Let’s understand what UGC is, what it is, why it is needed and where to get it.
What is UGC?
UGC stands for User Generated Content. Any content from the web, generated by users, falls into this category. That is, in general, any Internet content in a global sense.
But if we consider this term from a business point of view, then the User Generated Content category includes images, videos and texts associated with a specific brand, but created not by the brand as such, but by its users.
Brands only contribute to the creation of such content, collect it and use it for promotion purposes.
It is impossible to divide all the great variety of user materials into groups and somehow describe them. The list will be too long. But there are a number of UGC categories that are more common than others. Among them:
Comments and posts on social networks – Brands often organize contests in the spirit of “best meme” and launch a flywheel that endlessly generates hundreds of entertainment (and not so) materials. Sometimes it is enough to have a specific reputation to launch this “flywheel”.
Testimonials – a much less interesting variant of UGC, but also common. People leave reviews of their own free will and at the request of the brand, but one way or another they do. The brand subsequently uses them for advertising purposes, placing them on their website.
Photo and video – videos and photos with the participation of the product (a kind of custom product placement) are also often used by brands in advertising campaigns, increasing the citation of the product and its recognition.
Professional content – this includes themed musical compositions, clips, podcasts.
Examples of custom content
Modern brands are not shy about using UGC, especially on social media. Everything is used: videos using the product, memes, fan art, reviews, collections of comments and other trifles.
Xbox often collects screenshots and publishes them regularly on its profile. The company also collected “live” photos of consoles of the first buyers at the start of sales of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S in Russia.
NeuralDSP (like other music plugin developers) constantly reposts musicians who use their products in their work. Thus, they are promoting the product and the musicians themselves.
Camera and smartphone manufacturers organize photo contests and repost the best shots taken with their devices. This can be seen on social networks Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung, etc.
Even boutique brands like CanPower (a Russian manufacturer of sports equipment) or StayHome Desk (a manufacturer of a modular multi-position desk) often turn to customers for UGC. The former repost people doing sports with their inventory, while the latter show how real people use the modular table in their interiors and leave rave reviews.
Does it make sense to use UGC in your work?
Statistics say that interacting with users only helps the business.
Professional marketers note that promotion through popular bloggers pays for advertising more than 5 times.
User generated content in posts increases the number of interactions with those posts. People share, like, and discuss them more often.
The distribution of information about the brand / company on the network is influenced by the posts of users, especially if the posts and reposts are made by the employees of the company.
More than half of potential customers and buyers monitor the network for reviews from real people before buying something. Moreover, almost all of these people sincerely believe the opinion of other Internet users as if they were their acquaintances.
Up to 70% of potential customers study brand profiles on social networks before using its services or products.
Up to 85% of people aged 25-35 believe that UGC is an important component of promotion, helping to make the final decision on the purchase / order of services.
Up to 75% of travelers aged 25-35 are guided by photographs of real people, rather than professional shots from hotel owners and tourist areas.
The use of such content in advertising materials can significantly increase the number of clicks on it.
Most people under 40 find UGC content to be more engaging and memorable than standard promotional messages.
As you can see, in some places the figures are really impressive. There are virtually no downsides to user-generated content in advertising, but it does provide many benefits to any brand. Young people trust UGC more, so it makes sense to use it more often in promotion.
Development strategy using UGC
When deciding to use user generated content, you need to understand that the positive metrics described above do not come from emptiness. Not because brand users are so creative and can replace the staff of professional marketers.
UGC works because it builds trust with potential buyers. They do not believe advertisers with their pretentious, sleek and overly beautiful advertisements or shameful attempts to “fly” into trends. User reviews, photos and other materials are much more valuable and often more relevant. Who do you believe more: an employee of a company or a friend who has already tested the services / products of this company? The answer is obvious, and brands can play on this addiction.
Therefore, luthiers of different stripes are happy to publish on their social networks photos of customers with their own tools. The big brands do the same, regularly posting the best shots of customers in their clothes, with their furniture, smartphones, sports equipment, shoes and so on.
User generated content helps to convey a clear message to potential buyers “We are for the people. For you. We are glad that you are using our products and with great pleasure we read your reviews / look at your photos ”. This allows you to promote the brand for free and at the same time establish a positive emotional contact with the target audience.
Where can I get user-generated content?
You can search all over the Internet, but where do you start searching? It depends on the specifics of the brand and audience. It is clear that the conditional Netflix can safely open a site in the spirit of DeviantArt and harvest hundreds of fan works. But local brands are much more difficult.
I would recommend coming to Twitter for custom content. The community on this social network stands out from others for its enthusiasm. Almost all trends first of all pop up here, and only then they disperse across the network (on VK, Instagram, etc.). After Twitter, you can contact other social networks.
But again, it all depends on where your target audience lives. If you produce personal care products, then with a high degree of probability your target audience uses Instagram or VK, and not Twitter.
Boutiques and creative brands are doing great on Instagram. People there are very enthusiastic about sharing their impressions in Stories, and these Stories can be repost and used for promotion. This works well when using hashtags.
An alternative route for those whose brand is little known
Not everyone has an active audience that generates enough user generated content. Sometimes it doesn’t exist at all, especially in the early stages of the company’s development, when there weren’t really any clients.
In this case, you can use content that is not related specifically to your brand, but affects the same area of activity. For example, if you have a fintech organization, you can post a custom meme related to banks in general (without mentioning brands), and thereby draw additional attention to yourself. Find quality, company-neutral content about the industry. So much for UGC.
If you could not find something of high quality among the neutral content, then you can ask existing customers to provide you with UGC. It’s enough just to tell your audience about it. It is unlikely that anyone will mind leaving a review of the purchased product or taking a picture of it (if the product is good, of course). Or take a photo in your cafe, and then publish it in a story, mentioning the institution’s account. It is not difficult.
Doubt about customer enthusiasm? Then arrange a competition. Let existing customers compete in creativity. For example, they will shoot a product purchased from you so that other people want to buy it. Add some reward to the competitive edge and you will definitely have a UGC.
Or create it yourself
This is not entirely fair, but it is also permissible. Try to put yourself in the client’s shoes and generate a couple of ideas with his thoughts in your head. Photos, videos, testimonials … Anything. The main thing is to be as sincere as possible and without mossy marketing moves that are increasingly repelling customers rather than attracting them.
You can involve the existing employees of the company. Perhaps among them there is a brilliant copywriter, videographer, photographer, or a person who is well versed in trends, memes, and so on.
The main thing is not to give up the idea of using UGC in your work. The statistics in this case are not lying – User Generated Content inspires trust and works well for young people under the age of 40. Its effectiveness is proven, and it is often higher than the effectiveness of classic marketing tools used by large brands.