User-generated content (UGC) is any form of content that was created by a brand’s consumers or by the users and not the owner of the platform. UGC can come in many different forms including tweets, images, reviews, videos, comments, etc. A brand can simply share a user’s photo or review, or create an entire marketing strategy that encourages consumers to generate content. In other words, user generated content is companies taking the best user content from around the web and featuring it on their social media and giving credit to the original creator.
Why is UGC is effective and significant for brands?
User-generated content is a very powerful form of content marketing. It saves marketers and copywriters time on content creation, adds brand trust, increases engagement, and creates better affinity for the brand overall. User generated content is important for brands because it is engaging, relatable, more memorable, and builds social proof.
1: Allows brands to directly build and engage with an online community:
Consumers want to feel heard by a brand. UGC engages customers because it directly invites them to be a part of the story. It allows real people to tell their real stories. They can describe their experience and opinions. It gives people a way to express themselves and talk directly to the brand.
2: The content is more relatable and memorable:
In a recent study by Yotpo have shown that UGC is more memorable than other sources. It becomes directly relatable for other consumers allowing them to remember the content more easily. It has been reported that millennials find UGC content 35% more memorable than other sources, rivaled only by TV video ads, the previously undefeated champions of memorability. UGC is more memorable because it does not seem professional or ‘ad’; like. Instead, it captures moments from other like minded people. People enjoy seeing moments from other individuals online.
*Image from Ipsos MediaCT’s ebook, Social Influence: Marketing’s New Frontier.
3: User-generated content is authentic and builds a social proof.
The psychology of social proof: People care about what other people say. More and more people are looking for reviews for everything. From purchasing a product to trying a new restaurant, to picking out a new doctor; people trust other people’s opinions. People tend to look for the proof of the masses to prove something's worth; people assume the actions of others. From a business standpoint, with UGC consumers can see how others are engaging with your brand and using your services. They too can then share a passion for your brand. People appreciate that the content created, or images taken are taken by everyday people just like themselves.
How can my practice implement this?
There are many different ways to engage your consumers in user generated content. Before you start encouraging user generated content there are many ways to encourage your clients to generate content, some include contests, branded hashtags, in office pictures, or give incentives. With all of these strategies remember to make it easy for the users, make it fun, and share their content on your social platforms giving the original user credit. You can create a campaign that encourages UGC using multiple of these examples below too.
People enjoy having the opportunity to win something. This is a great way to get clients to share pictures or other visual content and get them engaging directly with your practices on your practice’s social platforms. Contests can incorporate a lot of different things including having the user tag friends, having the user post their own picture, or even ‘caption it’ contests. Contests are fun ways to get your audience involved.
2: Branded hashtags:
Hashtags allow users to connect with the brand on a daily basis. Using a branded hashtag allows users to share any content they want but link it back to your brand. They get the possibility of being featured on your social platforms. This also works great for reviews. Encourage clients to leave reviews on your social media, do a #TestimonialTuesday and pull from good reviews and share them on your Branded platforms. People can write reviews that include your branded hashtag and the one for testimonials. Reviews are important for the social proof mindset behind UGC.
3: In Office Pictures:
Have your clients take pictures with the staff or just at the office and post about their experience. This will not only showcase your office but it will also showcase your clients and your in-office personality. Encourage clients to share photos from their visit to the office and check in on social media. This allows others to see the office attitude and personality. They get an insider's view before even stepping in or picking up the phone.
People like getting things in return for their ‘services.’ Incentives do not have to be extravagant, something small and simple such as a shout out on social media, small percent off their next office visit if they participate or even a handwritten thank you card is enough. Incentives allow the user to feel appreciated by the content they have generated and share. This is a great strategy when starting to build your brand up online, and starting out to foster your community engagement.
User-generated content is an effective and engaging way to get your clients involved in your practice outside of the regular visits. Whether your practice is trying to reach new customers or connect with current clients, UGC is essential to your social strategy.
Written by Jessie Simms. Jessie is a Junior Social Media Specialist at Page 1 Solutions.