What is User Generated Content and How to Use it in Your Marketing Strategy

Photo courtesy of Liz Weddon via Unsplash.

Elevate Your Digital Brand with User Generated Content

If you’ve been in a marketing meeting anytime in the last few years, you’ve probably heard the term “UGC” thrown around. Chances are you might have nodded along, hoping no one was going to ask you exactly what that acronym meant. Well, today, we’ve got an answer for you!

UGC is shorthand for “User Generated Content”. This refers to any pictures or videos that non-brand accounts share online. This can include, but is not limited to, an Instagram post, pictures from a review on TripAdvisor or Yelp, videos on TikTok or temporary stories on Snapchat. UGC is great because it helps spread the word about your brand and can be repurposed to share on your accounts, website or in your business.

Before we go any further, it’s important to take a moment to address image and video copyright. 

As soon as a picture is taken or video is recorded, the person behind the lens instantly holds a copyright over that content. According to Instagram’s Terms of Service, users retain that copyright when they upload and post images to the site or mobile app. 

It is a good practice to send a message or leave a comment asking for permission to reshare when you find an image you want to include on your own feed. 99% of the time the user will give permission; most people appreciate the increased visibility you’ll lend to their account. However, since they are the copyright holder they reserve the right to ask you to take down the picture at any time.

Photo courtesy of Rendy Novatino via Unsplash.

Foster Connection with Your Audience

One of the best reasons to engage with and include UGC as part of your digital marketing plan is the connection it creates with your audience. Quite often, a restaurant or business account will have more followers than users tagging them in content. Resharing their images (especially if they’re good pictures!) is a simple way to show that you are appreciative of their support. Additionally, when customers feel that personal touch, they’re more likely to patronize your business again in the future. 

Emphasizing UGC is one of the quickest ways to develop a community around your brand. Some hotel groups and restaurants exclusively post user generated content in order to encourage interaction and create a community. 

Diversify Your Social Media Feeds

While it is important to define a voice for your brand and remain true to it, it is equally important to make sure that style does not become stale. There are many, many talented photographers who can take a variety of pictures of your space or product, but no matter how good they are, it is impossible to match the diversity of different photographer’s eyes. You likely have dozens, if not hundreds of potential photographers passing through your business on a daily business—why not take advantage of that?

User Generated Content can keep your feeds fresh and unexpected, which will lead to your followers coming back and tapping that like button. 

Photo courtesy of Bianca Ackermann via Unsplash.

Stretch Your Marketing Budget

Professional photoshoots are expensive. That’s no industry secret. 

It’s incredibly difficult to match the quality of a professional photoshoot, but UGC gives you the opportunity to stretch out quarterly or annual photoshoots over a longer period of time, instead of burning through all of your professional promotional images right away. The ratio will be different for every brand, but keeping a good balance between professional content and UGC will help make your accounts approachable and desirable at the same time.

Don’t be skeptical of UGC. Everyone has their own perspective and most people toting around a new iPhone have more processing power (63 megapixels and 4K video, hello!) than Ansel Adams ever had. All it takes is a few minutes of curation each week to turn your social media feeds into a pro gallery—even if you’re not using pro photos.

Looking for help to maximize your User Generated Content?

Meerkat Media Group has the experience to get you started with all things social media from daily content creation to complete brand marketing. If you’re looking for guidance on how to convert User Generated Content into effectively conveying your message, we’re here to help. Contact us to learn how to take your digital marketing to the next level!