What is User Generated Content? The Simple Guide to UGC

Taryn Williams

User-generated content (UGC) is any content made by customers instead of brands, and it’s the secret weapon you need to grow your business.

Fun fact...ad-blocking software is used by 1 in 4 customers.

Why are we telling you this? Because your customers hate ads.

They hate the ads that interrupt their favourite YouTube videos. That interrupt their favourite TV shows. And interrupt their favourite apps. But if you can’t rely on the effectiveness of ads to grow your brand, where do you turn?

Enter User-Generated Content.

Also known as UGC (who doesn’t love a catchy acronym?!), UGC is the most powerful marketing tool you’re not using yet. That’s why in this article, we’ll do three things:

  • Teach you what user-generated is
  • Teach you how to market with people instead of at people
  • Show you how to launch your own user-generated content campaign

Let’s get right into it.

What is user-generated content?

UGC is any content created and published by users of a brand. These people aren’t official representatives of your business. Instead, they’re customers - real ones - who love your brand and create content in the form of images, videos, social media posts, reviews, or testimonials.

Here’s an example...

You’ve organised a cheeky weekend away (you deserve it!). The boutique hotel you’re staying at is too cute not to photograph, so you snap a few pictures on your smartphone. Then you pload them to Instagram and tag the hotel to share the love if any of your friends, family, or followers need somewhere cool to stay.

*Boom*. You just created user-generated content. Put simply, if it involves your brand and isn’t made by your team or affiliates, it’s UGC, baby.

What is the role of user-generated content?

Great question. We’re glad we asked it.

UGC can sound like one of the many marketing buzzwords that make your eyes glaze over (think ‘pivot’, ‘omnichannel’, or ‘synergy’). Truthfully, user-generated content has been around longer than you realise. UGC started out as reviews on websites like Amazon, Yelp, and TripAdvisor and has grown into a popular and powerful marketing strategy delivered by the most influential influencers.

The days of consuming content that’s professionally filmed, edited, and distributed are long gone. Your customers crave authenticity. And with smartphones placing HD video and full editing studios in the palm of your audience’s hands, customers are generating their own content every day.

❝As a brand, you don’t get to decide if you participate in the UGC conversation - it’s happening whether you like it or not. But you can choose to leverage the authentic content your customers are creating and use it to your advantage.

Remember when we painted the picture of a hypothetical hotel getaway that was too cute not to photograph? That hotel could find your content on social media, then reach out asking permission to share your content on their branded channels.

The result? A form of free advertising. And since 92% of customers trust recommendations from people over brands, you just created an ad that people won’t hate.
Why you should be using user-generated content

Average, ordinary, everyday customers are the world’s best content creators. With constantly improving phone cameras and interest in content creation, the scale of potential UGC is impossible to ignore. Oh, you want numbers? Try these figures on for size. In 24 hours...

  • 350 million photos are uploaded to Facebook
  • 95 million photos and videos are uploaded to Instagram
  • 500 million tweets are published to Twitter

More than a numbers game, UGC has become a trusted, memorable, and highly effective marketing strategy for brands of all sizes. And if you’re still on the fence, here are a few reasons to get off the fence and start utilising UGC in your next campaign.

✔ UGC is trustworthy

In a recent poll of the least trustworthy professions, advertising professionals came second last...one point above used car salesmen.

It might sting, but brand marketers and advertisers are seen as untrustworthy. Naturally, you want to position your brand in the best possible light. But your audience can see through ads from a mile away. No matter what you say or do, a branded message comes with a healthy dose of skepticism and mistrust.

The average Joe and Jane aren’t impressed by obvious marketing tactics. They crave real stories from real people. They crave connections. They crave shared experiences with people they trust and admire. And UGC provides all of those authentic qualities.

❝ Billions of images are shared on social media every day. Hidden inside this Everest of content are authentic, honest, and relevant brand experiences that can’t be manufactured, faked, or forced. At #gifted, we help you find the content your audience craves.

✔ UGC is authentic

According to a recent study, 8 out of 10 customers said they’d prefer to buy from a brand they consider to be ‘authentic’. More than a buzzword, authenticity is the secret sauce that powers online buzz, clicks, and conversions.

Remember, your customers aren’t passive recipients of TV or internet ads. They choose which brands to do business with, and it’s the authentic brands that get the edge. That’s where user-generated content comes in. UGC is seen as 3x more authentic than content created by brands (and 7.5x more authentic than stock photos).

✔ UGC is cost-effective

Not looking to spend big on your next marketing campaign? No problem. User-generated content is a highly affordable strategy that saves you time and money.

By #gifting a product or experience to an influencer, you’re outsourcing your content creation. This saves time and money. And since customers trust user-generated content more than branded content, you end up driving more conversions without spending big. It’s easy to sell smarter (and more affordably) by utilising user-generated content.

Keen to use UGC but you’re not sure where to start?

Let’s be honest, all the benefits in the world are great but what you *really* want is to drive purchases. And you’re in luck because with UGC, that’s what you get.

In fact, close to 9 out of 10 customers say user-generated content has a high impact on their purchasing decisions. But if you’re new to UGC, knowing where to start can feel overwhelming.

That’s why, at #gifted, we make the process easy and hassle-free to help your brand partner with the best influencers who already use (and love) your products and services.

Ready to partner with the world’s best influencers? Download #gifted to get started

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