User-Generated Content: Turning fans into brand advocates

Feb 26th, 2024

Involving customers in content creation isn’t a new concept (who can forget the iconic ‘Share a Coke’ campaign back in 2011?). However, with the surge of new platforms and features tailored for User-Generated Content (UGC) over the last decade, we’ve moved way beyond sharing blurry photos of our Tesco lunch on Facebook.

As per the 2021 Cision Global Comms Report, the ‘everyday’ consumer has claimed the top spot at 71% for the most effective potential influencer.

Brands are taking this lean towards authenticity very seriously, actively pursuing fanbases, and prioritising the creation of online communities. The goal? To ignite a love affair with their brand among everyday consumers and, of course, inspiring them to shout it from the digital rooftops!

UGC is not just making waves; it’s reshaping feeds, dominating marketing strategies, and wielding serious influence over consumer choices. It’s all about keeping it real in 2024

In a nutshell, UGC is a catalyst for brand advocacy. A brand’s best friend.

It encourages consumers to create and share content related to a brand or its products. From social media posts and reviews to videos and testimonials, UGC encompasses a variety of content types that originate from consumers rather than the brand itself.

Like influencers, UGC creators produce original content, but the main difference is that UGC creators produce content without being compensated or working directly with a brand.

However, even influencers are being brought back down to reality these days as businesses’ are requesting them to create more ‘real’ and relatable content.

Having your customer’s actively sharing, tagging and talking about your brand is a crucial step in building trust and credibility. However, there are other distinctive benefits like:

  • Building an online community: It transforms a brand from a faceless entity into a shared experience, where customers connect, share, and celebrate their affinity for the brand.
  • Word-of-mouth amplification: UGC is the word-of-mouth marketing redefined, where the enthusiasm of one customer sparks the curiosity of many. It’s the ripple effect that transforms a single endorsement into a chorus of voices.
  • Humanising the brand: It’s not just about products; it’s about people. Authentic stories and experiences shared by customers inject personality and relatability,
  • Elevating SEO and purchase intent: Search engines love the fresh, dynamic content UGC provides, elevating your SEO game. Moreover, as customers share their positive experiences, UGC becomes a powerful driver for potential customers, influencing their purchase intent and decision-making journey.

Picture this: You’ve just acquired a fantastic vegan cookbook, and your culinary skills are on fire.

Eager for a sprinkle of social media validation, you tag the brand, showcasing your delicious vegan creations with an adoring caption for the cookbook. Your followers hop on the bandwagon, showering your posts with comments and shares.

As the post gains traction, more users join the conversation, sharing their distinct experiences and proudly embracing the product as the cookbook for the vegan community.

See how this User-Generated Content has now become a beacon of authenticity? It’s not only connecting with potential customers but also engaging vegan enthusiasts across the online community.

This is brand advocacy through UGC at its finest. At the end of the day, people trust people. And this is marketing gold dust for your brand.

73% of people have more confidence in their purchases when brands employ UGC

Why is UGC so crucial for brands in the current landscape? The answer lies in authenticity. The power of a genuine recommendation from a consumer is unparalleled.

While UGC may not be a new phenomenon, its significance has escalated, particularly in the post-COVID world. The global pandemic redefined our communities’ need for connection, and social media platforms emerged as the primary platform for fulfilling this essential need. In a world craving connection and authenticity, consumers turned to their peers for recommendations and experiences, making UGC a driving force in the digital landscape.

  • Create shareable content: Develop content that resonates with your audience and is easily shareable. This could include visually appealing images, entertaining videos, or informative posts. Encourage users to share by making the content relatable and valuable.
  • Contests and challenges: Run interactive contests or challenges that prompt users to create and share content related to your brand. For example, a photo contest featuring your product or a creative challenge using your brand’s hashtag can generate a good deal of UGC.
  • Encourage reviews and testimonials: Request feedback from satisfied customers and turn it into UGC. Encourage users to share their experiences through online reviews, testimonials, or social media posts. Highlighting positive reviews can build trust and credibility for your brand.
  • Hashtag campaigns: Create and promote a branded hashtag to unify UGC. Encourage users to use the hashtag when sharing content related to your brand. This not only organises user-generated content but also makes it easier for you to track and engage with your community.
  • Feature user content: Showcase user-generated content on your official channels. Share customer photos, reviews, or testimonials on your website, social media, or marketing materials. This not only appreciates your customers but also encourages others to contribute their content for potential features.

Share a coke campaign

The “Share a Coke” campaign, launched in 2011, revolutionised user engagement by personalising Coke bottles with individual names. Its success lies in transforming a common product into a unique, shareable experience, encouraging consumers to actively participate and share their personalised Coke moments, creating a sense of personal connection with the brand.

Source: Coca cola

Spotify wrapped- share your wrapped

Spotify Wrapped, an annual User-Generated Content campaign, invites users to share their personalised year-in-review music statistics. The success of this campaign lies in its ability to tap into users’ emotional connection with their music choices, turning it into shareable content. It not only celebrates individual tastes but also creates a communal experience as users eagerly share and discuss their music preferences with friends and followers.

Source: Spotify

Airbnb Instagram

Airbnb’s Instagram campaign thrives on user-generated visuals by encouraging guests to share their unique experiences in Airbnb accommodations. The campaign’s success is attributed to the authentic, diverse, and visually compelling content generated by users, showcasing the brand’s global reach and promoting the idea of travel as a personalised adventure.

Source: Airbnb official Instagram

From building online communities to amplifying word-of-mouth, UGC is not merely a marketing strategy; it’s a cultural shift. It humanizes brands, positively affects SEO, and drives purchase intent, reshaping the very fabric of consumer engagement.

Businesses looking to garner more advocacy for their brand should embrace UGC as a powerful tool to foster genuine connections, encourage user participation, and ultimately transform loyal fans into enthusiastic brand advocates.

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