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Does User Generated Content Really Work?

User Generated Content (UGC) is content—reviews, photos, videos, images, fan art etc.—created by people, rather than brands. If you’ve spent any time scrolling on social media, you’ve seen UGC. You’ve probably even participated in it without realizing. Do you remember Starbucks’s #RedCupContest that comes around every December? Every photo posted of a red Starbucks cup is advertising content that Starbucks didn’t have to create, and they also didn’t have to pay to get it on your feed. Your brand can do the same thing.

Why should you use UGC?

People trust brands that are relatable. Perfect looking models with blemish free skin and blown out hair holding a cup of coffee are ... not how we look when we wake up in the morning. Many brands only share a glossy version of reality that isn't relatable to our day-to-day lives. Because UGC is submitted by real life human beings without a make-up and hair team, it's easier to envision yourself using the product. It's why influencers have influence!

So much of what we see on social media is airbrushed and color corrected. It's hard to know what to believe - that's why users love seeing undoctored photos of products submitted by real people. Think about it. How often do you check the reviews on Amazon hoping that someone has shared a photo of the product they received? It's way easier to believe a photo shot on an iPhone vs a photo shot by a professional that has been cleaned up by top editors. UGC makes your brand more trustworthy to consumers.

Successful UGC Campaigns

Cinnamon Toast Crunch #CTCVoiceBox

Cinnamon Toast Crunch created a a challenge on TikTok where users would hold up a backwards Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal box in front of their face and sing Whitney Huston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody. This challenge gained them 1.3 BILLION views on TikTok. They were able to get their product in front of a mass amount of users without creating a traditional add.

Whole Foods #WholeFoodsHaul

Whole Foods encourages their users to share photos of their full cart (or counter) of groceries with the hashtag #WholeFoodsHaul. Whole Foods will pick their favorites and share them to their feed. This helps shoppers have confidence in the quality of produce Whole Foods carries. People buy from PEOPLE, not brands. People they trust.

Coca Cola #ShareaCoke

This campaign is epic and still going strong. Coca Cola released a line of Coke cans and bottles that featured people's names on the label. Coke lovers were encouraged to search for their names, and when they found their name, post a photo of themselves with their named Coke and the hashtag #ShareaCoke. Now Coke offers a customized Coke bottles. You can even get your pet's name on it, as seen (adorably) above. The brilliance of this and #WholeFoodsHaul - people are buying their product and then helping them advertise their product. Now that's some good UGC.

UGC Ideas to Get You Started

So maybe your company can't afford to offer customized versions of your product to generate UCG. That's okay! Here are some simple ways to start.

1. Encourage your customers to use a branded hashtag whenever they post about your products.

Ex. If your Etsy shop is called Tilled Candle Co., add a stamp to the outside of your packaging that encourages your users to use the hashtag #unboxingwithTilledCandleCo when they share a picture of their new candle.

2. Create a challenge with a specific hashtag and a reward for your users.

Ex. If you own a coffee shop called Black Bean Brew, encourage your users to post pictures of their best attempts at latte art with the hashtag #blackbeanlatteart and tag your shop. The winner of best latte art gets 5 free drinks.

3. Giveaways! Giveaways are a simple way to up your engagement with UGC. Requiring users to share your post to their stories and tag your company is one of the easiest ways to utilize UCG. Users may be less willing to post on their feeds, but a share to their story in the hopes they might win some free stuff is a no brainer.

If you haven't been utilizing UGC in your digital marketing, now is the time to join the trend. Did you know that 92% of marketers think their content is relatable, while 51% of consumers think that less than half of the content they see from brands is relatable or authentic? That's a glaring comparison. Need some help making your content more relatable and authentic while also navigating the world of UGC? Hit us up at Media A La Carte.