User-generated content (UGC) is an often overlooked tool for marketers to leverage. By providing a unique and authentic look into a customer’s experience with your brand or product, UGC can help attract new customers to your business.
What is UGC?
User-generated content (UGC) is any content created by a customer or prospect about a particular brand or product. Like your own content, UGC can take many different forms, including social media posts, photos, reviews or even something as highly-produced as fan-made commercials.
While many organizations may organize campaigns to solicit UGC from their followers, it’s just as likely that this content can be produced independently. Either way, individuals or groups that create user-generated content are not paid for their efforts.
A great example of a UGC campaign is REI’s ongoing #REIChallenge. The outdoor gear and apparel brand frequently posts calls-to-action for their followers to engage in an activity such as the #TiniestMile challenge and post photos or videos of themselves doing so. REI then posts favorites on their own social media channels.
In this way, REI is able to engage with their customers while also soliciting free content and impressions from those same followers. By leveraging your customers and prospects to market for you, user-generated content offers a unique value to brands.
The Value of UGC
The most significant value-add of user-generated content is the level of authenticity it provides your brand. More often than not, individuals trust other individuals more than they trust the brand itself. I would rather purchase sneakers recommended by a trusted friend than a company trying to sell me what they think are the best sneakers.
While UGC is certainly more prevalent with B2C brands, it can be applied in the B2B space as well. Enabling your prospects to understand how someone similar to them utilizes your product or solution or how it helps them do their job better is an excellent reason to leverage user-generated content.
Adobe is an excellent case for UGC. Their users regularly create video content, blogs, tutorials and more about how to best utilize different applications in their suite. Given that individual users invest time and effort into creating this content, it demonstrates a mark of trust and affinity that users have for the product.
If your brand or product can inspire users to create their own content featuring or in support of it, it enables your brand to showcase that you have created a community of users. In a way, it takes a certain degree of pressure off of your own marketing efforts when you have a base of users marketing you of their own accord.
All that said, it’s important to note that user-generated content can go both ways — positive and negative. While UGC gives everyone a voice about your brand or product, the same things that make it great can also make it dangerous to your business as well.
Users or followers of your brand may share complaints, usability difficulties or support issues online. If much of this content goes without a response, potential customers may only see negative content associated with your brand. As a business, you need to actively seek out UGC and monitor your social media and web presence in order to quickly and effectively respond.
While a lot of negative UGC may be support issues that you’ll be able to address, there will likely be complaints you will not be able to handle, at least not directly. For example, if there is a large number of posts on Twitter that say your product is overpriced, it’s unlikely that you will change the cost of your product. That said, this UGC trend could inform your future messaging that describes why your product is valuable and worth its price tag.
While not all positive, it’s important to monitor your web and social media presence for UGC in order to effectively respond to or promote content that your customers are creating about your brand.
User-generated content is an excellent value-add to your business in that it leverages your customer’s experience to support your marketing efforts. By empowering your users to create content that supports and features your brand or product, you create a library of assets that future prospects can discover and ultimately choose your business because of.