User generated content (UGC) tends to be more trusted than influencer marketing because it is content about a product which hasn’t been paid for or promoted by the brand itself. It can range from a product review to a GRWM (Get Ready With Me).
UGC allows you to tap into smaller, and more niche, audiences, which are often more engaged than accounts that have huge numbers of followers. And once you’ve sparked a bit of a conversation on social media, you’ll hopefully see a network effect take place – in other words, users will perceive your product to be more valuable because multiple people in their circles and on their feeds are talking about it.
UGC isn’t highly stylized or staged, as a lot of influencer content can be, so it feels more like a recommendation from a friend or genuine customer, which makes it more likely to resonate with new prospective customers. That said, because a brand doesn’t always have control over the sorts of content that users are posting, it can go one of two ways. And it isn’t the easiest to track, either: because the content doesn’t belong to the brand, it’s difficult to gain access to data on how successfully it has resonated with audiences.
UGC possesses power in this statistic; 92% of people actively seek out comments about brands and products before committing to a purchase. Therefore, UGC is a way to keep following up with your customers and determine how they’re feeling about a certain product, who they’re recommending it to and whether they would buy it again.
While brands don’t have much control over UGC it can be nudged in the right direction. You can encourage your customers to create UGC straight after their purchase – for example, by adding QR codes and hashtags that they can use in their posts.
As a brand, the best thing you can do is capitalise off the authenticity of UGC. The content that resonates the most is often unscripted, filmed in someone’s house or bedroom, presenting a very honest review or recommendation. Try to stick to and encourage that authenticity as much as possible. This will appeal not only to prospective new customers, but also to others posting this kind of content on social media, as they see the brands that they use and champion as an extension of themselves.
There are some tools that expand your brand’s awareness of pre-existing and current UGC surrounding your brand. Start by looking up what’s being said about your brand on social media already, if anything at all. Run frequent searches across all social channels, noting that the conversation might be different on different platforms. Are people raving about your product or are they not talking about it at all? How many people have posted about it and what exactly are they saying? What sorts of content are they posting, and are they using hashtags or tagging your brand? Social listening tools, such as Pulsar and Hootsuite, are a great way to start tracking conversations and mentions of your brand.
It’s also important to know what you want from UGC. What’s the goal? If more brand awareness is your overarching marketing goal, then just a higher volume of UGC is a great place to start. However, you might also want people to take action after seeing or interacting with UGC: for instance, you may want them to click through to your brand’s social media profiles, or directly through to your website and product pages.
In terms of how to encourage more UGC, you can nudge customers to make content that helps you with your marketing goals as well. For example, when you send a customer a product, you could include a small note with informal directions for how to post on social media, using a certain hashtag and tagging your accounts. You could also send an email a few weeks after a customer has made a purchase to encourage them to create content. Challenges are also a great way to increase engagement and organic UGC: check out Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle’s dance challenge hashtag on TikTok, which drew in 250,000 video submissions.