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Established in 2008, Honcho is a Search marketing agency that powers growth for ambitious brands through advanced SEO, PPC, Paid Social, Content and Digital PR.

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What is user-generated content and how can my brand use it?

by Jade Halstead

April 12, 2022

When it comes to creating content for your brand, it doesn’t have to be you doing all of the hard work. In fact, using user-generated content (UGC) has many benefits aside from saving you time, money and resources.

So if content creativity doesn’t come naturally to you, or you don’t have the capacity within your team to create it, leave it to the creators. It's literally what they do best.

What is user-generated content?

User-generated content is anything online that has been created by contributors rather than the brand itself. For example, product users either talking about or sharing images/videos.

When people buy, they love to show off their products and this happens on most social media channels. Think blogs, tweets, reviews, static posts, video reviews/products being used- anything online that mentions your or your products.

A bonus of UGC is that people trust people, which is why word of mouth and creator recommendation goes a lot further than an ad ever would.

What are the benefits of user-generated content?

1. Time and cost-effectiveness - As the content is being created for you, it saves you both a significant amount of time and money compared to creating the content yourself.

2. Social proof - Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. In relation to your social media content, if you showcase a lot of people using your product, other potential customers will have more trust in the product.

According to Stackla, 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

3. Increases trust and authenticity - 85% of users are found to be more influenced by UGC than the content made by the brands directly (Adweek).

4. Variety of content - As every customer will be completely unique, you will have a huge range of content to choose from.

5. Supports diversity and inclusion - As above, the UGC will come from a wide variety of people. It is down to your brand to ensure you include and represent all.

6. Build a community - by highlighting and sharing your customers, they’ll start to feel seen, heard and valued. In turn, they will feel more connected to your brand and you’ll gradually build your community.

7. Create brand champions - As mentioned above, as you build your community certain members will buy into your brand ethos and become great brand champions. They’ll share UGC, spread the word of your brand and actively support your content.

8. The more you share UGC, the more people will create - The more you share and highlight your customers, other customers will want a slice of the fame and will start creating content you could share.

Where to find user-generated content

1. Use a social listening tool to track and follow your hashtags, brand name and product names. (Great social listening tools are Brandwatch, SocialBakers and BuzzSumo)

2. Check your notifications daily

3. Tagged images on Instagram

Tip: Save the content and keep folders with dates, usernames, links and platforms to help you manage content as users may delete at a later date.

How to create user-generated content

1. Campaigns

Create a hashtag campaign that users can use in their posts. Think #shotoniphone, #shareacoke or #ikeaatmine. A lot of brands nowadays know their fans love to tag them in content so they host campaigns to encourage users to do so.

Users know there is a chance they’ll get featured (they all want this) or occasionally win prizes.

According to HubSpot, the #shareacoke campaign generated 150m bottles sold, 650k Instagram images and 1bn impressions of images with the hashtag #shareacoke.

2. Cultivate content

Cultivate content by working with creators and influencers.

Although user-generated content is made outside of your company and has many benefits if it's created free by people who love your brand, there are other ways to have it produced such as enticing users to create the content.

Cultivated content is where you collaborate with creators (and hopefully your product users) to produce content.

This is usually needed to kick things off when you have a small customer base or are a new brand. You can incentivize with free products or by paying the creator to produce the content.

With incentives and paying, you can be really granular with the type of content you expect in return. Creating guidelines to send them is always useful.

You can manage this in-house if it’s on a small scale, however, there are many agencies who can support you on a larger project.

Brands who are using UGC to fill their content calendar

As mentioned above, large brands use UGC regularly to support their content calendar, but this method can be used by brands all of sizes, including startups.

Wit Fitness

Wit Fitness is a sports brand that uses UGC on a regular basis. They actively encourage users to tag them in content whilst using the #TeamWIT and #WITfitness. Every week a member of the community is chosen to win a £50 WIT fitness voucher.

This campaign has been ongoing for a while and keeps the UGC rolling in for WIT. With this tactic, they’ll never be without great content for social media.

Voxy

Since day 1 Voxy has been using UGC to build their brand and they have done a stellar job! (I remember following them when they had less than 1k followers)

They used UGC to build their content schedule, worked with micro-influencers to spread the word and regularly engage with their followers via competitions, polls and even getting their followers to name their products.

Voxy is a great example of how a brand starting from scratch can develop a UGC strategy.

Etsy

As Etsy is a platform for hosting smaller stores for people, almost 100% of its content is UGC by either the sellers themselves or people who have bought from Etsy.

Hashtags such as #Etsyseller, #Etsyshop, and #Etsyfinds are commonly used on social media to share Etsy UGC. Plus, every now and then Etsy will host a campaign such as #MakeItMeaningful to encourage a boost in content and sharing.

Apple

The highly famous #shotoniphone campaign is at the heart of the Apple Instagram and content shared is both free and commissioned UGC images.

^ Apples campaign

Started in 2019, the campaign’s hashtag is still being used globally daily.

It was a great initiative to bring the Apple community together whilst also highlighting users skills and creating a huge amount of impressions.

Hobby Craft

Hobby Craft asks its creators to tag them using their username, @hobbycrafthq, for a chance to be featured. And as people love showing off their creations, I’m sure they are never short of inspiring images to post.

What next

First things first, create a strategy of how you plan to source, track, store and use UGC.

If you need more guidance, have questions or want to outsource this task, get in touch with our organic social team today.

P.s. Don’t forget to mention and tag the creators whose content you share.

Good luck.

Tags

UGC
user generated content
Content Campaigns
Content Creation
content management
Content Marketing
Content marketing agency
creators