How your brand can utilise User-generated content for organic and paid social

I guess I should be embarrassed to admit that there are 2,500+ photos of food and drink on my iPhone camera roll. How many of those did I post on my Instagram Stories and tag the brand or establishment? A high percentage!

It looks like I’m not the only one;  49% of Gen Zers consider their cocktail consumption as a prime “content opportunity”. We often call user-generated content (UGC) gold dust to our clients because it provides authenticity, boosts engagement, and often yields higher trust among consumers compared to traditional brand-created content.

Never underestimate its influence, after all, 92% of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising. If you’re looking to maximise the content you’re tagged in for organic and paid usage, and encourage more people to create content for you, here are our top tips.

Create a moment worth capturing

Whether you’re a brand or venue, you should be creating a moment that people want to capture. Think of the aesthetic of your product and how you can enhance it to be something that people want to show off on their social media.

We’ve all seen photobooths and funky cocktail glasses pop-up at events or bars, or packaging that is personalised to the customer. These are all ways in which brands are capitalising on a generation that love to document and share with their friends.

Search for existing User-generated Content

Whether it’s your brand’s name or hashtag, you should be regularly searching across the social media platforms to find existing UGC, as well as checking your tagged images and direct messages. Users feel valued and recognised when their content is shared by brands, plus it’s cost-effective and authentic for you!

Don’t forget, Stories expire after 24 hours on Instagram. You don’t miss out on a chance to engage with your loyal audience and celebrate your brand! Checking your direct messages daily takes just a few minutes.

Get your web team involved

A brand who really makes the most of their UGC is ASOS with the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe. There is a page on their website that is similar to an Instagram feed dedicated to all of their customers images and when you click on each one, you are then directed to the item of clothing. This is an excellent example of how to further UGC from just social media content to website content and very likely to improve SEO by increasing the volume of relevant and new content, thus boosting the brand’s search engine rankings.

Consider how your brand could incorporate UGC onto your website, whether it’s through regular blog posts or an integrated social media feed on your home page.

User-generated content examples

Could your brand create a hashtag to encourage more content? ASOS aren’t the only ones benefiting from streams of UGC because of a simple hashtag. GoPro encourages users to share their adventure videos with #GoProAwards. Last year they were giving away £50,000 to the best submission and this year, £100,000! This not only provides GoPro with a steady stream of content but also builds a community of passionate users. Of course, this is a big brand with big budgets; if you’re struggling to generate UGC and want to add a competition element, the incentives don’t have to be huge.

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Starbucks’ Red Cup Contest asked customers to decorate their Christmas cups only gave customers the chance to be featured on Starbucks’ channels and still received thousands of mentions at the time.

Offer incentives such as discounts, freebies, or recognition to motivate participation. Feature this hashtag in your content and social media bios to generate interest.

Collaborate with influencers

Partnering with influencers is a great way to generate high-quality content, reach new audiences and encourage further UGC. This can be gifted or paid partnerships, depending on the size of the influencer, your product and those all-important negotiating skills.

In general, video content should be encouraged for these collaborations. The rise of platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels highlights the growing importance of short-form video content. Video will help further the reach of the content.

When negotiating with the influencer, ensure you have a clause which allows their content to be used in paid advertising to leverage their credibility and reach. This can be an extra cost but worth investing in.

Incorporate UGC into your paid campaigns

Featuring customer reviews, photos, or stories in your paid campaigns can make the content more relatable and compelling. Airbnb frequently uses UGC in their Instagram and Facebook ads. Photos and videos shared by actual Airbnb guests showcase the real-life experiences and diversity of accommodations, making the ads more appealing. If you spot high-quality and authentic UGC that you’d like to capitalise on in your paid ads, contact the user and ensure they’re comfortable with their content being used.

UGC can be key in retargeting campaigns too. It’s a great tool to re-engage users who have previously interacted with your brand by showing them authentic user experiences to help convert undecided customers.

Re-evaluate and report

When resharing UGC organically or in paid campaigns, you should regularly report on the analytics of the content to review what works and what doesn’t. This will help you decide what content to reshare to ensure maximum performance.

Perhaps your audience responds best to video or long-form copy? Analysing the data on what content resulted in the most engagement or highest reach will tell you everything you need to know.

Overall, user-generated content offers immense potential for brands to connect with their audience authentically and effectively. By integrating UGC into both organic and paid marketing strategies, brands can enhance engagement, build trust, and drive conversions. Brands that master the art of leveraging UGC will not only enrich their brand’s feed but also foster a loyal and engaged community!

Ready to get started?

We would love the opportunity to work with you and discuss how we could help you utilise UGC for your organic and/or paid strategy, for more information visit our Social media services page.

Get in touch with the team