What is User-Generated Content (UGC) & How to Leverage It

by Lindsay Bonamigo, Senior Digital Marketing Specialist

User-generated content (UGC) refers to reviews, photos, videos and other input that’s created by a brand’s customers rather than the brand itself.

UGC is an incredibly powerful tool, fostering engagement and trust while acting as a virtual form of word-of-mouth marketing.

Why is User-Generated Content Important?

The value of user-generated content lies in its authenticity. Traditional forms of advertising can be perceived as salesy or even as biased exaggerations. But UGC is seen as a more authentic form of expression from users who have interacted with a company. UGC promotes engagement. Plus, research shows that customers are more likely to trust the recommendations of their peers over those of a brand, making UGC a valuable part of any marketing strategy.

Benefits of User-Generated Content

These are the key advantages of user-generated content.

  • It Boosts Credibility and Trust: First and foremost, UGC enhances the credibility of your brand. Real users enthusiastically endorsing your products or services provides authentic testaments to the quality of your products and services. First-hand endorsements can go a long way toward instilling confidence in potential customers and encouraging them to try your brand.
  • It Fosters a Sense of Community: By inviting your users to share the experiences they’ve had with your company, you’ll create a space for them to connect, interact and engage with your brand and each other. That sense of belonging enhances brand loyalty and promotes further engagement. Users who feel connected to a brand are more likely to become repeat customers and spread positive word-of-mouth.
  • It Provides Valuable Consumer Insights: By examining the content your users create, you can gain a deeper understanding of their preferences, needs and behaviors. What do they love about your product? How are they using it? What improvements can you make? Those insights can guide product development, inform your marketing strategies and help you provide a better, more tailored experience for your customers.
  • It Improves SEO Rankings: Search engines favor websites with fresh, unique and regularly updated content. As users generate and share content about your products or services, your brand’s visibility will increase on search engines, which will drive more organic traffic to your site.
  • It’s a Cost-Effective Marketing Strategy: UGC allows you to leverage the creativity and advocacy of your customers for practically no investment of your resources.

How to Apply User-Generated Content

First, you need a user-generated content strategy. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Encourage sharing: Use social media to ask your audience to share their experiences with your product. Create a unique hashtag for your brand or running competitions that incentivize sharing.
  • Acknowledge contributors: Whenever a user posts about your brand, acknowledge their effort. That could be as simple as posting a thank you comment or as significant as featuring their content on your official platforms.
  • Use UGC in advertising: Feature user reviews in your marketing campaigns or user-generated photos in your product listings.
  • Keep it legal: Always secure permission before posting user-generated content. That will ensure you’re respecting the content creator’s rights and prevent potential legal issues.

User-Generated Content Examples

Each of the following examples showcases the power of UGC.

  • Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign: This global marketing campaign was a major success. Coca-Cola replaced its iconic logo on one side of its bottles and cans with popular names, encouraging customers to “Share a Coke” with friends and family members whose name appeared on the packaging. Recipients were then prompted to share their personalized Coke bottles on social media, generating a wave of authentic, engaging content. The campaign strengthened the connection between the brand and its consumers and significantly boosted sales.
  • GoPro: GoPro is another company that has adeptly encouraged user-generated content. They ask users to post the GoPro videos they shoot of their adventures to social media with the hashtag #GoPro. The company often re-shares those posts on their own social media channels, emphasizing the quality and versatility of their cameras while building a sense of community among GoPro users.
  • Apple’s #ShotOniPhone campaign: Apple launched the campaign to showcase the impressive capabilities of the iPhone’s camera. Customers were encouraged to take photos with their iPhones and share them on social media using the hashtag. The best pictures were featured on Apple’s official social media platforms and on billboards around the world. The campaign generated a tremendous amount of content and provided real-world examples of the product’s use.
  • LEGO Ideas: LEGO has taken UGC to the next level with LEGO Ideas, a platform the brand’s enthusiasts can use to submit their own design ideas. If a project gets 10,000 votes, the LEGO team reviews it to consider making it into an official LEGO set. The initiative creates a strong sense of community and provides valuable product development input.

Those are just a few examples that demonstrate how user-generated content can be used to boost engagement, foster brand loyalty and showcase the real-life value of a product or service.

Ready to Incorporate User-Generated Content on Your Social Media?

These days, UGC marketing is not just an option – it’s practically a necessity. It brings authenticity, enhances customer engagement and boosts credibility. With the right strategies in place, you can tap into the immense potential of user-generated content and take your marketing efforts to new heights.

Remember, successful UGC requires acknowledging and valuing your audience’s voice. The more you do that, the more your audience will feel connected to your brand.

Are you ready to give it a go? Call 419-299-9000 or send an email to schedule a meeting.

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