User generated content, or UGC, is any type of content created and shared online by consumers. This content can include videos, pictures, tweets, testimonials, audio, blog posts and more. For example, if a customer went into a coffee shop and took a photo of their drink and uploaded it online.
In other words, it’s users, or fans, promoting and advertising the brand by themselves without being paid to do so.
Why use UGC?
UGC is one of the biggest ways to encourage engagement with customers; it gets your audience involved and inspires conversations around your brand.
Word-of-mouth referrals are the most trusted and valuable form of marketing. They show a more authentic and transparent side of brands and for that reason 92% of people are more likely to trust another persons recommendation over branded content.
UGC also helps to build a community around your brand, which helps make you appear more accessible and humanized.
One of the best parts about UGC is that it can be extremely cost effective. Your audience does not create this content for payment; they may create it simply to share their experience, to be in with a chance of being shared on your brands page or to try win a prize.
How to encourage UGC
One sure way to encourage UGC is by making your product, store or event “instagrammable”. Social media apps like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have encouraged trends in users sharing their purchases and experiences in order to gain even more added value. These users like to share aesthetically pleasing content, for instance a product with creative packaging or impressive presentation.
Take for example Coca-cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign in which users tried to find their names on bottles and shared pictures online when they did.
Another way to encourage UGC is to simply ask customers to share their content online using certain hash tags or by tagging you. You can offer them entry into a competition for doing so or simply a chance to have their content reshared by your page. Starbucks found another way to incentivize customers in their White Cup Contest back in 2014. They encouraged customers to decorate and doodle on their white Starbucks cups and the winner received a prize of a $300 gift card along with their entry made into a limited-edition reusable cup.