User Generated Content: What Is It and Benefits for Your Website
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When you create great products and offer unbeatable service, your customers will want to tell others about you. The resulting content can be a powerful marketing tool for your business.
In this guide, we explore user generated content, its benefits, and how best to use it in your own marketing materials.
What Is User Generated Content?
Before we dive into the benefits and uses, we should first answer the question:
“Exactly what is User Generated Content?”
User Generated Content (UGC) is content which is created by the users of a brand’s products or services. This type of content is typically published by the user on social media or another platform such as blogs or forums.
UGC is often considered highly valuable to brands because it offers truthful, real-world insight into a customer’s use of a product. Even UGC with negative aspects can be helpful for brands looking to find ways to serve their customers better.
Types of User Generated Content
UGC comes in many types and forms. It is also widely published across many different platforms. This can make it a little tricky to source valuable content which mentions your brand, product, or service. Below we outline some of the most common types of UGC and offer some advice on how to find them.
Open any popular social media platform and you are likely to notice that there’s a lot of video content available to digest. This hasn’t always been the case. For example, Instagram was originally a photo-sharing app, but now sees a huge amount of video content being published across the platform every day.
This popularity can be seen in the explosive growth of video-first platforms such as TikTok (1 billion monthly active users) and YouTube (2.5 billion monthly active users).
Seeking out video user generated content is worthwhile for brands. This is because there is a high likelihood of it being available and because of the popularity of video content, which can make it a valuable marketing tool.
Finding video UGC for your brand can be as simple as typing your brand, product, or service name into the search bar on platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. If you’re lucky, some of your customers may have even tagged you directly in their video content – making life much easier.
Images are another common type of UGC. Although video content is growing in popularity, images still play a major role in many social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. They are also often used in longer written reviews such as blog posts.
You can find images much in the same way as you may find videos mentioning your brand. Simply type relevant keywords into the search bars on image-friendly social media platforms. You may also use a search tool such as Google’s image search to find image content surrounding your products.
Written content is everywhere. From super-short social media captions to long-form blog posts, your customers may be mentioning your brand in almost any corner of the internet.
One good example of written UGC is product reviews. These could be guides written by customers to help others decide whether buying from you is a good option or not.
Typically the easiest way to find written UGC is to type your brand or product name into a search engine such as Google. Then simply look out for sites which aren’t brand owned. You can also find mentions of your brand/product on social media by typing relevant keywords into the search bar.
Find Out More
- Discover How To Ask Customers for Reviews to encourage more written UGC
Podcasts continue to grow in popularity. In fact, one study found that 26% of those asked listened to podcasts every week.
With podcasts covering everything from self-improvement to true crime, there’s a strong likelihood that at least a segment of your target audience listens to podcasts – making them a powerful marketing tool.
But discovering audio UGC mentioning your brand can be a little tricky. Unlike written content, you cannot simply type your brand name into a search engine and find anywhere your products, services, and brand is talked about on a podcast.
There are three approaches you can take to try and find brand mentions in podcasts:
- Type your brand name into the search function on podcast platforms like Apple Podcast and Spotify. This only really works when podcasters mention your brand in the podcast title or description – great if it works, but you are unlikely to find much using this method.
- Type your industry keywords into the search function on podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. This approach is likely to return more results, but no guarantee that your brand will be mentioned – it’s a time-consuming approach since you will need to listen to the entire podcast to discover whether your brand is mentioned.
- Use a specialist tool such as Talk Walker. This is the easiest and quickest way to find brand mentions, but also the most expensive.
Advice from the Experts
TOP TIP: If you know your colleagues/friends/family listen to podcasts that may mention your brand, ask them to inform you if they hear anything relevant.
UGC vs Influencer Marketing
At this point, you may be wondering exactly what the difference is between user generated content and influencer marketing… they certainly are similar in many ways.
To clearly understand the difference, you need to familiarize yourself with two types of media:
- Paid Media
Paid media is any brand media coverage that your brand pays for directly. These can often be ads such as search engine ads, social media ads, TV commercials, and billboards.
Influencer marketing also typically comes under paid media. This is because a brand will engage with an influencer and pay them to create brand-focused content and share it with their audience.
Even if you don’t directly pay influencers (such as gifting free products), this can still be considered a paid relationship – as the influencer isn’t simply posting about your brand without your input.
- Earned Media
Earned media is any type of brand media coverage which you are not paying directly for. For example, if a customer buys your product and loves it so much that they recommend it to their friends on social media – this is earned media.
Those who are classified as “influencers” can create earned media for your brand, but only if they naturally purchase products/services and post about them without your input.
User Generated Content: Benefits
We have already mentioned many of the benefits of UGC in this article. Here they all are in a neat, easy-to-understand list…
- UGC is free
- UGC is natural and authentic
- UGC is typically trusted more than paid media
- UGC can help you reach new audiences
- UGC is a great tool for boosting SEO
- UGC helps develop a community around your brand
- UGC offers you real-world insight into why customers love your brand
- UGC offers you real-world insight into aspects of your brand you could improve
Using UGC on Your Website: Tips
So far in this guide, we have outlined exactly what UGC is, why it’s so great, and how to find it for your brand. But what do you do once you have found it?
Below we outline some of our top digital marketing tips for getting the most out of your user generated content:
Just because user generated content mentions your brand or products, doesn’t mean you have the right to use that content. If you want to leverage UGC in your own marketing campaigns you have to get permission to do so.
This can be as simple as messaging the owner of the content and asking if you can use it. In the message be as explicit as you can about how and where you will use that content. You may also like to highlight if and how you will be giving them credit for the content.
The best way to do this is to create a short agreement that details everything and ask them to sign it.
Advice from the Experts
TOP TIP: Many customers will be delighted to let you use their content, especially if credit is given. But you may also choose to sweeten the deal by offering them something such as free products or a generous discount on their next order.
Consider Where You Share
Although the creativity behind user generated content can occasionally be spectacular, it isn’t always the highest quality. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it, but just that you should carefully consider where you do.
For example, lower-quality UGC may not be suitable for use as a large image on your homepage. Alternatively, you may choose to share it on social media stories or include a dedicated UGC feed on your website.
Advice from the Experts
TOP TIP: One of the best places to share UGC is on the product page of the featured product. This gives potential customers real-life insight into how the product they are assessing works, looks, and feels.
Encouraging customers to create content is a great way to develop more noise around your brand and create options for use of UGC in your own marketing materials. Doing this can be as simple as asking users to share their experiences with your products and sharing UGC on your social media feeds.
Find Out More
- Work user generated content into your content marketing strategy – the Content Marketing Pyramid is useful for this!
User Generated Content: Summary
It is clear that there are many benefits of user generated content for brands. When customers feel compelled to create content around your products and services it offers real-world insight into how great they are. This helps develop higher levels of trust than brand-owned or paid media.
Having a strategy for encouraging UGC and how to leverage it in your own marketing is a smart way to boost profits from this free tool.
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