UGC or “user-generated content” is any form of content that’s created by the customers of a product or service. Examples range from unboxing videos and images to customer reviews and testimonials.
Brands heavily invest in UGC because it builds trust in the brand and its products. It provides social proof and allows the viewer to experience the product through the content creator. Social proof is established by those we follow and trust (influencers) and from the general public (current customers). A combination of the two creates a better and more authentic understanding of the product than if the brand were to promote it themselves.
1) Customer Activation: Brands utilize current customers and incentivize them to post a picture/video on a specific platform. In exchange, customers usually receive a discount towards a future purchase or a free product if the COGS is reasonable.
For example, if you purchase a pair of Allbirds, they might include a note saying “post a picture of your Allbirds on Instagram, tag us, and we’ll send you a code for $25 off your next pair.”
Remember, you’d be perfectly willing to pay your design agency hundreds of dollars for good ad content, why not pay that to your customers instead. Win-win
2) Influencers: Brands partner with influencers to activate an audience through a trusted source. The influencer creates UGC and usually provides a discount code to their audience, encouraging them to purchase. The most critical element is finding influencers who fit your brand and create authentic content.
The difference between number one and number two is retention vs. acquisition. Brands who’ve just launched rely heavily on influencers because of their need to acquire customers. Once a brand has established its customer base, the retention strategy can begin. Every brand will strike a different balance between each strategy depending on what stage they’re at.
“Most Brands know they need UGC, they send out a ton of free product, receive content back, but they don’t have a clear idea of how they’ll use it to drive sales,” says Pilothouse’s head of UGC, Angela Meadows. Brands need to slow down and create a thorough strategy to avoid wasting resources. This is the number one problem we see DTC brands commit when attempting UGC.
First, understand the type of content your target audience resonates with. Is it TikToks and Instagram Reels? Or maybe it’s unboxing videos on YouTube. Not sure? Ask them directly.
Once you’ve determined the platform and type of content, build a list of influencers that align with your brand. Matching your brand with an influencer who shares similar values is crucial.
The third and most important step is understanding where UGC is needed within your marketing funnel.
Top of funnel (TOF) content focuses on educating and answering common questions about your product/service. Unboxing or explanation content is a great example, as it helps introduce the brand to a cold audience.
Examples of TOF UGC:
Bottom of funnel (BOF) content focuses on convincing an audience to purchase. For example, an influencer may create content highlighting a current promotion or sale. This strategy works particularly well for an audience who’s already familiar with your brand and needs a push to purchase. Push it. Push it real good.
Understanding the type of content needed will allow you to provide better guidelines and instructions when contacting influencers.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be crafting a template for how to reach out to influencers. For now, check out these brands with killer UGC!