Harnessing the power of user-generated content

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Imagine your brand’s social media platforms as a potluck dinner. Stay with me.  

Your brand provides the main course – the official content you post on your social media spaces. Your guests (your audience) bring their unique dishes – user-generated content. Still with me? OK, good.  

Each dish represents a personal experience, perspective or creative expression. Potlucks are more exciting with contributions from different people (Cookie salad, anyone?). And your brand’s social media presence becomes more dynamic and engaging with the content your audience brings to the table.  

User-generated content (UGC) is a powerhouse of influence. According to recent studies, about 85% of consumers find UGC more influential than content created by the brand itself. So, why does your brand need to pay attention to and harness the potential of UGC? Let’s explore the impact it can have on your social media strategy. 

What is UGC? Why should brands use it? 

Simply put, UGC is any content – text, images, videos, reviews – created by your audience rather than your brand. It’s the organic, authentic material that your customers and fans willingly share, reflecting their experiences and interactions with your products or services. 

One major advantage of UGC is its undeniable influence on consumer perception. Remember: Consumers trust content generated by their peers more than content created by brands. This trust factor stems from the authenticity and relatability inherent in UGC. When potential customers see real people sharing their positive experiences, it establishes a genuine connection. 

The impact of UGC goes beyond trust, too. It translates into tangible results for your brand. Social media posts featuring user-generated content have a 4.5% higher conversion rate compared to posts without UGC, according to Sprout Social. There’s power of persuasion in real, user-driven endorsements. When potential customers witness their peers endorsing your brand, they’re more likely to take action, whether it’s making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter or engaging with your content. 

Integrating UGC into your social media 

One of my favorite ways to encourage UGC is via branded hashtags. A branded hashtag is unique to your brand – at Flint Group, we have #AllInFlint for employee UGC. Bobcat Company has #BobcatInTheWild, Apple used real images from real people, shot on phones for their #ShotOniPhone campaign and Aerie encourages their fans to use #AerieREAL. Branded hashtags allow your customers, employees, fans, etc. to participate in your brand.  

Encourage your audience to share their experiences with your products or services using a branded hashtag. It can foster a sense of community, and it’s easy to track and curate user-generated content. Consider adding it to your social bios and be sure to credit the creators who share.  

When you’re doing your community management as all great social media managers do, you can look for UGC to share on your brand’s social spaces. It’s one way to work smarter and humanize your brand.  

Leveraging user-generated content isn’t limited to positive experiences, too. Embracing authenticity means acknowledging and addressing negative feedback as well. Use constructive criticism as an opportunity to highlight your brand’s commitment to improvement. Responding transparently and proactively to customer concerns demonstrates authenticity and builds trust within your community. 

User-generated content can influence consumer trust and boost conversion rates. It’s an essential component of any successful digital marketing strategy. By actively encouraging and curating UGC, your brand can create an authentic, relatable narrative that resonates with your audience. Pull up a seat at the potluck and embrace the power of your community’s voice through UGC.  

Need help with your social media strategy and management? We’ve got you.  

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Anna Larson

Anna is a social media and content strategist and PR/social manager who creates community online and offline. Her 15+ years of experience helps organizations deliver engaging content on social media. She knows that adopting a customer-centric mindset is at the core of developing a strong brand and telling an impactful story. Anna provides both the detailed and big-picture thinking for clients. A natural born problem-solver and teacher, she never stops seeking out new ideas and inspiration. Her greatest passion is leading with empathy and helping her team grow and feel valued. She loves Brené Brown quotes and a good heart-to-heart. At the end of the day, what matters most to her is knowing she helped make a difference.

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