Harnessing the Power of UGC: A Guide for Brand Success

Ask any of your friends, family, coworkers, and especially any media buyer what content is the most influential for driving their own purchase decisions. I can almost guarantee that the majority of their answers will be user-generated content (UGC).

In today's world, user-generated content (UGC) is more important than ever for brands looking to build a successful digital-first brand. Let’s get this out of the way, what is UGC? UGC is any content—text, images, videos—that consumers create and post online about your brand. It is also content that resembles that truly organic content from real customers but is developed and paid for by your brand. In this article, we'll cover the basics of UGC (mostly its paid ad application) and provide unique insights into how brands can leverage it to achieve success in the digital age.

Why is it important for brands to consider leveraging UGC in their marketing efforts?

With the rise of social media, consumers have become more empowered than ever to share their experiences, opinions, and ideas with the world. As a result, UGC has become a key tool for brands looking to connect with their audiences and create engaging content. By harnessing the power of UGC, brands can create social and web content that feels authentic and relatable, while also leveraging it for paid ads to drive conversions. In fact, consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content when making a purchasing decision. (Stackla)

If you run ads on nearly any digital platform, you have certainly noticed the decline in performance over the past few years not only due to the increase in ad costs but especially with the launch of the iOS 14 update that severely limited marketer's ability to track, target, and optimize ads. This change has undoubtedly limited the toolbox that media buyers have to reach consumers which has put a greater emphasis on the importance of creative ad content. Not a bad time to be in the data-driven ad creative space.

Why is UGC so effective? Let me completely overgeneralize it for the purpose of simplifying the point. Digital advertising came on strong and ad content didn’t catch up as quickly so it was mostly the same old TV commercials that were repurposed and boring professionally created static content. As users became way more accustomed to ad content, the wave of non-intrusive content (UGC) began to increase in popularity. It became proven via performance data that it was and still is a viable option for content across every and any brand touch point. 

Tips for getting started with using UGC in your own brand's marketing initiatives

The first and most important way to dive into UGC is actually looking to your customers to provide UGC content (it can be in the form of photos, videos, reviews, etc.). 

You can do this by keeping a close eye on social posts that you are tagged in, reviews that are left on your website, or even reaching out directly to customers to ask for content. Meta has a very handy tool within Commerce Manager that automatically aggregates UGC content that includes your brand and even gives you an easy option to reach out to the user to ask for permission to use their content. There is also an amazing web plugin that provides a ton of different features including a reviews section, automated emails, and more that drive UGC creation among your customers, it’s called Okendo

Secondly, your brand can take the paid UGC creator route and create this content on your own. 

The Low Cost / More Energy Route

I have personally worked with brands who have done an amazing job of not only easily and cheaply generating UGC but also creating stronger brand ties with their most valuable customers by implementing an ambassador program. These programs typically allow a customer to become a “team member” by getting free products, discounts, early access,s and sometimes even an affiliate link through which they make a commission or earn points towards designated awards. This is low cost as all you really need is a landing page and some idea of the offer you are giving potential ambassadors but there is a ton of time involved from engaging with these ambassadors to ensuring they stay motivated throughout. 

Another option (my personal favorite), is posting a project on Backstage that is specific to the type of creator you are looking for. Each post costs around ~$20 and typically generates 200+ creator applications within a day or two. It can be a lot to sort through but we have found top-tier-level creators through Backstage that have created amazing content. 

The High Cost / Less Energy Route

There are also agencies that provide UGC content as a complete service and handle everything from sourcing creators to assisting in content creation. Two great agencies/platforms are Ties and Cohley

Note, if the creator is paid to post it on their own account then they must comply with the paid promo guidelines set by the FTC. (i.e #ad) 

Example of Brands Utilizing UGC

Athletic Greens: Athletic Greens is an amazing example of a brand that has harnessed the power of UGC to scale its brand. Take a quick scroll through their feed or just remember one of the 100+ ads you have probably seen from them and you’ll be quick to realize it. 

Glossier: The #beauty hashtag on TikTok has surpassed 100 billion views, which not only makes it a popular category but it makes it a category with a ton of noise. Glossier has broken through the noise not only with great products but they have strategically used UGC content both on their organic socials and paid media to drive sales and obtain customers through the use of this content. 

They have always said content is king but what they didn’t mention is that the content’s name is UGC. Happy advertising. 

In a future blog post, we will cover what specifically goes into creating UGC content that works so enter your email below to stay up to date on all new blogs. 

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