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How to Use UGC to Market Your Brand Organically

If we were to come up with a word that sums up 2023, we’d choose AUTHENTICITY. Gone are the days of impressive follower counts, idolized celebrity influencers, and in-your-face advertisements. Nowadays, authenticity is the key to success. Consumers want to know they can trust your brand—both in the effectiveness of your product/service and who you are/what your brand stands for. More and more, consumers are calling out brands that “fake it to make it.” Look back at our blog about marketing to Gen Z…authenticity is everything.

Recently, you might have seen videos or testimonials from customers featured on a brand’s social media. This is UGC—user-generated content. UGC is original, customer-created content (videos, photos, reviews, blog posts, etc.) about a brand that are posted online. It invites the consumer into the brand’s community, making the brand more relatable and trustworthy to potential customers. In fact, “93% of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by customers more than content created by brands. People trust people.”

You can prompt UGC or find it via social listening (looking up brand tags, branded hashtags, SEO keywords, etc.). UGC is BIG in 2023 … You probably see examples of UGC many times throughout your everyday life on social media, on television, in print, and more. Here are 6 key features of user-generated content.

6 Key Features of User-Generated Content

1. UGC builds trust between the brand and the consumer.

According to Hootsuite, over 50% of millennials make a purchase based on peer recommendations. Essentially UGC is the modern day word-of-mouth—a brand is not telling you to buy their product, a human is! How often do you ask your friends for their favorite makeup products or workout leggings? Do you tend to read up on Yelp and Amazon reviews before making a purchase? When’s the last time you watched a YouTube clothing haul, TikTok unboxing video, or Instagram Live “get ready with me?” It makes sense then that consumers are almost 2.5x more likely to view UGC as more authentic than branded content.

2. UGC can be organic (i.e. a customer feels inspired to create their own content about a product) or sponsored (in which a brand pays for content or offers product in exchange).

While sponsored content is obviously a little more directed, you want it to be as organic as possible. For example, if the influencer or actor you’re engaging with doesn’t really like the product, don’t feed them a fluffy script or pressure them into saying what you want to hear. VReal UGC boosts brand authenticity. Yes, some brands fake it, but consumers can tell.

3. UGC builds consumer confidence (or trust in what your brand has to offer).

It is experiential validation that your product or service does what it’s supposed to do—and does it well! Would you believe that “consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content when making a purchasing decision.” Because UGC is usually unedited and unfiltered, audiences get an honest look at the product (watching it being applied, seeing its quality, learning about its features, etc.).

4. UGC can go beyond social media.

With permission (which is needed for both organic and sponsored content that a brand chooses to reappropriate as an advertisement), UGC can appear on a brand’s website, in commercials, in email campaigns, and in targeted paid-for ads. The next time you’re scrolling through social media or watching TV, pay attention to how often you see UGC content!

5. UGC fosters community between your brand and your consumers.

With UGC, your customers literally become walking (talking) advertisements for your brand. Encouraging UGC (via contests, giveaways, campaigns with branded hashtags, or incentives like the opportunity to be reposted on your brand’s social media page—with proper permission!). Another off-shoot of UGC is EGC—employee-generated content. In EGC, employees are encouraged to share behind-the-scenes looks, “Day in the Life” videos, and product-focused content.

6. UGC can save your brand money.

Since production and acquisition are low budget, UGC is often much more affordable than influencer marketing or hiring an outside ad agency. While it certainly can’t be your only form of marketing, it can be an effective addition to your campaign strategy.

Best Practices for Using User Generated Content

Ready to get started with your own UGC launch? Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Always ask permission before reposting or using another person’s content in any capacity. Credit the content creator wherever the UGC is posted.

  • Use UGC as an opportunity to feature niche consumers and also a diverse array of audiences.

  • Not all UGC is right for all social media channels. Find the platform that will work best or—with permission from the creator—reimagine the content to fit another channel.

  • Make sure to review your analytics! You’ll discover what UGC is most effective and why.

  • Work with a strategy in mind rather than reposting content willy-nilly.

Need help designing your UGC plan? Schedule a call with us today!

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