A Complete Guide to Leveraging UGC as a Small Business
Let’s talk about the modern marketing tool that’s helping small businesses develop, build their audience, and display their credibility–user generated content. As a small business owner, it can certainly be a challenge to create (and even curate) enough content to keep your customers interested and your brand alive. And honestly, unless you strategically switch up what you’re doing and consistently put out valuable content for your audience, people will lose interest. What if it didn’t have to be all about your content? What if content marketing wasn’t all about what you were saying about your business?
“When you say it, it’s marketing. When they say it, it’s social proof.”Andy Crestodina
We’re diving into how you can grow your business with UGC and leverage a natural appeal for your brand.
What Is UGC?
User generated content (UGC) is a collaboration between a brand and a user. This content can be of any type–pictures, videos, testimonials, product reviews, blog posts, anything that comes from a brand’s fans or users.
When you think of a brand sharing UGC, you might associate it with the current social media fad influencer marketing. Although the concept is similar and the two types of content might appear to be the same thing, they’re actually quite different. If you have to pay someone to mention, review, feature, or talk about your brand, that’s not user generated content, it’s influencer marketing. UGC is free! And arguably better.
Consumers are smarter than we give them credit for and aren’t always convinced about a product when they hear about it through a paid influencer. Although influencer marketing is a valuable tool for many marketing strategies, UGC creates a different type of feeling around its content. It’s often obvious when an influencer is being paid to talk about a product. They use “#ad” on their Instagram stories or their 1M followers are always hearing about the same 3 brands. UGC feels the opposite–a bit more genuine, authentic, and relatable.
Why Use UGC?
We’re already using so many familiar types of content in our strategies. Why is adding user generated content to our marketing plan so important too? Authenticity!
Consumers want authenticity in brands and UGC creates that for them. We even have the facts to prove it–UGC is actually 9x more effective than influencer marketing. Content that features what other people are saying about your products is much more effective than what someone you’re paying (an influencer) or your own brand is saying. UGC is social proof that what you’re selling is worth the money you’re asking consumers to pay. And what better way to execute this than by using your biggest fans to launch crowd-sourcing content initiatives with their free user generated content?
Sharing UGC humanizes a brand with personality, life, voice, a super rad fan club, and real people behind its products. It creates trust–as consumers, we want to know what we’re going to buy before we get it. And the more enthusiasm you have from people in your corner the better.
You boost engagement with user generated content too! UGC increases social engagement through social media posts and shares, retweets, and contest entries. When your brand is surrounded by genuine people taking a genuine interest in your products, share what they’re saying–it makes everyone else want to talk and engage with you too.
6 Types of User Generated Content
Not sure where to find user generated content? Here are some awesome types of user generated content and a few tips on how to monitor UGC.
- Facebook and Instagram: Keep up on comments, new user posts, tagged photos, shares, and giveaway contests, and monitor what people are saying about you. Search for your product names or brand on Facebook. Or go to Instagram, it’s full of product specific reviews, tagged posts, and IG stories that might feature your products too.
- Blogs: Stay on top of checking for blog comments, shares, and backlinks. Check out what people are saying about your stuff. If it’s great, complimentary content, share it!
- Twitter: Twitter has been overlooked recently, but despite its monthly user decline, your brand may be able to find useful UGC on the social media site. Search for anything about your brand in the search bar and pull the UGC from the social media website to use in a social post or retweet.
- YouTube: As one of the most common platforms for user generated content, YouTube is full of product review videos, how-tos, and featured product videos. If your brand appears in a user’s video, share it!
- Customer Review Sites: Sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google My Business, and YellowPages can acquire an extensive amount of reviews for your brand if you put the platforms. Share what people are talking about. It could be in the form of having a banner on your website that says “5-Star Yelp Restaurant” or thanking a customer for an awesome Google review on your Facebook page.
How to Use UGC In Your Marketing Plan
Authentic branding for your small business is one of the best ways to administer growth. Many small businesses are already using reviews in their marketing strategies in addition to creating content, curating content, developing video content, and podcasting and UGC is simple to incorporate with what we’re already doing.
Here’s how to create user generated content: simply share or repost the awesome things that customers are saying about your brand or the great photos that they’re taking. You’re increasing brand awareness with UGC by incorporating users’ content with brand messaging. When you put the two together, engagement soars. And what better way to market your brand than by putting this authentic user generated content right on your own brand channels? Just remember to always give any UGC creator credit for their awesome content!
Tips For Using UGC In Your Small Business Marketing Plan
Small business to small business, we understand that incorporating another new element to your marketing strategy can become overwhelming. No fret! We have a few simple tips for using UGC in the most effective way.
One of the most popular ways to take advantage (and also encourage the creation of) UGC is through social media contests or giveaways. We see these all the time on our social media channels, and there’s a reason for it–they work.
Host a contest on your Instagram page. In order for followers and non-followers to enter, require them to do a few things that’ll benefit your brand:
- Follow your brand’s page
- Tag their friends in the comments of your post
- Share your post on their own page
- Share your post on their social media story
By developing these rules for entry, you’re getting that user to follow your brand if they aren’t already, tag their friends which makes those friends come to your page as well, and share your post so every person that follows them can also get a glimpse of you. Then, all the new people who see both your brand and contest for the first time might also enter to win. And then their followers and friends see you too. It becomes a cycle!
Share Success Stories
Everyone loves a good success story or learning about a new product that they might love. You, as a small business owner, especially love success stories when they’re surrounded around your brand. When you come across one of these wins, talk about it. If it’s an Instagram post, repost it on social media. Or maybe it’s a product review on YouTube. Write your next blog about what people are saying about your product and how they’re putting it to use. Then imbed the video too. Sharing the content that other people are creating for you will first, put authentic content on your page, and second, give credit to the user who kindly took time out of their busy schedule to share positivity about your brand.
Relate To Your Users
How are consumers talking about your brand? What types of images are they using in the content they’re creating for you? What about their voice? If you’re finding patterns in the “branding” that customers are using for your company within their UGC, consider how your brand can incorporate those styles into its own strategy. These UGC creators are the people that you’re selling to, the ones who make your brand go. They’re your primary audience–consider relating to them (or people like them) even further by talking in their voice and relating to their personalities.
Gain More UGC With UGC
By encouraging your customers to produce user generated content for your brand, you’ll generate even more content that you can utilize. But how do you do this without hiring an influencer? There are a couple of ways to execute this plan. First, feature your users and give them credit. Use lines like “To be featured on our page, tag us and use the hashtag #[BRANDNAME]” or “How do you rock your [BRANDNAME] apparel? Tag us!”. Follow through and use this content on your social media–it’ll make your users feel important and appreciated and you’ll acquire loads of new content this way. Second, add a fun note in your packaging that encourages reviews or created content from your customers. For example, say something like “You’re gonna rock your new bikini on the beach this summer! Share your next sandy-toed adventure with us by using #SandInMyToes”.
Some Stats to Prove It
Still need convincing that you can grow your business with UGC? We’ve gathered some stats to credit our point even further.
- 90% of shoppers say that UGC is one of the strongest components of their purchasing decisions. Consumers care about what other people think and the fact that others like your product gives them the confidence they need to press the “Place My Order” button.
- Less than 50% (yes, less than half!) of shoppers don’t trust brand ads. That means TV commercials, magazine articles, social media ads–they don’t care what you have to say about yourself. They want to know what other buyers think … the ones who are actually paying for and using your product.
- When comparing two very similar products, customers are more willing to purchase the product that they’ve seen user generated content for. And, get this! They’re actually willing to pay more for a product if they’ve seen authentic content about it.
- User generated content is a common trend right now, especially with millennials. 72% of people report having already created UGC for a brand on some type of online channel. Consumers love to share the products they love.
- 89% of people say they’d post about a positive travel experience.
- 89% would share content about a restaurant.
- 65% would post about health or beauty products.
- And 62% would post about a new car they love.
It’s all about trust and that’s exactly what user generated content creates. Consumers want to know what they’re going to buy before they get a product, so when others talk positively and authentically about it, that trust is built.