From Starbucks to BMW, real customers have helped many businesses—large and small—spread the word about their brands.

From written reviews and ratings to videos and images, today, user-generated content, or UGC, has evolved to include more engaging videos, professional-quality images, and carefully drafted content that reinforce a company’s brand identity—which, needless to say, is a big win for brands.

Armed with this knowledge, many contemporary brands are focusing on UGC that’s posted by consumers on social media as part of their marketing strategy since they influence the purchasing decisions of their followers.

As a matter of fact, according to AdWeek, an astounding 85% of people say that UGC is much more likely to influence their buying decisions than content created by brands.

It’s also important not to mix up UGC and sponsored posts. Sponsorships consist of a transaction taking place between the business and the creator of the content. 

Think back to those Instagram posts that have a hashtag stating that they are in a partnership with the brand or even the text at the top of the post that says ‘Paid partnership’. Those would be examples of sponsored posts, whereas UGC is content that’s published by everyday consumers without any form of compensation.

So now that we’ve identified what UGC is, it’s time to delve deeper into how it can help your brand.

It solidifies your brand’s authenticity

One of the biggest pluses of UGC is that real people demonstrate your product’s usability under real-world scenarios. Consumers today are weary of content that sounds too salesy, and UGC helps mitigate this problem.

With consumers stating that user-generated content drives their buying decisions, nearly half of Gen Z trust social media as their primary source of inspiration over other sources, including their family and friends.

Consumers also trust the reviews and recommendations of their peers more than branded marketing campaigns.

Remember in 2014 when Apple first requested their users to take everyday photographs with their iPhones and upload them using #ShotOniPhone? Apple selected the best photographs and published them on several print and digital media platforms around the world. 

The campaign focused on UGC which ultimately garnered rave reviews and gave the product an air of authenticity that influenced more consumers to make purchases.

It increases brand loyalty

Not only does UGC involve publishing authentic content but it’s also a great way to allow your consumers to participate and contribute to the growth of the brand instead of just being a spectator.

This influences brand loyalty because consumers get to be part of something much bigger and UGC allows them to be contributing and valuable members of the brand’s community.

Brands also benefit from increased engagement by encouraging consumers to participate in building the brand’s image. It promotes conversations between consumers and brands where businesses can create an engaged community. 

In addition, you must also listen to the negative reviews and other UGC. Yes, nobody likes them, but they’re a part of your business and give you a unique opportunity to treat them as pain points.

By identifying and addressing negative reviews, you can get a better idea about which areas of your product need to be improved. This also conveys to your consumers—and your critics—that you’re willing to make improvements based on customer feedback, strengthening brand loyalty and even helping you pick up a few additional consumers on the way.

It gives you SEO perks

Aside from authenticity and brand loyalty, UGC also helps you generate tangible results in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO).

According to research, 25% of search results for the world’s top brands are linked to UGC because positive reviews have the power to raise SEO rankings.

If your users are publishing content on their blogs, backlinks to your website can help boost your SEO ranking. Plus, when it comes to reviews, your consumers do all the work while simultaneously shaping SEO with relevant and appropriate keywords and links.

Customer testimonials and reviews, for instance, are product-focused and customers use links and phrases that are commonly associated with the product which help to strengthen SEO.

Analysing the most frequently used words and phrases your audience uses can improve your keyword optimisation research and also help take out the guesswork and research involved in analysing the latest trends.

Build your brand with a little help from a community of loyal consumers

User-generated content—when leveraged properly—ramps up engagement and helps grow your audience.

From brand loyalty to SEO rankings, you can use UGC to benefit your business while boosting your lead-generation efforts and saving resources that you would otherwise spend on expensive advertisements that many consumers deem meaningless.

Interested in finding out what UGC can do for your business? Get in touch with our team of experts and we’ll help you strategise and execute impactful user-generated content and any other digital marketing solutions you need to elevate your business.