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With the rise of social media, user-generated content has emerged as a vital strategy for brands and organizations to extend their reach and receive views/attention on their products. Whether it’s customers posting pictures on their Instagram Stories or content creators uploading videos to YouTube, these are both examples of user-generated content.
This blog will go over what user-generated content is, how it is used, and why it is important for brands and organizations.
What is User-Generated Content?
User-generated content refers to brand-related content that is created by customers (AKA someone who is not an official representative of your organization). This ranges from social media status updates, YouTube videos, and Yelp reviews, among many other forms of UGC.
The sources of UGC can vary from customers to employees. However, the bulk of UGC is from these sources:
- Customers: Unboxing videos shared on YouTube or praise-filled Instagram posts are both examples of how customers can create content “for” the brands of the products they are using.
- Employees: On the other side, employee-generated content shows the true story and value of your brand. For example, Madison Square Garden utilizes a recruiting video composed of MSG employees stating the brand’s values and their respective experiences working at MSG. This behind-the-scenes content helps the brand establish its identity and can be utilized across all social media platforms.
- Brand Loyalists: These are your organization’s most dedicated customers who will usually be the group that is most enthusiastic and excited about your organization. Because of this group’s passion for your organization, they can be more willing to create UGC for you.
- UGC Creators: Also known as influencers, this group of people creates sponsored content on their respective channels, pages, etc. for your organization. Though this content is meant to appear authentic, it is designed to showcase a specific product or brand.
How is User-Generated Content used?
Chances are, you’ve encountered some form of UGC before. Maybe you were looking for the golf clubs with the most forgiveness and stumbled upon golf club review videos on YouTube. Or perhaps you were planning a dinner and decided to read Yelp reviews to inform your decision.
UGC is widespread and is usually used to inform other audiences of their purchasing decisions. The most effective method to demonstrate UGC’s power is through real-world examples.
After a skincare influencer, Hyram, began discussing the CeraVe brand on his platforms with millions of followers, the brand’s products began selling out. This may seem far-fetched, however, even Google Trends is able to corroborate his influence on the brand’s performance.
Though this cannot be thoroughly proven, CeraVe’s earned media value is up 128 percent year over year after Hyram began sharing his experiences with CeraVe in 2020. This is further proven as the President of L’Oreal’s North America Active Cosmetics division stated that the social media influence “absolutely boosted sales.”
Why is User-Generated Content Important?
With all of this, you may still be asking yourself the question: “Why is UGC so important?” The answer is in the trust and reputation that it can build for your organization.
Nowadays, virtually every brand can be seen online. However, the key is securing the audience’s attention. UGC can play a major role in giving your brand more visibility and relevance in social media.
Nevertheless, UGC’s true power is in the authenticity of the content. Buyers are more likely to purchase from brands they know and interact with regularly. However, in the case of a customer trying a new brand, their first stop is usually consuming some form of UGC to help inform their decision.
Authentic UGC can significantly sway a potential buyer’s decision. Seeing that a familiar content creator is pushing a product that is truly valuable to them and is used often can pay major dividends when that potential customer makes a purchasing decision.
Many Americans are very distrustful of Mass Media. Only 9% of Americans trust mass media “a great deal.” Thus, for brands looking to expand their market, utilizing these mass media platforms is not only detrimental to the audience’s perception of your brand, but it is also astronomically expensive compared to UGC.
Thus, brands must work diligently to establish themselves as trustworthy. And the most effective strategy to accomplish this is to utilize authentic UGC to market your brand. 93% of marketers agree that consumers trust UGC more than content created directly by the brand.
It is clear that audiences turn to UGC as a trust signal in a similar way that you may ask your friends for recommendations or for their opinions. Thus, marketing authentic UGC can significantly increase the trust that consumers have in your brand.
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