User-Generated Content (also known as UGC for short) is vital to online business.
Here are just a few reasons why:
- UGC allows your brand to build trust with new audiences through their existing connections.
- Standard advertising efforts are becoming less and less effective.
- UGC can cost far less than other advertising methods.
We could go on, but you get the idea – UGC is an incredibly useful form of digital marketing.
But if that’s the case, why don’t more people use it?
Often, the reason is that businesses do not understand precisely how UGC works, why it is useful, or how to implement it for their brand.
That’s why today we’re providing a quick intro to UGC – so that you can understand it better and find ways to make it work for your business.
What Exactly IS UGC?
UGC (User Generated Content) is content (text, images, videos, or combinations of those mediums) created by individuals unaffiliated with your company that bring awareness to your company, brand, or product.
- A customer review can be UGC.
- A blog post where a customer talks about your product can be UGC.
- An unboxing video on YouTube can be UGC.
- Something as simple as a customer posting a picture of your product can be UGC.
- And it doesn’t stop there!
So now that we know what it is, the question becomes:
Does UGC Work?
The short answer is – yes.
The long answer is – yes, it most definitely works and here’s some proof from Salesforce:
- 92% of people trust online content from friends and family over any other form of brand messaging
- 50% of people find UGC more memorable than brand produced content
- 53% of millennials have said that UGC has directly impacted their purchasing decisions
Turnto had a study in 2017 that went even further, saying that 90% of respondents said that UGC had influenced their buying decisions.
At this point and time, there are few other advertising options out there that can claim THAT kind of impact!
Think of it like this…
You’ve probably seen an ad for a Honda Civic at some point in your life. Whether it be a TV commercial, a pop-up advertisement on a blog, or one of those annoying YouTube ads you must watch before you can FINALLY get to your cute cat video, Honda has a significant reach when it comes to advertising.
Now ask yourself – did seeing those ads make you want to go out and buy a Honda Civic?
If you’re like 99% of the rest of the world, the answer is probably “no”.
Now imagine that your best friend buys a Honda Civic. They drive it over to your house and take you for a test drive in it. All the while, your friend is ranting and raving about how awesome it is, how well it handles, how reliable and safe it is.
By the end of that little test drive, how badly will you want to buy a Honda Civic?
That right there is the difference between traditional ads and UGC.
A Quick Case Study – The Effectiveness of UGC
There are many examples out there of companies that have used UGC to great advantage. However, among those companies, few have had as much success as GoPro.
If you take a minute and check out their Instagram feed, you will quickly start to notice that very little of their content is original. Instead, most of the content they post on social media is UGC.
GoPro knows their audience well. They know that they are the type of people that are out doing cool things. So, GoPro does all they can to get their customers to share what they’re up to (skydiving, wakeboarding, swimming with sharks…you get the idea!).
They even use the #GoProFamily to make it easy for their users to connect with them and share their content around the internet. Besides, GoPro holds (nearly) endless contests where they give out awesome prizes and reward their loyal followers.
And with 16.2 million followers on Instagram alone, the evidence of their UGC strategy pretty much speaks for itself.
Why You Shouldn’t Rely COMPLETELY on UGC
As you can tell, we’re big fans of UGC. However, that doesn’t mean you should exclude all other forms of digital marketing.
A smart combination of UGC campaigns and more traditional paid campaigns can boost your efforts tremendously.
You can boost the organic outreach of a UGC campaign with paid ads. Using the two forms of digital marketing in tandem makes both more effective.
Another thing to remember…
While UGC is AMAZING, it does have one major drawback.
Not all the UGC you get it going to be good.
As a responsible business, it’s up to you to make sure to monitor the UGC around your company closely. Plus, there’s the fact that you also need to gather, organize, and implement all that UGC. Thankfully, there are professional UGC moderation companies that can help you shoulder that burden while still allowing you to reap the benefits of UGC.
How to Get Some Help with Effective UGC
Unfortunately, UGC doesn’t just happen. It takes effort on your part as the business owner and on the part of your customers.
And as we all know – the more effort required, the less likely you’re going to be able to get a lot of people to act. If there are significant bumps along the road to where you want your customers to go, chances are they won’t go there at all.
That’s why you must reduce friction.
What do I mean by that?
Reducing friction means that you make it as quick, easy, and painless as possible for your customers to create and submit UGC to you.
How do you do that?
There are quite a few excellent tools out there designed to help you get more (and better) UGC with less effort for both you and your customer.
We’ve compiled a list of 5 of the best UGC tools that you can use for your business. Each has its pros, and some are better in some areas than others. So, we’ve broken it down for you below to make your choice easy.
UGC Tool #1 – TurnTo
Using an individual application approach, TurnTo has a nice offering of options for business owners who want to add UGC to their digital marketing mix.
Ratings & Reviews:
With an emphasis on mobile and quick & easy profile integration, TurnTo does its best to move customers from mere buyers to raters and reviewers as well.
Community Q & A:
While you may not think of Q & A as UGC, it is an excellent way for individuals to get customers to talk about your brand. The amount of information that you can glean from a healthy, well run Q & A community is virtually endless.
Q & A is better in many ways than a regular old FAQ section. It allows you to get into the mind of your customer and know what THEY are thinking (instead of just what you think they’re thinking).
TurnTo allows you to integrate answers from “experts, brands, fans, and your knowledge base.”
The internet is becoming more and more geared toward video. However, if you’ve ever messed with a video you know how much of a headache it can be to go through the process of recording, editing, uploading, etc.
TurnTo seeks to solve that issue with their video review application that is built with phones in mind.
TurnTo states that you can get 3-5 times more reviews by implementing Checkout Comments in your system. So much shopping online these days revolves around reviews, which is why this application is a nice touch.
UGC Tool #2 – TINT
Focusing on allowing you to curate, own, and display UGC on your website and throughout your brand presence, TINT has a wide variety of offerings for businesses. While they focus on enterprise clients in the education and hospitality markets, they do have offerings that can match other companies as well.
One of the biggest motivations behind using UGC is to build trust with your customers (and potential customers). TINT gets that and is all about creating genuine, authentic UGC that can make your brand.
UGC Tool #3 – ShortStack
One great way to generate UGC is through online contests that center around your brand or product. However, creating an effective contest can be challenging if you don’t have the right tools.
That’s one place that ShortStack shines – helping businesses and brands create contests that are effective and not a significant pain to pull off.
They also allow you to create quizzes, landing pages, giveaways and send emails. Their integrated approach is simple and straightforward.
UGC Tool #4 – Yotpo
This UGC tool focuses on text testimonials that go on a business’ website. They’ve been around since 2011, demonstrating that they’ve got staying power.
Although they specialize in text testimonials, Yotpo has expanded, using partnerships with Google and Facebook to help businesses grow through UGC through reviews, ratings, loyalty programs, referrals, and visual marketing. Among their list of featured clients is none other than our case study from before – GoPro.
UGC Tool #5 – Pixlee
Pixlee takes a unique approach to UGC – combining it with influencer marketing to bolster sales and increase conversions.
Today it seems like everyone is using AI as a selling point. And while it doesn’t make sense in every application, Pixlee is doing it right – using AI to decide where to display certain content across your website and social media platforms.
Another impactful thing Pixlee does is help you create what they call a “shoppable Instagram.” Pixlee explains it this way: “Create a direct link from inspiration on Instagram to purchase on your site by making your content fully shoppable.”
Why Your UGC Journey Should Start Now
The internet moves at such a fast pace that it can be hard to stay on top of the changing trends sometimes. UGC, however, is here to stay. It has been around for years but seems to be gaining momentum daily.
Which means NOW is the perfect time to get on board if you haven’t already.
Building trust with your audience and creating more brand awareness is essential regardless of your industry. There are different ways to go about it, but few are as effective and impactful as UGC when done right.
How are you going to begin integrating UGC into your marketing strategy? Do you have any UGC hacks that are working well?
We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Author’s Bio: Usman Raza is the co-founder of a Christian Social Media Agency and marketing strategist working with various brands online. Usman is the content marketing manager at an Email Marketing Agency, Best PSD to WordPress, and Nano Hearing Aids. He is devoted to helping small businesses bridge success gaps by providing in-depth, actionable advice on digital marketing, SEO, and small business growth. Follow him on Twitter @usmanintrotech.