If you ask us

The hero of social media marketing during lockdown has been user generated content (UGC).

Quite simply, it’s any type of content created voluntarily by customers, clients, followers or fans that features a brand or product.  It could be a photo, video, comment, blog or social media post.  (Don’t confuse UGC with reviews which are a completely different topic!)

Although growing in popularity for some time, UGC has come into its own during lockdown.  Many brands, unable to produce fresh advertisements due to social distancing, turned to the social media channels of consumers … and they often found gold.  Posts such as this from Lucozade went viral.

But if you think UGC is only suitable for consumer brands, think again.  It can be equally effective in the business and professional services sectors.

Before we give you some tips on harnessing the power of UGC in your marketing activity, here are some stats:

  • Social media campaigns featuring UGC attract 50% more engagement
  • 93% of consumers say UGC influences their buying decisions
  • The use of UGC on websites increases dwell time by 90%
  • Digital ads featuring UGC have 5x more click throughs

If these stats don’t get you thinking about how you could incorporate UGC into your activity, then ponder this … 45% of people will unfollow an account if they feel it is too self-promotional. 

The fact is, since the early days of social media, people have got savvy.  Brands that constantly post about how great they are no longer cut it. It’s akin to the difference between advertising and media relations – people realise that when you pay for an ad, you can say virtually what you like, whereas being featured in a piece of editorial carries far more clout as it’s viewed as an impartial, third party endorsement of your expertise.

Anyway, back to social media.  Over the past 12 months, there has been a dramatic drop in the percentage of consumers who trust influencer posts.  This is partly because influencers are now legally required to clearly state if they’re being paid or provided with free products in order to provide a good review.  But it’s also due to a shift in consumer attitudes.

Just as health, yoga and wellness have gripped society, so has the value of authenticity.  Consumers are looking for brands and businesses they can trust, that have credibility.  And what better way to evoke trust than by having real-life customers endorse your product or service with genuine and heartfelt posts about you?

One more fact before the advice … Toyota has increased engagement on its Facebook account by a whopping 440% by incorporating UGC into its activity.  So, the question remains, how can you tap into this rich seam, either as a consumer brand or business?

  1. Devise a strategy and decide the type of content you want users to tag you in.
  2. Invite people to tag your account handle in photos they post of your product or event for a chance to be featured on your profile – offering prizes is a good incentive for this. 
  3. Create a dedicated hashtag for your campaign. This will make it easier for users to find you and endorse your product/service. Fashion giant BooHoo used this tactic brilliantly at the start of lockdown when they launched #boohoointhehouse and invited people to post photos of themselves wearing the clothing of the moment, leisurewear.  The beauty of being so well-known meant BooHoo didn’t even have to offer prizes – PYTs simply flocked to post photos for the sheer kudos of featuring on the brand’s stream @Paperchase similarly asks people to post photos featuring their products.  People do.
  4. If your company holds events such as seminars – in person or online – again using a unique hashtag and asking people to share comments and photos of the event (potentially with the incentive of a prize) will significantly increase the number of posts you receive.
  5. If your business operates in a sector such as the law or finance, where referrals and recommendations from other professionals are par for the course, consider building  affiliate groups and relationships where you and your associates can post positive content and promote each other’s services online, helping expand your content reach even further to new users that may not have heard about you yet.
  6. Be sure to always ask permission to use or share a photograph or video you have been tagged in.

Let it be known that you positively welcome posts and content about your company on social media.  Make sure you always ‘reward’ people for their efforts – a simple acknowledgement is often enough.

UGC is not just for Christmas.  It’s an important – and cost effective – component in your marketing toolbox.  Treated well, it will give you fresh content, enjoyment and love for years to come.