-through rates and a 60% lower cost per click.
This example shows the opportunities to use UGC for promotion. Apart from social media, you can also repurpose user-generated content in social media ads, email campaigns, billboards, etc.
Shein is an online fast-fashion retailer for women. One thing Shein customers are known for is sharing “clothing hauls” videos on channels like TikTok and YouTube. And the brand fully embraced this and regularly shares these videos on its own channels.
The reason why these videos work is that consumers get to see how Shein’s clothes will look like on real people. Shein also encourages customers to share their outfits on social media using the hashtag #SHEINhaul and #SHEINgals for a chance to be featured on their social media pages.
Tip: To make it easy for customers to find the items promoted in their posts, Shein includes a searchable product number for each item in their captions.
Your customers are constantly talking about and leaving reviews of your brand on social media. And by monitoring the content your customers share, you can learn about the common questions and concerns that consumers have about your product or service.
For instance, in this TikTok post of a Shein haul, one of the most common questions from users was how long Shein took to deliver items.
Shein can use this information and create content where they educate customers on their delivery process.
The comment section of a UGC is also a great place to gather customer feedback on your product. The reality is that not all feedback will be positive.
But negative feedback isn't the end of the world. Serious brands take this feedback and work on improving their products. It also shows the consumers that you listen to them and care about what they think. And consumers want to feel special. A study found that 79% of consumers want brands to demonstrate that they care about them before they consider making a purchase. With the number of options available to consumers, brands have to make a conscious effort to offer consumers a great user experience.
Brands can also work with influencers to create UGC that educates consumers. Compared with everyday customers, influencers have a dedicated substantial following. Working with influencers ensures that more people will get to see the content. The key is to work with influencers that have followers similar to your target audience.
An example of a brand that uses influencers regularly is Fenty Beauty.
Fenty Beauty works with influencers regularly to promote their new products and also share tutorials. For example, in an Instagram Reels, Fenty shared a tutorial video from fashion and lifestyle influencer @golloria using their corrector and shimmer skinstick.
With these Tutorials, users can see different ways they can use the products. And this will go a long way in urging consumers still on the fence to make a purchase.
When people hear the term influencers, they usually imagine celebrities or people with millions of followers. This is not always the case. Influencers can be normal people who have an engaged following of a few hundred to thousands. For instance, at the time of writing, the influencer @golloria in the Fenty example above has less than 30K Instagram followers.
Brands should shift their focus towards working with micro and nano influencers. People also perceive these types of influencers as more authentic. A study from Bazaarvoice found that 56% of people follow smaller regular influencers more than any type of influencer, including social media and traditional celebrities.
By working with smaller influencers, your audience will be more likely to perceive the content as authentic UGC. You also get the added advantage of your content getting seen by your target audience.
You can also use UGC to educate consumers on how to use your products without the help of influencers. Here is an example from Decathlon.
Decathlon, a sporting goods retailer, uses a lot of UGC and influencer marketing. For example, Decathlon needed dynamic, action-packed videos from kitesurfers to present the new products being launched in the Orao range. Their goal with this user-generated video content was to educate and inspire consumers while showing off the quality of the brand’s products.
One way Decathlon curates UGC is by recruiting ambassadors directly from its customers and on social media. In one instance, Decathlon sent emails to its customers asking them if they would love to share their experience with the brand’s cycling products on video. The brand received 620 applications from willing cycling enthusiasts.
By getting its community to directly share their experiences, the brand is providing consumers with authentic and relatable content that reflects its values.
Running a UGC campaign allows more customers to engage with your brand. When you encourage customers to share UGC, you provide them an opportunity to share their experiences. And your customers want to be heard. A study showed that 53% of baby boomers and 64% of millennials want more ways to share opinions about their favorite brands. So user-generated content allows your customers to feel seen and heard.
In encouraging users to create UGC, the customers also feel like they are contributing to your brand. And this interaction can help brands grow an engaged community.
Studies also show that 50% of millennials trust UGC content more than branded content. And brands will see a 28% increase in engagement when they combine UGC content with professional marketing content.
Here are two brands that use UGC to boost customer engagement:
To increase customer engagement with its brand, Doritos created the doritoslegionofthebold.com website. They encouraged customers to use the site to create branded images and videos. Doritos then shared the best customer creations on their social media pages.
To encourage engagement, Doritos regularly updates the website with public challenges and offer prizes for the best creations.
They also invite creators to create Doritos-themed videos for a chance to be featured on their Instagram Stories.
The campaign works because most of the creations that customers make are very funny which drives a lot of engagement. An example is this creation from Chris Vail.
Beauty brand Glossier shares a lot of customer images on their social media accounts. And when they launched the Mega Greens Galaxy Mask they encouraged their users to share selfies of themselves in the mask using the hashtag #maskforce.
The hashtag aimed to encourage customers to be vulnerable and share selfies that are unique and 100 percent real. Glossier is known for championing regular customers as their brand influencers. In an interview with Quartz, CMO of Glossier Ali Weiss said “What’s motivating to us is the idea of every single woman being an influencer…” The idea was embraced by their customers and a lot of them participated in the UGC campaign leading to a ton of engagement.
One thing to note is that Glossier approaches UGC and marketing with the intention of empowering women. And consumers love to engage with brands that make a social impact. 78% of consumers will choose a brand that has a purpose over one that does not demonstrate any identity or brand value.
Your potential buyers trust reviews 12x more than your brand’s product copy. And 63% of these buyers are more likely to purchase a product when it has reviews and testimonials. This is because most user-generated content is authentic and unbiased.
Also, when customers cannot see or touch your product before buying, they are usually nervous about spending. Fortunately, user-generated content can serve as social proof, which helps remove buyer anxiety and increases conversions. In fact, 92% of shoppers trust non-paid recommendations from other customers more than any type of advertising. So your audience will prefer to see real-life customers using your products (social proof) than staged product photos.
Combining UGC and social commerce is an effective way to boost your conversion rate. Regularly share customer reviews and testimonials on your website and social media.
You can also partner with influencers to host social media takeover campaigns. Studies show that at least 30% of consumers would buy a product simply because it was promoted by their favorite influencer.
A social media takeover is a campaign where you give an influencer full access to your social media account. The influencer can post what they want and when they want within a stipulated period. Hosting a social media takeover gives brands access to new audiences that they might not be able to reach on their own.
Here is an example of a brand using UGC to boost conversion rates.
Clothing brand Tuckernuck encourages their customers to share images of them wearing their outfits using the hashtag #TUCKERNUCKING. Tuckernuck then captures this UGC and displays it on their website as shoppable images. On their website, there is a full page dedicated to the hashtag where customers can see how the outfits look on real people and also shop the look. The authentic content encourages interested customers to purchase.
After curating these galleries for their customers, Tuckernuck saw a 140% increase in conversion rate and a 164% boost in time spent on site.
Social commerce is growing at a rapid pace. In 2020 alone, Facebook Live Shopping, TikTok Shopping, and Twitter Shipping Model were launched. On Instagram, you can create shoppable posts on Stories, IGTV videos, Reels, normal posts, and even Live streams.
With this increased shift towards shopping directly on social media, making the UGC content you share on your account shoppable will take your social commerce to the next level. There are two main reasons why this works – trust and convenience. Customers trust UGC content and offering them the convenience of buying the products directly from social media will boost conversion.
UGC is one of the best ways to aggregate more social content for your brand. It can be difficult to regularly create new visual content especially when you have a limited marketing budget. Fortunately, you can use UGC to supplement branded content with little or no cost because you are curating the images directly from your fans.
The reality is that UGC is the biggest source of authentic visual content that marketers have access to. So combining branded content and user-generated content will help brands save time and resources on content creation.
Here is an inspiration from a brand that uses UGC as a key content source for Instagram:
ASOS is an ecommerce website taking advantage of UGC fully. On their Instagram page, a lot of the posts there are UGC. They encourage customers to share updates using the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe.
They even let their audience know a post is user generated by including phrases like “As Styled By” or “As Seen On” in the post captions.
Now we have covered some key ways brands are using UGC in their marketing strategies. There are a lot of ways you should be taking advantage of UGC as a brand. The examples above will help you get started. The key thing is to be creative and have fun.
When brands run serious UGC campaigns, they curate a ton of marketing assets in the form of images, videos, audio, etc. A digital asset management tool will make it easy for you to store, search, and index all of the media assets. Thanks to DAM tools, anyone in your team can easily access your UGC media assets in a single place. You can even share your assets with external individuals, such as influencers.
Wedia is an effective DAM tool that provides you with solutions to help you efficiently manage, customize, and deliver marketing assets for UGC and other marketing campaigns. Wedia even ensures that you use your media assets correctly. For instance, you can add copyright information to each asset specifying who took the photo, the location, as well as which channels it would be shared. This feature is especially useful since best practice dictates that you get permission from customers and give them credit when posting UGC.
Ready to get started with UGC? Discover Wedia’s DAM solution and their product team’s latest developments around helping brands source compelling influencer and user-generated content, blockchain secured. To learn more, come meet us on September 15th for our workshop on DAM & Influencer Marketing at DAM New York 2022, or book a free demo personalized to your team’s UGC needs and goals today.