How to use user-generated content to your advantage

It’s time to BeReal. Even though the app BeReal was released to the public in 2020, it didn’t really begin to grow in popularity until the spring of 2022. Here’s how it works – every day at a random time, a notification is sent to your phone telling you it’s time to “BeReal,” then you have two minutes to post the picture. “A picture of what?” you may be asking. The answer is simple – exactly what you’re doing at the time the notification goes off. Millions of people across the world will stop what they’re doing to post these photos. So what’s the big deal? Why are people obsessing over this app? Because it focuses on authenticity. 

It isn’t a surprise that people value authenticity from brands more than ever, and user-generated content is at the center. A study by Strackla found that nearly 60% of consumers say that user-generated content is the most authentic content out there. The same study also found 90% of consumers said that the authenticity of brands is important to them when determining who they are going to support. With such a big emphasis on authenticity, how can you use user-generated content to your advantage?

Defining user-generated content.

The most important step in using user-generated content – or UGC – is understanding what it is. UGC is content that is created by people instead of brands. For example, an organization sends out a PR package to an influencer, and the influencer films and posts an unboxing or haul. The influencer’s video is a piece of user-generated content, which you can use to promote yourself on your channels. In an article written for Hootsuite, Claire Beveridge came up with the perfect explanation of what UGC is – it’s modern day word-of-mouth.

Encourage people to generate content for your brand. 

While user-generated content is authentic, there are also ways that brands can encourage people to create it. This could be through launching an official hashtag that encourages people to interact with you, or it can include some form of competition. Maybe you choose to send out PR packages. The bottom line is you are trying to find someone to engage with your brand in a meaningful, authentic way that you can then turn around and use on your sites (as long as you get permission from the original creator, of course). 

Let your team in on the fun.

Your consumers aren’t the only people that can get on the user-generated content trend – your team is a great asset. The odds are you already have people in your organization posting content about you that you’re unaware of, so why not use that to your advantage? If you’re a company like Starbucks, maybe you can get employees to post videos about the day in the life of a Starbucks employee. The employees have the chance to make raw, authentic content, and Starbucks communications teams then get to use that content to show what a fun organization they are. It also gives consumers a little inside peek at what’s going on. 

While people should always try to be authentic, it’s more important now than ever before. User-generated content can be the key to achieving more authenticity online and boosting your credibility. It’s time to re-evaluate your communication strategy and BeReal.