Why UGC Should Be Part Of Your Content Strategy.

As we all know by now, content is king, and content marketing forms a vital part of any business’s strategy.

But while branded content is certainly important, user-generated content is just as crucial.

UGC is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to marketing, and provides your business with a wealth of benefits.

But how? Read on to find out why you need to make UGC part of your brand’s content strategy.

It provides social proof

Social proof is the marketer’s bread and butter, and it’s ingrained in everyone’s psyche: if someone else endorses a brand, then it must be good! It’s a crucial component of any marketing strategy, and UGC is great for it.

The viral nature of UGC, aided by the proliferation of social media, means that your campaigns get seen by the friends of its participants. When your customers’ friends see them sharing and engaging with a brand, they are more likely to engage with your brand too. Indeed, millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than branded content. If you want people to believe in your product, UGC is the way to achieve that.

It boosts engagement

User-generated content is a goldmine for boosting wider engagement with your brand. 72% of brands use UGC to engage with their customers. How? It all comes down to a creative premise for your campaign.

There’ll be lots of customers who are willing to share photos of themselves using your product or service. But the more unique, creative, and interesting a campaign is, the more engagement you’ll receive.

You might have seen Starbucks White Cup Contest back in 2014. The coffee giant encouraged their customers to dazzle, doodle, and decorate their coffee takeaway cups and share them online with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. The winner had their design printed on a limited edition reusable coffee cup to be sold in store.

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The competition generated over 4000 entries in three weeks alone, all down to its unique and intriguing premise. Make your UGC campaign pop by giving it a fun, creative slant like Starbucks did to boost consumer engagement quickly and easily.

It’s authentic

User-generated content might be the most honest form of marketing there is. Today’s consumers are ad-savvy, and have become almost numb to the sheer amount of advertising they face on a day-to-day basis.

UGC however doesn’t directly come from brands, not obviously at least. It comes from friends and family — people your customers trust. This lends it a degree of authenticity that is marketing gold, and will show in your results. 87% of brands employ user-generated content for this very reason, to share authentic content that resonates with their audience.

It can work for any brand

You might be reading this and thinking: “Sure, UGC campaigns are great for things like extreme sports and coffee, but I sell cardboard boxes. How can I use that for user-generated content?”

Enter Mint.

Mint is a personal finance management app that helps users budget and plan their incomings and outgoings. While it doesn’t sound like the most exciting product in the world, the brand managed to create an inspiring UGC campaign with the hashtag #MyMintMoment. Fans submitted photos of themselves showing how their finances helped them achieve their dreams, from happy marriages to buying their first home.

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Think deeply about your product or service and how it benefits your customers, and get creative. Even the most uninspiring of things can be made exciting with the right campaign.

It makes your customers feel valued

Consumers like to feel as though they matter to the brands they love. They’re not just a sale, they’re valued members of your brand’s community, and they want to feel part of something bigger.

The social media automation tool Buffer knows the value of appreciating their customers, and regularly share their user-generated content under the #BufferCommunity hashtag. Customers submit photos of their lives and adventures to Buffer, and they go on to share it with their wider audience. They’re not photos of Buffer’s product, or people using their tool. They’re simply snapshots of their customers’ everyday lives.

By sharing these photos, Buffer recognizes and appreciates their customers, and they appreciate Buffer right back. Using user-generated content in this way gives your customers a voice, and lets them know that you care about them.

It’s cheap and easy

Finally, user-generated content is low-cost and low-effort. Starting a UGC campaign doesn’t require a huge investment, careful maintenance, or massive time expenditure; once you get the ball rolling, it just keeps rolling.

For some campaigns, brands might make a prize or giveaway part of their UGC strategy, like Borden Cheese did with their Culinary Creations Sweepstakes competition.

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Cheese fans submitted their own delicious creations for the chance to win some kitchen appliances and even a new kitchen! Offering a prize as part of your UGC campaign will certainly boost customer participation, and will likely be the only major cost incurred.

This makes UGC ideal for small e-commerce businesses who are just opening an online store and are working on a tight budget or schedule or ambitious pop-up stores who want to keep costs down while generating a buzz about their launch. Your first UGC campaign can start small, and then grow from there.

Here are a few watchwords for creating your first one:

  • Celebrate customer success in some way
  • Tell a quirky story
  • Try to champion your product, service, or people
  • Explore visual formats like videos, snaps, and doodles
  • Make it easy to participate in.

User-generated content can boost your brand in a variety of ways. Authenticity, social proof, and consumer engagement are all at your fingertips, and all without breaking the bank. A good UGC strategy relies on creativity, a unique and compelling idea that will resonate with your customers and encourage them to get involved. If you haven’t already, don’t delay: incorporate UGC into your content strategy today!

Victoria Greene is a content strategist, digital expert, and avid writer with a passion for helping small businesses succeed in the ecommerce world. To hear her insights into the digital world, head over to her blog, Victoria Ecommerce, for all the latest.