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UGC – What Is It [ And How Does It Work]?

Posted October 15, 2021

Young woman fixing camera for tutorial video.

User Generated Content (or UGC) isn’t exactly a new tactic. After all, online reviews have been around for decades. But with new platforms emerging like TikTok and new features being added to your favorite social platforms like Instagram, UGC is quickly becoming one of the best advertising strategies to build trust and spark more engagement with your customers. 

So, what exactly is UGC? 

Glad you asked! UGC refers to any content that’s about your brand but created by an individual who’s not affiliated with your business. To put it more bluntly: any video, review, text, or image that features your product or brand’s logo by a customer is considered UGC. 

Benefits of User Generated Content

Aside from it being free advertising—meaning you don’t need to invest in media placement or ad slots to make a big impact—UGC helps generate brand loyalty through authenticity. 

Remember, users want to hear from “real people” about your products or services before they buy. They already know you have something nice to say about your brand. So instead, they want to hear it from others they trust. In fact, 79% of people admit that UGC plays a major role in their final purchasing decisions. 

The bottom line: word of mouth is still effective advertising. But it’s even more powerful when it’s posted on a digital platform. One that is shared with millions of viewers across the country. 

User Generated Content Examples

You’ve probably seen several examples of this type of advertising on YouTube or Instagram.

  • Fashion tutorials on how to apply makeup or design the perfect outfit for fall may feature products from multiple brands as part of a complete look and include details on where to buy them.
  • A professional podcaster may post a video on starting a podcast and feature his or her top “must-have” recording equipment. Viewers will be more inclined to follow this advice and purchase from these brands, simply because the person they trust recommended them.
  • Branded hashtags are a popular way to get users to post and share their experience with a particular business. Think #shoplocal during the holidays. Customers may post selfies in different small businesses with this hashtag. This often encourages others to do the same and share their own experiences. 

Other User Generated Content Examples

Another fun example of UGC is Starbucks’ puppuccino. The popular Seattle-based coffee brand gives free espresso cups filled with whipped cream to puppies traveling with their owners.

Let’s face it. It’s hard to resist not taking a video or snapping a pic of your puppy devouring this sweet treat for the first…or third time. But guess what. It’s even harder to keep this adorable image to yourself. So, naturally, you post it on your Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag “puppuccino” and are soon met with endless likes and comments from friends and family. 

Pretty soon, these same individuals will travel to Starbucks to order the same delicious treat for their pet, in addition to their own favorite beverage. After all, 56% of online users report that they find out about other products from friends.

This UGC example has been around for years, and it’s still just as popular and effective as it was when they first launched it. Not only is it free advertising, but it also showcases that even a trip for coffee can turn into a fun, memorable experience.

Can Your Business Benefit from UGC?

Okay, we get it! UGC is effective and helps build trust with users. But how exactly does this advertisement strategy work?

Truthfully, UGC is organic, meaning you really want users to take the lead and do most of the work. Though you could offer a special prize or create an Instagram contest to help generate UGC, you really want to be careful of this approach, especially when first starting out. 

After all, you want  UGC to be authentic, not forced. Customers can always tell the difference. In fact, more than 70% of the time, customers know when content is user created vs. brand created.

Having said that, it’s never a bad idea to give your customers a little nudge and a space to share their experiences. We mentioned the idea of using branded hashtags. Many retail brands will post suggested hashtags throughout their stores to encourage shoppers to take selfies with their products and post their experiences on Instagram. 

This practice allows you to track and build a content library of UGC, which you can use in future social media posts. Just remember that because you want everything authentic, you’ll want to ask users for permission before using their UGC on your own social media channels or website. 

Stay Connected

Check out our blog for more tips on marketing your business and building better brand loyalty!

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