Smartphones allow us to take pictures of everything we do, everywhere we go, and everything we eat. We can then share these photos online, with thousands of people, with minimal effort. User Generated Content (UGC) often fills our feeds but what exactly is it? And what benefits does it have for the brands featured? As a business owner, is it worth pushing for UGC and how do you encourage people to take photos/videos for you? In this short guide, we’re going to cover all of these questions surrounding UGC as well as highlight a few examples of brands using and receiving great user generated content…
What Is UGC?
User Generated Content (sometimes known as consumer-generated content) is original, brand-specific content created by customers. There can be many different types; social media posts, reviews, podcasts, videos etc. The only important distinction here is that, in order to be UGC, the content must be created by someone who’s not an official representative of the business. I.e. not an employee or affiliate. It’s content created by consumers who aren’t linked to business. As there are many different types, in the rest of this post, we’re going to focus solely on social media UGC.
Examples Of Brands That Receive & Post A Lot Of Great User Generated Content:
To help make it a bit clearer, below are three brands’ recent UGC on Instagram. These are all photos that genuine consumers have taken and posted of their own accord. Whether the brands choose to repost them or not, this content does a great job of showcasing real people’s experiences with the brands.
The popular London-based dessert shop screams Instagram all over. From the aesthetic decor and pretty cakes to the iconic pink front door, there are many opportunities to shoot a nice photograph to share online. Peggy Porschen really capitalises on this and they often repost UGC images on their account. All of their tagged photos are so on-brand that it’s often hard to distinguish which photos their photographer has taken and which are customer photos.
Lucy & Yak
As a bright colourful brand with a strong ethos, Lucy & Yak have amassed quite a social presence. Their tagged posts on Instagram are full of customers showing off their clothes which they often repost themselves onto their account. With photos upon photos of happy genuine customers wearing their colourful dungarees, Lucy & Yak really are ticking all of the authenticity boxes. Any customers looking to purchase an item can head to their Instagram and see lots of genuine customers styling their clothes.
Not only is Specsavers’ tagged photo section full of happy customers wearing glasses, but their feed is too. Their entire feed is full of UGC that they have reposted from their customers. Whilst it’s not as obviously branded as the other feeds in this blog post, anyone that goes to their account can quickly see a full range of their glasses and what they look like on different people, in different settings. Rather than post hundreds of photos of models in photo studios in their glasses, sharing real people shows a very personal, authentic side to the brand.
What are the benefits of UGC for brands?
1. Enhances trust
Professional photography and models are great to showcase a product or venue. But, as we’ve become very accustomed to filters, editing and ‘photoshopping’ it can often be difficult for consumers to identify what is real and what isn’t. Seeing genuine customers use or wear a product adds a real personal touch to marketing and enhances trust in a brand. On the most basic level, it shows that the product/service/venue is real and looks how it does online.
2. Visual reviews
With people able to see exactly what a product looks like in real life, UGC acts like a visual review or testimonial. Customers can see exactly what to expect from a product or restaurant and can make better informed decisions. They can see things from different angles as well as read people’s captions to get a better idea of the product. Reading a written review on a company’s website saying something is great is one thing. But, seeing someone’s pictures that they’ve posted on their account (along with a caption) is even more powerful.
3. No cost content creation
Customers buy your products or services (win) and then love them so much that they take photos of them and post them online (double win). Not only is this great for promoting your brand to a wider audience but it provides you with great photos to use in your marketing campaigns. It’s important to note, however, that it is best practice to ask the creator before you start using their images. Whilst most people will be happy for you to share, this cannot be assumed!
Not only that, according to research by Stackla, 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. So, with that in mind, here are 3 ways to encourage your customers to post UGC online.
3 Ways to Encourage Your Customers To Post UGC:
01. Set up and advertise a specific hashtag for your customers to use when taking images of your business or products
Create a branded hashtag specifically for your customers to use when posting on social media about your business. Two of the three examples included in this blog have their own hashtags. Lucy & Yak has #InMyYaks and Specsavers has #LoveGlasses. Including your brand name (or at least part of it) in the hashtag helps to strengthen the brand recognition. The hashtag #LoveGlasses could be for any eyewear brand, so isn’t the most obvious branded hashtag for Specsavers to use. Just like #LovePizza (which is likely to be very popular) wouldn’t be very effective for a specific pizzeria.
02. Make your setting/product/service something that people want to photograph and/or share online
Let’s just explain this one using Peggy Porschen, featured earlier in this post. From the front door to the food to the decor, everything is pretty. When designing the dessert parlour it’s clear that they had photography in mind. A wall-to-wall pink premises isn’t needed for UGC, but having aesthetically pleasing packaging, great products or trendy decor is a great way to encourage visitors to show off what you do.
03. Host exclusive events or launch limited edition products
Exclusivity is one of the simplest ways to create a buzz. If something is rare, or only available for a certain amount of time, people are more likely to want to show it off. This isn’t just the case for physical products, but for experiences too. Create a specific hashtag for this item or service to make it even easier for your customers to get sharing.
UGC can be a real asset to any business. It can enhance brand trust, improve brand recognition and encourage sales all whilst decreasing the cost of your content creation. Our product Connect is an authentic way to grow your business’ social media following in return for providing free WiFi at your venue. With free fast WiFi, guests are able to document and post online about their visit, creating a great opportunity for UGC. To find out more about what UGC & Unaro can do for your business, enter your details in the form below and one of the team will be in touch.