Why You Should Use UGC to Boost Brand Awareness

Set Up an Effective User-Generated Content Strategy

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How to use User Generated Content for Brand Awareness

Do you remember the time when you were still capable of buying a toilet plunger without consulting the reviews on Amazon? Well, I for sure don’t. The last time I bought one I diligently read the reviews before making a decision.

Partly because reviews are so readily available right during the buying process. But partly also because we humans tend to rely on reviews by other humans. That is the power of user-generated content.

Read on to learn more about:

The ROI of UGC is consumer trust

User-generated content has a fantastic ROI — and that is trust. Forget ads, forget Mad Men, forget Don Draper. The time when consumers trusted traditional ads to help them buy something is a thing of the past.

Consumers do trust content created by other people like them, though. The only thing they trust even more when making a purchasing decision are in-person recommendations. That’s because user-generated content is the online equivalent of your friend Bob saying: “Have you seen my new toilet plunger? It’s really great.”

Okay, maybe the toilet plunger was a bad example 😉 But you get the idea.

Consumers trust other consumers most

According to a 2017 survey by TurnTo, 88% of U.S. consumers trust a product recommendation that comes directly from a friend, making them the most trusted source for shopping decisions.

The same study showed that 90% of U.S. consumers also rate online recommendations from other users as highly influential for their purchasing decisions. User-generated content gives them confidence in their decision to buy something, and a majority find UGC far more interesting than content created by the brand.

Perhaps even more strikingly, 81% of shoppers said they would rather pay more for a product that has UGC than buy a similar product which costs less but has no UGC connected to it. So the expensive toilet plunger with great reviews wins over the cheapo toilet plunger.


Once it’s yours, UGC can be used anywhere

When done right, UGC is a gift that keeps on giving. You can repurpose UGC on other channels, for example in your everyday marketing, on social media, in catalogues, and much more.

Ditching the stock images for great photos submitted by your users will make your marketing materials a lot more authentic. Stock photos aren’t tailored to your brand — but your UGC will be.

Types of UGC

The first thing most of us think of when we hear UGC is creative content, like photos or videos we’ve intentionally asked people to create for our competitions or hashtag campaigns.

It’s easy to forget, however, that reviews on Amazon are also user-generated content, as are comments on e-commerce sites or Facebook pages. Technically, even just someone talking about your product in a forum or on a Slack community is UGC. So are tweets and Facebook posts. Someone posting a photo of the handbag they just bought from you on Instagram? User-generated content.

Examples of user-generated content:

  • Product review videos
  • Product unboxing videos
  • Make-up tutorial videos using specific products
  • Animated GIFs
  • Parody videos
  • Testimonials on websites
  • Reviews on e-commerce sites or the brand’s own online shop
  • Fan fiction
  • Instagram hashtag campaigns
  • Pinterest photos
  • Facebook photo and video shares
  • Twitter and other micro-blogging content
  • Photo and video contest submissions

While all types of UGC can be of use for your brand, we’re now going to focus on intentional content that users have put a creative effort into creating.

Ways to collect UGC

Social media and mobile devices have made the means to produce and disseminate visual and audio content virtually ubiquitous. It’s become rather easy for users to produce and share quality content.

On the other hand, collecting user-generated content still remains a task for brands that needs to be mastered. It’s very well possible that there’s a ton of UGC for your brand out there that you’re completely missing out on.

One way to make sure you get your hands on user-generated content that pertains to your brand is to regularly search social media for mentions of your brand, your hashtags, and your location.

You can easily discover, curate and display your most valuable user-generated content using Walls.io.

Give it a try!

Collecting UGC intentionally

Recently, tools like Reevoo, Olapic, Stackla or Livefyre have been making it easier for brands to collect both reviews and visual content.

Well-promoted brand hashtags let you find, collect and reshare content shared about your brand, e.g. on a social media wall.

And hashtag campaigns allow you to very specifically shape what kind of content you’re looking for. The clearer you are in the guidelines and promotion for your campaign about what you want users to create, the more likely you are to receive the content you need.

Getting high-quality content

Another upside of being clear in your intentions is that you can improve the quality of content submitted. Quality is always something to consider, especially when you want to repurpose UGC on your other channels.

50% of users would like brands to give more guidelines for creating content, and yet only a few brands actually do this. If you are being clear about what you want from people and open about your plans to share the best UGC in your own marketing materials and channels, you’ll get better content. When users are aware that their content might get seen by many other people, they naturally try harder to create high-quality content.

Offer incentives

You can motivate people by offering tangible rewards (contests, vouchers, coupons, etc.). But you should also consider using intangible incentives, like recognition on social media sites through a retweet by your brand’s account. Check out our blog post about how you can boost your hashtag campaign by offering incentives!

According to the TurnTo survey mentioned earlier, 32% of consumers asked have given “no incentive to contribute” as a reason for not creating and submitting UGC, followed by 28% who said it was too time-consuming to create content.

What we can learn from this is that brands need to make it worthwhile for consumers to create content if they want high-quality UGC. Furthermore, they need to make it as easy as possible to contribute. That may be done by creating a tool for users to submit their content with a mere click or simply by making the campaign guidelines easy to find.

The problem with UGC ownership

UGC means reach for a brand. But to monetise such earned content by reusing it and deploying it where needed, brands have to first convert it into owned content. This means making sure they have the rights to use it.

You could simply ask for the user’s permission, e.g. in a message, or for hashtag campaigns, make it part of your contest T&Cs.

It’s definitely worth checking out the legal requirements in your own country or, if you’re running global campaigns, consulting with international lawyers on the best way to acquire ownership of UGC.

How to use UGC

As soon as you own that sweet, beautiful UGC, it’s time to put it to good use:

  • Retweet it on Twitter
  • Feature great user contributions on your Facebook page
  • Make it part of your strategy to collect great fan content
  • Put user-generated content on your website or campaign microsite
  • Collect and display posts on a social media wall
  • Use the best photos and videos in ads online
  • Put great user-generated photos in your catalogue, your magazine, your newsletter
  • Use it in traditional media, from TV ads to billboards

Once you have collected high-quality content and acquired the rights to it, there’s nothing you can’t do with it. The content your loyal fans produce will let your brand shine and give other consumers the trust they need to buy from you instead of your competitors.

Yes. Even if you’re selling toilet plungers!