One of the buzzwords that you usually hear a lot especially within social media circles is the acronym ‘UGC’. Most marketers would be quite aware of UGC but I still find that most people don’t really know what to do with it, or how to maximize it. So the below is a little bit to help you out.
What is UGC?
UGC stands for User Generated Content, which basically refers to any content put out there on the vast internet about you and your brand. It can range from tweets to Instagram posts, reviews, or even a mention on a blog. UGC is basically as the name says content produced by the users or aspirational users of the brand, in any stage of the consumption process – dreaming, using, or reviewing.
Where do we get it?
UGC can be obtained from several sources:
- Social Media – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
- Review Sites – Trip Advisor, Zomato, Yelp etc.
- Reviews – Google & Facebook reviews
- Surveys & Feedback cards
- And even if you think outside the box good old traditional offline sources such as handwritten notes
Out of all these sources, UGC is still most commonly associated with Social Media and especially Instagram. As all good content marketers know visual content works much better than text only and is more engaging and effective. Therefore having a large amount of visual content is useful but is it is also the most difficult to obtain, hence a large bank of visual UGC content is always beneficial.
Why is UGC good?
UGC is great for several reasons:
- Endorsement – Isn’t it always better having normal regular customers say how great your product is than you doing it?
- Credibility – It adds credibility to your brand when your customers say your product does actually what is supposed to do.
- Feedback – It is a great source of feedback on how your customers liked the product, if there were any problems, and how it can be improved.
- Market Research – By following who is talking about your brand, you can find new uses for your product or even find new markets you were not aware of.
- Brand Popularity – By tracking how often your product is mentioned you can get a better idea of how popular your product is and this can be tracked against competitors as well.
- New Content – UGC is a great source of new content. Brands invest a lot of time, effort and even money to generate new content which is not always feasible in the long run, therefore UGC is a good alternative source of content which is also free.
- Better Engagement – Showcasing real world uses and interactions leads to better engagement from other customers and aspirational users.
What do we do with it?
UGC acts as a good source of new content. Rather than a brand always talking about their products, it is always good to post about how users are consuming or interacting with the brand. The content is real than produced and inspires and motivates other consumers leading to better engagement when posted across social channels. The content can be shared or re-posted from their original sources as well as it can be re-purposed for other channels.
Examples include: Creating a video of Instagram posts which can be promoted on Facebook (with permissions of course); Showing Trip Advisor reviews on offer content to encourage positive sentiment; etc.
By showcasing good reviews and good feedback, consumption of the product can also increase which is beneficial for the brand in the long run.
How can you get more?
So if UGC is so great, how can marketers produce more? There are a couple of ways to do that:
- Competitions – This is the easiest and most efficient way of generating content. Competitions can be run across social channels where users can be asked to submit visual entries (either images or videos) of people interacting with the brand. The winner can receive complimentary samples, access etc as dependent on the product, but for a relatively small cost a large amount of content can be generated which can be used at a later stage.
- Asking Questions / Submissions – Sometimes if you have a strong or loyal brand following, a competition is not necessary, users would be more than happy to tell or show you how they use your product by just asking them. Your customers like to feel appreciated and that their feedback and opinions matter, so they would be happy to share with you their love and admiration for the brand.
- Complimentary Trials – If the product is relatively new or you don’t have a large following then you can offer complimentary trials to future users to encourage the generation of more UGC and to gain feedback. This can help promote the product especially when they see others using it.
- Events & Activations – Hosting or creating events which is open to the people is another great way of having people directly interact with the brand. When they see an activation taking place or are at the event, most people will generally share their experiences on social media. This combined with a competition makes it more effective.
- PR & Media – Having a strong PR strategy is also beneficial to the brand. Through it, greater brand awareness can be achieved via media mentions, blog postings, and social media coverage through press teams and bloggers. Each of these mentions can be connected to a potential story and therefore greater UGC.
- Influencers – As highlighted in my previous post ‘Battle of the Influencers‘ influencers are a great way to increasing brand awareness as they act as brand ambassadors. Most influencers will generate a minimum number of posts as part of their agreement which is guaranteed UGC. This content will also be of high quality and will have greater engagement, especially if the the influencer is well known, resulting in greater popularity of the brand.
- Media Monitoring – This is the most basic and essential step every marketer must do, that is to set up a media monitoring service which picks up any mention of the brand online. You can choose to monitor on social channels or on media, blogs etc. of course it is better to have both. By having media monitoring in place mentions of the brand can be picked up from the most least expected sources. While most companies have a budget associated for this service which can be used for specialized software the other option for firms with limited budget is to invest in setting up Google Alerts which still does quite a good job.
So overall UGC is a great asset to have and can be quite successful with minimal effort and time.
Do you have any other tips or stories to share?