Engagement

Why Is User-Generated Content So Important & How To Get It

Learn why user-generated content (UGC) is so powerful and how to collect it from your community.
Martine Hammar
August 17, 2022

I'm sure that without even knowing the term user-generated content, you appreciated its value. Whenever one of your customers read a review that influenced a purchasing decision, they were valuing someone’s opinion. This opinion is from an authentic, trustworthy person who had an experience they wished to share. 

What is user-generated content and why is it so important?

UGC is described by Sarah Engel as “any kind of brand-related content created by your brand’s consumers. The rule of thumb is if your brand didn’t create the content, it’s UGC!”

This content allows your customers to make more informed decisions that enhance their purchase. Without UGC, they'd be “blind shopping,” and those days are over! Everyone deserves to be more educated and informed than we were in the past.

Imagine a potential client standing in a courtyard. They're standing by themselves with an obstacle they need to overcome. While standing there, all the businesses are shouting simultaneously, offering to help. And all that the potential client hears is noise. 

So who are they going to listen to? Probably no-one.

But then a peer recommends a particular business. They share their views and opinions. Without needing to explore other options, they are sold. Why? Simply because someone they trust likes it. 

And that’s all the encouragement they needed. The rest just gave them a pounding headache.

And the best part is, by the time they approach the business, they are ready to buy. Yes, they might have a few follow-up questions, but they don’t need convincing, and are definitely not “blind-shopping.”

In this article, I am going to explain to you how you can generate UGC from your customers and use it to add credibility and authenticity to your brand. I will also illustrate why you can't afford not to make UGC an essential part of your marketing strategy.

I will answer the following questions:

Why is your community so valuable?

These days, your prospects are in the most powerful position. They have so much choice, and as a business you need to stand out – whether it’s on a store shelf, on a website, or in an advertisement.

So how can you truly stand out?

Remember this harsh statement:

Your prospects don’t care what you think about your product!

The only people they really care to listen to are your customers who are exactly like them. Regular humans who made the decision to trust your product. They now become the most trustworthy advocates of your brand. Not you!

So if you ignore this content, you are missing a massive opportunity. 

Now you might be wondering, who is in my community? You might even wonder if you have a community. And the answer is you do!

Your community includes everyone who your business has made an impact on. These are the people who will ultimately represent your brand as a cohesive group with common interests. They will also become the best advocates of your brand.

This group of people can now do the selling for you. And because they are not from the company, potential customers will listen to them. 

People are no longer interested in being sold to. These days “You are no longer selling a product or service. You are selling trust.” 

According to Wyzowl:

  • 9 out of 10 people say they trust what a customer says about a business more than what that business says about itself.
  • 95% of people say that reviews – whether positive, or negative – influence their purchasing decisions.

And UGC is the cheapest, yet most effective, authentic, and trustworthy way for this community to sell your business and services.

What are the benefits of online UGC?

Let’s say you were looking for a Social Media Suite to help plan your social media strategy, you might go onto a SaaS online review site like g2. You would then find a list of suitable tools and their online reviews. 

These reviews then help you narrow down the options and enable you to make an informed decision. This decision will not be defined by what the company says about their platform, but on the reviews from people who are currently using the tool you are interested in.

An example here are the G2 reviews for Sendible. Here you can read unbiased reviews from Sendible’s customers.

There are many other online review sites like Trustpilot, Tripadvisor, and Yelp that are based on the same principle of UGC.

Reviews like these might stop you from making an expensive mistake, or perhaps draw your attention to an item, or a service, you might have overlooked.

How to help your customers share UGC with their community?

So now you’ve got a group of people in your community ready to create this user-generated content for you. Their community trust them and they are ready to hear what they have to say and take note of the services they recommend. The trust factor is already instilled and the UGC is already likely to have a great reach.

But what’s the best type of content for them to create, how can they create it, and most importantly, where will your prospects find it?

What are different types of UGC?

There are different types of UGC that you can generate from your community

Video testimonials

Video Testimonials are an extremely effective form of UGC. They allow your community to express how your company has impacted their lives using video. This content serves as a personal recommendation to potential customers as it is trustworthy and human. These can be shared on social media, embedded on your website or in email campaigns.

Below you can see a testimonial that was created for StoryPrompt by a happy customer, Park Howell:

Thought-leadership

Thought-leadership posts make a great impact because they are educational. They allow you to share your experiences, opinions, and insights with your community. These thoughts can then be shared beyond your own community because of the quality content that many communities would benefit from.

Here is our founder, Gavin Hammar explaining why your business needs to be on video:

Employee advocacy

Employee advocacy posts show the people behind the company. Typically employees would show behind the scenes and share their views on working there. Because these are in the video format, it allows an outsider to see how the company operates and get a sense of the environment.

Below is a video of really bad jokes Sendible collected from their new starters as a way to introduce them to customers:

White-papers and blogs

This form of UGC is in the written form. They are education pieces where the writer can share insights, learnings, and experiences with their community.

Case-studies

Case-studies show the relationship between a customer and a company. A case-study will display the experiences shared between the two parties and showcase the journey they went on together.

Case-studies are very authentic because you might be able to relate to the customer’s journey and it might show you how the company might be suitable for you too.

Hashtag campaigns

Many companies have been very successful when they created a hashtag campaign to encourage UGC. An example of this is Coca-Cola who created the Share a Coke campaign. Consumers were able to buy a Coke with their or someone else’s name on the bottle. They were then encouraged to post on social media with a hashtag #shareacoke.

The reason Coca-Cola came up with this campaign was to create a more personal relationship with consumers and inspire shared moments of happiness.

Coke then sold more than 250 million named bottles and cans in Australia - with a population of just under 23 million people.

How to collect user-generated content?

Most UGC will be created spontaneously by your happy community without you having any involvement. The most authentic and trustworthy UGC is voluntarily created, for example using Instagram stories. 

But such valuable content shouldn’t expire after a few days, like it would with an Instagram story. You might want to embed this content on your website, or email campaigns. If this content is going to be published on your website, you want it to look professional and polished. 

So your first step is to hire an expensive production team, models and use up most of your marketing budget, right?

WRONG!

Instead you could use a platform like StoryPrompt. StoryPrompt makes it easy for customers and employees to contribute authentic UGC about their experience with your company asynchronously, from any device. 

So what does this mean?

Your customers can create UGC for you and StoryPrompt’s clever AI integration will ensure that they are automatically edited and produced. All videos can include your own branding, music and b-roll. 

How to use StoryPrompt to collect UGC

To illustrate how simple it is to gather UGC from my community, I decided to put my views into action. I sent out a prompt asking three of our customers: What’s the biggest challenge facing your industry today?

I gave them the opportunity to share their views and then shared them on our social media. I mentioned their names, their company names, and tagged them.

So how does this drive traffic to my business? Because I have empowered them to share their views with my community, the hope is that they will then share the content with their community. Then as a result, their community will see it originally came from StoryPrompt. 

The likelihood is if they are proud of the content, they will share it. The viral ability here is endless.

Getting started with StoryPrompt

To get started, the first thing you need to do is sign up for a free plan. The Basic/free plan gives you unlimited video collection. All testimonials will have a StoryPrompt watermark. You also get access to 1 online community space with 20 members.  This is not a time-restricted trial.

The Pro plan - $79/mo, gives you unlimited video collection. There will be no StoryPrompt watermark and all testimonials will display your own branding. You also get access to 10 online community spaces with 3 admin seats and 100 members.

The Premium plan $249/mo, gives you unlimited video collection with your own branding. You also get access to 30 online community spaces with 10 admin seats and unlimited members. White labelling and concierge onboarding are also included.

Sending a prompt

Before you can receive a video testimonial, you need to send the customer a prompt. This would be human-to-human asynchronous communication. This is a very important part of the process because the respondent feels they are talking to a person and not simply completing a boring, time-consuming form. 

To record a prompt, you click the Build a Prompt button. We also have handy templates to help you get started.

Now you’re ready to send your first prompt. It’s important to mention that the respondent can add a script, this is useful if they feel camera-shy.

Editing your prompt

Once you have created your prompt, the design elements begin. You can now choose which AI producer you want to use and the mood of your music. You can also add in your own branding, select your preferred layout, add intro and outro MP4 videos, add in b-roll, and decide how you want your video published.

StoryPrompt completely eliminates the lengthy and costly video editing and production.

Sharing your prompt

You’re now ready to share your prompt and begin collecting replies. You can copy the link to share on social media or you can copy the link and thumbnail to embed the prompt into an email.

Replying to a prompt

Once the respondent clicks on the link, they will be able to watch your video on the left and respond by clicking on the “Record your video” button on the right. This makes communication a two-way human to human interaction that can be responded to asynchronously.

Sharing your content

Your video has now been automatically produced and is ready to be shared on social media, in your email campaigns, or embedded onto your website. You can do this by copying the link and sharing directly. You can also copy the link and thumbnail, for emails, or copy the code and embed it onto your website. 

So now remember that committed and loyal community you have? They become your stars! And the more authentic and human the videos are, the better!

Take a look at the prompt I shared and see their responses here.

Conclusion

This great quote by Karoline Miles, really summarizes why you can’t afford to ignore authentic UGC "When it comes to products, brands tell, but UGC sells!" So if I haven’t convinced you to invest your time into UGC then pay attention to this:

About 92% of customers trust the reviews and recommendations shared by people, rather than advertisements.

Your brand’s community is ready and willing to talk about your company. They have the true experiences and have their own communities they can recommend your company to.

Empower them, reward them, and value their content.

Martine Hammar

Chief Storyteller at StoryPrompt

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