If you’ve ever read reviews of a product, browsed online forums, or learned about a brand from a social media post or friend’s comment before purchasing it, you’ve been exposed to content created by other users—called UGC (user-generated content). With the development of the influencer market, user-generated content has entered a new dimension and reached a higher level.
However, this does not mean that simple opinions expressed by friends or other users in comments on social networks are a thing of the past. People now have more opportunities than ever to share their honest opinions. This means that future and current customers have the chance to become your best marketers and promoters of your products and services, all for free.
What is UGC?
By definition, this must be free content, i.e. not sponsored or paid for by the brand. There are many examples of user-generated content, and in practice it can be used on any website that allows users to express themselves. User-generated content is not always positive for a brand, as some of it may consist of negative reviews of a product or service.
UGC includes content containing reviews:
- on social networks;
- on websites;
- discussion forums;
- in chats;
- in advertising;
- in digital audio and video files.
Google’s policy requires that user-generated content be marked as rel=”ugc” in the page source code, similar to how dofollow and nofollow content is marked. However, in practice this marking is not always used and you cannot always influence it.
Benefits of user-generated content
UGC undoubtedly has many benefits. However, this content is often not created “as is” – the majority of users need to be mobilized and encouraged to share their opinions online. Ultimately, the creation of this content begins in part from the position of the company itself, although UGC is not sponsored content by definition. Below are some benefits of user-generated content and short tips on how to use them for your marketing purposes.
1. UGC converts better than company-generated ads. According to research, 85% of consumers say they are more influenced by user-generated content than the brand itself. Therefore, brands should communicate with their customers and mobilize them to create online content about them, inspiring them to actively participate in UGC.
2. Data from Canadian company MuseFind shows that 92% of consumers trust the opinions of influencers more than traditional advertising. If, with these (positive!) reviews, you add an additional link to the domain, you can count on increased interest in the products and services offered. We are not talking about sponsored advertising, but about spontaneous opinions expressed on the Internet, because UGC is usually generated impulsively, in the moment. People giving opinions do not use templates, they simply react to the product in the moment and, for example, leave an emotional review. So this “free advertising” can turn into “add to cart.”
3. UGC increases brand authority. If it is talked about a lot online, and in a positive way, it will be well associated with future customers. This content will help you build trust among your users—it’s an easy way to build relationships with them and then their friends.
4. Creating UGC enhances the feeling of belonging to a community, a group of people connected by opinions about a brand, product or service. When running a large company, don’t allow yourself to become isolated from your customers. By posting, commenting and sharing your content, consumers will feel like they are making an impact on the brand you run. A connection will be created between users, all through simple discussion on social media.
5. User-generated content is essentially free for you, but it can bring huge marketing benefits and increase sales. You don’t have to burden your employees with generating opinions and comments on the Internet—with proper mobilization, users will do it for them. Remember that sometimes you need to reward potential and current customers with prizes, free samples, and promotions.
How to get user content?
The most common way to attract users’ attention to your brand is through the use of social networks. Create hashtags that are relevant to your advertising and encourage your customers to use them when expressing their opinions about the brand. If you want to see where your business is being talked about so you can join the conversation or add fuel to the fire, browse popular social media channels and search for information about your domain.
See who is using your tags, who is mentioning the brand, who is tagging it on Pinterest, in comments on other sites. Find mentions on YouTube and, above all, analyze domain traffic thanks to Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Through this research, you will learn where people are talking about you and how you can use it.
If you offer a product that can be divided into samples, offer them to your users. Sending or giving away samples is an old-fashioned but still popular way to promote your brand. Samples allow users to get to know a brand in exchange for user-generated content, i.e. a spontaneous review or comment on a social network.
Organizing a contest or adding free gifts to orders can also lead to additional content that customers will brag about online. This is one of the most popular methods of obtaining user-generated content because it involves active interaction with the user. If you combine these two elements and create, for example, a survey that is attractive enough, this action will also lead to reposts and sharing of the link with friends.