The Power of UGC: How to Understand and Leverage It
September 12, 2023
User-generated content (UGC) is one of the most effective ways to spread the word about your products. The internet is full of ad content that has oversaturated consumers’ attention spans. It is much tougher to stand out now, given the immense competition. This is where UGC comes in. Since it feels less corporate and more personal it is much better at appealing to consumers. UGC comes across as fresh, unfiltered, and genuine. ECommerce businesses that leverage it can reach and engage a far larger audience. In this piece, we will discuss how to go about this process.
Table of Contents
- What Is UGC?
- Why Is UGC So Important?
- How To Drive More Organic UGC
- Tips for Leveraging UGC
User-generated content in eCommerce is any type of content about a company’s product not directly created by said company. This includes product reviews and all forms of social media posts that mention the brand or product. These posts can be in the form of an image, video, text post, or livestream. The goal of UGC is to showcase the qualities of your product, as well as how it meets customers’ needs.
It also has a unique ability to build interest and trust. Seeing that other real people are enjoying the product is a great incentive for potential customers to make a purchase. While UGC generally refers to content that was created by customers or users of the product, some brands also generate it via creators or influencers.
UGC is so valuable because it provides unmatched social proof. Potential future buyers of your product see how someone else uses and feels about it. It is much more engaging and convincing than an ad because it usually comes from a real person who actually bought and used the product. Posts might even highlight certain downsides of the product, but as long as there are more upsides, such a review can drive others to buy.
User-generated content is much more effective at converting viewers to buy on social media than traditional forms of advertising. Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to perceive it as authentic compared to branded content. This results in them being far more likely to engage with and be influenced by such posts.
The advantage UGC has over an ad with great lighting and a perfectly styled model, for example, is that it feels real. Seeing a person who looks like oneself using the product and enjoying it makes it much easier to imagine having the same positive experience.
Many consumers fear receiving a product that doesn’t match the advertised quality. It is for this reason that gaining their trust is such a priority for eCommerce sellers. Knowing that others are enjoying the item in question can have a massive impact on buying decisions. Company ads simply don’t have that kind of effect on consumers.
Product reviews also count as UGC and shouldn’t be forgotten. Seeing recent reviews that praise the product is very important for converting site visitors into buyers. A lack of recent reviews can lead to fears of deteriorating product quality. However, reviews without a name or picture will always be less engaging than a social media post including both.
Contests – These are a great way to build excitement among customers to create high-quality content that you can share on your brand page. By offering a prize for the best picture, for example, you give people a good reason to create and share homemade content. Even if they don’t win, people are usually happy to have their pictures appear on your page.
The more exciting your prize is, the more new people will be attracted to the content. Giving out products, merch, and store credit to multiple winners is a great way to turn heads. Asking them to share pictures of their winnings is also a good way to show others that real people are winning these prizes—so they could win something too.
Incentivizing reviews – Offering discounts or coupons to buyers who submit a review is a great way to attract more user-generated content. First off, coupons raise the chance of previous customers coming back to your store, and second, the additional reviews will give potential buyers more social proof of your product quality.
Follow-up emails – Send customers an email a few days after they received the product, asking them to share their experience and feedback. This is also a great way to quickly find out if a customer is dissatisfied, which can be addressed quickly with a reimbursement or replacement. Knowing your customers’ main pain points is also very important for improving product quality to reduce your return rate.
Intuitive review process – Leaving customer feedback shouldn’t be complicated. Make sure you have a simple and intuitive interface for adding a review. Everything from slow loading times to requiring users to make an account to poor mobile optimization will push people away. You should strive to make it a quick and seamless process. The less intuitive leaving a review is, the more you will lose out on valuable customer feedback.
Social media interaction – An active social media page that consistently engages with followers is great at driving more UGC. For example, asking customers to share posts about how they are using their purchases, with an offer to reshare the best ones on your page, is a great way to drive engagement. Companies like Pottery Barn and Allbirds display UGC prominently on their pages. Not only does this show potential buyers how other people are enjoying the product, but it also encourages more people to share their own posts.
Instagram is a good place for this kind of interaction with customers, as you can share their content in your Stories and feed. You are also able to encourage and quickly sort through posts by asking people to use a company-based hashtag you come up with. However, you should always make sure to get people’s consent before sharing their pictures on your page. Even if they tagged you or used your hashtag they might not be comfortable having their photo broadcasted on your account.
On social media, you also want to make sure that you respond to followers’ comments, as well as liking them. Knowing that their input is seen and valued will make customers more eager to interact with your page.
Integrate it into your website – This lets customers see what the product they’re looking at looks like in the hands of a past buyer. The social proof that others are enjoying this item will increase the chances that they themselves go through with the purchase. In general, you want to feature product reviews as prominently as possible.
Manta Sleep and Bite use UGC on their product pages to great effect. Users are encouraged to share their pictures and experiences with the product. Doing so makes them feel like their opinion is valued, while the business gets additional social proof to convert new buyers.
Quality over quantity – While it may be tempting to share every picture that is sent to you by customers, remember that you also need to build your brand. Low-quality pictures that don’t show your product in the best light can be left out, if you have many alternatives. You also want to make sure not to flood your social media with one type of content, even if it’s UGC. If you hosted a contest and got a lot of responses, don’t avoid holding onto the pictures. Having a regular, long-term flow of posts from happy customers is better than uploading loads of them in the short term.
Use UGC in your emails – Every eCommerce business can benefit from email marketing, which offers several advantages, such as keeping customers connected to your brand. Including user-generated content in these communications is a great way to engage your audience. Customer testimonials, for example, can provide authenticity and encourage clicks. Emails are also great for raising awareness of your UGC contests.
Encourage serial posters – If you notice that certain individuals are posting about your products a lot and you like the content they create, consider deepening that connection. This can be in the form of thanking them, reposting their content, and even offering them special discounts. The goal is to encourage all your followers to post their own stories, since those too could be praised and shared by your page.
Unboxing videos – If you are on a tight budget but still want to create engaging UGC, unboxing videos from creators are good at generating interest for a low cost. They offer shoppers a great preview of what they will be getting, while also generating a feeling of excitement, similar to unwrapping a Christmas gift. Unboxing videos stand as one of YouTube’s most popular categories, a fact underscored by the channel Unbox Therapy, which specializes in this content and boasts a following of over 20 million subscribers.
You can also encourage customers to film their own unboxing experience, as well as share their verdict of the product.
In an increasingly competitive and ad-saturated digital landscape, UGC offers online sellers the ability to cut through the noise and genuinely engage potential customers. Given its authentic and relatable nature, user-generated content offers valuable social proof. This can enhance your brand’s credibility and influence purchasing decisions. Leveraging social media, incentivizing product reviews, running contests, and fostering a brand community are great ways to drive UGC. No matter what your budget is, you too can start today to strengthen your brand and drive sales.
Many eCommerce businesses hire creators to produce UGC that is more engaging. Of course, this takes additional investment. Some companies seek out external capital to fund their marketing efforts, which include commissioning UGC. 8fig is one of the best funding options available for eCommerce sellers. Its plans are fast and tailored to your operations to maximize your cash flow. There are no hidden fees or interest, and you don’t give up any collateral. Instead, you agree upon a fixed cost of capital. Join 8fig today and get the funding you need to generate the high-quality UGC your brand deserves.
Julian writes about the ins and outs of eCommerce at 8fig. He is passionate about exploring and covering the dynamic and fast-paced world of online retail.