User-Generated Content: How to Build Credibility and Trust by Harnessing Your Customers’ Content

The amount of time people spent on social media, as well as the number of online purchases, increased rapidly in the second half of 2020. The opinions and reviews of real customers have always been incredibly influential but in the absence of personal contact, user-generated evaluations, and product descriptions became more prominent on the internet. Furthermore, users began to believe less and less in the brand's advertisements, and more in the thoughts of regular consumers. The most influential type of content is user-generated content (UGC in short), and without it, people are more likely to abandon their purchases.

A survey showed that 80% of people would purchase from an online store if it included videos and images from customers and 58% left one if there were no reviews or photos from other shoppers. User-generated content is important; this explains why brands should consider UGC when marketing their products.

What Is User-generated Content?

UGC, as its name implies, is content produced by users about brands, products, or services. You have probably bumped into videos on social media showing people's morning and nighttime skincare routines, or unboxing freshly delivered packages. Most likely, you shared memes based on memorable moments from popular TV shows or saw a picture of your friend's favorite hot drink on social platforms.

Content generated by real people can come in many formats, including photos and videos, social media posts, product reviews and testimonials, blog posts, community forums, case studies, and live streams. And they are very likely organic and unsponsored.

People who have ever engaged with a brand or its products can create content about it. Most often they are:

  • Customers: People who have purchased a product or tried a service often share their opinions and experiences. They can create videos and photos, review the product's usability, aesthetics, etc., or even offer valuable feedback to the company.

  • Employees: Staff members and business partners may write their thoughts about their experience working with the company or share a 'day in the life' video in the office.

  • Social media followers: Individuals who are passionate about a company and its products will follow them on social media and talk about them frequently.

  • Brand advocates: They are fans who regularly refer a brand to their friends and family through word-of-mouth. They would most likely participate in the company's community-building efforts if asked. In the future, they may even become brand ambassadors.

  • Influencers: Digital creators also share unpaid content related to their favorite brands or products.

Why Do People Create and Share Content About Brands?

A strong emotional connection, belonging to a group of like-minded people, or simply the fact that a product works can all inspire users to write about products. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Emotional drive: It's not just ideas that evoke strong emotions, but business values and missions as well. Oftentimes, a consumer with a close emotional tie to a brand will share their feelings on social media through a series of posts, videos, or personal stories.

  • Community: Having a common interest or devotion to a product or service builds a sense of belonging among users. Businesses can also benefit from this tight community and amplify brand loyalty.

  • Social validation: Some people share content only to boost their self-esteem or to receive acknowledgment from others. However, recognition and social proof can further enhance a person's belongingness.

  • Influence: Several users strongly believe that their opinions matter to other customers and can influence their decisions.

  • Positive experience: A terrific product, excellent customer service, or a great personal experience can inspire consumers to express their opinions online.

  • Educating their peers: These individuals help others make informed decisions or discover new products with their honest reviews.

  • Rewards and incentives: There are several ways brands can encourage people to share UCG about them, such as prizes and discounts. However, in this case, we can no longer talk about non-sponsored content.

Can Brands Leverage UGC in Their Marketing Strategy?

It's highly recommended. UGC marketing sounds like a real jackpot, but companies must still plan every step as they would for any type of influencer marketing campaign.

To succeed, you must establish clear campaign objectives, which may range from introducing new products to gaining brand awareness. It is crucial that you understand your target audience's interests and motivations since they will be the driving force behind the campaign.

To align content with your brand's values and the campaign's purpose, you should provide a guideline that outlines the format and theme. In addition, you should select the platform that best meets your campaign's needs and devise an easy-to-use submission method.

Maintaining brand consistency requires your team to monitor content persistently and address any issues that arise. Obviously, the campaign's performance must be measured and analyzed to determine its effectiveness.

What are the benefits of user-generated content campaigns?

  • Authenticity: User-created content is regarded as much more trustworthy than branded content. By showcasing real customers' opinions and testimonials on their websites, companies can build credibility and trust with their audiences.

  • Brand loyalty: Feedback and reviews will help brands gain loyal customers.

  • Engagement: A UGC campaign increases consumer engagement significantly and boosts discussion about the product or service.

  • Visibility: As people engage with the brand, more UGC is created, resulting in greater visibility.

  • Virality: The content that customers create has a high chance of going viral and reaching a diverse audience demographic.

  • Content: Campaigns featuring user-generated content provide businesses with creative content that they can reuse in multiple ways.

  • Feedback: Brands can take advantage of the audience's ideas and feedback to improve their products or strategies.

  • Humanizing: The content produced by real consumers can influence the perception of a brand and create a connection between a business entity and its target audience.

Effective methods to boost UGC

Various methods exist for brands to encourage user-generated content, depending on their goals and user engagement.

Customer reviews: You can ask your clients to give their feedback on your products or services via email campaigns, surveys, interviews, or review platforms. Afterward, you can use these testimonials in your marketing materials. Patagonia, an outdoor recreation clothing brand features their customers’ adventures and emotional stories on their website.

Hashtags: Whether your brand creates campaign hashtags or invites your social media followers to do so, hashtags aggregate content under a specific keyword, which enables you to discover and curate content. A great example of this is #WanderlustContest by National Geographic, #MyCalvins by Calvin Klein, or #ChipotleLidFlip by Chipotle.

Community building: Keeping an active community and nurturing relationships with the audience will generate ample organic content. GymShark and GoPro are brands that excel at community building and profit from content generated by their fans.

Influencer collaborations: Influencer promotions are another way to generate UGC. Select creators who align with your brand and target audience and can effectively trigger their followers' reactions. Adidas and Nike frequently collaborate with influential athletes.

Giveaways: By offering prizes or products, people will definitely be motivated to create and share content about your brand or product. Food and beverage companies like Domino's Pizza and beauty brands like Dove use giveaways as a way to increase audience engagement.

How to repurpose user-generated content?

Diverse and creative content is guaranteed with UGC campaigns. Customer posts are authentic and reliable, and the strategy is cost-efficient. User-generated content should be utilized across as many channels as possible to ensure your business growth.

The content created by customers can be shared on social media channels either through photo posts or stories. You can incorporate user reviews into your email marketing campaigns and newsletters. Display a selected number of case studies on your website or blog. Product pages can include reviews and ratings from your customers. You can compile users' content into video compilations or create a series of blog posts. Use UGC in traditional marketing channels like radio and magazine ads, street posters, and brochures, or incorporate it into your presentations.

Challenges and Considerations for UGC Campaigns

A campaign that utilizes user-generated content comes with its own set of challenges. We already discussed some points and steps brands must consider while developing their UGC strategy. Let's now discuss some of the difficulties they may face.

Managing unfavorable content

UGC campaigns can generate positive as well as negative reviews. Strong negative emotions such as annoyance or frustration can also motivate people to voice their opinions publicly. As a company, you should be prepared to handle criticism professionally. This includes listening to customer complaints and responding to consumer concerns as soon as possible. You can decrease the proportion of irrelevant or mocking content if you outline a guideline for users and determine a set of moderation rules.

Legal and copyright concerns

Users must be informed of legal issues related to the content, including terms and conditions of submitting and using content. Because they created the photos, videos, and texts, they are the rightful owners, so you must ask their permission before using them. In addition, you also need to ensure that you have the proper rights to use the copyrighted elements within user-generated content.

Balancing UGC with branded content

While user-generated content is a powerful marketing tool, it shouldn't overshadow your brand's message. Your brand identity and messaging should remain consistent throughout all marketing campaigns. It is therefore imperative that you carefully curate and integrate customer-generated content into your overall marketing strategy, making sure it reflects your brand's identity.

Data protection

In order to ensure compliance with data protection laws, discuss how you collect, store, and use data in your UGC campaign. Don't use an individual's personal information or content without their consent.

Managing scale and volume

There's a chance that your UGC campaign will go viral and produce a huge amount of posts. It is essential that you allocate adequate resources to deal with the flood of submissions as well as the moderating and curation of posts and managing responses.

Examples of Successful UGC Campaigns

Apple’s #ShotoniPhone campaign: The #ShotoniPhone challenge was launched by Apple back in 2015, to highlight the iPhone 6's camera. Photographs taken with iPhones were uploaded by users, and a select number of images were used on billboards, Apple stores, and other media outlets worldwide. Apple used UGC to communicate the quality and potential of its new product. Over 28 million Instagram posts have been posted using the #ShotoniPhone hashtag as of today, and Apple's name has become synonymous with quality.

Starbucks’s #WhiteCupContest: People enjoy Starbucks coffee, and they scribble and draw on their iconic white paper cups. In 2014, the brand built its campaign around this idea by urging customers to doodle on their cups and upload a picture with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest to Instagram or Twitter. Nearly 4,000 images were submitted during the 3-week competition, and the winning design was printed on a recyclable plastic cup. The plastic cup was initially planned to be available in limited quantities, but it proved so successful that a year later even more were produced.

#GoPro and GoPro Awards: UGC plays a key role in the marketing strategy of GoPro. Thousands of videos and photos are uploaded to various social media channels with the hashtag #GoPro every day. A significant reason for this is the GoPro Awards, in which the company awards valuable prizes such as gear, money, or extra exposure to the winners. As a result of user-generated content, GoPro posts on YouTube four times as often as its competitors.

Wrapping Things Up

Positive UGC not only humanizes and makes brands more relatable, but also boosts their image tremendously. In addition to providing emotional connection and personalized experiences for users, it has a strong community-building effect and serves as social proof for others. UGC enhances a brand's image by adding authenticity to it, expanding its reach, and creating a positive customer perception.

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Anna is an influencer marketing expert and content marketing writer at HypeAuditor. She enjoys discovering new social media trends and features.
Topics:Campaign Types
July 14, 2023
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Anna is an influencer marketing expert and content marketing writer at HypeAuditor. She enjoys discovering new social media trends and features.
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Want to partner with influencers who will be right for your brand?
Find the best creators with HypeAuditor Influencer Discovery and its 137.2M+ account database.