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Social Media and UGC

User Generated Content 101

Social media marketers are often encouraged to develop and curate user generated content, but what is user generated content and why is it important? The definition of user generated content (or UGC) is any form of content including blogs, tweets, photos, videos, and beyond that was created by users of an online system or service and is available via social media websites. Integrating UGC into campaigns has become a popular -- and inexpensive -- way to develop brand awareness and loyalty.

Why to Use User Generated Content

Why should your brand utilize user generated content marketing? It’s been proven that consumers find UGC more trustworthy and authentic than content created by a brand. User generated content helps build relationships with customers and increase brand loyalty. According to user generated content statistics, 85% of consumers consider user content to be more influential than strictly brand generated content. Data for click-through rates on Facebook ads show that user-generated content increases the click-through rates by 300%. It also leads to a 50% decrease in cost-per-click and cost-per-acquisition. User-generated content provides a greater return with a less expensive investment. User generated content is an effective way to build trust and social proof for your brand.

Types of User Generated Content

Certain types of user-generated content are more effective. For example, consumers are twice as likely to share branded content because they want to introduce a friend to that brand. This makes a huge impact when you consider that 93% of consumers factor in UGC when they make purchasing decisions.

  • Reviews and Testimonials: There has been a rise in transparency for user reviews and testimonials. While some sites still pay for reviews, there has been a huge shift in companies pursuing honesty and authenticity. Reviewers are less likely to be paid for their opinions, and therefore are more likely to share their genuine thoughts. According to Nielsen, online reviews are the second most trusted source of brand messaging and information.
  • Community Content: User generated content is not just about sourcing content to help showcase your brand, it’s about building a community around your brand and your products. Collecting and curating customer’s photos and posts creates a conversation between you and your fans. Brand and community building are a great way to get to know your target audience -- which means that user generated content is an invaluable resource for gaining insight into your market.

How to Leverage UGC EffectivelySome brands have had massive success developing and promoting user-generated content. Successful user generated content examples include companies like Warby Parker, Kraft, and Estee Lauder.

  • Kraft Foods: The marketers at Kraft know how to reach out to people that genuinely love their brand. They created a dedicated recipe page where followers can post and share their own Kraft inspired (and enabled) creations.
  • Warby Parker: The eyewear company has encouraged customers to share photos of them in their new glasses since the beginning. Since they provide a home try on, it makes sense that customers would post pictures of their different options to get opinions from their social media peers. Warby Parker benefits from the brand recognition every time someone shares a post with their hashtag #WarbyHomeTryOn
  • Charlotte Russe:  The fast-fashion company created a campaign under the hashtag #CharlotteLook to collect real customer photos of how their customers style its clothes. By displaying and celebrating real customer photos on its website, Charlotte Russe gave visitors a more engaging and organic way to shop and discover new products.

Whether you’re running a user generated content campaign or contest, using UGC across all forms of media is an important element to driving brand awareness and developing social proof. Developing user generated content across various sites helps drive engagement and provides an even greater ROI. Different platforms have different users, so cross-platform sharing is an easy way to get your brand in front of as many people as possible.

User generated content helps brands get to know their audience. This information is invaluable not only from a community-building standpoint, but also for the effect it can have on your marketing strategy. Studying your brand's’ followers will help you recognize and analyze the different demographics. User content provides an opportunity to find passionate brand ambassadors and influencers -- people that have a large base of followers that trust them and their opinion.

User generated content, when used successfully, helps build brand loyalty and social proof. Inspiring UGC through content and campaigns provides your brand with inexpensive content from real people that has a lifespan beyond the end of a contest or campaign. Studying the characteristics of user generated content for your brand helps identify who is in your demographic which enables your brand to reach them more effectively.

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