User-Generated Content Guide: How customers can grow your influence 

7th April 2022

Have you ever written a comment on a blog? Shared an unboxing video on YouTube? Shared a picture on your social profile? Or recorded video testimonials to share your experience about a particular product?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’ve been actively creating user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated content. You’ve been helping so many brands to grow.

GoPro, the video equipment company sustains its YouTube and Instagram presence with user-generated content. 

The first 3 videos shared on the channel have generated 400,000+ million views for the brand + 18.9 million followers on Instagram. For free!

Most of the time, brands never ask users and customers to share their experiences. 

Customers do so because they’re happy, satisfied, and felt obliged to spread the message.

In this post, you’ll learn how brands are using UGC to generate consistent traffic, leads, brand awareness, and boost revenue.

What is user-generated content?

“User-generated content (UGC) is any content — text, videos, images, reviews, etc.— created by people, rather than brands,” as defined by Claire Beveridge.

Essentially, these types of content from and by users can be shared on your blogs, social media networks, local directories, and other community-driven platforms (forums, Subreddits, etc). 

User-generated content is particularly useful in the marketing field. Because it’s free and can outperform traditional media. 

While brands shouldn’t pay for UGC, they should encourage it. Not only will this increase brand loyalty, but it will also help with revenue. 

Types of user-generated content

You’ll often find different types of user-generated content (UGC) online. 

While some may not apply to your small business or campaign, here are the most popular types that can grow your business:

1. Visual content (photos and videos)

The use of consumer photos and videos can help brands and retailers showcase the best of both worlds. 

The combination of these two forms of content can help increase conversion and sales. 

Sparkling water brand La Croix uses a hashtag (#LiveLaCroix) to find UGC (photos and videos) on social media channels. 

The company curates and shares these visual content pieces for its followers to enjoy. This makes their user-generated content hyper-personal and attractive. 

The popularity of these types of content has prompted many brands and retailers to put more emphasis on these forms of user-generated online material.

Today, 88% of millennials search for photos or videos of products on social media sites when making buying decisions. 

According to HubSpot, 36% and 24.5% of consumers purchased a product directly from Facebook and Instagram respectively.

Even though images and videos are less common than text, they’re a valuable resource for brands and retailers. 

Users can help a brand get noticed by posting photos and videos related to their favorite products and services. 

By leveraging these types of content, you can make your business stand out from the competition. And with a good strategy, your business can get the most out of it.

2. Customer reviews

A useful type of user-generated content is customer reviews. 

The Amazon marketplace automates the process of leaving reviews on every purchase. Users can rate features, give star ratings, or write a review right after checking out.

The reason is simple: Reviews boost the organic visibility of the product pages and build social proof for the brand. 

Also, repeat and high-value customers are likely to leave positive reviews on products. 

Customer reviews are important for many reasons. 

They can prove to consumers that the product is reliable, and they can trust the reviews. To a degree, more reviews mean more sales, according to Shift4Shop.

Reviews can be used to convince future customers that the brand is trustworthy. 

Customer reviews are mostly uncensored. After all, the brand may not even know that customers left reviews on different platforms. 62% of consumers will abandon a brand that censors reviews.

79% of consumers say that the reviews of products they’ve purchased are very influential in their purchasing decisions. 

With this in mind, you should invest your time in building a community of loyal customers and fans. This is the easiest way to get unbiased reviews regularly.

3. Testimonials

At Metigy, we’ve fully embraced the use of testimonials as a form of user-generated content. 

When we receive testimonials, we transform them into engaging testimonials to win customers’ hearts. Here’s a testimonial from BIRDI:

If you haven’t considered using testimonials as user-generated content, now is the time. 

“Reduce the friction as much as you can,” says Sophia Bernazzani. Don’t make it difficult for customers to willingly write and share testimonials. 

An important part of your marketing strategy should be getting testimonials from happy and satisfied customers.

Providing real customers with positive feedback about your product or service can go a long way toward building brand loyalty and sales. 

Plus, testimonials can increase user engagement, brand awareness, and awareness. 

Especially when the testimonial comes from an influencer or an industry leader. If it’s in video form, it’s even better. 

Here’s an example from Mike Lander, a testimonial for SPI Pro.

Here’s another example (text) testimonial that Joost de Valk, founder of Yoast left on OptinMonster:

Note: Whenever you receive testimonials from customers, take it a step further. Write a detailed case study (see above) to showcase what your company did to help the customer achieve the results. 

Consumers look to reviews and testimonials as proof of your product or service. 

So ensure that your testimonials are informative, useful, and accurate. This is crucial if you want to attract new customers.

By incorporating testimonials and reviews into your marketing, you’ll boost customer engagement and boost sales. 

Why is user-generated content important?

  • It makes your brand authentic and desirable
  • People trust other people, not brands. 
  • UGC grows your community and establishes your brand loyalty
  • It increases conversions and influences purchasing decisions
  • UGC is more cost-effective than influencer marketing and Facebook ads combined

How to get user-generated content

The best user-generated content usually comes from fans, users, and customers. It can also come from employees if they’re happy with the Boss or company culture.

Here’s an exciting example from Scout24 Group. As a company, Scout24 Group has an awesome perk that encourages employees to bring their dogs to work. 

This is a huge bonus to dog owners, as they no longer have to pay extra for doggy daycare or, even worse, leave their beloved pets behind every morning. 

Employees are excited to share this with the company. In turn, the company showcased it on their Instagram profile, blogs, etc.

So whether you want your customers or employees or fans to send reviews, testimonials, and all, you need to find a way to get content from them.

Here are some of the proven ways to get user-generated content:

1. Ask for customer feedback

You have to assume that your customers don’t know the next step to take. With this mindset, it’s important to ask for their feedback. Tell them what to do next.

If you notice that they are not leaving comments or reviews, ask them politely to do so. 

Squarespace prompts users to take a survey after reading their newsletter. This is one effective way to get customer feedback.

The best way to gain valuable insight into your customers is to ask them for feedback.

Consumers value authenticity and the ability to share their experiences will help you understand your target audience and make changes that will benefit your business.

Some popular methods for getting customer feedback include focus groups, customer surveys, and meeting with trusted consumers. 

With focus groups, for example, “the ultimate goal is to get users to contribute equally,” says Gigi Devault.

These methods are easy to implement and can provide a wealth of information.

A user-generated content strategy elicits customer testimonials and reviews. 

Such content can be posted on social media profiles and will serve as social proof for the brand. 

Customers are more likely to trust brands that post customer feedback, so you should post these testimonials wherever possible. 

A good strategy will also involve a little bit of testing and measurement to ensure the results are worth it. Ultimately, it is a win-win for you and your customers.

2. Incentivize customers with a prize

One of the most effective ways to gather customer success stories is to reward them with a prize. 

Incentives for sharing success stories can be simple or elaborate. Many brands offer prizes to encourage customers to tell their own success stories. 

Often, a discount or prize is more valuable for repeat purchases, and it’s a good way to increase brand loyalty. 

For example, mattress brand Leesa offers up to $500 discounts on mattresses + 2 free pillows or a free toy if the referrals spend more than $20 on one purchase. 

Another example is the toddler sleep toy brand Riff Raff & Co, which rewards its advocates with a free toy when they refer 5 friends. 

These spare toys are great for backups, and they can be the perfect gift for friends.

Incentivization marketing is a tried and true method of marketing that has worked for many brands. A well-known example is incentive marketing in the entertainment industry, where tickets are usually sold to fans first. Users of the sponsor’s product or service are also eligible to win a prize. 

Using an incentive is a proven way to generate buzz about your product or service. The key is to select the right prize reward and make it interesting.

3. Create shareable events

Creating shareable events is a great way to generate content from users and get more engagement on social media. 

Note: It’s not necessarily about the event, but its buzz and marketing materials.

HubSpot creates branded conference swags and items to giveaway before and during their events.

It’s also a great way to promote your event. A call to action will encourage attendees to share their experiences with their social networks and tag you in their posts. 

Providing free event Swag, Badges, and Lanyards is another great idea. 

This will encourage more people to post and give you more exposure on social media. Here’s an example from Pheedloop:

To make your event more memorable, hold contests for your participants. A contest is an excellent way to create organic user-generated content. 

Ideally, hold your contest on Instagram. Studies show you’ll grow 70% faster compared to Instagram accounts that ignore contests.

You can also offer prizes for the best picture. You can even ask participants to take a selfie with your products or services to earn an event pass or merchandise. 

Here’s how ASUG does it.

Once you’ve got your audience’s attention and contribution, you can leverage the user-generated content to market your brand on social media. 

User-generated content: In summary 

Not all types of user-generated content are created equal. 

You can only encourage users, customers, brand loyalists, and employees to contribute and share your message when you understand the virality of each content archetype.

To get better results, start by defining your content marketing strategy. Look for ways UGC aligns with your existing marketing goals. 

Then create a path or guideline that tells users specifically what kind of content you’re most likely to feature on your blog, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and on your advertising campaigns.

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