User-Generated Content: How To Increase Brand Authenticity And Drive Sales

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by Chrissy Jones

User-generated content (UGC) is authentic, brand-specific online content (like reviews, videos, and photos) created by consumers that works as a more honest and trustworthy form of advertising for your brand. As people become increasingly skeptical of traditional marketing methods and polished ads, genuine endorsements from real people hold more weight than advertising coming directly from brands. In fact, almost 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations over all other types of advertising. So, by incorporating UGC into your social media campaign, you can build trust with your target audience, extend your reach, and drive sales.

Use the same platforms as your customers

Determining which platforms your target market is most active on can ensure your UGC efforts reach the right people and are most impactful. So, look at your social media metrics to discover where your audience largely resides and what type of content (like photos or videos) they engage with more. For example, Instagram is the go-to platform for photo sharing, with 50% of users becoming interested in a product once they see an ad for it on the platform. Reposting Instagram Story mentions from your customers is a particularly easy way to highlight UGC, with the potential for the user to even repost your repost, increasing your brand visibility even further. Facebook, on the other hand, is great for posting UGC video content. Facebook UGC video ads, in particular, work as social proof that encourages others to purchase your products or services. Ultimately, it’s essential to choose the platform with the highest chances of successfully encouraging as many people as possible to create and share UGC about your brand. 

Encourage customers to share UGC 

50% of consumers want to be told by brands what type of UGC to post, so it’s important you clearly let people know what you want from them. For example, perhaps you’re eager for customers to post video tutorials or demonstrations showing your product in action, and providing tips on how to use it. Alternatively, you may be looking for in-depth product reviews from genuine people that help other customers make informed purchase decisions. Either way, tell users the type of content you want to see. Creating a dedicated UCG hashtag also helps drive awareness. For example, Urban Outfitters uses the #UOCommunity hashtag to drive UGC on Instagram, while sparkling water brand LaCroix uses #LiveLaCroix to find and repost UGC on their accounts.

Throw a UGC competition

Holding regular UGC competitions also incentivizes users to share content about your brand. For instance, Starbucks’ Red Cup Contest asked people to decorate and post photos of their Christmas Starbucks cups with the opportunity to win a cash prize. Alternatively, Canon asks their customers to post their best photos taken with their cameras (along with specific hashtags), for the chance to be reposted by Canon on their main Instagram page. So, it’s important to think carefully about what competition works best for your brand. You may simply want customers to post reviews of your business, which works to publicize what people love about your products and ultimately boost sales. You’ll also need to consider the type of prize you can offer that attracts the most amount of entries. A goodie bag filled with your products is always a good choice as this appeals to existing fans of your brand. People who genuinely love your offerings are more likely to post high-value UGC, whereas appealing to the masses with a generic cash prize or retail gift card will likely result in a flood of low-quality, ineffective entries. That said, many people enjoy posting UGC for reasons other than the chance to win prizes, so you needn’t get too bogged down in dreaming up the perfect material incentive. For instance, 60% of consumers said they posted UGC as they wanted likes or to be reposted by a big brand, while just 32% of people were motivated solely by the prize. So, creating a fun UGC competition alone can be enough to get people joining in.

UGC has the power to boost brand awareness and drive conversions. By using the right platforms, encouraging customers to share UGC, and throwing competitions, you can stand out to your target audience, build stronger relationships with customers, and ultimately boost sales. 

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