By leveraging online platforms, digital tools, and virtual events, you can easily connect and engage with your members, share information and resources, and expand your reach. You can not only post your photos, videos, and texts but ask your members to do it too. That’s where we should introduce user-generated content (UGC).
UGC connects the audience with the organization and its cause. It puts a human face on your company, influences audience behavior more than traditional marketing, and can help your team save time and money.
Sounds interesting? Let’s explore how going digital and using UGC can help you create a great community experience. You will also learn how to encourage the audience to generate and distribute this content.
Understanding User-Generated Content
UGC is often seen as more authentic and trustworthy than traditional advertising because it comes from real people with real experiences.
It’s genuine, powerful, and effective regardless of what industry you belong to.
Defining User-Generated Content
UGC is any form of content created by an individual or group of individuals rather than a corporation or business.
It can be images, video clips, text posts, and even website comments.
The most common examples are photos taken by ordinary people and shared on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Sources of Community-Generated Content
Social media platforms
Do you have a social media account?
If yes, then it’s one of the easiest ways to find what people say about your organization and encourage them to tag you or use a specific hashtag when sharing related content.
Another great place to find UGC is an online community or member forum.
Private online communities ensure a protected venue for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and communication among your members.
You can learn about their experiences and insights, answer questions, and gather feedback to improve in the future. These opportunities enable you to facilitate meaningful engagement and foster a sense of belonging.
If you want to get UGC faster, ask your audience to develop it.
It can be testimonials or feedback on your organization’s activities or events. Then you can place quotes on social media, a website, or marketing materials.
If you organize events, you can incentivize attendees to post photos or videos and repurpose them as UGC.
4 Benefits of User-Generated Content Marketing
1. Authenticity and Credibility
Why is UGC so influential? It’s more authentic than anything else out there. As statistics show, authenticity is crucial to 90% of people when choosing whom to support.
UGC is about real people sharing their experiences, thoughts, and feelings on products, services, or activities they participated in. This type of content can be a great way to humanize your company.
It can show members that there are actual people behind the company name. And it will help you build stronger relationships with your audience, for example, donors in the case of nonprofit organizations.
2. Establishing Loyalty and Community Growth
UGC lets your audience become active participants in your organization’s activities. They can not only see how you contribute to the community but build a more meaningful life together. This social interaction can increase loyalty, ensure community building, and promote a sense of belonging.
Showcase UGC to spark conversations between the organization and the audience, building a stronger, more engaged community.
3. Building Trust and Influencing Decisions
Traditional marketing strategies and ads have less impact on the audience than before. That’s why organizations seek natural methods of promoting their ideas and values.
Due to the increasing role of social media in everyday life, content from real people outperforms traditional advertisements in terms of credibility.
UGC lets you harness the power of personal recommendations and create a deeper connection with your audience. Think of it as a digital version of word-of-mouth advertising. Incorporating UGC into your strategy can build trust and tell your story more authentically.
4. Cost-Effective and Adaptable
Consider everything that goes into a professional photo shoot:
- Finding a creative team and photographer;
- Selecting models;
- Renting a venue;
- Waiting for an editor to process and publish photos, etc.
It requires a lot of time and money, and there is no guarantee it will appeal to your audience. If you operate on a tight budget, UGC can solve problems with the high costs associated with content creation and scaling.
Use visuals and texts from your community. The best part is that they are usually free. But even if you cooperate with public figures, they may be open to non-paid partnerships and making collaborative content, ensuring significant cost savings.
Types of User-Generated Content
Now that we’ve defined UGC and its potential for community building let’s review some of its popular types. User-generated media is available in various formats, making it easy to find the ideal fit for your niche, for example:
- Visual content: photos and videos, immersing others into the real-life experience with your organization;
- Testimonials: written statements, videos, or even audio recordings from current or past members of the organization about their experiences and the benefits they have gained from being a member;
- Reviews: similar to testimonials, but you have less control over user-generated feedback. Reviews also usually appear not on corporate websites but on external platforms, such as Google Reviews, Yelp, or TrustPilot;
- Ratings: a numerical score or star rating system used to evaluate the overall quality of an organization;
- Social media posts: members’ content on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social sharing platforms.
Examples of Best User-Generated Content
Let’s look at some prominent organizations using UGC for community building.
Screenshot taken on the official GivingTuesday Instagram account
#GivingTuesday is a global movement that started in 2022.
It unites people worldwide who donate, help others, and raise awareness. All you need is to do something good and share it on social media with the hashtag #GivingTuesday.
Screenshot taken on the official Movember website
This initiative aims to tell the world about men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health. Members can choose their activity, for example:
- Grow a mustache
- Run or walk 60 miles
- Hold an event
- Choose an adventure challenge
People do it to raise money to prevent men’s diseases and attract more attention to the campaign.
Screenshot taken on the official Neurodivergent Rebel Instagram account
This campaign strives to promote understanding of autism and its masking. Members publish their stories about autism under the hashtag #TakeTheMaskOff, which you can observe in the screenshot below.