User-generated content has long been a way for brands to gauge buzz and conversation around their product or services. While elevating the authenticity of your brand, UGC helps current and future customers understand a product or service across multiple use cases. This blog explores the relationship between UGC and influencers along with how marketers can better power UGC with influencer marketing. 

The Basics: What is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content is any content created on the internet by a user, but in a marketing context, it’s content generated by a user with the focus on a specific product or service or set of products or services. 

While influencers speak directly to their audiences, average users on social media platforms are speaking to their friends and family. Content generated by consumers creates a level of authenticity that can be hard for brands to achieve on their own. Influencers, however, can be an amazing avenue to inspire consumers (their followers) to create their own content. Brands can also use UGC to find potential influencers for their campaigns. 

UGC comes in a variety of mediums including in-feed posting, reviews, ratings, blog posts, and videos.

How Influencers Can Inspire UGC 

Influencers have a unique and intrinsic connection with their audiences. Their style, posting cadence, personality, and aesthetics are key pieces that keep their followers captivated and entertained. When brands partner with influencers that are a good match, they are able to convey messaging and images through sponsored content in a better way. By properly representing the brand’s image and messaging, influencers set the tone for followers (aka users) to understand how they can emulate your brand aesthetic on a smaller scale. By imitating the style and overall vibe of influencer content, UGC becomes higher quality and more functional for marketers to use and syndicate. 

By getting consumers involved in creating content in exchange for an incentive, brands can increase the amount of UGC they can repurpose across their marketing initiatives. In addition to this, amplifying and repurposing influencer-generated content can increase the number of potential consumers who see this high-quality content and thus want to generate additional content for your brand organically. Repurposing influencer content is a great way for brands to show users how their own content could be repurposed and credited.   

Finding and Recruiting Influencers through User-Generated Content

While UGC can be a great resource for brands to see how their consumers are using and interacting with their product or service, it’s also a great way to identify influencers who can serve as advocates for your brand. By having a clear and memorable consumer-only hashtag, you can easily comb through a variety of UGC that’s related directly to your brand. This hashtag should be unique compared to the ones used in your larger-scale influencer marketing campaigns or celebrity collaborations.  

REI used the specific hashtag #REI1440Project to capture fan uploads of outdoor activities they enjoy. Since 2012, REI has collected over 250,000 pieces of UGC which have been repurposed and syndicated across their platforms and website. They’ve now updated their customer-only hashtag to #OptOutside and continue to gather content showing their consumers helping the planet and enjoying the outdoors.

By accessing brand-specific UGC as REI did, you can recruit influencers for campaigns to get a jumpstart on building an ambassador program with people who are already familiar with your brand and loyal to it. Users and influencers who are passionate about your brand will not only create great content but also produce content that is extremely authentic. 

A Hunger for Authenticity

As the world becomes an increasingly more critical and analytical place, consumers turn to their peers and creators to provide them with branded content they can trust. According to the Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer, experts and peers remain the most credible sources of information. Meaning, UGC powered by influencers (especially influencers who are prominent in the same space of your product or services) capitalizes on both sides of the spectrum. 

As the distrust of businesses among the mass population continues to increase, tapping into what and who consumers trust will remain vital to organizations’ long-term success and growth. By utilizing influencers to empower user-generated content, marketers can start to rebuild trust amongst an already disillusioned consumer. As credible sources, other users and influencers continue to add value to a brand’s marketing and business goals.

Consult with one of our strategists to learn more about how you can tap into influencers to help with your UGC efforts.