Brands that incorporate user-generated content in their social media campaigns can boost the number of visitors returning to their sites by 20 percent and increase the time consumers spend on their websites by 90 percent.

user generated content social media

How do you turn customers into activists? It’s a question more and more social media marketers are asking – and for good reason. When customers create and share content that demonstrates their real and happy experience with a brand, potential customers listen. Those potential customers are also more inclined to engage with the brand delivering that positive experience.

The numbers tell the story. Social media campaigns that include user-generated content (UGC) achieve a 20 percent increase in returning visitors and a 90 per cent increase in the amount of time consumers spend on the brand’s website. UGC images are 81 percent more likely to convert your social media followers into buyers. Why?

A study by customer content solution provider TurnTo Networks reveals:

  • 90 percent of shoppers say UGC influences their decision to make a purchase, outranking all other forms of marketing.
  • 81 percent are willing to pay more and wait longer for products paired with UGC.
  • 63 percent believe UGC creates a more authentic shopping experience.
  • 73 percent say UGC increases their purchasing confidence.
  • 61 percent report UGC encourages them to engage with brands.

These are big numbers that represent an even bigger opportunity for brands as social media platforms continue to grow worldwide. The total number of social media users is expected to hit over 4.4 billion people by 2025. Why is UGC so effective? Because everybody wins. Brands and the fans creating UGC build their profiles and potentially the number of people who follow them online.

What is user-generated content?

TikTok videos about a favourite product, tweets about an exceptional customer service experience and Instagram stories about an event that are created and shared by individuals are all examples of user-generated content. These posts are organic, meaning they are not sponsored and the creator was not paid to make and share them. In addition to highlighting a specific product, UGC can also showcase a brand’s values and aesthetic. This content can come from customers, influencers, fans and employees, and can take many forms, including:

  • Text
  • Videos
  • Images
  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Live streams
  • Blog posts
  • Social media content (e.g., tweets)
  • Podcasts

UGC is original and brand-specific. It provides social proof that the brand delivers what it promises.

If as a brand you plan to share UGC, credit the creators. This will help strengthen your relationship and build further engagement.

Six benefits of UGC

  1. It’s authentic and authenticity builds trust and credibility. Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view USG as authentic compared to brand-created content.
  2. Gets people talking and helps build community and engagement.
  3. Can be reused across multiple social and other channels, including email and brand website landing and checkout pages.
  4. Influences buying decisions. Seventy-nine percent of people say UGC impacts their decision to purchase.
  5. Is a cost-effective way to supercharge your social media marketing strategy.
  6. Works well with e-commerce and supports shopping in social apps such as Instagram.

Best practices for making UGC part of your social media marketing strategy

Choose the right social media channels

Show up where your target audience is on social media and where potential brand champions can have the biggest impact and influence.

Instagram is all about striking visuals. Ask customers/followers to share photos of your products and to tag you. Repost images and story mentions. Often, users repost the repost, further extending the reach of the original UGC.

Twitter is emerging as another great place to share images and retweet UGC.

Facebook is the first social platform and offers strong ad targeting tools. It inserts paid ads that look like regular posts into users’ feeds, capturing their attention in a natural way. 

Tip: Consider posting UGC on Facebook ads.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social network. Use it to promote brand-aligned employee content.

YouTube and video are fast-growing social media marketing tools. Look at the numbers: 86 percent of businesses use video to market their products and services — up 41 percent since 2016. Ninety-three percent of marketers who use video say it’s integral to their overall marketing strategy. People love to consume — and create — videos.

TikTok is on track to exceed 1.5 billion users in 2022 and is the place for young content creators to go viral. It is available in more than 150 markets in 75 languages. Forty-one percent of users are between the ages of 16 and 24.

Pinterest is a popular destination for people to share their creativity and find inspiration.

Know what you want to achieve with UGC

To leverage UGC for maximum impact, create a plan for how you want to use it and set goals that align with your overarching social media objectives.

UGC can help drive:

  • Greater brand engagement through increased comments, likes, and mentions.
  • Increased conversion rates. People do a lot of their research about brands and products on their favourite social platforms.
  • Trust in your brand. People trust their peers and UGC provides social proof and credibility.
  • Awareness about your brand.
  • More relevant content creation.

Ask your customers for the comment you’d like to see

More than half of consumers want brands to tell them what type of content to create but only 16 percent of brands actually do. Establish a clear set of guidelines for UGC and share it with your audience. Ask for images, reviews and testimonials. Create hashtags and social media contests that encourage your customers and brand loyalists to create UGC. Repost your favourite UGC across your social channels and website.

92 per cent of consumers read at least one review before making a purchase.

Collect consumer/influencer UGC

Take an organized approach to capture the positive content your fans and brand loyalists are creating and sharing on social channels. There are essentially two ways to do this: create branded hashtags on social media or create your own app or portal. The latter option means you own the content and can confidently use it in ad campaigns.

Track UGC performance

Establish key metrics based on campaign goals to measure the impact of social media UGC. Key performance indicators can include:

  • Brand mentions
  • Hashtag frequency
  • Engagement rate
  • Interactions per 1,000 impressions
  • Follows, website visits, reposts and retweets
  • Reach

Listen and learn from the naysayers

Social media gives customers an opportunity to let the world know what they think: both the good and the bad. As a brand, it’s important to consider everything people are saying about you and learn from negative feedback.

UGC is emerging as a powerful marketing tool. Eliciting, collecting and using the best UGC in your social marketing campaigns can help build awareness, and engagement and drive sales.

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