03 Apr What’s the Deal With UGC?
For most marketers, User-Generated-Content (or UGC for acronym nerds) is seen as a relatively new term – however, in the world of events and tourism marketing, UGC has been around for more than a decade.
In fact a whole micro economy of apps and dedicated software has risen up around collecting and curating UGC for marketers working in the tourism space.
One thing for certain though: UGC couldn’t have existed – in the way it does currently – before the invention of the smartphone, the internet, and social media.
But what is UGC? How do you source it? What are the legalities around UGC? What benefit can UGC bring to your brand, business and social profiles in 2023?
WHAT IS USER GENERATED CONTENT?
Since the introduction of smartphones, social media and the internet into our (very) modern lives – an
increasing number of netizens of all ages have started documenting their daily activities on their own personal social media feeds.
When someone uses the internet to communicate something about a product or brand, this is what marketers call User-Generated-Content.
This communication can take several forms:
- It can be a vlog uploaded to YouTube about a cool new feature in Adobe Premiere (and how to utilise it).
- It could be an artfully shot image of a new pair of Dr. Martens boots.
- It could be a review of a new theatre show, live performance or gig.
Anything created by a customer, brand loyalist, UGC creator (or employee) that references a brand or product can be considered user-generated content.
GETTING THAT SWEET UGC
Collecting UGC can be as simple (or as complicated) as you want to make it:
Most brands will use something basic like a branded hashtag, while others might have a dedicated form on their website where users can submit their creations. Some might even go as far as to create a dedicated app on platforms like Facebook – some companies have entire teams whose sole job is to focus on receiving and curating UGC via direct messages.
For example there are also entire software platforms that exist solely to help marketers source and curate UGC such as Grin, Tribe Dynamics etc. Marketers may also use powerful social listening tools like Brandwatch (formally Crimson Hexagon), Meltwater and so on.
Finally, you can also source UGC simply by searching for hashtags related to your brand or product on social media. We’ll get into the ethics of this later.
Legitimacy and Trust:
The biggest reason you should use UGC is that UGC generates authenticity for a brand, product, service, or event. Consumers have matured in this digital age; and are, by and large, more suspicious of marketing.
Today, brands fight to be recognised online – this intense competition results in a far more competitive market.
As a result, customers are far pickier about what they choose to consume. UGC is an easy way to communicate to a broad audience that your customers are honest and authentic – and have legitimate Instagram profiles to match.
In essence, UGC helps build trust between consumers and your brand, especially when they can see other ‘regular people interacting with your brand, products, and services. UGC is the modern-day equivariant of word of mouth – and in the world of ‘fake news’ – word of mouth has never been so important to brands.
UGC also helps to create brand loyalists and allows consumers to actively participate in the growth of your brand – rather than being passive spectators.
UGC lets consumers communicate aspects of your brand that align most with them and opens up a conversation between customer and producer – making them feel like they have a close parasocial connection with the products and services they choose to consume.
UGC can play a role in the final stages of a customer’s journey to purchase. As we noted earlier, UGC offers an increased sense of authenticity, trust, and proof that your product or service is worth it. It helps to show that other human beings have purchased your product or service and have appreciated or enjoyed it so much that they wanted to share their experience in return.
UGC and Events
Gen Z is known to be socially conscious and values-driven, they are more likely to support companies and brands that align with their values, such as sustainability and inclusivity. It’s very important that you are creating marketing campaigns that demonstrate your commitment to these values. This can include highlighting the environmentally-friendly practices or showing support for marginalised communities.
You can also demonstrate your commitment through corporate social responsibility campaigns or partnerships with non-profit organisations. By showing commitment to social and environmental values, you can effectively build trust and credibility with Gen Z and attract customers who share similar values.
Legal & Ethical Questions
(Before moving ahead: the Legal Eagles inside our Better Judgement have just squawked into action. Please note that this section is not and should not be a replacement for proper legal advice.)
With that out of the way: it’s important to remember that any unique content created by anyone is automatically subject to copyright.
Ethically, it is also best practice to credit a piece of UGC to its original owner.
This credit can come via a shout-out (such as tagging the original poster on social media) or in other ways (such as a watermark, if applicable). It’s also best practice to contact somebody who shares a piece of UGC and ask their permission before reposting it.
The Wrap Up
In summary, UGC is an easy way to instil trust and a sense of authenticity with your customers. It helps to show that your brand has numerous, real previous customers, and illustrates that your brand is open to a dialogue with your customers: which helps to create lifelong fans.
Questions or comments? Reach out to our team who can help create a social strategy for your business
Author: Benjamin Mursa, Milestone Creative Australia