A couple of weeks ago I was searching for my skiing holiday destination for next year and guess what the best source of information is?
No, it’s not Google.
Type the name of a place, brand or product into the Instagram search box, and you’ll get a real-time stream of user-generated content. You’ll find other customers like you enjoying the service or product – you might even find your friends or favourite celebrities in the feed.
Consumers have always trusted family, friends and the feedback of other customers more than content produced by brands - and according to Nielsen 92% of customers trust authentic user-generated content more than the traditional advertising.
User-generated content or UGC can be defined as content created by customers, employees, partners, influencers and other business stakeholders, and you don’t pay for UGC to be shared online. These days the most popular format of UGC is an Instagram image but the format can be text, tweets, videos or sound files too. It’s not limited to social media channels either; with tools like Flockler, you can gather customer-created content on your website too.
Why brands create user-generated content campaigns?
Marketers often describe their goals as building awareness, increasing reach and driving conversions, but in layman’s terms, your job as a marketer is to get the customer to know, like and trust your brand.
The content you create yourself will definitely help you to build "know, like and trust" factors, but user-generated content and authentic examples of how your customers are enjoying your products and services will help you in the process.
Social media services and their algorithms prioritise the posts from our friends and people we interact with regularly. Why? The goal of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others is to keep you scrolling their feeds for as long as possible - and to get you back there frequently too. From their data, they can see that people spend more time engaging with posts from their friends than posts by brands - and it makes sense for them to prioritise those posts in your news feed.
So how do you get your brand in front of customers on social media?
There are two options:
1) Paid advertising (check our tips on how to run an effective social media advertising campaign).
2) User-generated content campaigns.
By creating a user-generated content campaign and engaging your fans in mentioning your branded hashtag or company, you’ll get more eyeballs on your content. The posts in our personal feeds spark more likes and comments and your company will reach a broader audience.
In other words, more customers will know your business.
How do you get customers to like your business?
Authentic UGC moments by other customers will inspire their friends to find out more about your business by visiting your social media channels or, better yet, visit your website where you’ve embedded a social media wall with the latest updates from your accounts. An inspirational social wall will increase the number of likes and followers of your social media accounts. And the other key benefits of a social media wall include longer time spent on your website and more conversions.
The final step: building trust with the customers. This starts from the moment the customer likes your business.
Your customers have learned about you, they’ve seen your inspirational social posts in a social media wall, and they’ve taken the step to like and follow your social media account. Now, it’s your job to deliver high-quality content to build trust and nurture the relationship. To help you out, we’ve listed 13 actionable tips on how to create shareable content.
Examples of user-generated content campaigns
User-generated content is a vital source of getting people to know, like and trust your business - and some brands already have an active community of customers mentioning the business or sharing content with a branded hashtag. It’s always a good idea to learn from others who are getting it right, and here are 7 great examples of user-generated content campaigns:
My Spotify plays mostly hard rock and metal, but if you’ve been listening to mainstream radio channels in the past 10 years, it’s been impossible to avoid songs like ‘Uptown Funk’ and ‘Just the way you are’. Bruno Mars is an award-winning artist who mixes pop, R&B, hip hop, reggae, and more in his music, and some of his songs have been played more than a billion times on Spotify.
With Flockler, Bruno Mars curates feeds from Instagram and other social media channels and displays them in a grid format on the website and other digital services. Bruno and his marketing team can change the feeds and hashtags in real-time when a new album is released, or new concert tours are taking place.
An Instagram feed embedded on a website boosts engagement, drives sales, and increases the number of followers on Instagram.
Hilton Grand Vacations
Travel marketers can’t live without user-generated content. And according to research by Travel Counsellors, 96% of travellers are more likely to trust a recommendation from another person over branded content.
Hilton Grand Vacations makes no exception to the rule – their #MyHGV feed features the best Instagram images to inspire customers like me to book the next holiday with them. I just can’t wait to have as much fun as the others I’m seeing on Instagram!
For more inspiration, learn how travel brands use social media and UGC in marketing.
Design For Change USA and Hasbro
Design For Change is an international nonprofit that helps young people transform empathy into social action using a simple framework and 'I can' mindset.
In collaboration with Hasbro, Design For Change USA encouraged kids and their parents to share an act of kindness online. For every kind act shared with #DoGoodFromHome, Hasbro donated a toy or game to organizations providing care to the children of COVID-19 essential workers.
Charities are using social media to engage their audience and drive donations. Traditional marketing channels (phone calls, street marketing, print advertising, etc.) are still here, but a successful UGC campaign helps organisations to reach new audiences without geographical boundaries - with minimal resources compared to traditional channels and far more precise targeting.
University of Wisconsin
In addition to increasing awareness and reach, the key benefits of using user-generated content in education marketing are to attract future students with social proof and nurture the relationship with existing students, staff, and other stakeholders. Most students these days belong to Generation Z (teens and young adults born in 1995 or later), and compared to previous generations, they value authenticity and are naturally skeptical about advertising.
The University of Wisconsin uses Flockler to gather and display social media feeds on its website – providing students an easy way to share their experiences and add social proof to their website. Some of the advantages of user-generated content are that it saves time from your content creation team and adds social proof to support your existing editorial content.
User-generated content displayed as social proof on product pages increases the time spent on site and drives conversion rates by 20-30% or even more. With other customers similar to us enjoying the product and speaking our language, UGC boosts our trust in the brand and helps us to make the purchase decision.
A long time before the rise of social media channels, print materials and websites have used customer comments and quotes to build trust - and UGC is like reviews on steroids. Social media posts are publicly posted on personal social media feeds and can be updated in real-time.
Vivadogs, a monthly subscription service of healthy nutrition products and toys for dogs, has so far identified 500.000 happy dogs and their owners through user-generated content shared on social media channels. A beautiful grid of Instagram images is embedded on their homepage to convince visitors to subscribe.
To scale the volume of user-generated content, add call-to-actions to every customer touchpoint from product packaging to websites and emails.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that the algorithms of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels promote brands and accounts that receive the highest number of mentions, likes, and comments. It’s in their interest to keep displaying content that our friends like and keep us glued to our screens for long periods of time.
Recognising and promoting your customer community content is an excellent way of increasing the number of mentions. The community page of Georgia Power highlights both the mentions of their Facebook Page and campaign hashtags. By actively curating and promoting the content published by your customers, partners, and stakeholders, you’ll encourage others to participate too.
Have you already created a hashtag campaign for your brand?
New Zealand National Cricket team
Are you running a sports team and don’t have user-generated content from your fans displayed on your site? You must be insane!
Check how New Zealand National Cricket team displays a social media feed with Instagram images, tweets, YouTube videos and more. The team is often mentioned by players, fans and trusted news sources and the social media wall on their site welcomes visitors with a curated feed of this social media content. We haven't met a customer yet where the time spent on site wouldn't increase with the help of a social media wall.
How to embed user-generated content on your website?
Now that you’ve learned why brands are creating UGC campaigns and have seen examples of brands getting it right, I thought it would make sense to show how easy it is to get started and display authentic, user-generated content from your fans on your website.
Embedding social media feeds in any digital service is quick and easy – here’s how you do it:
1. Aggregate social media content from various channels
Sign up for Flockler’s 30-day free trial and set up your own rules on which social media channels you’d like to display and what hashtags to use. With automated feeds, the content will be displayed automatically (or stored for moderation), and you can combine multiple social media networks in one feed. Check the list of supported social media channels and content types.
Creating a feed gathering UGC by hashtag, posts mentioning a particular username or posts published by a specific social media account takes a few minutes. Here’s a video to show you how:
When creating your mix of social media channels, you can decide if the content is displayed on your site automatically or if you store the posts to inbox and moderate the feed one-by one.
Even if you decide to display UGC automatically, you can always hide each post from the social media feed later.
2. Display UGC on websites, mobile apps or digital screens
After creating your stream of UGC content, copy the embed code from your Flockler account and display the content on any website, mobile app or digital screen. The embed code creates a beautiful social media wall without any technical skills - but with the help of the Flockler team or your favourite developer, you can customize the look and feel to match your brand guidelines.
You can create an unlimited number of social media walls with the same Flockler account - and with the various filters and options, we enable you to display all of this content or only some of the content anywhere in your digital services and unlimited number of pages. For example, you can display only the content mentioning a specific tag on a dedicated social media campaign or product page.