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6 Creative & Engaging Ways to Source User Generated Content

Engage Your Audience and Receive User Generated Content in Return

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High-quality, authentic content is no longer another marketing tool but a necessity for businesses looking to thrive in this dynamic business landscape. While there are many ways to create content, user-generated content is among the most effective ways to get your brand noticed.

Often referred to as UGC, user-generated content is any content voluntarily created by consumers instead of brands. 

UGC is highly authentic since it’s real content from real consumers who’ve had real experiences with the actual products or services. It’s also an opportunity for businesses to collaborate with their consumers with an established following and grow their followers in the process. 

The benefits of user generated content

Image illustrating how user generated content influences purchase decisions. in the left, a graph shows millennials are 84% more likely to be influenced by ugc, on the right boomers show a 70%.
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UGC is a compelling and fruitful content creation strategy in 2021. Businesses that incorporate it in their marketing campaigns gain 29% more web conversions and a 20% increase in return visitors.

UGC works because, as humans, we’re naturally influenced and inspired by other people’s experiences. If we see a friend or an industry-thought leader do, say, or purchase something, we trust it more and are usually likely to do the same because:

  • They’ve experienced how a product or service works, unlike us
  • We perceive them as experts
  • We’re inspired and want to look like them

This is known as social proof, and it’s the reason why UGC is so influential. 

Check out some of the benefits of UGC below:

User generated content promotes authenticity

We’re exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 branded messages daily. 

Since most of these messages are tailored from a promotional and the brand’s perspective, modern consumers no longer find them authentic.

Screenshot of an Instagram post showing a woman's user generated content for Lush Cosmetics. She is taking a mirror selfie with a Lush mask on.
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They prefer to seek feedback about a product or service from their peers, industry experts, and other customers since it’s from real people with genuine experiences. 

That is why 64% of consumers actively seek reviews while 41% of others ensure they’ve read four-seven customer reviews before making a buying decision.

Using more UGC in content marketing portrays your business as more authentic, making you a more appealing option to consumers and fueling your business’s success.

It makes your brand more approachable

The modern-day customer wants to be heard. 

According to a study by Bazaar Voice, 64% of millennials and 53% of baby boomers feel companies should provide more ways to voice their opinions. 

Using and sharing user-generated content makes your brand more approachable as it proves you’re open to communicating and even working with your audience to create stellar user experiences.

UGC is affordable and scalable

Screenshot of an Instagram post by Apple showing a landscape from Alpe de Siusi. Caption: The harder the shot, the better the reward.

“The Alpe di Siusi is notorious for the mist above the grass early in the morning, so my wife and I took our mountain bikes at 4:30am and made our way up to where we suspected the mist would appear. We reached our destination just in time for sunrise. The scenery looked right out of an epic fantasy movie.” #ShotoniPhone by Daniel S. @the__phonetographer.
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Since you’re sourcing and curating content directly from your customers, UGC won’t punch a hole in your marketing budget. 

What’s more, user-generated content can be shared by countless people online, creating even more buzz about your business without you touching a penny. 

Add in that you can repurpose each customer review, video, or photo across multiple marketing materials, and you get to save even more money on content marketing.

UGC helps you stand out

Nowadays, you can’t even watch a Facebook video without an ad popping up. 

All these ads mean that even if you were to create an exemplary one, chances are potential customers will still ignore it to avoid unnecessary interruptions. User-generated content makes your message stand out from the noise.

Types of user generated content

User-generated content can be anything from that comment on your blog to product and service reviews on Facebook. Here are a few examples from different industries to give you an idea. In general, UGC typically falls under three categories:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Videos

And often includes:

Social media

With the average American citizen spending about eight hours online, it’s no surprise social media platforms are the most popular source of UGC. 

User generated content example: a screenshot of an Instagram post showing a woman wearing a bikini from brand Aerie. Caption: @marcherobinson is taking her Real Good™ Swim beyond the beach. #regram.
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Consumers are constantly turning to platforms like Instagram and Facebook because their peers and influencers share thoughts and ideas on products and services. 

With 87% of e-commerce consumers turning to social media for inspiration before making a buying decision, you can’t fail to leverage this powerful tool. GoPro and Warby-Parker are a few examples of brands with exceptionally impressive and successful social media-based UGC strategies.

Blog posts

Blogs are still very much alive and highly effective in 2021. 

According to SemRush, 46% of consumers often prioritize blogger and Vlogger recommendations because their content feels relatable and authentic. 

34% report having made an unplanned purchase after reading through a quality blog that makes blogging a high-quality and efficient type of UGC.

Reviews and testimonials

Anytime your customers post reviews and testimonials on your site, your social media business accounts, or through third-party websites like Google and Yelp, that’s user-generated content you can use. 

Example of a video testimonial – https://youtu.be/9tj3dpzqLY8

Note, these reviews and video testimonials are compelling and are what most consumers use to determine whether or not to engage with your business.

Other types of user generated content

  • Videos
  • Case studies
  • Q&A sections and forums
  • Interactive events

How to source user generated content

While social media, blogs, and all tools listed above are all excellent sources of user-generated content, it won’t come out of the blues. 

A gif of a woman looking at many Instagram posts.
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You have to motivate your clients to share their experiences with your brand. Here are six creative and engaging ways you can use to source user-generated content:

1.     Competitions

Because people love winning, running a well-designed competition is a smart way to collect UGC. It motivates consumers to interact with your brand because they’re anticipating valuable gains. 

Besides valuable UGC, such contests also leave you with customer data you can leverage to boost product and service quality. In other words, these competitions are a win-win for everyone involved. 

It could be anything from t-shirt design ideas to the cutest pet competition. 

It’ll motivate your audience to share their results on social media and encourage their partner to participate. That means even more engagement for you.

Hit two birds with one stone by setting up a buy-to-enter contest. It allows you to increase sales and gain UGC. For instance, ask your followers to buy your new product and share a review of their experience on social media in exchange for participation and potential prizes. 

2.     Video testimonials

Although videos can be intimidating, modern-day consumers, especially millennials, value their 15 minutes of fame, and they love voicing their opinions. As a result, almost every brand has customers willing to go on camera and advocate for them, especially if they had a positive experience.

Make your reviews more effective by asking consumers to share a short video review of their experience with your brand.

Such videos humanize your brand and reinforce credibility and trust because they come straight from the user’s mouth. Check out this compilation of brilliant video testimonials from American express customers.

3.     Feature your users

As noted, every company has customers willing to go on camera and share their opinions.

Creating a dedicated space where you can feature their photos, videos, and reviews about your brand makes them feel more appreciated and creates UGC prospects you can use to gauge your products and services. 

Maximize on tools like Instagram highlights, or create a dedicated page on your website for such content. 

4.     Clever & creative prompts

Screenshot of an Instagram post showing user generated content. The image shows a woman wearing glasses from brand War by Parker. Caption: Doing my happy dance in my new @warbyparker glasses! 🤓 with the new home try-on process, I get to try on five frames + pick the pair I like the most i.e. the easiest + most convenient process EVER! Link to shop in stories! #warbyhometryon #warbyparker • • • • • #glasses #ootd #accessories #onlineshopping #shopping #wednesday #october #fall #blue #denim #home #homesweethome #losangeles #la #cali #dtla
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Sourcing UGC is all about creativity, and while the tactics above are effective if used right, you should also try using clever and creative prompts to motivate your clients to share.

You can work with a renowned influencer in your niche to create a cool, fun video demonstrating how they use your product or service and share it, asking your audience to recreate it based on individual experiences.

Or creatively prompt the audience to tell you what they love about your products. For instance, “In three words, describe what you love about us. GO!”

5.     Events

Product launches, brand anniversary celebrations, and other types of events are a great and fun way to meet and interact with your customers.

This will allow you to:

  • Get to know your customers up close
  • Gather honest opinions about your products and services
  • Learn how you can improve
  • …and most importantly, collect UGC

All the pictures, videos, and reviews they share to their social media or blogs can later serve as UGC for your marketing campaigns.

To easily track UGC from these events, create and ask attendees to use a dedicated branded hashtag for the event, and ensure the experience is Insta-worthy to motivate them to post. 

6.     Collaborate with content creators

45% of marketers find influencer marketing effective, while 35% of others find it incredibly compelling. It’s indeed effective because it allows brands to promote themselves through individuals that a specific community trusts and engages with regularly.

It’s also practical because content-creators are typically business-minded individuals genuinely interested in building long-lasting, mutually beneficial relations with brands. 

Besides exposing your brand to high-quality customers, influencer marketing is also a good source of UGC.

How to ask for user generated content

Now that you know what it is, the different types, and even where to get it, how do you ask for UGC? 

Here are some tips to get you started:

Just ask

Sometimes all you have to do to get user content is ask. You can do this by adding a call to action at the end of your company’s blogs, menu, invoices, or receipts. Use humour or even the customer’s pain points to get UGC creatively. 

While at it, make the process for submitting photos, videos, or other types of UGC as seamless as possible. 

For instance, leave a link at the end of your newsletters so customers can access your review page with a single click.

Maximize social media

You can use various tricks to ask for UGC on socials without coming off as salesy or pushy. An easy way to get started is by asking questions on your Instagram, Facebook, and other social media pages. 

The feedback you get is UGC you can repurpose across all your marketing materials.

You can also create a themed hashtag and encourage customers to use it for a chance to win a prize. Alternatively, you may ask customers to submit photos and videos of them using your products or services in exchange for a feature on your Instagram stories and highlights.

Set up a marketing Strategy

Set up email marketing customer survey email campaigns, maximize Google review stickers, or even add a QR code to your Google business page on your business cards to encourage customers to leave feedback. 

Work with influencers and generally develop a marketing strategy that’ll motivate consumers to voice their opinions about their experience with your brand.

Show off user generated content on a social wall 

Soon enough you will be sitting on a goldmine of content. Leverage user-generated content by collecting and displaying it on a social media wall

Aggregate content from specific hashtags, profiles and pages, and select which posts you want to display on your wall. Walls.io offers integrations with the most popular social media platforms.

User generated content is here to stay!

User-generated content isn’t just another marketing trend; it’s here to stay. The sooner you embrace and leverage it, the better it’ll be for your business. 

Although our guide sets you on the right track by covering why, where, and how to source UGC, similar to other digital marketing strategies, it’s also evolving. 

The techniques you use today may not be relevant three years down the line. 

So, maximize on sites like Hubspot, Neil Patel, and the Search Engine Journal to keep up with new and upcoming UGC trends.

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