User Generated Content, or UGC, is content created and shared by end users in the digital realm, most commonly on social media. UGC in the context of consumer brand marketing manifests itself as users creating content with a product (such as showcasing a ski jacket while riding a chair lift) or during an experience (while at an amusement park) that the brand then leverages for their own marketing benefit. A brand can take both a passive and active role in managing UGC.
UGC can bring authenticity, credibility, and dimension to a brand or product. It can humanize the brand by putting real users faces and names to something that is ultimately a fabricated embodiment of a marketing engine. Further, UGC can bring trust and validation to consumers at a time when trust in traditional marketing is being questioned, especially to those consumers who have grown up as digital natives in the highly unstructured world of social media.
Brands activate users to create and share UGC that they may then collect and repurpose, or simply enjoy its unprompted presence in the wild as a form of unpaid advertising. Savvy marketers rely on a mix to achieve their overall marketing goals. In this article we’ll dive into some of the beneficial uses of UGC as well as best-practices for managing UGC.
In social media
This is probably the most common and natural channel for UGC. It’s where this form of content is most expected in brand marketing efforts and so when brands utilize quality UGC on social they often see the greatest benefit.
Organic: Including UGC in a brand’s organic content calendar is natural and brings the “social” side of a brand to life. Authenticity comes via the sharing of the content that stems from an active 2-way dialogue with a brand’s community of users. Also, utilizing UGC on social is a nice way to humanize a traditional content campaign that may be running in tandem.
Paid: We’ve A/B tested thousands of paid social ads and in most cases the ads which feature UGC images/video outperform other content types*. Like organic, UGC is a natural fit for paid social ads.
Multi-account aligned messaging: To support new product launches or other moments in time such as a sale event many brands activate a community of creators, influencers, and other brand partners to all align on a posting schedule that disseminates a coordinated message to consumers. This multi-nodal approach can extend a brand’s reach as well as introduce new consumers to the brand.
Contests/giveaways: Encouraging a follower base to share UGC is a great way to spark engagement, reach new audiences, and gather UGC from your community. Many brands have successfully partnered with other organizations or adjacent brands to help extend their reach and prize pot. Often these campaigns can be as simple as “like & share for a chance to win!”
This is one of my favorite uses for UGC as when well executed it can bring great dimension to a brand’s website. Like other forums, UGC brings an authentic level of realism that will help connect with site visitors. Adding UGC to product image galleries on the PDP as well as below the fold is a great way to enrich the page to help increase conversion. UGC is a practical method to help shoppers better understand what a product is like in real life, whether it be showing fit on various body sizes, demonstrating how to use the item, or showing it in real life for context, size scale, or color.UGC is a great source of blog content. Some brands even enlist creators to draft the entirety of the blog using images, video, and/or text.
It’s a tall ask for a brand to capture all the imagery and video required to support all possible retailer needs. Enter UGC! Brands can commission the creation of UGC from platforms such as Popfly that will be regionally relevant for a retailer, feature the exact items the retailer is looking to sell, and even include messaging driving to shop the item at the specific retailer/location. Further, Popfly has partnerships with both Promoboxx and Locally so brands can feed quality UGC into those tools to better support the retailers using those platforms. Reach out to learn more about how these partnerships work to drive amazing and measurable results for brands!
With the tightening restrictions around the use of third-party data/cookies marketers are leaning harder on their first-party marketing tactics. Incorporating UGC into email (or traditional mail) campaigns is a great way to bring increased interest in the messages a brand sends. Subscribers often want more than just product or promotional updates from a brand, utilizing UGC to tell great stories putting a brand’s offering in real-life context is a powerful way of building connection with subscribers that ultimately drives brand affinity and sales.
Often marketing teams don’t have the time or resources to prepare traditional content to support a new product launch, again, enter UGC! Popfly can deliver UGC back to brands within 2 weeks. Having UGC to support the presentation of new items is a great way to elevate a sales meeting presentation. UGC can also bring excitement via product demonstrations and testimonials to empower sales teams and buyers in a B2B setting.
These are some common uses of UGC. Marketers continue to find innovative methods to leverage UGC and we at Popfly take pride in being able to support such imaginative and effective campaign work. Thanks for reading!
*As measured by the performance marketing teams led by the author at multiple stages of his career