Without a doubt, digital media is an essential marketing channel in today’s world. Social media is used by nearly every demographic, with everyone having a distinct identity and many people wanting to be seen, known, and appreciated. Additionally, in this era of content creation, professional photography and videography are now highly accessible to the general public. Gone are the days when you had to appear on the big screen to be considered a “Celebrity” by the general viewers.
Companies spend a lot of money on celebrity appearances in their marketing activities. Nevertheless, with the shifting trend, your average consumer has the potential to become the “Face of the Brand” on digital platforms. And guess what is the cherry on top? It might be almost free of cost!

Understanding user-generated content
We are talking about User-Generated Content (UGC) which means digital content created by consumers of your product rather than created by the company itself. It can be video content such as product unboxing videos, vlogs, shorts, reels, and even gamification. Photos or social media posts, blog posts, and podcasts containing product reviews also fall under this category.

There is no barrier to creating UGCs. General customers, brand loyal customers, influencers with a large follower base, industry experts, and even your employees can share their product experience. Customers typically generate this form of content, but the brand can also give a nudge to encourage people to create UGC.

Into the world of UGC benefits

There are numerous benefits of utilising user-generated content because it offers a unique value nearly impossible to develop with a brand’s conventional advertising and marketing efforts.

  • Customer engagement: People prefer to interact with their friends or someone they follow on social media rather than the brand; therefore, UGC directly increases customer engagement. When someone posts a product review on social media, asking questions and starting a conversation is much easier. Individuals who lead the discussion have a sense of ownership of the brand. Through this, the audience develops a sense of community. This aids in the promotion of deeper customer-brand relationships.
  • Better reach and visibility: UGC enables you to reach consumers at the micro level across numerous channels. UGCs are very likely to reach those who are truly interested in or looking for that specific product, thanks to the social media algorithm! As a result, user-generated content can successfully complement your target marketing. People sharing photographs or videos of them using your product increase the visibility and popularity of your business.
  • Search engine optimisation: Publishing relevant and fresh content on a daily basis helps upgrade your website’s ranking, making it appear higher in search engines than others. Also, when customers combine relevant keywords with your brand’s name, you get an SEO boost. As a result, if you want to add new content to your website without spending a fortune on digital marketing, try leveraging user-generated content.
  • Customer analysis: As a brand owner, you spend a lot of time and effort understanding your target audience’s preferences. UGC gives you a view of how the customers perceive your product and their true opinion. A smart marketing team can draw their inferences based on available UGCs and design their upcoming marketing and product development strategy based on that.
  • Enhanced authenticity: One of the most important benefits of UGC is that information is usually in its most raw form, and people find it more authentic when they hear it directly from fellow customers. When someone sees one of their Facebook friends regularly checking in at a particular restaurant, they will automatically develop a sense of trust in that brand. When a person follows someone on social media and sees them wearing a dress, that individual is given a realistic representation of that look. UGC offers individuals a more trustworthy and accurate depiction of its products and services. As a result, such consumers are self-motivated to purchase from you.

Tried and Tested ways to make the most of UGC

So far, we have covered the extensive benefits of UGC. Now, let us look at some of the tried and tested ways to make the most out of UGC for any brand. Please note that this depends on the specificity of a brand and should be tailored accordingly.

  • Start a hashtag contest: You can organise a contest where people can engage in fun activities using a specific hashtag. Trivago, a travel-related company, held an Instagram photo contest with the hashtag #trivagofaves. People had to share a picture of their favourite hotel listed on Trivago with the hashtag. There was lucrative prize money for the winner. This is an example of how a hashtag campaign can create a buzz about your company and encourage people to create UGC.
  • Offer incentives for UGC: Consider rewarding customers who share UGC with discounts, freebies, or shoutouts on your social media channels. You can put up a title for the winners; for example, if you own a fashion brand, you can feature “The best look of the week .”People love to get featured. So they can share the poster on their socials as well.
  • Incorporate gamification: Gamification providing users with fun tasks to do in exchange for a reward is an appealing technique to motivate users to participate in UGC initiatives. Nike, the world-famous athletic product brand, leveraged this technique by allowing users to track their physical activities through an app, like distance, calories burned, heart rate, and so on. They could share the result on social media and compete with friends.
  • Build a community: Social media is the primary site for users to post their UGCs. But often, the product you are selling might not pique the attention of the mass people, deterring users from sharing UGC. Let’s say you are a Fitness Equipment Brand. You can create a Facebook community where fitness enthusiasts can actively interact, share their workout pictures, ask questions, and write reviews of your brand’s fitness products.
  • Customise the outlook: We have all seen “Unboxing” videos. But, if you look carefully, all those vibrant videos we come across on Instagram showcase really pretty and creative packaging. People love to share beautiful moments of their lives on social media. A pleasant packaging or one with a personal touch, such as a good wish for the customer mentioning their name, can make a big difference in UGC marketing!
  • Integrate social media posts on websites: Make sure to use all the UGCs from multiple platforms best. People will not take the trouble of spreading your content to different channels. Consider adding a section on your website to display what the happy customers have to say about your products, along with images and videos. Visitors will value the veracity of the reviews over what you say about the brand.

User-generated content is a highly effective marketing tool for capturing the attention of your target audience. To produce the most efficient content, set a clear objective for your company and incentivise customers to develop content in accordance with that. With the changing marketing landscape, customers now have more control over what they want to buy, so brands that successfully leverage UGC can reasonably expect a significant rise in customer engagement and sales.

Author-Hridita Islam

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