Despite our best efforts as marketers, it’s often difficult to reach customers in a crowded market. Especially if your products have a lot of competition, are new to the market, or have a use case that isn’t always clear, you work hard to get sales leads. Fortunately, we can often get by with a little help from our friends (or end users). Leveraging the power of end users is at the heart of UGC marketing.
Understanding UGC Marketing
Admittedly, UGC marketing is a new way to approach customers, at least in its current form. Most of this marketing type happens on the internet, especially since more traditional media makes it much harder to bring everyday people into the discussion. Luckily, technology has made it much easier to innovate. Before we dive into the strategies you can deploy without user-generated content, though, let’s talk about the basics.
What exactly is UGC marketing?
UGC marketing refers to the promotion and leveraging of content created by customers or users rather than by the brand itself. Usually, brands find material that’s been produced spontaneously, or they offer incentives. Content may be shared by the brand, reposted with permission, or both.
This marketing approach capitalizes on the authenticity and relatability of user-generated content to engage audiences and build trust. UGC is especially valuable because, as the saying goes, “of course you would say that.” In other words, UGC helps to demonstrate that the brand’s claims aren’t just idle promises.
What are the benefits of user-generated content for businesses?
User-generated content is often perceived as more trustworthy and genuine than brand-created content, leading to increased consumer trust and engagement. Not only do users verify that a product is worthwhile, but UGC appears on the organic feed across most platforms. Then, other users will interact with the content and increase its visibility in algorithms.
UGC marketing can lower content production costs, as brands can repurpose customer-created content for promotional purposes. Some repurposing is simple, involving just a credit to the original creator. In other cases, a brand may get the right to make something new. For instance, they might make a short or adapt footage into still images, which can then be used in advertising.
The potential impact of UGC marketing on sales and brand growth in 2024
UGC marketing can contribute to higher conversion rates and increased sales, as consumers are more likely to trust and be influenced by content created by their peers. This is especially true now because people are tired of hearing canned soundbites and overworn tropes from brands. Instead, every day people show how a product or service is valuable to them.
By leveraging UGC, brands can strengthen their online presence and reputation, leading to increased brand awareness and growth. Recent events with some major brands demonstrate that brands must use due diligence when choosing collaboration partners. However, having people from across society demonstrate the value of products lets businesses build bridges that might otherwise be impossible.
The role of social media in UGC marketing
Social media platforms serve as the primary channels for sharing and discovering user-generated content, making them essential tools for UGC marketing. For instance, brands can develop a hashtag to label UGC and obtain permission to use it. Plus, social media is one place where many people hang out regularly.
Similarly, social media enables brands to interact with their customers, encouraging content creation and fostering a sense of community around the brand.
5 types of user-generated content
UGC takes many forms, each of which can be leveraged in more than one way. In addition, some of these options are adaptable to multiple types of media or different platforms from the original. Occasionally, you might even get to use some UGC on your website.
1. Customer feedback
Written or recorded feedback from customers about their experiences with a product or service can be very valuable. Not only does this material give you good ideas about how to improve your products, but also how you can convince people that they should try those items.
Photos, videos, and text shared by users on social media platforms that showcase their experiences with a brand or product are another powerful tool for UGC marketing. While one person’s experience with something isn’t necessarily predictive for others, these experiences help people make the right decisions.
3. Case studies
In-depth analyses of specific customer experiences with a product or service, often including problem-solving, implementation, and results achieved. Case studies showcase real-life examples of how a brand’s offerings have benefited users, providing evidence of effectiveness and value.
Using case studies for UGC marketing is most useful on LinkedIn and in the B2B space. While you might not think of these studies as UGC, they do qualify because users report their successes. Usually, they are a collaboration with the brand.
4. Customer reviews and testimonials
This category includes everything from a simple review on Yelp or Google My Business, all the way to prepared statements on your website. People might also produce these testimonials or reviews for their blogs or social media accounts.
5. Social media posts
While this is the latest form of UGC, social media posts are often what you think of first when the term UGC marketing comes up. Some of the other formats are old enough that we don’t associate those terms with the newer ones. At the same time, social media posts often are in different formats. For instance, video production was inaccessible to many people until the rise of smartphones that had quality cameras.
17 UGC Marketing Strategies
No matter what forms of UGC you have access to, there are several UGC marketing strategies that can be helpful to you and your business. As you consider each of these strategies, think about which ones can work well for your business. You’ll also find that certain tactics work well for a while and become less effective over time. Likewise, a fresh approach can revitalize your efforts.
1. Encourage customer reviews and testimonials
Reviews influence consumers by providing social proof, often swaying their decision-making process. That’s because people like to hear a less biased opinion about how well your products perform. With that said, people don’t always produce these reviews spontaneously. You should use email campaigns, website forms, or social media to request testimonials and then display them on your website, social channels, or marketing materials.
Customer reviews are some of the most important tools to convert the curious into customers. After all, when there are several options available for customers, they want to know which product or service will work best for them. Leveraging UGC will help customers see themselves using that product, rather than a competing one. And within your product line, reviews can help consumers choose the right alternative.
How to collect and showcase testimonials
There are several ways you can collect testimonials. On social media, one of the easiest options is to use hashtags. State on your page that the use of the tag grants the company permission to use or republish the content. Similarly, you can tell people about your GMB account or another forum that showcases your brand.
Showcasing testimonials can be done in several ways. One of them is simply reposting them on social media. However, for a lot of companies, the website is a great hangout for this UGC marketing technique. Often, there will be a testimonials section on a website. Sometimes, they will be posted in other places, such as with branded content.
2. Leverage influencer marketing
One of the most effective UGC marketing techniques is influencer marketing. Influencer content can drive sales by increasing brand exposure, building trust, and reaching new potential customers. For instance, a lot of people might benefit from your products and services but not be aware of what you have to offer. This is especially true in the consumer products space.
To leverage influencer marketing, you will partner with influencers who align with your brand values and have a strong connection with your target audience. Before you begin, make sure that you choose your target audience carefully, especially if your brand has a wide appeal. Choosing the wrong influencer can spell disaster.
With that said, the right person can help you skyrocket sales and amplify your sales funnel. People listen to influencers who gain that status by giving great advice. Some influencers also have star power, such as sports figures.
Further Reading: How to Build a Social Media Influencer Network for Your Business
3. Create and promote hashtag campaigns
Another great UGC marketing technique is hashtag campaigns. Hashtags encourage users to participate in conversations, share content, and engage with the brand. They also show up as a category that can be searched. Done right, your hashtag campaign can deliver a lot of brand awareness. At the same time, they let people share their content such that everyone sees it. You won’t have to do much else to get results.
#ShareACoke by Coca-Cola and #LikeAGirl by Always are examples of campaigns that boosted engagement and brand awareness. The hashtags both promote discussions about the brand. And for the Always campaign, the hashtag fostered discussions about what it means to be female and deal with everyday struggles.
Further Reading: 8 Powerful Ways How to Use Instagram Hashtags for More Exposure
4. Curate and share user-generated content
Most UGC marketing efforts require that you find the best UGC. While the use of branded hashtags is an automatic way to make UGC visible to large numbers of people, it isn’t the only option. You can also monitor social mentions of your brand. This looks a bit different among platforms, but a good social media dashboard should help you successfully find what you need. You can also use a UGC platform that is a dedicated tool solely for this purpose.
Another option is to work with your customers. For instance, you might encourage people to share brand-related content with you on social media. These pieces of content are especially valuable because they are the most authentic. When you don’t solicit the content itself, you’ll get very genuine feedback. As we all know, sometimes you learn what people think about you when they don’t think you’re listening.
Remember, authentic content resonates with audiences, builds trust, and encourages further engagement. In turn, you’ll get more feedback and credibility for your brand. Collaborations are valuable, but so is spontaneously-generated material.
Further Reading: The Top 25 Content Curation Tools to Use in 2024
5. Utilize user-generated videos
Visual content is more engaging, shareable, and memorable, making it a powerful marketing tool. After all, people can watch videos almost anywhere, including on a commute or during lunch breaks. Furthermore, videos help people learn better, visualize how to use a product or relax after a long day at work.
On the other hand, videos are relatively resource-intensive to produce. Therefore, it’s important to encourage people to do the job. For instance, you can offer incentives for good videos, such as with a contest. You can also create video challenges or provide easy-to-use tools for video creation. This helps compensate users for their time or at least provides them with resources to try their hands at video production.
6. Build and nurture online communities
An important way to boost your UGC marketing is fostering an environment where people produce that content. Your first step is to choose platforms that align with your target audience and create a consistent brand image across channels. Then, you should establish a brand presence on those platforms.
Once you have social media accounts, start to respond to comments, ask questions, and share valuable content to foster engagement. These items can be branded, curated from other sources, or UGC. Over time, you’ll find that you’re engaging with target audiences and potential customers.
7. Appoint brand ambassadors
As you build a following on social media, look for customers who are passionate about your brand and have a strong online presence. Typically, they interact with both your content and the UGC surrounding it. Often, they’ll discuss your brand on their own profiles.
These individuals might be great brand ambassadors in a formal capacity. Ambassadors create and share content, promote your brand, and help build trust with their followers. Usually, this is a long-term relationship rather than just a one-off collaboration like you see with influencer marketing.
Ambassadors contribute to UGC marketing in multiple ways. First, they produce branded content and post it on their social media. Second, they help build trust between your brand and potential followers. And finally, ambassadors see their personal brand as growing with yours.
8. Encourage social media posts from customers
Social media posts increase brand visibility, encourage user interaction, and provide valuable content for sharing. This is the primary reason why social media marketing generally is so effective. However, when it comes to UGC, many people need some encouragement to produce that content. After all, most of us spend time on social media primarily to build relationships with family, friends, or business colleagues.
For this reason, you may want to consider offering various incentives for people to produce UGC. For example, you can have a contest or other competition which will increase engagement and generate content. For this technique, make sure that your contest is compliant with the law and social media platform rules.
Another option is to ask people for reviews or feedback. You can combine these with hashtags or other tools which can foster conversations about your overall performance. As people add social media posts, they will introduce new people to your brand. This is a valuable opportunity to generate new leads, especially since it often results in these individuals coming to you instead of vice versa. Over time, your brand can become very familiar within your niche.
9. Showcase user-generated blog posts
Customer-written posts provide unique perspectives, increase credibility, and offer fresh content. However, most customers will not provide that feedback without some encouragement. To that end, you want to give people a reason to provide feedback.
There are several ways you can motivate end users other than material incentives. After all, people love to have their voices heard on a public forum. In some cases, you can even help that other person’s brand, such as if they are a blogger, by offering to help distribute that content. Where appropriate, UGC can even start on your company website or blog.
10. Utilize consumer-generated product reviews
Reviews provide valuable information, create social proof, and influence consumers’ purchasing choices. That’s because people often consider for other end users to be more honest about the advantages and disadvantages of a particular product than the brand would be. After all, end users really have a vested interest in a brand’s welfare, while marketers are always trying to boost sales.
There are several ways to solicit reviews, such as by requesting them through email. Depending on the forum, many people are quite happy to generate reviews, and a simple reminder is enough. You can also offer an incentive, such as an entry to your latest contest or a coupon code. For these options, make sure you are in compliance with any applicable platform rules.
Finally, make sure that you make leaving a review simple. For email pitches, include links to the relevant forums where you’d like the reviews left. Also, reconsider putting those reviews in any place with a paywall. If there are significant barriers to a particular location, the chances are that they won’t use it.
11. Optimize social media channels for UGC marketing
Not all platforms are created equal. Not only are some larger than others or feature a different content format, but many of them appeal to a different niche. Select platforms that are popular among your target audience and support the type of content you want to share. By following this rule, you will have a better chance of efficiently reaching your target audience.
When you’ve chosen your platforms, develop and use branded hashtags. At the same time, you should engage with users who are interested in your brand or who create content related to your brand. Over time, you’ll want to share a mix of user-generated and brand-created content. This creates a two-way conversation about your company and what it has to offer. When promoting your conversation, be sure to avoid spammy promotions. Otherwise, your efforts can backfire.
Further Reading: 7 Creative Ways to Increase Your Content Distribution and Promotion
12. Create and share original content alongside UGC
while it might be tempting to rely completely on UGC marketing, this is not a sound strategy overall. One reason for this is that a brand must consistently present its story in its own words. Ideally, you should offer a mix of both types of content to provide variety, maintain brand control, and showcase authenticity.
Here are some tips to help you navigate the tension between your content and user material:
- Plan a content calendar. The calendar should include both content that you will produce in-house and any planned influencer campaigns. Spontaneous UGC will be in addition to that calendar.
- Use a mix of formats. Different formats will appeal to different segments of your audience, so you want to please everybody at least some of the time. Keep in mind; format differences can involve one or more forms of media.
- Experiment with different content types to find what resonates with your audience. There are some differences that you’ll find apply across industries, while other variations are more specific.
No matter what you want at a particular stage, be sure to encourage your audience to produce great content. You can always repost or link to something that gets your point across, even if it doesn’t match exactly what you are doing. That’s because your customer base will think outside the box, and it’s often highly effective.
13. Encourage consumer-generated content in various forms
Especially when you consider that your customers have different talents and personal aesthetics, being flexible with your format and media is advantageous. Encourage customers to create photos, videos, reviews, blog posts, and social media posts. Some people might even create more than one content type, depending on your platform and their interests.
Remember, no matter what format you use customers can be motivated by the same incentives that I’ve mentioned before. However, you can encourage different formats by offering incentives based on the content type. One way to do this is by offering a contest for both long-form and short-form video. Or, you might let them choose between a video and a photograph. All of these options can help boost your UGC marketing efforts significantly.
14. Share fresh content from happy customers
Positive experiences build trust, encourage engagement, and showcase the value of your product or service. This is especially true when you can share new content created by your customers. As a bonus, this sort of sharing will help boost the morale of your team as they see evidence of work well done.
There are several ways that you can source and share new content. One of the best is by using branded hashtags on social networks that support it. You should also use social media monitoring software that will track any mention of your brand across several platforms at a time. It’s easy to repost that material on your website as appropriate. Of course, asking people for their experiences or some Testimonials helps to build your UGC content library and demonstrate that your products and services remain worthwhile to your customer base.
15. Utilize social proof in marketing campaigns
Finally, few things are more valuable for UGC marketing than social proof, which demonstrates that others trust and value your brand. When potential customers realize that end users value your brand, they will be more willing to try. In other words, social proof is what makes your products more appealing to potential customers.
There are several ways that you can leverage the power of UGC. Specifically, you want to share customer reviews and testimonials. Anything that showcases positive experiences and outcomes can be highly effective, as consumers start to trust your brand over competitors or even just in general. To leverage the power of social proof, draw people’s attention to the content. You might do this by sending a link over Twitter, or by reposting a customer quote on your website. There are many options available.
16. Integrate UGC into all of you digital marketing strategies
There are several ways to use UGC for your digital marketing. Specifically, you can use UGC in email campaigns, SEO, PPC, and other channels to create a cohesive marketing approach. The overall idea is to reach your customers at several places along the sales funnel, so that they will choose your brand over someone else’s.
As we all know, it usually takes more than one attempt to reach each individual. Therefore, you should develop a plan that incorporates UGC, brand-generated content, and other tactics to reach your marketing goals. Make sure that as you gather content from users and combine it with in-house content, you don’t make the various elements compete with each other. Rather, everything should work together.
Depending on the contract you may have with influencers or brand ambassadors, you might be able to adapt UGC to locations besides social media. Or, you may find that working with influencers and creating complementary content is also effective. The important thing is that you have a cohesive marketing strategy.
17. Foster customer loyalty through UGC
UGC demonstrates that real customers value your brand, leading to increased trust and loyalty. It also helps you and your brand be heard above the noise of often cutthroat competition, especially if you share this content consistently. However, the drawback of UGC marketing is that you can’t directly control content production. Instead, you must convince people to talk about your brand.
There are a few ways that you can nurture customer loyalty, however. One way is to engage with your customers, whether they produce a simple comment on social media or something more involved, like an Instagram story. You can also reward loyal customers with discounts or coupons in exchange for some level of UGC. While this approach costs money, it’s more economical than sending out coupons to your entire email list. Plus, these people are potential recurring customers who can provide a steady stream of income for your company.
Experience demonstrates that UGC marketing is highly effective in the social media age. Thus unsurprising when you consider that the younger generations, in particular, find their peers to be very trustworthy. At the same time, this is mostly a new adaptation of an old concept — reviews and similar content have been around for a long time. The difference is that nowadays, UGC is much easier to produce and can be published almost anywhere.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to use UGC successfully. By following the principles in this post, you’ll be well on your way to marketing greatness.
Hero photo by Suganth on Unsplash
UGC Marketing FAQs
Savvy marketers are leveraging this trend to create powerful campaigns that connect with consumers on a deeper level, building brand loyalty and driving engagement. By embracing UGC, brands can tap into the power of their audience and enjoy a fresh, impactful approach to modern marketing. It is often more authentic and trustworthy than traditional advertising since it comes directly from the people who use the products or services in question.
UGC digital marketing is a clever technique used by brands to harness the power of user-generated content. It involves utilizing photos, videos and reviews produced by the public – often on social media platforms – to create content that promotes a brand. By sharing and engaging with user-generated content, businesses can build trusting relationships with their customers and create a sense of community around their product or service.
UGC stands for User-Generated Content, which refers to content that is created by everyday people rather than professional creators. In today’s digital age, UGC has become increasingly popular, particularly on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. From sharing photos and videos to writing reviews and comments, users are contributing their own unique perspectives and ideas to online content.
In essence, UGC is a marketing strategy that makes use of unbiased reviews, images, and videos created by users that have used a brand’s products or services. Whether it’s through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram or review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, there is no denying that UGC is a potent marketing tool for brands looking to improve their outreach and engagement. By utilizing UGC, brands can encourage engagement and harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
By utilizing UGC marketing, brands can tap into the collective voice of their audience and share this content on their own platforms, strengthening their relationship with their customers and providing social proof for potential new consumers. With the rise of social media, UGC has become even more prevalent and accessible, making it an ideal option for brands looking to expand their reach.