How to Harness User-Generated Content

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Apr 2, 2024
Unlock marketing potential with user-generated content (UGC), a key strategy to validate authenticity and build trust with audiences.
A cheerful woman in a cozy yellow coat creates user-generated content in a well-lit room with a ring light and camera setup.

User-generated content (UGC) is an invaluable asset for your brand, offering authenticity and engagement directly from your audience. By harnessing the power of UGC, you can enhance credibility, engage your audience, and optimize your marketing efforts with real, relatable content.

The Benefits of User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is super helpful for any business trying to connect with people. It’s about using stuff that customers make about your brand, like posts and reviews, to show off how great you are. This can make people trust you more, get them talking about your brand, and save you some money.

Trust and Authenticity

People trust real stories from other customers way more than they do ads from the company. Seeing others happy with what you sell can make new customers believe in your product.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Customer testimonials – Share stories from customers who love your product.
  • Social media shares – Show off pictures and videos from customers using your stuff.
  • Ratings and reviews – Put the best reviews where everyone can see them.
Engagement and Community Building

When customers help make content for you, they feel more connected to your brand. It’s like they’re part of your team.

Try having contests where people can send in their pictures or stories about your product. Give out prizes to make it fun. Use branded hashtags so that when customers post about you, you can easily find and share those posts.

Cost-Effectiveness

Making all your content yourself can get pricey. But when customers create content for you, it’s like getting free stuff that other customers want to see.

Using what your customers make about your brand is a smart move. It makes your brand look real, gets people involved, and doesn’t break the bank.

Strategies for Harnessing User-Generated Content

A happy shopper with multiple bags looking at a laptop screen.

1. Encouraging UGC Creation

To get more people to create content about your brand, try giving perks like discounts or free stuff to people who make cool posts or videos about your brand. It’s a thank-you for their effort. Run contests or special events, especially during big holidays or when you launch something new. It gets people excited and gives them a reason to post.

When someone makes something about your brand, show some love. Like their post, comment on it, or even share it. It makes them feel noticed.

2. Curating and Sharing UGC

Set some rules about what kind of posts you’re looking for, like how big a photo should be or what it should show. It helps keep things consistent. Make sure to look over everything before you share it to make sure it fits with your brand.

3. Leveraging UGC for Marketing

Use the best user posts in your ads. It feels more real and can get more people interested. Make a special spot on your website for customer photos, stories, or reviews.

Keep an eye on what types of posts are doing the best so you know what to ask for more of.

Using real content from your customers can help show off how great your brand is. With the right approach to asking for, sharing, and using this content, you can build more trust and get people more excited about what you offer.

Managing and Moderating UGC

Keeping user-generated content (UGC) on track and making sure it fits with what your brand stands for requires setting clear rules and checking the content carefully.

Set Expectations with Submission Guidelines

Tell people exactly how they can share their UGC, like reviews or photos. Be clear about what kind of content is okay and what isn’t allowed.

Moderate Submissions to Maintain Quality

Use tools that automatically sort out unwanted stuff, like repeated posts or bad words. This keeps the quality up. Look over submissions yourself to make sure they follow your rules. Get rid of anything that doesn’t fit.

Foster an Engaged Community

Show off great UGC on your website or social media. It tells people you value their input and encourages them to share more. Always respond to comments and questions. This helps build a connection and gets people to contribute more.

Handle any negative feedback professionally and kindly. This keeps trust up and makes users feel heard.

By clearly telling people what you’re looking for and keeping an eye on the content, you can have a UGC program that works well and keeps everyone happy. It’s all about getting and sharing real, relevant content.

Measuring the Impact of UGC

It’s key to know if the content your users create is helping your brand. This means keeping an eye on certain numbers to see if you’re reaching your goals.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Measure

Here are some important numbers to watch:

  • Engagement Rate: This is how many people interact with your posts through likes, comments, and shares. A high number means people like your content.
  • Sentiment: This tells you if people are saying good or bad things about your content. You want more good than bad.
  • Reach and Impressions: This shows how many people saw your content. More views mean more people know about your brand.
  • Conversion Rate: This is about getting people to do something, like buy a product, after they see your content.
  • Sales Impact: Check if putting user content like photos or reviews on your product pages helps sell more. This means your UGC is working.
Tools to Track UGC Metrics

You can use tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to see how your content is doing on those platforms. For your website, Google Analytics can show you how people interact with user content.

Other tools like Hotjar show you how visitors move around your site, which can help you understand how they react to user content.

By keeping track of these numbers, you can figure out what kind of user content works best and focus on making more of it.

Real-World Examples of Successful UGC Campaigns

Two people reviewing a makeup palette during a beauty vlog.

User-generated content (UGC) can help brands if they use it right. Let’s look at some companies that did a great job with UGC:

Airbnb’s #AirbnbCitizen Campaign

In 2020, Airbnb helped their hosts during the COVID-19 crisis by not charging some fees and giving them money. They asked hosts and guests to share their stories with the hashtag #AirbnbCitizen. This got lots of people posting about their experiences on social media.

Airbnb made a video from these stories and put it on their website and social media. This honest sharing made people feel good about Airbnb and brought its community closer during a tough time.

Sephora’s #SephoraSquad Campaign

Sephora asks its fans and brand ambassadors to post beauty content on social media with #SephoraSquad. This includes tutorials, product reviews, and creative pictures.

By sharing what people post, Sephora can offer beauty tips and ideas in a way that feels real. This campaign helps Sephora connect better with its fans and learn what they like.

Challenges and Considerations

When you’re using stuff that customers make about your brand in your marketing, there are a few tricky parts you need to watch out for:

Moderating Negative Content

Keep an eye on what people are saying about you to catch any mean or inappropriate comments that could make your brand look bad. If someone says something bad, answer them nicely and try to fix the problem. This shows you’re trustworthy.

Respecting Intellectual Property

Always ask users if it’s okay to use their content for your ads or posts. When you share someone’s content, make sure to say it’s theirs. This is polite.

Encouraging Ongoing Participation

Keep talking to people who send you content by liking their posts or answering their questions. This makes a good community. Offer rewards like discounts or shout-outs to get more people to make content about your brand.

Authenticating Content

Work with people who like your brand and truly use your products. Check if the stories people tell about your brand are true to avoid fake marketing.

By paying attention to these points, you can use customer-made content smartly in your marketing. Just remember to keep things honest and respectful with your community.

Conclusion

User-generated content (UGC) emerges as a game-changer for brands, infusing marketing strategies with authenticity and trust. Harnessing UGC not only bolsters credibility but also deepens audience engagement and maximizes the marketing budget. 

By encouraging the creation of UGC, curating content thoughtfully, and leveraging it across marketing channels, brands can tell relatable stories that resonate with consumers. Effectively managing and moderating UGC is key, ensuring alignment with brand values while fostering an engaged community. 

Measuring UGC’s impact through robust analytics enables brands to iterate and enhance their strategies. As illustrated by successful campaigns like Airbnb’s and Sephora’s, when executed with care and respect for intellectual property, UGC can significantly strengthen the relationship between a brand and its audience, promoting sustained interaction and participation. 

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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