Before they buy, shoppers want to know what real users are saying. Make it easy for shoppers to find social proof by building user-generated content (UGC) into every step of the buying process--and watch your conversion rates soar.
If you’re wondering what UGC is, how to get it, and how to use it, you’re not alone. We’ve outlined six ways to find UGC and seven ways to use it to speed up your brand growth today.
WHAT IS UGC?
User-generated content is any text, images, or videos created by real users of a product. Unlike MGC (marketing-generated content), UGC is typically raw, real, and unscripted. It’s like a conversation with a friend. Also called customer-created content, it is most often found on social media or in reviews.
What often sets UGC apart from MGC are the imperfections of UGC. For example, messy hair, a messy room, a visible blemish, or a conversational tone contribute to the genuine, believable feel of UGC.
You may be thinking “UGC isn’t new.” And you are right.
What is new is how marketers are using UGC in place of and in addition to marketing-generated content to drive results. They’re adding it throughout the marketing mix, everywhere social proof can help shoppers make a decision faster. Opportunities abound for reusing this content to inspire your audience to take the next step.
WHY IS UGC EFFECTIVE?
When shoppers are considering a purchase, the actions and opinions of other people, even strangers, are influential. These statistics show the power of social proof:
-93% of marketers agree that consumers trust customer content more than content created by brands, according to Hootsuite.
-People referred by social media are 71% more likely to purchase, 29% more likely to make the purchase on the same day, and four times more likely to spend more on purchases.
-41% of consumers only need to see between 1 and 4 UGC reviews in order to be influenced to purchase, according to Adweek
-Word-of-mouth marketing generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, according to McKinsey.
Millennial and Gen Z customers have grown up online and can spot an ad from a mile away. For them, UGC is generally viewed as more authentic and relatable.
Because of its effectiveness, marketers are repurposing UGC to engage more, increase awareness, answer shopper questions, and increase confidence on shopping sites, leading to more conversions (sales).
This is an exciting time as marketers test and learn what content works best for their brands and their target audiences.
Let’s discuss how to get UGC for your brand.
6 WAYS TO FIND UGC FOR YOUR BRAND
01. Find Organic UGC
Customers naturally create UGC. You may already have UGC without even trying. When a customer tags a favorite brand in an Instagram post or TikTok video–that’s UGC. When a customer sings your praises in a review or mentions your brand in a blog or forum, that is UGC!
Find UGC anywhere customers are talking about or sharing your brand in content. In addition to reviews, search social media platforms for tags and mentions of your brand. Also, search by your brand-specific hashtags.
Instagram is currently testing a new process to help brands source UGC in app.
02. Ask for Reviews
What if you don’t have UGC? Don’t let this stop you from inspiring customers to talk. You’ll need to provide a little nudge. Slip a review request in your product shipment. Follow up after the delivery with an email providing a link to your reviews site. Incentivize reviews if you must. It’s that important.
03. Invite Customers To Share Content
Kevin’s Natural Foods inspires customers to share content by setting up a unique hashtag. In their Instagram profile below, notice how Kevin’s invites customers to share content in its Instagram bio and provides the brand-specific hashtag: Share your Kevin’s creations with #wehackedhealthy
FUN TIP: Go ahead and enter the hashtag #wehackedhealthy into the Instagram search bar to see the hundreds of content submissions shared by Kevin’s customers.
04. Run a Contest
A UGC hashtag contest is a giveaway in which the brand asks its followers to post a piece of content along with a specific hashtag on a social media platform to earn a chance to win a prize.
05. Hire and Pay UGC Creators
UGC creators are another way to build your library of content. They offer content production as their service, but they do not distribute content on social media or to their followers. If you need content, but not the reach and recommendation to their audience, this can be a great option.
Because UGC creators do not share your content on their social accounts, they can often be more flexible with the creative direction. If you find micro influencers are saying no to your brief, a UGC creator may be what you need.
But consider this advice: Do not try to make UGC look or sound like your marketing-generated content. You want UGC to look like it came from a customer. Remember, that’s why it works.
06. Send Product Gifts to Unpaid Micro Influencers
Micro influencers, also called micros, are people who create content for their social media followers around a specific interest.
Micros offer a loyal and engaged fanbase of 5,000-50,000 followers typically. While they don’t have the follower count of a celebrity, micros are more affordable, have higher engagement, and help marketers reach niche audiences.
Because micro influencers are motivated to share news with their followers, build a portfolio, or establish brand relationships, they are more likely to accept product gifts instead of payment.
PRO TIP: In your influencer agreement, negotiate the right to reuse the content so that you don’t have to go back and ask for rights in the future. If you are working with an agency, make sure they negotiate content reuse rights on your behalf.
Once you have secured rights to reuse an influencer’s content, your can repurpose it through all marketing channels and throughout your customer’s journey.
7 WAYS TO USE UGC TO GROW YOUR BRAND
Most brands are still learning best practices for using UGC. That’s excellent news for you. UGC is influential in all stages of the buyer’s journey. It builds engagement, community, and offers social proof. It can drive traffic, conversions, and average order values, too.
Here are 7 proven ways to use UGC to optimize results in your marketing mix.
01. Add UGC to your e-commerce product detail pages (PDPs) to increase conversion rates.
Select UGC to help reduce product uncertainty for the shopper. What important questions can you answer with these content? Then, plug the content into your PDPs and optimize. A/B test to see which photos drive the most conversions for your shoppers. Or, use a image optimization tool to quickly help you optimize imagery.
PRO TIP: To get even higher conversion rates, find ways to get shoppers to interact with your UGC by making it clickable. Instagram galleries that click through to the product page are a great way to accomplish higher conversion rates.
02. Add UGC to your Amazon and Shopify product pages.
Use images that answer questions and build confidence for your Amazon and Shopify shoppers. Optimize your images by testing and learning what works best for each marketplace.
Below is the Amazon product page with influencer UGC from the toy brand Educational Insights.
03. Use UGC in ads. Ads with UGC get 400% higher click through than traditional ads.
04. Share UGC across all social media platforms.
Share UGC across all of your platforms to maximize your reach, surround shoppers with multiple touchpoints, and get found by GenZs who are using Instagram and TikTok as search engines.
Fresh Express does a great job of resharing micro influencer UGC on their brand account @yourfreshexpresssalad on Instagram. Notice how they thanked and tagged the creator: “Thank you @eltinterodemama for this romantic video!” This deepens the relationship they are building with their fans and builds community.
05. Use UGC in email newsletters to increase conversion rates and lower creative costs.
In the example below, Fuchsia Shoes integrates a micro influencer’s UGC and testimonial into their newsletter. After they provide a dose of social proof, the brand adds a call to action, “Shop Polka Dots.”
06. When using influencers to produce UGC, make their social content shoppable.
By doing so, you can help convert your share of the millions of social media users that tap on a shopping post to learn more about products. Learn more about how to make your influencer content shoppable.
07. Create testimonial content from influencer captions, and share on your socials or website. In the example below, Baselayer Labs added an influencer’s caption to their image to create testimonial post on Instagram.
The bottom line is you can never have too much UGC. That would be like having too much word-of-mouth. Or too much social proof. But having UGC is just the first step. You must build it into your marketing efforts to build shopper trust to accelerate the buyer’s journey. And then optimize the UGC through testing and learning what works best for your shoppers.
ApexDrop is a micro influencer marketing agency for brands seeking growth in the United States. We specialize in producing micro influencer content in bulk. We’re different in that our creators accept your product gifts – not paychecks. Plus, we’ve negotiated licensing rights for all content for you. Clients of ApexDrop benefit from one-on-one consultations to repurpose their influencer content, test, and optimize for conversions.
Ready to get UGC working for you? Schedule A Free Strategy Call