The Rise of User-Generated Content: What Is UGC and Why Is it Important?

It’s no secret that user-generated content (UGC) has taken social media by storm. From aesthetically pleasing Instagram posts to authentic TikTok reviews, this effective style of content is absolutely everywhere.

So, What Is UGC?

In short, UGC refers to any form of content, such as photos or videos, that is created (and often shared) by consumers, rather than the brand itself. It has, without a doubt, revolutionised the way that businesses engage with their audience.
Unlike a few years ago, when social media was centred around heavily edited, seamlessly “perfect” posts, UGC focuses on authenticity and transparency. It has transformed traditional marketing strategies, enabling businesses to build trust and create meaningful relationships.

In this article, we will explore all the reasons why businesses should make good use of UGC, and how they can leverage its power to drive growth and build a strong brand presence.

Why Should Brands Use UGC?

Trust, Transparency & Authenticity

Today’s consumers (Gen Z in particular) are increasingly sceptical of online advertising. Recent research has shown that 70% of shoppers believe it is more credible when other customers share their personal experiences, and a HUGE 92% listen to people they know for referrals about products or services.

Amplified Reach

As you probably already know, social media has transformed the way information spreads. Now, let’s throw UGC into the mix, and that reach grows even more. When customers or creators share their experiences, their friends and followers are exposed to the product, organically increasing brand awareness. Asides from that, on TikTok in particular, UGC is often more likely to go viral due to its relatability (providing businesses with FREE exposure).

Better Engagement

By reposting UGC, brands can also improve their engagement rate. This especially happens when there is a well-known face featured within the image. Perhaps an influencer, blogger or celebrity.

Cost Effectiveness

Not only is UGC highly engaging, but it can also be super cost-effective for businesses. While producing high-quality, original content usually requires significant investments of time, effort, and financial resources, UGC often allows brands to use free content from their customers. Another option is to gift a product to a skilled creator in return for some fresh and engaging materials.

Valuable Insights and Customer Feedback

UGC not only serves as a powerful marketing tool but also offers valuable insights into customer preferences, needs, and pain points. This content allows brands to gain a deeper understanding of their target audience, identify emerging trends, and make data-driven decisions. By actively monitoring and engaging with UGC, businesses can gather feedback, address customer concerns, and continuously improve their products and services.

Our Top UGC Tips for Brands

Ask for Permission & Credit the Creator

Before using someone else’s content, you should always ask for consent. This is because the creator holds all rights to the photo or video, and failing to do so could seriously harm your brand.

Now that you’ve got permission, don’t forget to credit the user. This will help build positive brand-consumer relationships, ultimately encouraging more UGC. It also has the added benefit of allowing followers to verify that the content came from somewhere outside of your company, building even more trust.

Know What Content You are Looking for

Although there are thousands (actually, millions) of content creators out there, not all of them will be the right fit for your brand. To gather effective UGC that will benefit your business, try setting a few easy rules for those who are willing to create some content or tag you in their posts. For example, images should be high quality, with little or no clutter in the background.

Create a Branded Hashtag

A branded hashtag is one that is unique to your brand or business. They can be the name of your company, products, campaigns, or slogans and should, ideally, be short and catchy. Whether you have a small or big business, these hashtags are a great way to raise awareness, build brand identity and, of course, encourage UGC.

Offer Incentives for People Who Share Content

If you’re not in the position to pay a skilled creator or struggle to gather UGC from social media users, try offering your customers an incentive. Simply ask them to tag you in their posts or use your branded hashtag for a chance to win a free product, gift card or exclusive discount code.

Final Discussion

As with any good marketing strategy, the best way to succeed with user-generated content is to pay attention to your audience and develop the most effective brand plan.

What kinds of UGC do your audience best respond to? How can you make participation as simple as possible? What platforms are best for advertising UGC?

These answers will always vary depending on your business, products/services, and of course, your target audience. That’s why market research, A/B testing and strategy planning are always key!

About Digital Media Team

Digital Media Team are a full-funnel agency, specialising in digital marketing for eCommerce brands.