By Neil Patel
Here’s an idea.
Sit back and watch your business grow without spending money or putting in too much effort.
Sounds too good to be true?
User-generated content, also known as UGC, is an excellent way to promote your business.
This promotional concept will help you get customers without spending any money.
These are the top benefits of UGC:
- doesn’t take much time
- requires minimal effort
Here’s the thing. You’ll obviously need to spend some money for and put maximum effort into other areas of your business.
So you’re not completely off the hook.
But UGC allows you to grow your company without occupying your time or hurting your bank account.
When executed properly, it can grow your business exponentially.
How does it work?
Let’s take a look at how UGC influences online shoppers.
These numbers can’t be ignored.
Take this opportunity to engage with your customers.
It’s also an effective way to enhance the overall customer experience, which increases the perceived value of your customer service.
UGC means your brand is friendly.
You’re down to earth, relatable, and approachable.
Customers appreciate that.
Based on the data, 65% of customers agree UGC is more interesting than the content created by brands.
UGC is also a great opportunity to reach different market segments.
Your brand will be exposed to consumers who may be outside of your target audience.
Consumers will gladly participate and generate content for your brand.
It gives them a chance to express their opinions, values, and beliefs.
Depending on the content, it can also generate some awareness for a certain cause the consumer feels strongly about.
This is also a great chance for them to win a prize or earn a reward.
I’ll show you the best ways to grow your business with UGC.
Encourage reviews on every platform
Reviews are one of the best forms of UGC.
Customer reviews influence the purchasing decision in a positive way.
Take a look at the graphic above.
There are six options, and only one of these comes from UGC: customer reviews.
It also ranked the highest compared to other forms of hearing about a new product or service.
How much do customer reviews cost you?
The content is completely produced by the consumer.
All you need to do is give your customers as many options as possible to write a review. Where?
- Your website
- Trip Advisor
- Google Customer Reviews
If you have more options, it’s the best way to increase the chances of getting more reviews.
Customers won’t always go out of their way to leave a review unless they had a really great or really bad experience.
Obviously, you don’t want to have bad reviews about your company online, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
The trick is convincing the customers who had a good experience to review your products and generate social proof.
How do you do this?
Give them an incentive.
If they leave a review, automatically enter them in a promotion to win a prize.
Make it easy for your customers to leave a review.
If they make an online purchase, send them a link directly to a review page.
Or even better, let them fill out the form in an interactive email.
Don’t make them go searching for review websites.
It will take too much time, and chances are they won’t go through all those steps.
You’ve got to give the customer some guidance.
Set up a profile on as many review platforms as possible, give your customers a reason to write a review, and make it as easy as possible for them.
This UGC strategy will grow your business.
Create a buzz surrounding your brand
Get people talking about your brand.
Run a promotion or a contest that will create a buzz.
It’s a great opportunity to increase customer engagement.
Plus, this will get customers to talk about your company even when they aren’t shopping.
How do you do this?
Run a campaign encouraging people to post photos of your brand and logo.
Starbucks ran a campaign that’s a perfect example of this.
It was called the #WhiteCupContest, and it encouraged customer engagement.
Over 3 weeks, over 4,000 people participated in this campaign.
The concept was simple.
Design your own Starbucks cup, and post it on social media with their hashtag, #WhiteCupContest.
Think of it like this.
Let’s pretend each of these 4,000 people had 100 friends on social media.
That would mean Starbucks got exposed to 400,000 people in just a few weeks.
And it didn’t cost them a dime.
You can follow their lead and run a similar promotion for your company.
Find a unique way to get people talking and excited about sharing your brand with their friends and followers on social media.
It’s an opportunity for you to reach potentially hundreds of thousands of people in a short amount of time.
Let your creative team come up with a campaign that encourages users to share your content on the Internet.
Interact with your customers on social media
You should constantly be engaging with your fans through these platforms.
Like their posts.
Comment on their pictures.
They will return the favor.
Encourage your followers to share your content with their friends.
When it comes to customer care, consumers love social media.
Users want to interact with their favorite brands.
If you make social media engagement part of your regular routine, the UGC will take care of itself.
If you think it’s a waste of time, think again!
Carbon6 Rings built a $1.7 million dollar business by providing top notch personalized customer service.
When a customer likes or comments on your page, it will show up on the newsfeeds of their friends, even if those friends don’t follow you.
It’s easy too.
You can control your social media pages from the mobile applications on your cell phone at any time during the day.
Put an emphasis on visuals.
A recent study found that people retain 65% of information three days later if it was paired with an image.
People only remember 10% of information three days later without an image included.
Engage with your customers’ images on their social media pages.
If they post an epic picture about your brand, share the content.
Thule does this on their Instagram page all the time.
Awesome shot, right?
Look what this accomplishes.
Their followers can see the company posts user photos.
It encourages them to get out and take pictures with their Thule gear as well.
Users post a picture, tag Thule, and comment with a relevant hashtag, generating free advertising for the company.
Interacting with your customers on social media platforms promotes UGC.
Designate a specific area of your website for user-generated content
Encourage customers to create content directly on your website.
- Discussion boards
- User photo submissions
These are all great ways to get customers involved.
We just discussed the importance of photos on social media
Let’s piggyback on that topic.
Customers can submit photos directly on your website as well.
Here an example from West Elm.
All of the images on this page come directly from customer submissions.
It gives customers a great reason to show off the new design of their homes with the furniture purchased from West Elm.
When prospective customers see this part of the website, it may give them some inspiration to make a purchase.
These future customers may also be inclined to share their photos after they get a room set up as well.
Don’t limit photo engagement to social media platforms.
Set up a page on your website for UGC as well.
Look for videos made by your customers
What’s better than photos?
Pay attention to your fans.
50% of consumers say that UGC is more memorable than content produced by the brand itself.
Encourage your customers to create videos.
This is a great way for customers to retain information and remember your brand.
People love videos.
In fact, 43% of consumers want to see more video content online.
Adding the word “video” to your email subject lines will increase open rates by 19% and CTR by 65%.
What can you do with this information?
Send an email to your customers telling them to submit videos while engaging with your products.
GoPro does this on its website.
They have a section dedicated to user submissions.
See how easy it is to upload your video?
Just click the “submit” button in the top right corner.
Sure, GoPro makes cameras, so the concept of user videos may be more applicable and relevant for their brand.
But you can still come up with creative ways for customers to generate content with homemade videos.
Get those videos on your website or social media platforms.
Send a message to your followers encouraging video creation.
Send free stuff to people with a large social following
Who are your biggest fans on social media?
If you notice that the same people are constantly posting pictures about your company, send them a freebie.
I’m sure they will end up posting a picture of their gift as a thank you.
This can encourage their followers to do the same thing.
They may think, “Hey, if I start posting about this brand, maybe they will send me a gift as well.”
This turns into free advertising for your business.
The cost of giving away some gifts is minimal compared to the exposure it will give your company.
Try to get some celebrities or brand ambassadors on board with your company.
Take a look at how MVMT Watches did this with professional surfer and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Anastasia Ashley.
Anastasia has over 1 million followers on Instagram.
So they sent her some free watches and got a massive exposure for their brand.
This will encourage others to do the same.
So go through your social media mentions.
Find out who your biggest fans are.
Take a look at their social following.
If you have some fans with a large list of followers, send them a free gift.
It’s quick, easy, and extremely inexpensive.
UGC creates social proof.
When you see people in large numbers doing something, you automatically assume it’s right.
The more people you can get to generate content for your brand, the greater the effect of social proof will be on other consumers.
Ultimately, social proof will increase the shares and traffic across your social media pages.
Run a campaign that focuses on social awareness
Does your brand have a relationship with some sort of social movement or charitable cause?
This is an outstanding way to get UGC.
If people feel the same way about your goals, they will promote your brand.
Sharing the same charity goals can establish an emotional connection with your audience.
Create your campaign, and let the rest take care of itself.
Let’s look at an example with TOMS Shoes.
Their concept is simple.
Buy a pair of shoes, and they will donate a pair of shoes to people in need.
TOMS stays relevant with social issues.
Take a look at one of their most recent campaigns on the website.
They are supporting the hurricane victims in the southern part of the United States.
If people have friends or family members affected by these tragic storms, they may be more inclined to share this message from TOMS.
Users can promote your business if they have an emotional connection with your cause.
Sell a lifestyle
Sell more than just a product or service.
Promote a lifestyle.
Lululemon does this with their campaign called #TheSweatLife.
Sure, Lululemon sells fashionable athletic clothing.
But this campaign takes their brand a step further.
It promotes a healthy lifestyle.
Users have a chance to share their stories of physical and emotional changes in their lives based on a fitness journey.
It’s inspirational and encourages others to share their stories as well.
All of this creates a positive perception of the company.
Ultimately, this will grow the business and get people to buy more clothes.
This reminds me of how spending $162,301.42 on clothing made me $692,500.
Don’t put all of the focus on your products.
Emphasize what your brand represents, and sell a lifestyle.
This will help you get user-generated content for your company.
Question and answer boards
Let your customers communicate with each other on your website.
Question and answer boards are a great example of this.
Rather than reaching out to your technical support team, customers can create a discussion and get responses from other users.
Apple’s support communities are a perfect example of this concept.
This encourages customers who are tech-savvy to contribute and help other users who may be struggling with their devices.
It also allows people to establish themselves as an authoritative source on certain topics.
If people have the chance to work out their problems without contacting your customer service team, it frees up your employees to help other customers.
This will lower the wait time for people who want to call or chat with a technical support agent online.
Apple is a pioneer and trendsetter in the digital community.
It’s always a good idea to take advice from companies with high success rates.
Take a page from Apple’s playbook and create a user-generated question and answer board on your website.
This will increase traffic to your page, helping you grow your business.
User-generated content is one of the best ways to grow your business without spending money or exerting too much effort.
Let your customers promote your business for you.
Give them lots of options across multiple platforms to review your products.
Interact with your customers on social media.
Run promotional campaigns that encourage people to post photos and share content with their friends.
This won’t cost you anything but can expose your brand to thousands of people outside your target audience.
Don’t limit these campaigns to just photos.
Videos are priceless.
Give away some products for free, especially if you have fans with large social followings.
This UGC strategy also creates a social proof of concept.
Don’t sell a product. Sell a lifestyle.
Let your customers share their stories on your website.
Set up a page that’s strictly for user content.
You can even create a question and answer board that’s completely handled by the users.
If you want to grow your business without spending money or trying too hard, you need to start implementing UGC strategies right away.
What kind of contest will you run on social media to encourage user-generated content with photos and videos?