Businesses are always on the lookout for new ideas and opportunities to create an ad or campaign that makes them stand out and attracts new customers. But as time goes on, it’s becoming progressively harder to find a way to grab viewers attention. Many consumers are tired of ubiquitous social media ads, brands exaggerating the advantages of their products, and the doubtful honesty of paid influencer reviews. Consumers are overexposed and overstimulated — an additional push would rather cause frustration than spark any interest.

So, how can businesses effectively promote their products then? How do they sincerely demonstrate their values? What do brands need to build trust and boost sales? There is one answer: user-generated content. Online reviews, testimonials, blog posts, social media publications, customer videos and photos — all these and other brand-related content made by consumers, are considered to be user-generated content. The opinions of fellow-consumers are largely influential and deemed to be significantly more trustworthy than any brand-made advertisement.

User-created content is one of the most effective, and what’s also important, the cheapest (if not free at all) promotional materials a brand can get. It has a 28% higher engagement rate than regular brand posts. Integrating UGC into the marketing strategy is an absolute must to ensure brand authenticity and credibility. Let’s go over the ways you can leverage user-generated content about your brand and incorporate it within different digital channels.

Share UGC on Instagram and Other Social Media Platforms

Popular method of user-generated content distribution. All leading social media networks support tagging, and with branded hashtags it’s easy to discover the content about your brand.

Here is how to ensure users know about your hashtag and use it in their posts:

  • Add a branded hashtag into your bio. It won’t only increase the hashtag’s visibility but also turn the hashtag search results into a reviews page for your brand. All visitors can click through the hashtag and see a collection of user-generated brand images, videos and stories. It also helps you to quickly track down all existing and new brand-related content.
  • Create a post with encouragement to use the branded hashtag. Your current audience may not visit your Instagram or other social media profile often enough. Most likely it heavily relies on your posts to learn about deals and news. Keep your current and potential customers informed — make a post using a customer photo and your branded hashtag. Motivate the audience to use the tag to get a chance to be featured on your page, to get a discount, etc.

Reposting UGC as social media posts yields the best results when it’s regular. Unlike all other popular social media platforms, Instagram doesn’t make it easy to share content made by other users.

To make up for the lack of reposting and scheduling functionalities of Instagram, use a specialized third-party application, such as Combin Scheduler. It can help you repost user-generated content on Instagram, set up regular publishing of Instagram Stories and posts, and see how the combination of UGC and brand posts would look in your profile.

Create a Dedicated Reviews Page on Your Website

The lack of a single consolidated brand and product reviews page on your website can be damaging to brand image and sales. Third-party review aggregators tend to dominate organic traffic on the results for a brand name + ‘reviews’. Brands have little control over the ratings and reviews posted on the aggregator sites, and the content quality here is usually poor and often generated by bots.

To regain control of the image online, brands need to set up a dedicated review page on their web sites. Make sure the page link name has the word ‘reviews’ — it increases the chances that Google picks the link as a top search result over aggregators.

Include a customer photo carousel made out of UGC posts from social media as an example. Invite them to follow you on other platforms and inspire to share their experience with your product or brand in general. Consider allowing users to include photos and comment on each other’s reviews to let them express themselves better and get the members of your community to know each other.

Use UGC in Promo and Ads

Leverage user-created photos and videos by repurposing them into promotional content. There are two ways to go about it:

  • Add a twist to already existing UGC. Take the brand-related content your customers previously shared and turn it into an ad by adding a specific message to it. Edit user-created footage and make it into a video ad, or use user customer photos instead — any type of UGC with a right message attached is the way to go.
  • Inspire new topical UGC creation. Start a campaign to initiate customers submitting high-quality photos or videos of them using your product or sharing how your product helped them and made their lives easier. Instead of booking an expensive shoot to produce staged photography, turn your customers into models! Fill your product page with the images that demonstrate how real people look and feel wearing your brand clothing, for instance.

Add UGC to Your Email Newsletter

Show off satisfied customers everywhere, especially in your newsletter. Since email doesn’t get nearly as much attention as social media, you have to add a little extra something to make customers check it.

Display a grid of Instagram posts featuring happy customers with your product, in all regular marketing emails. Give away hefty discount codes to UGC creators that were featured in the weekly newsletter — it will inspire them to continue creating more and make them really look forward to your next email.

Before you start to leverage: As a brand, you need to interact with UGC creators prior to using what they’ve made. Thank them and ask for permission to use the content. Just because they put it up on their public profiles, doesn’t mean that creators automatically approve of being exposed to your (most probably significantly larger) audience.

After creators express their consent, remember that you also should credit them — repurposing content without citing your sources is always a bad look. Keep these recommendations in mind before you decide to leverage user-generated content in any of the ways described above.