UGC is a relatively new term that’s been born out of the rise of social media. It stands for User Generated Content. UGC has become popular because (when done right) it can dramatically increase engagement with your audience on social media. It can also reduce the amount of content a brand has to create itself as they can leverage content generated by their fans.

Different Forms of UGC

You’ve probably come across UGC before. It can take the form of photos, videos, blogging competitions or using branded hashtags. Whole Foods uses the branded hashtag #WholeFoodsUK on Instagram to help curate posts from stores and users alike. Meanwhile, Pret has been posting reviews of its recent menu change across its Instagram and Twitter accounts using their own branded hashtag.

Types of content created via users can include reviews, images, videos, blog posts, comments, forum posts and podcasts. If a customer played a part in creating some content, then that usually falls under the UGC umbrella.

How UGC Helps Businesses

UGC comes in handy when you’re limited on the amount of content your marketing team can produce for your various channels.

By encouraging customers to produce content for you, you can build a bank of images and other media that you can then post on your own social media accounts. This has the added benefit of making your customers feel more included and engaged with your brand.

Practical Tips for UGC

There are some things to bear in mind when starting out with UGC. First, pick the right hashtag. Double-check to make sure the hashtag you choose isn’t already taken.

If there is some content tagged with it, that’s fine as long as there’s not too much and the content isn’t inappropriate. If there’s a vast amount of content tagged and it’s irrelevant to your brand, choose a different hashtag.

To find UGC when first getting started, you can usually search on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. On some platforms, a customer might have already tagged your company’s account in their post. If not, then typing in your company name can usually uncover some content.

Long-term, you might want to run regular competitions and encourage customers to post under a branded hashtag. You can also talk about your UGC campaign on your website and in your email marketing.

When repurposing UGC for your own channels, don’t forget to credit the original creator. Aesthetics matter too. Make sure that anything you share is in line with your brand guidelines.

Don’t Waste Your UGC

UGC is being created every minute of every day and much of it is currently wasted by businesses. If you’ve got a loyal customer base, some of them have likely shared stuff about your brand already. So tap into this ready-made content source.

By setting up ways for your customers to share their content with your business, you can save yourself time and money in the long run. UGC will also help your company connect more deeply with your customers. It’ll give you a pretty varied social media presence as well. For both customer and business, UGC offers a win-win.