Author of Marketing Rebellion, Mark W. Schaefer, said it best, “Sponsored pictures stick out like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” In a world where everything is sponsored, brands are struggling to connect with followers and build trust online. One of the best ways companies can combat the growing problem is through User-Generated content. 

What is User-Generated Content? 

User-Generated Content, or UGC, is any type of content created by people that are not an official representative of your brand that’s shared across social media platforms. This could be an online review, a clip of your product on someone’s Youtube channel, or even an Instagram photo of a customer at your store. UGC’s are the new way of marketing and have proven to be effective with 56% of social media consumers now prefer to follow ‘everyday’ influencers like friends, family, and peers (Talking Influence). Some examples include: 

1. L’Oreal Infallible Foundation 

TikTok is especially known for viral products so it was no surprise when L’Oreal Infallible Foundation blew up among beauty influencers on the app. With the #lorealinfallible receiving 136.5 million views. This translated over to instagram where it had 142K posts relating to #lorealinfallible. Due to this, the product was sold out for weeks and L’oreal had an abundance of UGC to share.

2. The Ordinary Peeling Solution 

Another great example came when popular TikToker Hyram or better known as @skincarebyhyram, raved about the skin care brand, The Ordinary being transparent about their ingredients and reasonably priced. In particular, he recommended his followers buy a peeling solution and within days the product was sold out. The hashtag #theordinarypeeling solution now has over 18 million views and content from all kinds of dermatologists and beauty accounts was created.

Why it Works? 

We’ve all seen it before, the diet tea promoting a slim figure, gummies promising long beautiful hair or the leggings that look good on everyone. With sponsored content regularly appearing on our social media feeds we’ve become desensitized to it and usually ignore it but when our friends posting

about her favorite new perfume, we listen. It goes back to word of mouth marketing- we trust those close to us, so if your friends like the perfume then it must be good. In fact, social media campaigns that incorporate UGC see a 50% lift in engagement and ads featuring UGC generate five times greater click through rates (Mathew Hutison). 

How Can your Brand Start Using UGC? 

Now that we know how effective UGC is, the next step is implementing it into your brand. The best way to start, is utilizing already brand loyal customers and your brand’s online community. Reaching out to them, and asking for them to share their thoughts on your products/services on social media accounts are a great place to start. These people can be reached via email subscribers or by simply messaging them on the social media account you wish for them to post on. Once you reach out providing incentivizes, such as a discount code for their next purchase or a chance to be featured on your social media feed, is a great way to kickstart your UGC Campaign. Providing these incentives encourages already loyal customers to post and makes the campaign mutually beneficial as the company receives content and the content creator gets a discount or another benefit. A great example of this comes from local Bloomington smoothie shop, Healthy Hoosiers. 

When in store, workers will ask if you want to share a picture on your story on social media for 10% off. If you agree, they then give you the discount as well as repost your content on their page. This gives you a discount and some fame and content from consumers to show people enjoy their smoothies. 

Tips to Manage UGC

As you go out and collect UGC and encourage your loyal customers to share their opinions on social media, it’s important to take the time to go through and sort the content. Think through your brand’s upcoming marketing campaigns and the message it’s promoting. Then, make sure the content you choose to share is relevant and conveys that message. Having a clear purpose and message to your brands UGC will prevent any viewer confusion and is the most effective way to use UGC. 

In addition, it’s important to never use content without asking and take the time to acquire the rights to the content (Talking Influence). By owning the rights to the content, your brand can use it freely and avoid any lawsuits or negative publicity. 

Summary 

With all the benefits of UGC, it’s becoming the new way of social media marketing and could be a great opportunity for your brand to grow their social media presence. As you begin, remember to utilize the already loyal customers and to ensure that all content used is conveying an impactful message that supports your marketing strategy. 

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