What is UGC & how can you use it for social proof?

When it comes to content marketing, taking multiple approaches and having a diverse mix of content types is always a great idea. Keep your audience as engaged as possible, no matter how they prefer to consume their information — the more touchpoints, the better!

That’s why we always advocate for multiple types of content marketing, no matter how big or small the brand. This includes a mix of email marketing, social media marketing, and blog content.

Another great way to mix up your content marketing is to include content directly from your users or customers. This user-generated content (UGC) allows you to build relationships with your audience, grow your community, and create valuable social proof around your brand.

Here’s everything you need to know about UGC, and how to make it work for you.

What is user-generated content (UGC)?

User-generated content is any type of content created and shared by a brand’s users, customers, clients, and fans instead of being created and shared by the brand itself.

What is user-generated content (UGC)?

UGC comes in many formats, including:

  • Social media posts
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Blog posts
  • Reviews
  • Testimonials 

Essentially, any unpaid content a user creates about your brand is UGC

Who creates UGC?

Anyone can create UGC: customers, social media followers, brand advocates, and more. Employees can also create UGC, as long as they are generating the content on their personal accounts and aren’t being solicited by the brand to create content.

4 benefits of user-generated content

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that good UGC can boost your brand.

Creates social proof

Social proof is a psychological concept where people will follow and copy the actions of others in certain situations. As a concept, it’s been around since the 1940s, though it has become more relevant than ever in our digital age. Think of it as peer pressure… but in a good way!

When users see real, genuine people advocating for a brand or product without being paid, it reinforces the idea that the brand is worth purchasing from. Think of the last time you bought something — did you look up reviews or follow a recommendation? That’s social proof in action.

Broadcasts an authentic message

Customers want authenticity — from brands and the product or service they’re purchasing. In fact, 70% of customers spend more with brands they view as authentic.

UGC signals to consumers that a brand is genuine and delivers what it says it will. Now that we’re in an age of dropshipping and random e-commerce sites, having a wealth of UGC proves that your brand is high quality.

Helps grow your community

Creating UGC allows people to be part of a brand’s community. People love to feel included in things bigger than themselves, and if they can be a part of what helps a small brand grow, it can influence brand loyalty and affinity in a significant way.

Of course, the more content you push out, the more people you’ll reach. Building your community not only opens you up to more potential customers but also potentially expands the base of people who may create UGC for you.

Influences purchasing decisions

When customers reach the lower stages of the marketing funnel (consideration and conversion), they’ll be looking for signals from real people that spending money with your brand is a good choice. That’s when UGC shines — it signals that your products or services are an excellent purchase. 

And it’s also immensely valuable for your brand if it works to convert them. Which, statistically, it will. One study found that UGC influences a whopping 90% of consumers’ purchasing decisions. The same study found that customers were willing to pay more and wait longer for products promoted with UGC.

How to make the most of UGC

So, your customers or clients are making UGC. Now what? Here’s how to harness its power.

Ask customers for their content

Put out a call-out, encouraging your audience to create content, and let them know that you’d love to hear what they have to say. This can come in the form of testimonials and reviews or take it a step further with social media challenges, contests, hashtags, etc.

Reward people for sharing

Being featured by a brand you love is often reward enough, but some brands encourage people to share content by offering incentives for those featured. This could be something as simple as a discount code, a freebie with their next order, or a lower-cost membership.

Encourage employees to share

Employees can create and share UGC as long as they’re not pressured or paid to do so — that’s when it crosses over into more traditional marketing content.

Considering they know the brand inside and out, some of the best UGC can come from employees — just make it clear that it’s optional and not a part of their job description. This can come in many forms, like video content about their workday or a behind-the-scenes look into what goes on in the product creation process.

Ask for permission

When reposting a customer’s content, always ask for permission. It’s not always legally required, but it’s definitely a good practice to institute. And don’t forget to credit original creators when you’re resharing.

Use UGC in different ways

Get creative. Instead of just reposting on social media, try using UGC in different types of content, including your ads, blogs, emails, and more. 

Build user-generated content into your content strategy

It’s clear that user-generated content has earned its place as a valuable marketing strategy. While creating your own content is still an essential part of marketing your brand, using UGC can really bolster your online presence, nurture new relationships, and improve customer loyalty.

Once you find the right way to slot UGC into your brand’s marketing efforts, it can give a serious boost to your marketing efforts. 

Work with a marketing agency like Scribly, to help build a content marketing strategy that makes smart use of UGC. Get in touch today for a free content audit!