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UGC for Social Media: How to Attract More Customers
UGC (user-generated content) is a marketing powerhouse that the best of brands are using to shape their customers into incredibly effective ambassadors.
UGC builds credibility for your brand, gives you valuable insights into how your customers interact with your product/s and most importantly increases click-through rates and drives revenue.
While UGC is an integral part of your social media marketing toolbox, it can be tricky to do right.
In this article, we’ll go over what UGC is, why it’s important and how to use UGC in social media to attract more customers.
What is User-Generated Content?
As the name suggests, UGC is any original content (text, images, videos, etc.) created and shared by consumers about a certain brand.
UGC is everywhere. In fact, consumers on average spend 5.4 hours per day with user-generated content.
This Reddit thread about The Ordinary skincare regimen is a great example of organic user-generated content on social media. It’s an unpaid post whose purpose is to help consumers choose the right product for their needs.
Whether it’s an Instagram story tagging a restaurant, a Tweet talking about or a YouTube video where people are having fun with your products, UGC on social media creates free exposure for your brand in a way that can really resonate with your target market.
This Nerf War video perfectly captures the spirit of the Nerf brand identity; having fun with your friends and family. That’s the power of UGC. Your consumers know how to capture the tenor of your brand, often better than your in-house marketing team, mainly due to how overly-salesy most marketing material can come across as.
And audiences can feel that disparity. Most consumers find user-generated content useful and believe what existing customers say about the brands rather than flashing ads and promotional emails.
Let’s review some other reasons why you should invest in UGC for social media.
Why is UGC on social media important?
The Rise of Social Commerce
In March of 2019, Instagram released a beta version of their newest product; Instagram Checkout. Instagram Checkout lets users buy products from brands directly on Instagram through features like shopping tags and the Shop tab.
Fast forward two years; an Instagram for Business survey found that 44% of people use Instagram to shop weekly. These Instagram Shopping tools are simply streamlining the buyer process, allowing creators, who most influence purchase decisions, to create shoppable posts.
Meta realized how consumers are more swayed by peers and creators when it comes to making purchases.
But no platform showcases the potency of social commerce and UGC better than TikTok.
A 2021 WARC whitepaper exploring the role of community commerce found that authentic content by real people sways purchase decisions more than sleek advertisements.
Just head to the tiktokmademebuyit hashtag on TikTok and you’ll see how effectively these videos resonate with today’s consumers.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Social commerce represents a real shift in power from retailers and brands to people.
And it’s being turbocharged by the insurgence of dynamic content and connectivity on social media. Social commerce’s incredible effectiveness is due to how UGC seamlessly blends relatable social experiences with products that fit within those experiences.
The holy grail for any business is a core audience of loyal advocates that trust the brand’s message. Recently, however, mistrust in brands and their advertisements has grown considerably.
Consumers are incessantly bombarded by ads on every social media platform. Pair this with privacy concerns and the faceless nature of most corporations and you get a bad rapport between brands and consumers.
Over 86% of marketers agree that there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way companies create and position their content.
Brands need to get real and be transparent if there’s hope to thrive in changing marketing and advertising landscape. Advertising isn’t as important as it used to be and almost half of adults report they talk about advertising much less in their daily lives than they used to.
When you implement UGC you can resonate with consumers in a fundamentally trustworthy way. People trust people.
Take reviews for example. Reviews (written or otherwise) are a form of effective UGC. So effective in fact, that product pages with 1 or more reviews lift conversions by over 52%. This makes sense as 79% of shoppers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Besides displaying reviews on your website, use social media to exhibit any positive feedback you receive.
UGC on social media communicates authenticity
“With the overwhelming majority of consumers now seeking, trusting, posting and acting on user-generated content, it’s clear brands can no longer simply rely on staged, stock and influencer images to break through and establish meaningful connections with today’s consumers who increasingly crave authenticity and personalization,” –Damien Mahoney, CEO & Co-Founder of Stackla.
According to BusinessWire, consumers are 2.4x more likely to say that UGC content is more authentic compared to branded content. Marketers however believe that brand-created content resonates more with audiences.
A different study from Stacklafound that 60% of consumers say user-generated content is the most authentic form of content.
Furthermore, UGC clearly showcases how real people use your products. No amount of fancy copy and eye-catching visuals can sell the value of your product better than your own customers.
UGC gives consumers the unique opportunity to be front-runners in a brand’s story rather than being bystanders. This dynamic will dramatically increase brand loyalty in a way no other loyalty program or other insincere-feeling efforts can. UGC is authentic.
How to use UGC in your social media strategy
Now that you know why UGC is so important, let’s go over some ways you can use UGC for social media and shuttle your brand affinity to new heights.
UGC for your social media feeds
In 2020, 42% of people used social media to research brands and products. To cement your brand as one that understands what consumers want, use your main social media feeds to make a great first impression with potential buyers.
TikTok is also a hotspot for UGC on social media, which makes sense. TikTok’s selling point is real content created by real people. Whether you partner with influencers or use content created by your audience in your TikTok marketing strategy, more on how to do that later, highlight how real people use your product/s.
UGC in your ads
Ads featuring UGC garnered 73% more positive comments on social networks than traditional ads. The great thing about social media is that it’s a multi-faceted medium. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook let you use your regular posts as ads (make sure you’re using the right Facebook ads target audience).
If you want to step it up a notch, stitch together multiple videos from your customers to create a scroll-stopping ad. Teeth-whitening company HiSmile uses this very tactic, even implementing UGC video on their product page.
Social proof is a long-standing marketing staple that has been proven to increase conversions. While most businesses understand the importance of customer reviews, not many stage positive feedback front and center.
Make sure any potential buyer can explore the experiences of your previous customers. Create an Instagram story highlight that prominently features customer testimonials. Make sure you follow Instagram stories best practices when publishing these.
Spice things up and stretch out your content by converting any glowing reviews into short Tweets. Just make sure you ask permission beforehand.
How to encourage users to post about your brand
Over 50% of consumers want brands to tell them what to post, yet the vast majority of brands don’t offer any instructions as to what content they want their customers to create.
That’s a huge content gap that companies aren’t exploiting, as over 50% of people said they create content at least once per day.
Half of the battle is simply telling your brand advocates that you’d love to share their content. Let’s go over some ways to encourage people to create UGC on social media.
An important footnote: ALWAYS ask for permission before using anyone’s original work and always credit the creator in your post.
Host a challenge and/or giveaway
People love a challenge and people love free stuff. Who knew?
In order to create a challenge, your audience is dying to participate in you need to know what they want. A free t-shirt won’t cut it (unless your target audience is REALLY into t-shirts).
Consider who your target customer is, what excites them and exploit that. The act of winning itself can sometimes be more valuable than the prize.
GoPro’s now-famous #GoProMillionDollarChallenge is a great example. They encouraged participants to go out and film “something epic”.
Tens of thousands of people rushed to create their raw videos, with one goal in mind: to be the person who filmed something truly awesome. The one million dollar prize also didn’t hurt.
Create a hashtag
Creating a branded hashtag is a great way to create a treasure trove of easily accessible UGC on social media. The trick is attaching an alluring reason for people to use your hashtag.
Apple’s UGC marketing campaign with #ShotOnIphone is a remarkable example of trust-building.
They created the hashtag, promoted it and ran UGC campaigns on social media featuring stunning low-light visuals created by actual iPhone users. This campaign was not only a masterclass in creating social proof, it also showcased the immense brand advocacy and loyalty for Apple.
Activewear brand Aerie is using their branded hashtag to make a positive impact on women in their stores. Customers leave feel-good notes in their fitting rooms then share the picture on social media with #AerieREAL. Ingenious and impactful.
Try gamification to encourage UGC
In gamification, participants are required to complete a few tasks and are then rewarded and recognized for their participation.
Brands use concepts like levels, high-scores, badges, leaderboards, points, etc. to make users complete tasks and share their achievements. You can give prizes to the winners of the games like offering them special discounts, unlocking badges, making them a part of an exclusive club, etc. to increase engagement.
The NFT marketplace excelled at gamification. Buyers clamoured to hold a digital keycard to an exclusive community.
Small incentives can inspire your customers to do things they otherwise wouldn’t.
Nike’s #justdoit campaign is regarded as one of the greatest UGC campaigns on social media. One aspect of the campaign’s popularity was that it pushed their loyal customers to accomplish something and brag about it online.
Don’t make UGC about you
User-generated content isn’t just about you. It’s about them: your customers. It’s about how they use your products and relate to your brand. So, while your customers may be inclined to tag an image with #YourBrandName, it might also serve you well to create (and promote) a personal, actionable hashtag that brings the focus back to your fans.
Examples of how UGC on social media can work
Vans’s slogan and philosophy of Off The Wall is essentially people-focused. If Vans did what many brands do: brag about how amazing their products are, they would alienate their target customers. As such, Vans uses their social media as a haven for their customers to share their outfits and how they use their Vans.
Taking a break from UGC in social media, let’s look at Glossier, a brand that steps UGC up a notch. Glossier has an entire webpage dedicated to content created by their customers. Every picture has a link directly to the original creator’s post and encourages visitors to “see (and shop) products in action, find a new shade combo, or make a new friend.”
Instagram and food are a combo as classic as peanut butter and jelly. Food delivery platform BlueApron realizes this and partners with food creators to share delicious recipes, created by real food enthusiasts.
Everyone knows Red Bull. Part of this is due to the millions RedBull spends on sponsorships. Another integral aspect is Red Bull’s focus on community. The company’s social media strategy follows a deep-rooted principle that encompasses the entire brand – an active lifestyle.
Throughout its existence, Red Bull has mainly promoted its core product: an energy drink. What’s different about this brand is that it uses its own customers as product promoters.
As users reposted on the Red Bull Instagram feed test the physical limits of their bodies while having fun, there’s always a Red Bull logo present in the background. That leaves a very clear impression: Red Bull gives you superpowers.
Don’t underestimate the power of UGC on social media
User-generated content has proven itself as one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal. Social commerce is the new frontier. Money-hungry mega-influencers with big numbers have fallen out of grace with everyday consumers. If you want to grab and hold the attention of people who matter, you’ll take advantage of the most authentic, trustworthy form of content there is: UGC.