The connection between the brand and consumers is very strong nowadays. And consumers are no longer passive shoppers. They write about the brands they love, they react each time a brand makes mistakes, but most important, they create authentic content. Here's everything you need to know about it and the best user-generated content examples to get inspired from.
User-generated content (UGC) has the power to influence the purchasing decisions of potential buyers. It is more than just some customer testimonials. It's consumer generated content which is honest, raw and appeals to other clients in a way brand communication cannot.
Yet, how can you integrate UGC marketing within your own brand & content strategy?
Here is everything you need to know about it plus some user-generated content examples you can learn from.
- What is User-Generated Content
- User-Generated Content vs. Branded Content
- Why Is User-Generated Content so Important?
- Successful User-Generated Content Examples
- Create a Community Like Lululemon to Get More Than 40,000 Unique Visitors
- Follow Dove's Strategy to Include the Audience Into Marketing Campaigns
- Create a Safe Space Similar to Underlined for People Having the Passion
- Find Your Community's Stories Like Starbucks Does to Show Authenticity
- Make Every Customer a Personal Promoter as GoPro Keeps on Doing
1. What is User-Generated Content
User-generated content is a type of content created by your fans or other types of unpaid contributors.
This type of content is actually a process where users are promoting a brand fair-minded rather than the brand promoting itself. It can take various forms: leaving comments, posting pictures, adding videos, writing reviews and posts regarding your business.
(User-Generated Content) UGC is written by third parties, by people that are not related to your brand. It is free and published by unpaid contributors. This type of content is a sign of appreciation for your brand since it is coming from your client's desire to let the world know about you and how did they experience your brand.
2. User-Generated Content vs. Branded Content
We've seen what UGC means and you also need to see what branded content means before checking out the differences between those two.
What is branded content?
As the name says it, branded content is built by the brand. All the messages and the promotion are made entirely by the brand and those who represent the brand. The messages come from the internal team, not from an external point of view.
Now spotting the difference between user-generated content and branded content is easier,right? It is the way the message is created and by whom. If the first type of content is created by third parties, the second one is created by the brand. Below you can see some differences between UGC and branded content.
The list can go on, depending on the brand or niche, but these are some of the most visible differences between user-generated content and branded content.
There are some similarities between those two. Both:
- promote the brand;
- want to convince people of certain beliefs;
- show how to use the products or services;
3. Why Is User-Generated Content so Important?
When we hear all this fuss around UGC, lots of people ask themselves Why is user-generated content so important? or Why should brands use user-generated content?
The answer is simple:
User generated content is a vote of confidence. Your fans are promoting your business and your products by posting photos, creating videos, writing reviews, publishing blog posts, without any financial investment.
We saw various times that people love to share their stories, their experience online as seen on their social media content and lots of other platforms or websites. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and many other social networks are boosted by users' content. It is a good practice for any social media marketing strategy. And the success of the content that brand adds there relies on users' appreciation. So, brands should find a way to take advantage of this opportunity to drive engagement and appreciation from their audience.
The user-generated content marketing strategy can create brand advocates and brand ambassadors.
User-generated content is important because it brings lots of other benefits:
- You get interaction and time spent on your pages. If it's on social media, your engagement rates grow, if it's on your site/blog you get fresh content and Google likes that. It can help you with your rankings in the long term.
- You let people tell their stories and they like that.
- Your marketing messages come from the audience.
- Your brand's credibility and online visibility will increase.
- You can reach a wider audience.
- You get new opportunities to build an influencer marketing strategy with the right influencers.
Since we mentioned influencers, you can easily find influencers who talk about your brand by using BrandMentions, for example. The brand management tool gathers all the metrics you need from people that mentioned you.
Let's say you want to keep track of what everybody says about your brand, including influencers, fans, competitors, clients, news and publishers and so on. You simply add the keywords, in your case your brand name you want to track and you get a list of every possible mentions that exist online.
So, if you want to see top influencers that talk about you, and create UGC, then you can get a list of all those people. Plus, a lot of extra data regarding:
- the type of message - positive, negative - showed through the sentiment analysis feature.
- how many times they mentioned your brand.
- the number of followers that the person has.
- the number of impressions for each mention.
- the reach volume.
4. Successful User-Generated Content Examples
4.1 Create a Community Like Lululemon to Get More Than 40,000 Unique Visitors
The yoga clothing brand Lululemon wanted to create a community around its business, bring people together and create more user-generated content. On a simple look on their website, you can see a big part dedicated to their community.
They came up with the #thesweatlife campaign where they encouraged their customers to publish photos of themselves when wearing the Lululemon gear on Instagram using the branded hashtag (#thesweatlife). It is an example of authentic user-generated content.
|We created the program as a way to connect with our guests and showcase how they are authentically sweating in our product offline. We see it as a unique way to bring their offline experiences into our online community.|
If you want to generate engagement, bring visitors to your website and promote your brand, you can easily follow Lululemon's idea to create user-generated content. It is a way to value your customers and invest in your brand with no financial spending.
After their first campaign of #sweatlife, the brand received over 7,000 photos and videos of its customers on Instagram and Twitter and received more than 40,000 unique visitors.
Soon after that, Lululemon turned it into a full event, a festival to be more precise: Sweatlife - the festival. A full day of sweating in their set up studios creating with the best yoga teachers and experts in the field.
4.2 Follow Dove's Strategy to Include the Audience Into Marketing Campaigns
Many of Dove's campaigns are a great user-generated content examples.
The brand is an avid promoter of beauty, in all shapes, forms, colors, ages. Beauty is for everyone and they are still encouraging women to build body confidence and self-esteem.
Another user-generated content campaign you should take inspiration from is Real Beauty Productions platform.
The Dove ambassador and television producer, Shonda Rhimes encouraged women everywhere to share their stories or exploring and expanding beauty through photos and videos and build brand awareness. The idea was to change how women & girls see themselves represented in media and culture.
|Together we’ll challenge unrealistic ideas of beauty, inspire women to be themselves, and help all women and girls love the bodies they were born in.|
Dove Real Beauty Productions gathered lots of stories through this user generated content campaign. Several movies were released and lots of people supported this initiative.
4.3 Create a Safe Space Similar to Underlined for People Having the Passion
It first started under the name Figment, designed as a branded community that caters to teenagers who love to read and write fan fiction. When it first started, the community had over 300,000 members who could share, create, and moderate content.
In 2018, it was transformed into Underlined and at the moment it has almost 13.4k traffic according to Alexa.
It was created by Penguin Random House, an American book publisher and the largest general-interest paperback publisher in the world. The website has created lots of similar communities for book aficionados and not only.
It has a strong community of teens that make the website going and share the love for books and writing stories. It is built and sustained by highly engaged members that became brand advocates and have honest opinions about the products they enjoy or don't appreciate that much.
When Figment was shut down and right before it was redirected to Underlined, for lots of members it was a crushing moment. Below you can see two example of people writing about this.
4.4 Find Your Community's Stories Like Starbucks Does to Show Authenticity
Another example of user-generated content example we found inspiring for creating brand advocates is Starbucks Stories. A platform where the brand shares stories about their customers, people that inspire the world, staff members, poets, artists and so on. At the moment the website has gathered 99 stories from these people.
The strategy behind this campaign was to create a brand experience through customer stories but not only. Human-to-human interaction is more powerful than brand-to-humans interaction. These social hubs and real-life stories belonging to all kinds of people who meet at Starbucks are sending a sense of strong community.
4.5 Make Every Customer a Personal Promoter as GoPro Keeps on Doing
We saved the best for last. A great user-generated content example we get to see is from GoPro.
GoPro is no longer a product but a marketing platform for fans who are brought together by the same passion and desire for adventure. Most of their campaigns are based on UGC content because people are making great video content that is easy to share on their social channels. Basically, each one of them is a content creator.
On the same note, GoPro Awards have a long story, and the brand has given these awards for quite some years. It says a lot about the success of this campaign and how UGC has evolved and still keeps the fans engaged. Plus, each one of them could have a chance to win the big prize offered by the brand, which is a good technique to convince people to collaborate.
The GoPro community is massive, and it continues to grow. Statistics show that about 100 hours' worth of videos are uploaded every minute and at least 6,000 GoPro-tagged videos uploaded to YouTube every day. Moreover, almost 100 of GoPro videos have reached more than 1 million views.
“GoProing” is now a noun (and a hashtag on Twitter) used to describe the phenomenon.
So, what are we even speaking about?! It is an experience, no longer a brand. This kind of campaign has the biggest longevity and turns to be one of the most successful examples of UGC.
Hope you got plenty of inspiration on how you can leverage your own content strategy using UGC. The user-generated content examples presented bellow have great insights and can be a good starting point for your own user-generated content campaigns.
Probably the first and more important step is to study your audience, your brand fans's language, their expressions and how they communicate with other peers about your brand. Follow trending hashtags they are using on all important social media networks.
User-generated content is a powerful marketing resource and a great way to study consumer behavior. Use tools like BrandMentions to stay updated with everything that is being said about you, with everybody that talks about you, how they talk and way do they feel. Gathering all the important metrics before setting up your social media strategy (reach, impressions, number of mentions, followers, sentiment analysis and many more) can help you build successful content marketing and UGC campaigns yourself.