One of the greatest bonuses on social media for brands is the possibility of your audience creating your content - and therefore doing your job - for you. User-Generated Content, or UGC, has become a force in the social world, penetrating all of the major platforms and becoming a hugely important element of many brands’ social media strategies.
If you’re not already convinced, here’s why your brand needs to get on the UGC train.
According to Hootsuite, “social proof is a psychological phenomenon referring to people’s reliance on the feedback and actions of others to determine what is right and what is wrong in a given situation.” In a social media context, social proof is demonstrated when a user creates their own content about your brand, product or service and posts it online with no monetary or additional motivation to do so.
This essentially showcases that your community cares enough about your brand and what you do that they go out of their way to create an image, video or other piece of digital media to spread your gospel. Other users then see these posts and buy into your message via your followers. What a time to be a marketer.
In addition to these benefits, there’s also an inherent sense of trust that comes with social proof for the peers of your followers. For example, if you have a friend who knows you well and they recommend a product, a movie, a song, a book or even a destination, you’re much more likely to internalize and act on their advice than if that information came from an advertisement or other source. In fact, UGC is 50% more trusted than other forms of media.
Build An Engaged Community
The other major benefit of UGC is the engaged, active community that it assists in creating. According to Buffer, 84% of Millennials claim that UGC on brands’ websites has some influence on what they buy and where they buy it, while 43% of people are more likely to purchase new products when they discover them via posts from friends or family on social media.
Knowing that a brand could possibly share their post is a great motivator for someone to post UGC. Some major brands, like Apple, exclusively rely on UGC for their entire feed. Buffer also reported that when they conducted a trial on their own social platforms integrating a UGC strategy, their Instagram account grew by 540% in one year. That ain't nothing to scoff at.
Not only does a brand’s use of UGC encourage users to post content of their own, it also increases engagement as a feed full of UGC acts as a showreel of what customers - people just like them - have created, rather than a shiny collection of advertising fodder. It’s a 360 degree strategy that always comes full circle.
So the question remains...
How does my brand generate or find UGC?
There are a few key ways for your brand to collect UGC from your followers:
Gather UGC by running a contest using a branded hashtag, which keeps all the content in one easy-to-find place.
Create a general branded hashtag that you use on every post, and actively encourage followers to use the hashtag when posting about your brand.
If your business has a physical premises, look through the location check-ins to see what people are posting on-location.
Check your notifications - perhaps your followers are already tagging you in UCG to save you the search.
Once you’ve found something you want to repost, you’ll need to follow general UGC etiquette. Shoot the user a DM to introduce yourself and ask them if you can use their image on your brand’s feed. Promise them photo credit and make sure you deliver - this is the one element of sharing UGC that ties all the benefits together. No credit = no social proof + no engaged community. Also, make sure the images are high quality and match your brand's aesthetic. There’s no benefit in sharing low quality, poorly shot or out of context images just for the sake of it.
So there you have it - now you’re all up to speed on why UGC is going to help your brand, get out there and start digging for that UGC gold.
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