User-generated content (UGC) is a type of Earned Media defined as community-created content talking about or showcasing your brand. For example, say you’re a luggage company. If a customer posts a photo or video of themselves at the airport and tags your brand — that’s UGC.
Studies have shown that touching items in stores make buyers more likely to make a purchase. User-generated content hits on those same sentiments by empowering buyers to visualize how products fit into their lives. Brands that effectively leverage UGC gain authority and credibility, which is particularly impactful since many brands struggle with the perception of inauthentic content. Similar to influencer content, 90 percent of social media users say that UGC influences their purchase decisions. This article will cover how to source and leverage UGC to build community and best practices for integrating UGC into your strategy.
User-generated content has quickly become one of the best ways for brands to integrate content into their strategies that feels authentic — which is key for reaching skeptical Gen Z and Millenials. While curated photoshoots and luxurious aesthetics have their place, today’s buyers want content that feels real and unpolished. Building a solid community around your brand will ultimately drive sales. Recent studies showed that when UGC is combined with professionally created content, brand engagement increases by 28%. Engagement is highly correlated with key success factors like brand loyalty and willingness to pay a premium price. Consumers who identify strongly with the brand's values and offerings are likely to become top customers.
When it comes to luxury brands, the mindset has historically been that UGC and any content which makes brands more accessible, will lower the exclusivity factor. However, as the market becomes increasingly saturated and the reliance on digital marketing grows, these brands must innovate to stay relevant. The content luxury brands, particularly UGC, choose to share should reflect their brand values and community.
User-generated content shouldn't be treated as filler content. Brands must ensure that they’re strategically selecting UGC based on their social goals. While it’s important that UGC feels authentic, that doesn’t mean it can’t be polished. Ensure that all content you’re using, whether owned or user-generated, fits your brand ethos. Dash Hudson customers use Vision to predict how user-generated content will perform on their feed.
User-generated content can be used in many different ways, from integrating it into stories, testing on paid, to showcasing ‘your brand in the wild’ on-site and implementing it on product pages to highlight that particular item in the real world. Dash Hudson customers do this using shoppable galleries.
Users who are tagging your brand in their content are a great jumping-off point for sourcing influencers and building relationships because they marry the desire for authenticity (they’ve been tagging your brand for free) with the reach and awareness that comes from paid influencer campaigns.
Create a campaign to go with a product launch or an event to encourage your followers to use a hashtag. Instant, shareable, lovable and creative.
UGC is a fantastic way to monitor brand sentiment. Overall, 95% of respondents who have had a bad experience said they told someone about it, compared to 87% who shared a good experience — and the same applies online. While no one likes receiving negative reviews, this presents an opportunity to directly address and proactively improve any issues with your products or services.
While historically, online consumers navigated to aspirational content and brands, the landscape has shifted. Today’s social media users are more skeptical of advertising and are looking to their peers for product recommendations. User-generated content taps into this desire for authenticity by showcasing products in innovative and fresh ways for today’s buyers. Brands can leverage UGC in a myriad of ways, from on-site galleries to paid media. The frequency of user-generated content curation and usage has grown enormously in the past decade. This trend will continue as the market continues to become saturated, requiring brands to innovate and embrace new methodologies to stand out.
Dash Hudson helps brands leverage user-generated content to grow and scale their social and e-commerce effectiveness. We help brands source content and distribute it seamlessly across their social channels and e-commerce stack. Dash Hudson gathers and showcases UGC and influencer content in the Library, UGC and Relationships sections of the platform. Brands can then quickly sort, find similar content and use Vision’s keyword search to identify the top tier pieces of UGC that are the best fit for your audience. Using Visual IQ, brands can better understand the broader visual elements and trends which make up their UGC to understand visually how their audience is talking about their brand. User-generated content is not just for the feed—brands can also quickly push it to their onsite galleries and product page widgets to add a shopping ability. In short, Dash Hudson provides brands with the tools needed to fully take advantage of UGC as a component of their digital strategy.
There’s a difference here between whether you should and whether you have to. Some brands believe an @mention or tag is sufficient credit; others prefer to make things more official with gathering permission. Your company’s legal team can usually speak to your brand policy for repurposing content. Keep in mind that getting approval is always great for building your community.
Dash Hudson customers use Vision, an AI-driven technology that analyzes a brand’s feed and predicts which content will perform with their audience. For brands who don’t use Dash Hudson, look at user generated content using a similar process to looking at in-house content. What content matches your brand aesthetic and values? How can you use UGC to show your brand in a creative way that still fits your feed?
Integrating new content styles into the world of carefully curated photoshoots can be scary. Start with a lower lift distribution channel like sharing UGC on your Stories or create a highlight gallery. You could also A/B test a paid campaign to see how it converts.