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Everything You Need To Know About User-Generated Content

ByMashkoor Alam

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In today’s day and age, brands pay a lot of attention and money to promote themselves and their products. They create advertisements, campaigns, slogans and other forms of content to do this. But who says it all has to come from the brands only? Enter user-generated content (UGC), a powerful technique that helps turn customers and brand loyalists into content creators. In ecommerce, it significantly influences consumer behavior and helps customers make wiser and more informed decisions while purchasing products.

In this guide, we delve into the world of UGC, exploring its definition, importance, types, best practices and some examples to take inspiration from.

Table of contents

What is user-generated content?

User-generated content, or UGC, refers to any form of content that is created by users rather than brands. This includes everything from social media posts and reviews to videos and blog entries.

UGC stands out for its authenticity, offering a genuine customer perspective that traditional marketing content often lacks. This type of content helps companies engage with their audience, establish trust and credibility, and create a sense of community around their brand.

Importance of UGC for ecommerce brands

User-generated content is more than just a marketing trend; it offers numerous benefits to brands. A study found that UGC significantly affects impulsive buying behavior in ecommerce.

This indicates that UGC is an integral part of overall marketing strategy formation for ecommerce companies and realizing its potential is imperative for them. Here’s how UGC benefits brands.

Enhances trust and credibility

User-generated content originates from consumers and is therefore known for its authenticity, often perceived as more credible than brand-generated material. User-generated content presents a more balanced perspective than brand-generated content, which might primarily focus on showcasing the positives. This helps establish trust and provides insights into the product's performance in the real world.

Boosts engagement

UGC is a powerful tool for getting active customer engagement and creating a strong sense of community around the brand. UGC injects a human touch into the online shopping experience. When shoppers see others actively engaging with a brand through photos, videos, or reviews, it fosters a connection and encourages them to participate as well. This increased engagement transforms the shopping journey from a solitary activity into a shared and interactive experience.

Cost-effectiveness

One of the most prominent advantages of UGC is its cost-effectiveness. UGC emerges as a financially sustainable marketing strategy by providing a steady stream of content at a lower cost compared to creating traditional marketing materials. Also, its inherent shareability allows UGC to organically reach wider audiences, thus enhancing brand visibility and reach.

Improves SEO and increases website traffic

Regularly updating UGC keeps website content fresh and engaging, a key factor in improving search engine visibility and SEO rankings. Moreover, when users share content, it often generates backlinks to the site. These backlinks are highly beneficial for SEO, driving more traffic to your website and increasing conversion rates.

Gathers feedback

UGC offers direct insights into customer preferences and experiences, which is a valuable resource for framing business strategies and decisions. Feedback received through UGC is essential for product development and improvement as it offers insights into how a brand’s products are received and areas where they can be enhanced.

Fosters brand loyalty

Featuring customer content shows that a brand values customer feedback, which is essential in enhancing loyalty and fostering a positive relationship. This increases customer lifetime value and promotes repeat purchases.

Who generates user-generated content?

User-generated content can be created by anyone who interacts with the products or services offered by a brand. Each creator brings a unique perspective and adds value to the brand's voice. The diversity in the sources of UGC brings richness and relatability to it. Here are the main sources of user-generated content.

Customers

Customers are a primary source of user-generated content. They include purchasers who offer invaluable first-hand experiences and feedback about products or services they have bought and used.

Your customers can be major social media users who share their experiences, photos, or videos on various platforms. They often tag the brand or use branded hashtags, amplifying the brand’s reach and providing authentic visual endorsements.

Another significant segment within customers is reviewers. These individuals try different products and services and actively leave reviews and ratings for them, typically on ecommerce platforms or review sites. Their contributions are vital in shaping the public perception of a product.

Brand loyalists

Brand loyalists are pivotal in UGC creation. This group includes brand advocates who are not just satisfied customers but are passionate about the brand. They regularly promote the products or services through word-of-mouth and social channels, often influencing others in their network. Their advocacy is rooted in a deep loyalty to the brand, making their endorsements highly credible and influential.

Employee advocates

Employees of a company can also be significant contributors. Known as employee advocates, these individuals promote and share positive aspects of the brand's products or culture on their personal social media accounts. They offer an insider's perspective, adding a layer of trust and authenticity to the content. Their advocacy demonstrates a positive workplace environment, further enhancing the brand's image. This is called employee-generated content (EGC) and it's a subset of UGC.

Other contributors

This category encompasses a range of individuals who may not fit into traditional customer or employee roles. This includes influencers and collaborators who possess significant followings and can sway their audience's perception of the brand. Their content often reaches a wide audience and can substantially impact brand awareness and perception.

However, this is not UGC in its true form, as the content is created by creators who may be paid or collaborated with for mutual benefits.

Types of user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) comes in various forms, such as product reviews, videos, social media content, blog posts, and more. Regardless of the form, each one provides a scope to generate engagement and build awareness about your brand.

Here are some common types of UGC.

Product reviews

Product reviews are the written feedback that your customers give based on their experiences with your products/services. As a business, you must encourage your customers to leave reviews on platforms like your website, social media, Yelp, or Google My Business, which will in turn enhance your brand’s credibility. These reviews offer honest insights into the quality and performance of your offerings, helping them make informed purchasing decisions.

Product review

Videos

User-generated video content, such as unboxing videos, review videos or explainer videos, offers an interesting way to demonstrate your product in action. By inviting customers to share videos of them using your product or service, you can provide prospective or new customers with a clear, real-life view of what to expect. Sharing these videos on social media or your website can enhance engagement and trust in your brand.

Videos

Social media content

Encouraging users to post images and videos on social media using a branded hashtag is a fantastic way to generate and track user content. From Instagram posts featuring real-life usage of your products to tweets expressing experiences, it is an interactive way to get insights. This approach not only creates a repository of authentic user experiences but also fosters a community around your brand, enhancing engagement and visibility.

Social media

Blog posts

Inviting customers to share their experiences through blog posts or guest posts on your website allows them to showcase their expertise or creativity. It also helps build valuable SEO-friendly content for the brand. This type of content helps build brand awareness and offers detailed, personal narratives about the value and impact of your products or services.

Blog

Testimonials

Testimonials are personal endorsements or positive experiences from satisfied customers about your product or service. They are often gathered through surveys, social media interactions, product listings or direct submissions on your website. They are seen as powerful social proofs, which increase the trustworthiness and credibility of your brand by highlighting positive customer experiences.

Testimonial

By encouraging customers to create and share content, brands can tap into the power of UGC to enhance brand awareness, engagement, and loyalty.

How to collect UGC

Encouraging users to generate user-generated content (UGC) like customer photos, videos, reviews, and more requires strategic planning and implementation. By following certain tips, brands can motivate users to submit UGC and gather valuable content that enhances their marketing efforts. It includes using creativity and providing incentives for the users to participate. Here are some ways how you can promote the generation of UGC:

Emails

Use emails to gather UGC, as it provides a direct channel for communicating with your customer base. Send targeted emails encouraging customers to share their experiences and content. Craft emails with creative ideas and propose incentives like discounts or prizes for customers who submit quality UGC. This not only inspires but also provides clear guidance on what type of content you're looking for.

One thing that often hinders the collection of feedback in emails is that customers have to get redirected to another web page to submit their feedback. Not anymore; Mailmodo allows you to send AMP emails with app-like functionalities that allow your customers to submit their feedback within the email itself, making it as easy as it can get.

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Social media

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn are ideal for interactive and widespread UGC collection. Launch engaging social media contests with specific hashtags. These campaigns can rapidly generate a large volume of content and enhance brand visibility.

Additionally, actively engage with users who post content related to your brand. Like, comment on, and share their posts to encourage ongoing participation. Also, regularly feature user-generated content on your brand's social media channels. This not only gives users recognition but also inspires others to create and share more content.

Website

Your website can serve as a primary hub for collecting and showcasing UGC. Ensure that your website has easy-to-use forms or dedicated sections where customers can submit their content effortlessly.

Make sure that the reviews, photos, or videos on your site can be easily shared by visitors directly from the platform.

How to make use of UGC

For ecommerce store owners, effectively integrating UGC can significantly enhance the shopping experience for their customers and help them gain popularity in the market. Here are some strategies for UGC implementation:

Showcase them on product pages

Incorporate customer photos and reviews directly on your product pages. This strategy gives a realistic view of your products, enhancing credibility and trust. It also improves the shopping experience by making it easier for your customers to make a decision.

Embed UGC in emails

Embed customer testimonials, reviews and videos in your email marketing campaigns. This personal touch can significantly boost engagement, making your emails more relatable and authentic and add value to them. It’s a great way to highlight customer satisfaction and promote products simultaneously.

You can incorporate user generated content in various types of emails. For instance, include testimonials about products left in abandoned carts in your abandoned cart emails, feature customer images and reviews in product recommendation emails, or use customer tutorial videos and how-to-use product videos in thank-you or post-purchase emails.

Integrate social media into your website

Create a live feed on your website aggregating UGC from different social platforms. This dynamic approach keeps your website content fresh and updated and shows potential customers the ongoing conversations about your products on various platforms.

Share customer stories on your blog or website

Feature detailed customer experiences or case studies on your blog or dedicated website sections. These in-depth stories provide insights into the real-life use of your products, enhancing your brand narrative and connecting with your target audience on a deeper level.

These ideas not only promote your products but also build a community around your brand, driving both engagement and sales.

Best practices for using UGC

To maximize the benefits of UGC for your brand, there are certain practices you need to follow during the implementation of the strategies:

  • Always get permission and credit: It's important to ask for permission before using someone's content to avoid any legal issues. Once you have the green light, don't forget to give them a shoutout. It's all about respecting rights and building a friendly vibe with your community.

  • Go for quality and realness: Aim for UGC that's both high-quality and genuine. It's all about finding those golden posts that really show off what it's like to use your products – no filters, just real talk.

  • Mix it up with branded content: Don't just flood your channels with UGC. Balance it with your brand content. It’s nice to have a mix of everything in the right proportion.

  • Learn from UGC: Take a closer look at UGC for hidden gems of customer feedback. It's like having a sneak peek into what your customers really think and want. This will give you direction for product improvement.

  • Use multiple channels: Leverage UGC across different channels like instagram, emails, or website. This will help to uniformly spread positive customer experiences and strengthen your brand's online presence.

  • Keep updating UGCs: Regularly update the UGC you're showcasing. It keeps your content feeling new and exciting.

  • Use other types of content too: Aside from reviews, you may also incorporate UGC that relates to the subject of your email newsletters. If you send an email marketing campaign for your restaurant, try to include photos or videos of customers' favorite meals.

Examples of UGC in marketing

To understand UGC better, we delve into the practical aspect of it by exploring some real-world examples. Below are some examples of effective user-generated content marketing campaigns:

Starbucks

The #RedCupContest by Starbucks invites customers every December to share photos of their Starbucks drinks using hashtags like #RedCupSeason for a chance to win a substantial Starbucks gift card. This strategy builds seasonal excitement, inspiring other customers to make purchases and share their own experiences. Such campaigns typically boost customer engagement and seasonal sales.

Starbucks ugc

Nike

Nike's #Betterforit campaign, aimed at empowering women and fostering a sense of community, encouraged female customers to share their fitness milestones and experiences on social media. This initiative enhanced Nike's brand loyalty and community engagement.

Nike ugc example

Lays

When Lays ran the #SmileWithLays campaign, it printed smiles of influencers on their packets, inviting fans to click and share pictures with the Lays packet covering their faces. This innovative campaign increased brand visibility and customer interaction, contributing to a rise in sales and market engagement.

lays ugc example

Apple

This #ShotoniPhone campaign by Apple aimed to showcase beautiful photos and videos taken by users around the world using their iPhones. This campaign, by highlighting real user experiences and the camera's capabilities, drove iPhone purchases and user engagement.

apple ugc example

These examples underscore the effectiveness of UGC in creating engaging, authentic, and relatable marketing campaigns. By understanding and implementing similar strategies, businesses can harness the potential of UGC to enhance brand visibility, customer engagement, and loyalty.

Takeaways

User-generated content (UGC) has become a powerful tool for brands to establish authenticity, foster brand loyalty, and build trust with their audience. With the evolution of social media, UGC has taken various forms, such as reviews, videos, and visual content on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.

By encouraging and gathering UGC, you can transform your marketing strategies and enhance your ecommerce presence. Utilizing user-generated content tools and analyzing relevant metrics and KPIs can help you effectively manage and curate the best UGCs. So, start leveraging the power of UGC today and watch your brand thrive.

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FAQs

To effectively collect UGC, ecommerce businesses can encourage customer reviews, use creative social media contests, run engaging email campaigns, and provide easy submission options on their websites. Ensure to offer incentives for content submission.

User-generated content (UGC) is crucial for online stores as it enhances credibility, boosts engagement, increases conversion rates, and provides valuable insights, making it a key element in effective marketing strategies. It also fosters brand loyalty and creates a sense of community.

Yes, UGC can improve SEO for ecommerce sites by providing fresh content and improving user engagement. Increased backlinks from UGC can positively impact search engine rankings, making it an essential strategy for online visibility and improving organic traffic growth.

Best practices for user-generated content (UGC) include obtaining user consent, maintaining brand relevance, balancing UGC with branded content, engaging with content creators, and regularly updating UGC to maintain the freshness and relevance of the content.

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