UGC is an essential form of marketing and content creation for any ecommerce company. Even luxury car brands and big box retailers post user generated content to their social media feeds.
Small and large ecommerce companies alike can benefit from UGC, which offers real, humanized content as well as social proof.
In this post, we explore why UGC is so important for ecommerce companies, showcase examples, and offer specific tips on how to collect and utilize UGC.
Why does UGC help ecommerce companies gain customers?
So why should your ecommerce company put time and effort into generating and utilizing UGC? User generated content is so useful for ecommerce companies for several key reasons:
- Social proof - On your website and your social media profiles, UGC offers social proof that other customers love and get value from your products. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So it goes with UGC. It's far more meaningful and valuable than a testimonial with someone's first name and no photograph of them.
- Real content - 70% of the US population has at least one social media account. Social media is your way to connect with potential customers. What's the quickest way to make your social media profiles look stale? Post professional photoshoots. People don't want to see just perfect models. They want to connect with images of real people. UGC allows you to do that without investing in all of the content creation yourself.
- Customer relationships - When customers post pictures of your products, like this Instagram post from a knitting influencer, they feel more connected to your brand.
- Social media engagement - Not only does UGC help you save money on social media content creation, it also offers higher engagement and reach, since your followers interact with real-life images more than photoshoots.
Examples of UGC for ecommerce
To help spark your excitement for acquiring UGC for your own ecommerce brand, let's take a look at some examples.
Adventure tracking device SPOT
SPOT is a tracking advice for adventurers. On their Instagram account, they show pictures of hikers who have the tracking advice fixed on their backpacks or kept inside their gear.
Skin care brand Golde
Golde is a black-owned ecommerce company that offers natural skin care products. Their Instagram posts and stories frequently feature user generated content.
You can view plenty more user generated content examples here.
How can UGC be utilized?
User generated content can be utilized in a few key ways as an ecommerce brand:
- Post UGC on your social media accounts. (Instagram is the top platform for UGC, but you should post UGC on all platforms.)
- Include UGC on individual product pages. For example, if you sell pillows, show UGC of the small red pillow on the product listing page of the small red pillow.
- Add UGC to the homepage of your website. Make your brand more exciting and customer-centric by placing UGC on your main website. You could put it on your homepage, your mission page, your about us page, etc.
How to collect user generated content as an ecommerce brand
Now that you're motivated to start collecting your own UGC and using it to promote your ecommerce company, you might be wondering... where do I begin?
Here are the top three ways to collect more UGC.
A common way to drive UGC as an ecommerce company is to hold a contest.
During the span of one two-week contest, you can potentially drive enough UGC to satisfy your social media content calendar for several months. You can integrate this feature into your website if you are building your website using the best ecommerce tools. This integration shows the UGC content on your ecommerce website.
Keep scrolling for our step-by-step UGC campaign tutorial below.
Prompt customers to share UGC on your website
Your website is one of the best ways to get more UGC for your products. Take a look at these examples and suggestions for asking your website visitors for UGC.
- Your product pages - For products that don't yet have any UGC, accessories brand Fossil urges website visitors to "Be the first to upload a photo of your new accessory" and shows user generated content for other products with a soft-focus filter.
- Your website homepage - Dover Saddlery asks website visitors to upload photos with the hashtag #itsfromdover on Facebook and Instagram for a chance to be featured on their home page.
Dover Saddlery uses Curator to showcase UGC on their ecommerce website, and they ask users to share their own posts ("Use #itsfromdover on Facebook and Instagram to be featured on our homepage!).
Ask for more UGC in your social media posts
You can also ask customers to share content using your branded hashtag, even without incentivizing it as part of a formal user generated content campaign.
Every time you share UGC on Instagram, for example, end the post caption with something like "Want us to share your photo? Tag your own post #yourbrandedhashtag for a chance to be featured on our account!"
Even if someone uses your branded hashtag, don't take this as explicit permission. They may have used it unknowingly. Always get permission before reposting something, even when it features your products and hashtags.
Step-by-step UGC contest campaign
Ready to launch your own great UGC campaign? To get a large influx of UGC quickly, you need to incentivize it. Turn the campaign into a contest and give away prizes to the customers who send in your favorite photos.
Step 1) Decide on the incentivization
Top incentivizes include VISA gift cards, free swag, and shopping sprees on your site. To make things even more exciting for entrants, include multiple prizes, not just one grand prize.
Step 2) Use a UGC collection tool
A software for running user generated content campaigns can help you save time managing your contest and make it easier for you to post the content on your own social media accounts.
Look for a UGC software that offers these features:
- Landing page creator to communicate the rules and prizes of the contest
- Shares your campaign information on social media
- Helps you collect and categorize the UGC
- Helps you save content and utilize it on your social media accounts
Step 3) Share your contest via email and social media
You need to get the word out about your contest. You should include the rules and details about your contest in a few different email newsletters to your fan base.
You should also post about it multiple times on social media.
Here's an example caption:
Let's say your contest will run for one week. During this time, you should send out 3 email newsletters about the contest, and post 3 to 5 times on all of your social media platforms about the contest to help get the word out.
Step 4) Categorize the UGC and select your winners
You'll need to sort the UGC using your UGC campaign software or by scrolling through the hashtag you requested people to use.
Choose the winners of your prizes. Notify them individually, and also tag them in a post so your fan base knows that someone won (that it wasn't a fake contest).
Step 5) Create and implement a plan for using the UGC on social media
After your contest is over, you might have dozens or even hundreds of different posts to share on social media.
Add them to your content calendar or social media scheduling tool such as Hootsuite.
Step 6) Create and implement a plan for using the UGC on your website
You should also use a social media aggregator tool like Curator to add your best posts to your website.
Here's an example of jewelry company Adorn512 using Curator's free software on their website:
Adding your UGC posts to your website has the following benefits:
- Acts as social proof for potential customers considering purchasing your products.
- Improves the feel and look of your brand.
- Maximizes the reach of your UGC (it's not just shown on social media, but your website too).
- Encourages other customers to post pictures of your products.
UGC campaigns are important for any ecommerce company. The amount of effort that you need to put in is quite small for what you get out of it: tons of content that can improve sales for months or years to come.