From Selfies to Reviews: Exploring the Diverse Forms of User-Generated Content

From Selfies to Reviews: Exploring the Diverse Forms of User-Generated Content

Today, when we’re online, a lot of what we see and share comes from regular people like you and me. We call this user-generated content (UGC). It’s everything we create and share, from the quick selfies we post on social media to the detailed reviews we write about products we’ve tried.

In this article, we’ll look at the many types of user-generated content and how they impact our online world. Whether it’s on websites specifically made for user content or in lively social media communities, UGC brings together consumers, customers, and sometimes even employees to share their thoughts and experiences.

Authenticity is at the heart of user-generated content. In a world full of ads and fancy marketing, UGC stands out because it’s real. It could be a heartfelt review from a happy customer or a simple photo capturing a genuine moment. These things speak to us on a personal level.

But UGC isn’t just about sharing; it’s also about connecting. By giving people a place to share their ideas and stories, these online spaces become hubs of engagement, where real conversations happen, and relationships grow.

And it’s not just about socializing; UGC has a big impact on business too. Real reviews and testimonials help us make smarter choices when we’re buying things. And for companies, listening to what customers and even their own employees have to say can give them valuable insights into what people want and need.

So, as we explore the world of user-generated content, we’ll see how it brings us closer together, helps us make better decisions, and even shapes the way businesses operate.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the myriad forms of UGC, user-generated content benefits, and how it has transformed the landscape of digital marketing, including:

  • What are user-generated content benefits?
  • How photos and selfies as UGC stand out
  • The impact of online reviews and their role as UGC
  • The influence of social media posts and their contribution to UGC
  • The power of video testimonials as UGC
  • Harnessing user-generated knowledge in blogs and articles
  • Fostering user-generated creativity through hashtag contests
  • Inspiring creativity through visual art
  • User-generated content platforms: where to find and manage UGC
  • Conclusion

What are User-Generated Content Benefits?

First of all, user-generated content, or UGC for short, refers to any form of content such as text, videos, images, reviews, and even podcasts, which is created by consumers instead of brands. You see it a lot on social media, but it can pop up on websites, blogs, and other online spots too. Its significance lies in its authenticity and resonance with audiences.

According to Bazaar Voice, UGC helps consumers along four aspects of their shopper journey: discovery, reputation, consideration, and decision. Statistics show that there are many user-generated content benefits, including driving attention, engagement, and conversions:

  • About 33% of consumers gain awareness about new brands because their friends or family recommend them.
  • One out of every three people who write reviews expect brands to reply to them, whether they’re good or bad.
  • When it comes to buying things online, about 36% of people are more likely to buy if they read positive reviews.
  • Almost half, or 47%, of shoppers say that online reviews affect what they decide to buy.
  • And around 39% of people think that the most important part of a product page is the reviews.

When we’re thinking about buying something, we often look for advice from other consumers who have already tried it. We want to hear honest opinions and see real pictures, not just the glossy ones from ads. That’s where user-generated content (UGC) comes in—it’s all about getting reassurance from other buyers, and there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Source: Finding your ideal UGC provider

The rise of user-generated content (UGC) means regular folks are now big players in shaping the online world. It’s not just big brands or famous creators anymore. Now, everyone’s joining in, sharing their stories and opinions on social media.

People view UGC as a beacon of authenticity. Prospective customers often trust user testimonials over polished brand messages, valuing the “realness” of someone’s lived experience. Businesses have caught on, leveraging UGC to bolster engagement, community spirit, and gain insights they might’ve otherwise missed.

Using UGC is also great for improving your website’s search engine ranking. Search engines like Google like websites that have fresh, new content. When you encourage your users to share their experiences, you’re constantly getting new content to keep your site interesting. Plus, UGC can enhance your long-tail keyword strategy, as real users often use specific phrases and terms that other potential customers might use to search for your products or services. Just make sure all the user-generated content fits with your brand and follows good SEO practices to get the most out of it.

How Photos and Selfies as UGC Stand Out

Photos are like stories captured in a single shot. From simple selfies to intricate compositions, they speak volumes without a single word. Thanks to smartphones and apps, anyone can express themselves through photography. Photos shape opinions, drive online engagement, and bring people together through visuals. It’s true what they say: a picture really can say a lot in the world of user-generated content.

Brands can harness the potency of visual UGC by displaying these images in dedicated UGC galleries. These galleries serve as a vibrant collage of customer experiences, providing an interactive platform for engagement. Each gallery can be tailored to reflect the ethos of a brand, the essence of a product category, or to celebrate the creativity of individual content creators.

By employing a variety of gallery layouts, a brand can guide the visual journey of its audience, emphasising particular aspects of the user experience—whether it’s the joy of unboxing, the thrill of the product in action, or the satisfaction of seeing the results. Brands can opt for a grid layout that offers a clean, uniform look, or a masonry layout that lends a more dynamic, Pinterest-style feel.

Moreover, brands have the option of selecting a focal point for each gallery. For instance, a gallery could be concentrated around a brand-specific hashtag, encouraging users to share their experiences under a unified campaign. Alternatively, product category galleries can visually educate consumers about a diverse range of products, while creator-specific galleries could spotlight influential users and foster a community of brand advocates.

The customisation options extend beyond the arrangement of UGC galleries. With sophisticated tools, brands can fine-tune the user experience to ensure that the most compelling content grabs the spotlight. This might include highlighting videos over static images, featuring content with the most engagement, or curating photos and selfies that align with special events or promotions.

The choice of the focal point isn’t merely aesthetic; it’s strategic. By deliberately selecting which UGC to highlight, brands can steer conversations and drive engagement around specific marketing goals. For example, during a product launch, the focus could shift to UGC which presents first impressions and initial usage of the new product. During sales or holidays, galleries can adapt to showcase festive-themed user content or spotlight special offers.

Cevoid UGC Brand Gallery Sample: Oshno Yoga

Selfies, those self-portraits we take with our phones, are everywhere these days. With front-facing cameras on our smartphones, snapping a pic of ourselves has never been easier. It’s no wonder selfies are among the most popular forms of user-generated content (UGC). People of all kinds are taking selfies in all sorts of places and sharing them on social media like Instagram and Snapchat.

Selfies serve many purposes. They help us capture and share moments, show off our creativity, and connect with others. Selfies aren’t just snapshots; they’re a way for us to express ourselves and shape our online presence. In a world where visuals rule, selfies have become a powerful tool for personal branding and storytelling.

JoinBrands selfies with products

A stellar illustration of the power of selfies as user-generated content is evident in the Barbie Selfie campaign by Warner Bros. and PhotoRoom. Capturing the digital world by storm, the Barbie Selfie’s ingeniously straightforward photo filter has enabled everyone to transform their images into Barbie-like pictures, encouraging them to share their creations all over social media. Remarkably, the tool has amassed over 13 million uses in just four months, yielding an economical and widespread buzz for the 2023 “Barbie” film.

Barbie Selfie Generator

The Impact of Online Reviews and Their Role as UGC

Online reviews are important when it comes to making choices. Whether we are purchasing a product, booking a hotel, or trying out a new restaurant, we often turn to online reviews to gather information and gauge the quality of a product or service. A study by BrightLocal shows that almost half of all consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends.

When you read a review on a blog or see a rating on user-generated content websites like Trustpilot or Tripadvisor, it’s like getting insider info about what it’s really like to use that product or service. Why are these reviews on user-generated content websites so valuable? Because they’re from real customers, just like you. They aren’t like traditional advertising, which can feel fake and pushy. They can give potential consumers the confidence they need to make a decision.

Businesses know that good reviews can build trust, establish credibility, and drive conversions. Transparency, social proof, and a positive online reputation can make or break a business, and reviews are a big part of that. Brands that encourage customer reviews aren’t just boosting their reputation; they’re also getting useful feedback to help them get even better.

Here’s why customer reviews on user-generated content websites are great:

  • They’re like recommendations from friends.
  • They help you decide what to buy.
  • They let people join in and share their thoughts.
  • They give honest feedback that can help a business improve.
  • They make a brand look good by showing that other people like it too.

For example, you’re planning to stay at a seaside resort in Levanto, Italy. You go to Tripadvisor to check out online reviews. You find Villa Valentina, a charming bed and breakfast in Levanto which has a 5-star excellent rating and raving reviews. The recommendations would help you decide if you will book yourself a stay there.

The Influence of Social Media Posts and Their Contribution to UGC

Social media has changed how we communicate and share content. Platforms like Facebook, X, and Instagram give us a place to speak up and show who we are. We use them to share what’s happening in our lives, our thoughts, and what we’re into. What we post on social media, whether they’re words, pictures, or videos, adds a ton to the vast pool of user-generated content. They let us share what we love, what we’re excited about, and what we’ve been through with our friends and followers. Whether it’s showing off vacation pics or raving about a new favourite restaurant, these posts keep us connected and shape how we see the world. When we’re making decisions, like trying a new product or picking a place to go, we often look to what our friends on social media are saying for advice.

For instance, Spotify’s Find Your Feels campaign encourages Generation Z to confidently express who they are and what they believe in. It’s all about celebrating individuality and being true to yourself. Partnering with a diverse group of influencers, like Lucy Edwards who champions disabilities, poet Shaquille-Aaron Keith, and footballer Callum Hudson-Odoi from Chelsea, the campaign shows off the uniqueness of each person involved.

In the campaign, the young generation leaders talk about the important moments and experiences that have shaped their lives. Each person connects their stories with a playlist of songs that have meant something special to them along the way—songs that made them feel, motivated them, or helped them through tough times. The campaign is all over social media, including influencer and Spotify channels, plus paid ads on platforms like TikTok and YouTube. Its goal is to get audiences excited about being themselves and to show how music connects us all. As a result, other social media users were also inspired to share their personal stories and the playlists that define these special moments.

Spotify Find Your Feels videos:

Lucy Edwards
Shaq Aaron-Keith
Jamie Windust
Callum Hudson Odoi

TikTok #findyourfeels UGC posts

The Power of Video Testimonials as UGC

Video testimonials pack a punch in the world of user-generated content. Watching real people share their thoughts and feelings about a product or service adds an extra boost of authenticity and credibility. These testimonials let viewers connect more deeply because they can see the emotions and expressions of the person telling their story. It’s a popular tool in digital marketing, as brands use video testimonials to build trust and connect with their audience.

Video testimonials give customers a chance to share their success stories, show off what they’ve gained, and express their satisfaction with a brand. These testimonials can be shared on websites, social media, or even in ads. By featuring real people and their positive experiences, brands can make themselves more relatable and encourage potential customers to take action. The magic of video testimonials lies in their ability to stir up emotions, build trust, and convince people to buy.

There are many types of video testimonials, such as:

1. An unboxing video:

Lucille UGC Unboxing video

An unboxing video is a type of video where someone records themselves opening a newly purchased product and showing its contents to the audience. It typically includes commentary or reactions from the person doing the unboxing.

They are a form of user-generated content because they are created by regular people, not professional reviewers or marketers. These videos offer authentic and unbiased perspectives on products because they showcase the genuine reactions and experiences of the person unboxing them. Viewers often trust these videos because they feel like they’re getting honest opinions from fellow consumers, rather than polished advertisements.

UGC platforms like YouTube and social media sites are popular places for people to share unboxing videos. Unboxing videos usually have the hashtags #unboxing, #unboxwithme, or #ugcvideo. Brands sometimes encourage this type of content creation by sending products to influencers or customers in exchange for reviews or unboxing videos, leveraging the power of UGC to promote their products more authentically.

2. A haul video:

Haul Video for H&M Fall Fashion by montanajaynee

A haul video is a type of video where someone showcases multiple recent purchases they’ve made, typically from a shopping trip or online shopping spree. The person will display each item they bought, talk about why they chose it, and sometimes give a mini-review or share their initial thoughts on the products.

Haul videos are user-generated content (UGC) because they’re created by regular consumers rather than professional reviewers or marketers. These videos offer authentic insights into consumer behaviour and preferences because they reflect the real shopping habits and choices of individuals.

Like other forms of UGC, haul videos are often shared on platforms like YouTube and social media. Viewers are attracted to these videos because they provide a glimpse into someone else’s shopping experiences and often feature products that viewers might be interested in purchasing themselves. Brands sometimes collaborate with influencers or provide products for haul videos to leverage the authenticity and reach of UGC in promoting their products to a wider audience.

3. A product demonstration video:

Product demonstration video of Naturm eye cream

A user-generated content product demonstration video is a video created by a regular consumer to showcase how a particular product works, its features, and its benefits. Unlike professionally produced demonstrations by companies, these videos are made by everyday people who have purchased or used the product.

In a UGC product demonstration video, the creator typically shows the product in action, explains its functionality, and shares their personal experience with it. This type of video often includes hands-on demonstrations, honest opinions, and real-life scenarios to give viewers a better understanding of the product’s performance and usability.

UGC product demonstration videos are valuable because they offer authentic perspectives and insights from actual users, rather than scripted marketing materials. They can help potential customers make informed purchasing decisions by providing them with real-world examples and practical information about the product.

Harnessing User-Generated Knowledge in Blogs and Articles

User-generated content blogs and articles are written by regular people rather than professional writers or journalists. UGC blogs and articles offer authentic perspectives and insights from everyday individuals. Giving us valuable knowledge and expertise, these blogs and articles cover a wide range of topics and can include personal experiences, opinions, reviews, tutorials, and more. They often reflect the diverse interests, experiences, and viewpoints of a community or audience, providing a platform for users to share their thoughts, expertise, and creativity with others.

UGC in blogs and articles contribute to the democratization of content creation, allowing anyone with access to the internet to share their ideas and contribute to online discussions. Encouraging user participation is beneficial for small businesses in amplifying their message and engaging with their audience in a more authentic and relatable way.

Brands and organisations can encourage customers to contribute content by asking them to write blogs, share reviews, or tell their stories on the company’s website. Adding this kind of content not only makes your business look more trustworthy but also helps with SEO by keeping your site up-to-date. As examples, Slashdot and IEMLabs, websites based on developing software, accept guest blog posts (Slashdot and IEMLabs) about software innovations and other developments in the IT industry.

Fostering User-Generated Creativity through Hashtag Contests

Contests and games are powerful ways to get people involved and show off their creativity, all while increasing brand awareness. Small businesses can run contests and challenges on social media, encouraging participants to share their creations using a special hashtag or tag. Successful campaigns prove how effective these contests are in driving engagement and generating buzz around a brand. To make sure your contest goes well, you need clear goals, rules, and enticing prizes to get people excited.

Hashtag contests are like social media parties thrown by brands and organizations to bolster audience engagement and sharing on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. In these contests, folks are invited to make and post content around a certain theme using a special hashtag. Brands often give out prizes to encourage creativity and connect with their fans. Plus, it’s a way for brands to see what their customers are into, which can help them plan future campaigns.

Here’s how a typical hashtag contest works:

Theme and Rules: The brand announces the contest theme, objectives, and rules. The theme could be related to promoting a new product, celebrating an event, or encouraging user-generated content around a particular concept. The rules lay out how to join in, who can take part, when to submit entries, and any special requirements to keep in mind about the content.

Hashtag Creation: A unique hashtag is created for the contest, which participants must include in their social media posts to enter the competition. The hashtag helps to track and organize all the entries for the contest.

Content Creation: Participants create and share content (such as photos, videos, or text posts) that align with the contest theme and rules. This content may showcase their creativity, talent, or passion related to the contest topic.

Sharing and Promotion: Contestants post their entries on their social media accounts, using the special hashtag. They may also encourage their followers to engage with their content by liking, commenting, or sharing it.

Picking Winners: How winners are chosen can vary. It might be through voting by everyone, a team of experts deciding, or a mix of both. They look at factors like how creative and original the entry is, how well it fits the theme, and if it follows the rules.

Prizes and Recognition: Once the winners are picked, they get cool prizes! It could be cash, gift cards, products, or special experiences. Plus, winners get recognized for their creativity, which can help them stand out online and build their own brand.

In summary, these are some of the reasons why hashtag contests rock:

  • They inspire creative ideas about the brand
  • They make the community feel closer
  • They give valuable insights into marketing
  • They’re like free endorsements from users

K18 Hair ran a successful hashtag challenge contest on TikTok for the hashtag #k18Results from January to February 2023. The company gave away $500 Amex gift cards to the winners.

K18 Hair #k18Results Hashtag Contest

Community Forums UGC

Community forums play a critical role as platforms for user-created content. Since search engines love lots of information, these forums usually show up high in search results. That’s a big deal because consumers often check online reviews before buying stuff. Two popular community forums are Quora and Reddit.

Monthly, the Q&A platform Quora attracts 300 million individual users, providing answers to highly detailed inquiries from internet users on a broad array of subjects. Forum visitors seek information that ranges from academic and theoretical insights to reviews of everyday products or evaluations of services provided by leading brands.

Quora is a big online space where people share what they know to help each other out. There’s a ton of knowledge out there that hasn’t been written down yet, just chilling in people’s heads or stuck in private groups. Quora wants to be the link between those who know stuff and those who want to learn, creating an environment where different ideas can come together, helping all understand each other better. It’s a platform where everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts for the greater good of everyone.

Quora is buzzing with questions—questions that shape the world, explain what’s happening globally, guide important decisions, and help people understand why others believe what they do. It’s a safe space where one can ask anything, and people with experience will give their wise answers. People from all walks of life—like scientists, artists, business folks, mechanics, or stay-at-home parents—come to Quora to get real answers and avoid fake news and arguments, excited to share what they know.

Reddit is like a buzzing town square where all kinds of groups hang out, chatting about everything under the sun. There’s a Reddit group for everyone—whether one is into news, sports, TV shows, or quirky hobbies.

People from all over the world hop on Reddit every day to share stories, thoughts, and ideas, casting their votes and chatting with others who share their hobbies. Members can post all sorts of things like stories, links, photos, and videos, sparking conversations and usually adding a bit of humour.

On Reddit, the content that people like the most gets pushed to the top by a voting system. If they like something, they upvote it. If not, they downvote it. This way, the best content always gets seen by everyone.

Inspiring Creativity through Visual Art

Pictures and drawings made by users bring a creative twist to telling stories about brands. Small businesses can get customers involved by running art contests, asking for user-made graphics, or featuring fan art on their social media pages. By sharing visual UGC, businesses not only inspire creativity but also strengthen their connection with their audience.

In 2021, Pegasus Art, an art supplies company, ran a Japanese-themed artwork contest. Participants were asked to submit their entries on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #SakuraCompetition. Many joined to have a chance to showcase their artwork to people from all over the world and to win prizes.

Sakura Competition Art Contest by Pegasus Art

One of the Instagram entries to the #SakuraCompetition art contest by Pegasus Art

User-Generated Content Platforms: Where to Find and Manage UGC

Lots of places are out there to get, manage, and boost user-generated content. Small businesses can use sites like Instagram, TikTok, or special UGC platforms like Trend, Emplify, TINT, and Yotpo to make it easier to collect and show off user-made content. By checking out different UGC management platforms and comparing what they offer, businesses can pick the best one for what they need. Some tips for getting the most out of these platforms include connecting them with existing marketing tools, monitoring permission from users, and keeping your content updated to keep it fresh and relevant.

Trend

This user-generated content management platform highlights elevating brands’ online presence and social proofing. It has an on-hand AI recommendation technology to ensure that every shopping experience is highly personalized, catering to the individual preferences of your customers. Trend can be seamlessly integrated with premier e-commerce solutions like Shopify and Magento. It helps create UGC galleries that resonate with a company’s brand’s ethos. Armed with real-time data and analytics, it helps in monitoring the impact and success of UGC initiatives straightforwardly, enabling people to make data-driven decisions with confidence. Moreover, the platform offers an array of customisable content templates, designed to help streamline the content creation process.

Emplify

Emplify, formerly known as Pixlee, is a comprehensive user-generated content platform for gathering and organising content from social media: TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and other major platforms. It highlights making product page galleries with shoppable social media content where people can shop and keep track of user engagement, making things immersive and easy for the audience. One of Emplify’s platform highlights is its advanced analytics dashboard. It tells users how well their campaigns are doing through engagement, click-through, and conversion rates. Some of the big commercial brands that trust Emplify for their user-generated content needs are Audi, Domino’s, and Bath & Body Works.

TINT

TINT is a user-generated content platform for community-powered marketing. It lets users build their commercial brand community and mobilise the engagement of their customers by choosing from almost two dozen personalized experiences for them. Consumers also get to participate through focus groups, surveys, and polls. Veggies Made Great, a cakes and pastries speciality store with vegetables as primary ingredients, stated that their sales went up by 20% since building their brand community on TINT. Over 5,000 major brands, including Krispy Kreme, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Nestlé, use TINT as their preferred user-generated content platform.

Yotpo

Yotpo gives users access to data-driven tools that make it simple for customers to give their feedback, turning every purchase into a review. With Yotpo, users collect UGC requests for photos, videos, and reviews via email and SMS. This user-generated content platform gives unique prompts that inspire shoppers to buy. Q&A forums that elicit targeted feedback help users understand their customers better. It lets them display and tag Instagram photos of their customers in UGC galleries on their website. Rebecca Minkoff, a fashion brand, used Yotpo to collect and show customer reviews on its website. This made potential customers trust the brand more, leading to a 12% increase in sales. Other well-known brands that use Yotpo are Steve Madden and Gymshark.

Conclusion

User-generated content (UGC) is very useful for small businesses. It adds authenticity, engagement, and credibility. Whether it’s selfies, reviews, social media posts, or videos, there are lots of ways people can create content that helps your business grow. By knowing about the different types of UGC and using smart strategies, small business marketing teams can make the most out of user-generated content and make their brand stand out online.

We’d love to hear what you think! Talk to us in the comments!

  1. Why is it important for brands to encourage user-generated creativity through contests, challenges, and art competitions, and how does it benefit both the brand and the community?
  2. Do you join and submit questions in community forums like Quora and Reddit? What topics do you explore in these community forums? Do you also participate by answering other users’ queries?

Get Involved: Make Your Voice Heard!

User-generated content isn’t just about what others create—it’s about what YOU have to say. Your opinions, experiences, and creativity matter. So, let’s take action together:

Share Your Story: Whether it’s a review, a selfie, or a piece of art, share your experiences and perspectives with the world. Your voice adds authenticity and depth to the online conversation.

Participate in Contests and Challenges: Get creative and join in on hashtag contests, challenges, and art competitions. Not only do these activities showcase your talents, but they also foster a sense of community and connection.

Contribute to Community Forums: Engage in platforms like Quora and Reddit by asking questions, sharing knowledge, and participating in discussions. Your insights can help others navigate complex topics and discover new perspectives.

Support Brands that Value User Content: Show your appreciation for brands that encourage user-generated creativity. Whether it’s through likes, shares, or comments, your engagement helps amplify the voices of fellow users and strengthens the community.

Together, let’s continue to shape the digital landscape with our unique perspectives and contributions. Your voice matters—so let it be heard!

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