User-generated content (UGC) is an excellent and cost-effective way to extend your marketing reach and expand your audience. Learn how to make UGC work for you.
User-generated content (UGC) marketing can be challenging to do well. The good news is that by leveraging user-generated content marketing, you enlist your customers to do the marketing for you.
Then you can tap into new, fresh content ideas without dedicating an entire team to content creation. With this method, your customers create content for you, which is why it is also termed consumer-generated content marketing. Whether it's feedback about your product or a full-length review, UGC can be valuable to your overall content marketing strategy.
It is considered a content-curation technique because you are sharing, sourcing, and annotating the most relevant third-party content with your target market. Some of the benefits of this type of content include:
- Building brand awareness
- Establishing your brand's authority as a thought leader
- Streamlining the process of lead nurturing
- Boosting your social media KPIs
- Supporting lead generation
User-generated content can be some of the most impactful marketing content for your brand, especially if it is utilized and deployed properly. Audiences gravitate towards the authenticity of consumer-based content because they feel it’s more genuine. It’s simply a low-pressure sales approach.
For example, a customer who wants to buy your product would not simply rely on what you have to say about it. They would scour the internet and social media networks for reviews from others who have purchased the same product. After reading enough reviews and information about the product to feel confident in the quality they will receive—then the customer will make a purchasing decision.
If the customer is satisfied with the product reviews, then a sale is most likely to follow. If not, then you need to work on improving your company’s brand reputation.
User-generated content comes in many forms, including:
- Social posts
Anything a customer writes about you is considered UGC. This type of content works because it is created by a real customer—not by someone paid by the company. It offers social proof of your content, making your audience believe that it is unbiased.
Why User-Generated Content Marketing Works
First, let’s look at some of the numbers that emphasize the need for businesses to incorporate UGC into their content plan:
- 86% of millennials believe that is a good indicator of the quality of a brand.
- More than 75% of consumers turn to social media content before making a purchasing decision.
- Ads based on UGC get as much as four times higher CTR and 50% lesser cost-per-click compared to average ads.
- More than half of customers want brands to tell them what type of content to create and share.
- Websites with consumer-generated content marketing saw a 90% increase in time spent on-site.
- 48% of consumers claim that UGC is a great method for them to discover new products.
All these numbers reinforce the fact that UGC plays an important part in any brand’s marketing strategy.
It is all about trust.
Consider Google’s E-A-T framework. It stands for:
With people talking about you and your business through reviews, testimonials, and other UGC—Google can determine how much your customers trust you. When they trust you, Google will also trust you.
Unfortunately, not all businesses have perfected the art of user-generated content marketing. However, a few have maximized what UGC has to offer. Let’s take a look at these brands that pull off some brilliant user-generated content marketing campaigns.
5 Successful User-Generated Content Marketing Examples
Integrating UGC into your content marketing is an easy task. However, you need more than a simple sharing or retweeting to get the most out of this awesome content. Here are some brands that nailed the UGC strategy:
1. Dune London on Instagram
UGC can be incorporated anywhere throughout the customer journey, but the best way to use it is to influence your customers’ purchasing decisions. Dune London found that featuring actual customers wearing their products on Instagram boosted their sales by a huge margin.
Shoppers tend to interact more with UGC shoppable Instagram photos, increasing sales by up to 82%. Seeing real people wear the products offered by the brand gives the potential customers the confidence to try them out as well.
2. Lululemon’s #thesweatlife Campaign
Lululemon is a yoga clothing brand and the marketers wanted to create a community around their brand. The #Thesweatlife campaign encouraged its customers to share photos of themselves wearing Lululemon gear on Instagram.
The campaign was designed to show real customers sweating while wearing their products and was a way for the customers to bring their offline experience into the community.
During the first few months, the brand gathered over 7,000 photos of its customers on Instagram and Twitter, and the unique #sweatlife gallery which was created especially for the campaign received. Today, there are more than 1.4 million photos under this campaign.
3. GoPro’s YouTube Channel
GoPro was one of the first brands to kickstart the UGC movement several years ago. They started integrating their customers’ content into the brand’s marketing strategy by asking them to share their videos on YouTube. Back in 2013, an average of 6,000 GoPro videos were uploaded to YouTube every single day—imagine what that average number is today.
As one of the digital marketing industry’s UGC pioneers, GoPro now boasts 9.94 million subscribers for their main channel alone (there are GoPro Motorsports, GoPro Tips, and Gopro World channels as well).
4. #LEGOxBelkin iPhone Case Campaign
People love iPhones and Lego, and Belkin capitalized on that to promote its UGC campaign. Belkin partnered with Lego to ask customers to design cases for their iPhones using customizable Lego blocks.
The customers posted the designs on Instagram using the hashtag #LEGOxBelkin and you can just imagine how excited the customers were. This campaign was the perfect example of consumers doing the selling for the brand; showcasing how cool, artistic, and trendy Belkin cases could be.
5. T-Mobile Break-Up Campaign
Most cellular subscribers are afraid of switching carriers due to high termination fees. So T-Mobile came up with a campaign that invited users to submit their “break-up letters” stating their reason for ditching their current provider. In return, T-Mobile would shoulder the costs associated with switching from the customers’ current carrier.
Using a branded app, users sent in their letters and some even shared those letters on social media. More than 113,000 breakup letters were written and the campaign gained more than 67 million social impressions.
What do these UGC campaigns prove? User-generated content marketing works.
To get started, how do you look for UGC that you can use?
Where to Find User-Generated Content for Marketing Your Content
There are several types of user-generated content sites scattered across the internet, but it helps to know where to look and what to look for. The best place to look for the content shared by customers is the place where they usually hang out—social media.
Out of all the social media networks, Facebook has the majority of monthly active users. On this platform, the easiest way to look for posts about your brand or your product is by using the Facebook search tool.
Just type in the search box your query, like “posts about ABC restaurant,” and you’ll be presented with tons of user-generated photos and posts about your query. Pretty neat, right?
If you want to know what people are saying about you or your brand, then go to Reddit. You’ll be amazed at how much UGC you’ll find in the form of images, questions, forum discussions, and comments. If you’re looking for genuine user-generated content, nothing is more genuine than what you’ll find on Reddit.
Although Twitter might not have as many users as Facebook, it is a hotspot for discussions and conversations surrounding brands. Just search for the hashtag of your business and read the latest buzz. If you’re looking to add more parameters to your search, the Advanced Search feature should be useful in finding the specific content that you’re looking for.
When it comes to UGC in the form of videos, YouTube is the king. Whatever industry you’re in, a quick search on YouTube would reveal several UGC content that you might not even have heard of.
UGC videos can be testimonials, reviews, tutorials, endorsements, or tips. If the video says positive things about your brands, it can be great to show off to your audience. Video user endorsements, on the other hand, offer strong word-of-mouth power because users are seeing real people recommending your product, a large factor in building trust.
Pinterest is another great source for image-based UGC. People love posting photos on Pinterest—from food pics to DIY projects to infographics. Just search your brand and scroll through pins to see if a positive UGC about your brand pops up.
Instagram is another mobile photo-sharing platform where you can find great UGC. It is also a great platform to host contests and giveaways, which are techniques to gather UGC.
7. Amazon and Google Reviews
Reviews are great for influencing the opinions of hesitant buyers. You can scour popular review sites, such as Amazon, and Google for shining endorsements of your brand. And, most importantly, be sure to include details about the user who posted the review to show that it is legitimate.
How to Get Started With User-Generated Content Marketing
Now that you’ve figured out where to find your content and you’ve gathered all UGC related to your brand, the next step is to formulate your content plan.
Keep in mind that your content marketing should not be all about UGC—it indeed plays an important role in your content marketing—but there are more factors you need to consider when incorporating UGC into your marketing.
To do that, here are some tips to remember:
1. Pick the best social network for your brand
You don’t have to create content for all social media platforms, just focus on the ones your customers frequent. Instead of wasting time on ineffective platforms, you can invest your time and resources where you have the greatest reach.
2. Determine your user-generated content marketing goals
The impact of user-generated content on your brand greatly depends on what type of UGC you want to collect and how you plan to use it. These are the common content marketing goals of UGC campaigns:
- Boost social media reach and growth
- Improve SEO
- Gain audience insights
- Increase personalization
- Increase sales
- Improve brand awareness
- Boost website traffic
- Promote specific products
3. Create a system to gather UGC
In the example above, T-Mobile got over 100,000 breakup letters by the end of the campaign. Collecting these letters would have been messy if it was done manually, so the team decided to use a branded app and integrate it with Facebook. This made the submission and the collection processes a lot more convenient. Other brands use landing pages or dedicated web pages to collect user-generated content.
4. Offer something to your customers in return
Some UGC, such as reviews and testimonials are provided by users for free—especially if they are happy about your product. Nevertheless, if you’re running a campaign, you need to be clear about what you want from your users and what you’re willing to give in return.
For example, GoPro and National Geographic offer cash prizes for the best videos submitted. T-Mobile, on the other hand, offers to pay for switching fees.
Make sure all the rules and regulations for your campaign are written down clearly and go over the fine print so you don’t miss any details.
5. Learn from negative user-generated content and highlight the positive
When you market a product or a brand, negative reviews are bound to happen. You can’t choose to only pay attention to the positive UGCs either. If you see content that criticizes or attacks your product, contain the issue immediately so as not to spread to the masses.
Monitor mentions of your products and brand through listening. If you want to promote your brand, choose the best UGC, and incorporate it into your campaign.
6. Use different types of user-generated content
Each type of UGC plays a specific role in your content marketing plan. For instance, a photo showing your customer using your products would be good for social media while reviews would work better on your website or product pages.
The trick here is to know which UGC type works best with different platforms. You can also mix different UGC types. For instance, you can post both photos and reviews on your social media network. However, keep your message and your branding consistent across these different platforms. Having a content marketing playbook helps a lot in this aspect.
7. Analyze and measure
Just like with other marketing campaigns, monitoring your efforts is key to successful implementation. No matter what you choose for your content marketing goals or how you plan your strategy, you’ll need to set some benchmarks to know if what you’re doing is working.
You can use various tools to measure the results of your work and organize the collected data. Through this, you’ll be able to adjust your campaign to achieve your goals.
Final Thoughts on User-Generated Content Marketing
User-generated content is an integral part of every content marketing strategy, but not all marketers get it right. Although most brands understand the power of UGC and try to incorporate it into their strategies, many do not get the desired outcome because they are not able to bring out all the content’s potential.
The examples above should give you an idea of what an effective UGC campaign should look like and the tips will ensure that you get the first part right. The success of your UGC campaign will depend on how creative you are in soliciting and showing off UGC content from your customers.
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