The unparalleled power of user-generated content

Let’s face it: no one likes a bragger. So when a business shares a post about their self-declared awesomeness, it’s enough to send any scroller into an eye-rolling meltdown. 🙄

“But, hold up a second,” you say. “How can a business build trust and authenticity without blowing its own corporate trumpet?”

Pull up a chair because we’re about to lift the lid on the unparalleled power of user-generated content.

First up: what is user-generated content (UGC)?

Quite simply, UGC is content created by anyone other than your brand. It could be a glowing review, testimonial, image, video or even a podcast. Sometimes it won’t even mention your brand but be about a subject you or your audience cares about.

And no matter what form it takes, UGC is how prospects experience your brand through an authentic lens created by the voice that matters most: your customers. It’s the modern-day, digitised word-of-mouth.

So, how do I get customers to generate content?

The easiest way to generate UGC is to ask your audience to share posts about your brand or your shared interests.

Take The TEFL Academy, for example. By encouraging their alumni to become brand ambassadors, they generate new content to repurpose, and can promote events, courses and opportunities through the trusted voice of previous students.

The result? A direct and authentic communication line between graduates and prospects. What could possibly be more powerful?

Toupret takes a different approach. They attract new eyeballs by running competitions on their social channels, incentivising customers to shout about their brand via a dedicated hashtag. Check it out…

But I don’t sell products. I build communities.

No problem, just look at the Brighton Bike Share, who use UGC to engage riders and talk about things that matter to them, or City Girl Network, who do a great job at sharing UGC from their community.

They’ve both seen great results when sharing images of their members and customers, using UGC to celebrate them and show that they are part of their communities.

Okay, I’m in. How do I start sharing user-generated content?

If you’re using UGC, always ask the original poster if you can use their content. And if you’re not sure how to reach out, feel free to give our template a whirl.

‘Hey {name}

I love what you’re doing with {insert something great they’re doing}

We love this post: {include link}

Would you mind if we shared it from our account?

Of course, we’ll credit you 😊

Thanks {name} on behalf of {brand}’

Finally, always credit the original poster by giving them a mention in your copy. Sharing is caring.

Sounds great. But I heard Instagram is pushing original content over UGC, am I right?

You’re kind of right, yes! Instagram recently made a change to it’s ranking to focus on original content (more here) so you don’t want to highlight that your content isn’t original too much.

For instance, don’t use a re-gramming app (use a chrome extension like this instead, or simply ask the user to send you their content)!

It is a recent development (April 2022) so we’re not sure how it’ll effect UGC on the platform just yet but here’s some idea for how you might combat this: one idea is to focus on using UGC from other platforms, content that is not yet being used in Instagram, or you could make small edits to content to make it seem more original (with the content owner’s permission of course!). But the main point here is that Instagram wants you to create original content so don’t only use UGC, it should just be part of your Instagram strategy, it shouldn’t be your entire strategy!

Gotcha. But how do I use UGC in Paid?

Good question. The power of UGC can also improve the performance of your paid social. One study showed Facebook and Instagram campaigns using UGC had a 50% increase in click-through rate. Powerful stuff, eh?

Keep an eye out for our blog on that very soon!

It just goes to show people prefer real content from real people. So the next time you’re promoting your brand, give UGC a try. If you ask us, it’s a game-changer.

Want to know more about user-generated content or our social media services? Fill out our quick ‘n’ easy form and we’ll get back to you as fast as humanly possible.

Sarah has been working in social media marketing since 2013 and joined the Social Firefly team in January 2022. Working with some of our biggest clients she makes content planning and creation look easy while delivering on some of our best performing strategies. Outside of work, she's a keen photographer, dedicated swimmer, a certified foodie, dog auntie and travel lover.