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User-generated content: A guide on how to grow your brand

by Canto  |  November 17, 2020

4 min. read
A young woman is sitting in a living room at a table, working on her laptop.

User-generated content (UGC) is a marketing approach for organizations looking to grow brand identity and create community engagement. UGC also has big potential to develop brand loyalty through potential or established customers. Let’s look closer at how it all works.

What is user-generated content?

In short, user-generated content is as it sounds, content that’s created and shared by customers, fans or members of a brand. These people are independent of a product and represent brand experience, however good or bad.

Social media and effective UGC

Brand advocates can use the popularity of social media and share views of a product to a large audience. Whether a Twitter poll, YouTube review or Instagram post, user-generated content is an effective way to build brand awareness and reach potential clients. It gives consumers a real-life perspective that your brand is authentic and provides insight into consumer needs.

A quick differentiation between UGC and professional content

UGC is best distinguished from professional content through the relationship the contributor has with the brand. The first thing to know is that contributors of UGC are not paid (influencers can be an exception) when promoting a product or brand. User-generated content comes from users or advocates sharing voluntarily. Although disclaimers and waivers may be signed with any future usage of content, UGC providers aren’t creative agencies or freelancers.

woman sat at table working on a laptop

Participation is at the heart of UGC. Social media plays an invaluable role in building an audience that showcases your brand organically. Here are three tips when using user-generated content.

Post images, video and promote via hashtags

Successful user-generated content builds trust and inspires loyalty. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are excellent ways to promote content with image-led campaigns that focus on user journeys. Asking your user to associate a post with a hashtag allows companies to monitor trends and reach out to potential customers. Permissions can also be granted to use UGC through hashtag features.

Images can also be powerful. Let’s say your company’s product is outdoor shoewear and you’re launching new hiking boots. And maybe you’d like to promote in a way that highlights how it helps people get outside of their comfort zone. With social media campaigns, you can showcase your brand through the people who use your product, and spread the good word with a hashtag that makes it visible to a wider audience.

team working on user generated content at desk

Increase brand awareness with competitions and online campaigns

Competitions can be very impactful, especially if the winner produces content that is then used for an advertisement. This type of UGC helps build brand awareness organically. UGC is powerful because it promotes the qualities of your product or service. Brand advocates can become an essential asset to a company.

Launching a campaign to find an exciting image, new logo or design also creates buzz and draws user attention to a product. The reposts, shares, likes and comments generated online promote brand identity. This type of UGC creates buzz, helps with trending online and presents organizations with trackable user data.

Launching a competition through your social media channels is an effective promotional method. Users can post personal experiences and share real-life journeys that a brand can then publish. This engagement boost usually rewards users who participate with a gift.

Keep in mind brand consistency when choosing user-generated content. When launching content online make sure the rules are clear and simply stated. If you have a brief, make it accessible and have a review team in place to assess the quality of submissions.

Three benefits of effective user-generated content:

  • Increases traffic across all social channels
  • Unique perspectives from individual user submissions
  • Drive the brand narrative through customer engagement

A man yelling something.

Look for brand advocates that spread your message

Video and motion platforms like Youtube and TikTok provide opportunities for sourcing user-generated content. Reviews, tutorials and product placement often take place on these platforms. A tip when sourcing content from creative advocates is to consider if their emotional stance and narrative theme sync with your brand message. Having cheerleaders is great, but having them cheer about your product in a voice reflective of your brand is even better.

The quality of user-generated content can vary. Consider that most USG customers are not professional creatives. What is trending and when to promote should also be kept in mind.

If receiving content or researching online, ensuring copyright is upheld is another consideration. Users who enjoy a brand and its products aren’t necessarily adept at any legal issues that can arise from posting images or videos.

Things to keep in mind with UGC:

  • Weak content harms brand image and affects google rankings
  • Understand user and copyrights before launching a competition or campaign
  • Establish a process that facilitates large volumes of content

Following these guidelines will increase user engagement while ensuring copyright infringements are avoided. Utilize your audience with exciting competitions and campaigns that create a buzz around your brand.