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Creating content can be hard work, but, in a world dominated by social media, you’ll know that you have to create content over and over again. 

This can be hard, which is why user-generated content, or UGC for short, has become so popular in the last few years. But what is it?

Below, we take a look at what UGC is, why and how you can use it, and how to obtain it.

What is user-generated content? 

UGC isn’t any one thing, it is defined as content created by people other than your brand. In other words, it’s content created by fans of your brand.

This can be anything from pictures and videos to tweets, blogs, testimonials, and everything in-between.

This not only helps to expose your product or service to those who might not have heard of you before, but provides you with a wealth of content you can share alongside the content you’ve created yourself.

Why use it? 

As we said above, UGC is a great way of obtaining additional content, which can help build out your content strategy. However, alongside this, it brings a host of other advantages, these include:

  • It can create trust: It’s been said that consumers are more likely to view UGC as authentic when compared to content created by brands. Therefore, this can help build credibility and trust with the wider public. When we look at millennials, 30% say they wouldn’t visit a restaurant if the Instagram presence wasn’t up to scratch. Meanwhile, 86% of millennials say UGC is a good indicator of the quality of a brand, while 68% of 18 – 24-year-olds said they take information gathered on social media into account when making a purchasing decision.
  • Drive purchases: With that last point in mind, nearly 80% of people overall, not just 18 – 24-year-olds have said UGC has an impact on their purchasing decisions. Meanwhile, 92% have said they preferred recommendations from people they know, and 70% from others online, rather than directly from brand marketing.
  • Build a content library: While your time and resources may be limited when it comes to creating content, resulting in you using stock images, graphics, old images or ones you’ve quickly made in the office, UGC can provide you with hundreds, if not thousands, of additional pictures and videos to help bulk out your content strategy.
  • SEO: Believe it or not, UGC can have a huge impact on your SEO with around 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands coming from links to UGC.

Aside from these points, UGC:

  • Puts customers front and centre
  • Is cost-effective
  • Can create high ROI
  • Can help build a community for your brand 

How do I use user-generated content?

Now that we know it works, what exactly can UGC be used for? Well, it can:

  1. Help you to get a campaign off the ground
  2. It can help build on a longer-running campaign
  3. It can be an expansion on an existing campaign to give it longevity and future relativity

 Below are three examples of major brands that have used UGC to do just this.

  1. Starbucks

Campaign: #RedCupContest

This was a new campaign and is a great example of how to get customers to promote your brand. Conducted in December every year, they get fans to submit cool photos of their coffee for the chance to win a gift card using the hashtag. So far, it has generated more than 30,000 photos.

  1. Wayfair

Campaign: #WayfairAtHome

This is a great example of using UGC for the long term. Embedded into its brand, Wayfair encourage people to share images of their home setup using the hashtag, which has since become a huge part of their online content campaign, generating more than 25,000 posts.

  1. Calvin Klein

Campaign: #MyCalvins

Now, here’s an example of a longstanding brand bringing an old slogan into the modern-day through social media and UGC. First uttered in a 1980’s advert as “Nothing comes between me and my Calvin’s” by Brooke Shields, everyday folk now use the hashtag alongside photos of themselves in their CK clothing and underwear, generating more than half a million Instagram posts along the way.

How successful is it, and how do I increase the content? 

While the above brands may be exceptions due to their size, it has been found that ads based around user-generated content drive a click-rate four times higher than those without it. It has also been linked to a 50% drop in cost-per-click compared to average ads.

Brands that use a mixture of UGC and traditional marketing also see brand engagements 28% higher. But how do you get it? 

Well, there is a market for it.

A survey found that 32% of people create UGC because they want to win a prize, while 60% have said they do it as they want brands to feature them on their feeds. Ways to get that all-important UGC include: 

  • Create competitions that require UGC
  • Ask them to share photos immediately after purchase or when they receive a product
  • Give them an incentive of discounts
  • Provide exceptional experience, such as when they’re visiting a store or unboxing a parcel

Alternatively, ask – 50% of consumers say they wish brands would tell them what content to create.

If you feel like UGC could help your content marketing strategy, get in touch with Relative today and see how we can help.

Adam Waring profile picture

About the author

Adam has been involved in digital marketing for over 10 years and developed the love of all things marketing after running his own company selling baby goods. He used to be in a band, and after a gig in Ibiza, gave Groove Armada a lift back to the airport. He is SEO & Content Strategist, so he is responsible for integrating digital marketing channels in terms of SEO, driving website traffic and increasing return on investment.

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