Amy Green
Amy Green on 16 April 2021

Originally published on The Drum

What is user generated content (UGC) and how can you harness it to build your brand?

Today consumers are a pretty savvy bunch. With many of us growing up in a digital world, we're used to most types of marketing, no matter how persuasive the pitch.

It's often not enough to tell people your product or service is great, nowadays we want to associate with brands that are authentic and relevant to our lives. That’s where User Generated Content comes in, it allows your customers to step in and explain to others why they love your products and services.


What is User Generated Content?

User Generated Content (UGC) organically formed from users creating online posts, such as videos, texts and images about products and services they love. Savvy brands then started to use this content as marketing to benefit their business. Very smart, as this approach allows your customers to authentically build your brand for you!

Why does this work? Because your target audience is more likely to engage with content that includes people they actually relate to genuinely giving feedback about products and services they are choosing to use. There’s also a sense of FOMO with UGC, if everyone that looks like you is posting about a specific face cream, it makes you want to try it too! Equally UGC can be aspirational, as we often follow people we want to emulate on social media, seeing the products and services they use can influence you to feel you need these too to upgrade your lifestyle.

In fact, 92% of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising.


UGC and Influencer Marketing

User Generated Content is content authentically created by your customers whereas influencer marketing involves working with content creators who have influence over certain target markets so that they create content to promote your brand.

UGC and Influencer Marketing are different but there is cross-over. For example, an influencer could genuinely be a customer for your brand and already sharing content promoting your products and services. Making them the perfect fit to work with for influencer marketing.

Equally you could work with an influencer on a campaign, who becomes such an advocate for your brand that they continue to share your products or services in their content in the future.


How to harness UGC for your brand

UGC refers to the content that is created by the users of a brand. This is because brands don't pay for UGC, it is unbiased and created by users because they like the offerings of a business. There are some brands on Instagram for example, who use UGC to fill their feed with content, from AirBnB who only shares pictures taken by their customers to Lush who use customer images as a springboard to discuss their products in more detail.

There are some nifty ways in which you can entice your audiences to create UGC for you. Why don’t you start a campaign? Users can take pictures and videos of your product or services, showcasing your values and the brand alongside their creativity. By adding a personalised brand hashtag you can run a competition where you track all the content via the # with your chosen winners receiving free products, services, discounts or offers. This is proven to involve and engage your customers with your brand. Build a community around UGC and have some fun whilst doing it. After all 74% of consumers rely on social media to inform their purchasing decisions.

Many UGC campaigns will only have a cost of the time taken to create the campaign but should you have a bigger budget, why not work with influencers to engage their audience, first make sure they are relevant to your brand. A perfect example of this is P&G tapping into Charli D’Amelio, TikTok’s biggest star, for the #DistanceDance, to encourage young people to stay at home and socially distance. This is a great example of the Healthcare industries adoption of TikTok in their marketing strategies. It quickly turned into a social-media sensation, garnering 17.7 billion views. Not only was this UGC but this also shows the power of purpose driven content being key to brand success. Relatable content that builds audiences, brand loyalty and positive change.


UGC helps build your audience's trust and helps you connect with their feelings and values, which is also a great tactic for purpose driven marketing. This why it’s crucial to NEVER FAKE UGC - we are not stupid, well most of us aren’t!


Some great examples of UGC

Content needs to be in line with your customers cultural interests. Check out Gymshark, who seem to smash all forms of UGC, Content with Purpose and Influencer Marketing. In fact, that is what they built their brand around! They were an early adopter of building an influencer community and it served them incredibly well as they are now a Billion Dollar Brand! UGC-based ads get 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click than average.

Equally many brands use specific hashtags to collate UGC and create a community such as as ASOS’s use of #AsSeenOnMe, Hilton’s #MyHGV, AllBird’s #WeAreAllBirds and Calvin Klein’s #MyCalvins.


How we can help you with UGC

We are experts in curating and enhancing the benefit of UGC for your business. We will guide you through your brief, script and conceptualise the content and finally produce the video. Although the content from your audience is all real, you still have to piece it together to tell a story. We are storytellers. We create content that works. As few as 16% of brands have a strategy regarding user-generated content. This is also something we can shape for you with our content strategy team, you wouldn't set off on a journey without a destination, so don’t create UGC without a strategy.

Get in touch today!