What in the World is UGC?

There’s no shame in asking. Abbreviations are running rampant these days, and the lingo can stump even the hippest millennial. Fortunately, this is an easy one — none of that ELI5 because TIFU IRL FTW stuff. UGC simply stands for user-generated content, and it is social media’s biggest gift to the marketing world.

With more than 3 billion people active on social media networks, the Internet is like a weird and wonderful neighborhood. User-generated-content like real-life photos, reviews, videos, contest entries, and other visual content publicly shared online converge to create a digital playground for marketers. Industry research continually shows that peer content is highly influential — far more than traditional advertising — and certainly worthy of cultivation.

Consider the stats:

  • 92 percent of consumers trust online content from friends and family above all other forms of brand messages.
  • Visitors spend 90 percent more time on websites that incorporate UGC galleries, and repeat visits rise 20 percent.
  • Brands experience a 50 percent lift in engagement when including UGC in social campaigns.
  • Ads with UGC receive five times greater click-through rates.
  • Conversions increase ten percent when UGC is present along the purchase path.

Clearly, positive UGC should be on every brand’s wish list. The smartest way to capture greater interest is to simply give your fans the microphone. Ask for testimonials. Host a photo contest or giveaway. Invite customers to participate in brand development decisions. The dialogue may appear in different forms. It might be an Instagram post, Facebook photo, Pinterest board, or hashtagged tweet — that’ll largely depend on how brand managers choose to promote the campaign.

UGC can do some good floating around cyberspace, but clever strategists take a more comprehensive approach. For maximum, measurable results, the most successful brands utilize social media aggregation and display platforms. The goal is to bring UGC home — to take thousands of tiny conversations on social media networks and consolidate the most influential into a streamlined, dynamic hub. From there, the sky’s the limit with brand use cases, but only if, as Forbes Communications Council advises, UGC is “incorporated purposefully and meaningfully” to create a strong connection with customers.

Great ideas include:

  • Telling the brand’s story with customer-created photos and conversations.
  • Building community around a hashtag campaign, by showcasing all (or moderated) entries.
  • Converting customer photos into shoppable ads.
  • Featuring trending products, as recommended by actual purchasers.
  • Publishing real-time fan posts at festivals, concerts, conferences, and other live events.
  • Requesting rights to use UGC in offline campaigns, too.
  • Incorporating digital content into retail displays, allowing influencer content to nudge shoppers down the purchase path.

Related Read: “8 Brilliant Ways to Use Hashtag Content”

At the end of the day, people trust people, and brands that market with the voice of customers consistently perform better. The first step in leveraging UGC, though, is to get the UGC. Over 27,000 high-growth brands, marketing experts, and agencies use TwineSocial to collect and curate authentic UGC, and a free trial and complimentary demo is available today.

For more ideas on how to promote shared enthusiasm around an idea, product, or community, check out our solutions gallery. Then, kick off your own success story with a free 7-day trial of TwineSocial. Let us know how we can help!