But social success is about a lot more than posting cute pics to your Insta. Your followers want to see gritty, authentic content that makes them tap the “buy” button.
You probably know you need user-generated content (UGC)—and lots of it. The problem isn’t often with understanding the benefits of UGC, but finding the most efficient ways to source it.
Maybe this is easy if you run a gigantic, established eCommerce brand. You probably have customer videos, reviews, and images out the wazoo.
But growing eCommerce brands might not have a huge following to source UGC.
It’s a catch-22: you need tons of customers to source UGC, but you can’t get UGC without engaged shoppers in the first place.
What’s a brand to do?
Let’s do a high-level overview of what UGC is (if you haven’t heard of it before), why it’s so important, and 13 platforms for quickly sourcing quality UGC.
What is user-generated content (UGC)?
Is UGC news to you? No worries! Brands are just starting to realize the value of user-generated content.
With UGC, you rely on your shoppers to create content for you.
UGC is any piece of content that isn’t made by your company.
UGC might come in the form of:
Written reviews or text.
While you’re free to keep cranking out branded content, UGC does a lot of things that your branded content just can’t accomplish.
Basically, UGC is the digital version of word-of-mouth marketing.
Since 92% of shoppers believe suggestions from people in their network over advertising, every eCommerce brand needs UGC.
That’s because UGC is less in-your-face than paid ads. It looks like a normal part of someone’s feed, which means shoppers are much more likely to pay attention to someone’s unboxing video of your product instead of a video from your biz about the product.
The benefits of UGC platforms in 2021
If you’re thinking, “Who cares about users’ content? I’m making my own!”, you probably don’t realize the power of UGC just yet.
But think about this: you’re marketing a product in a post-COVID world. Nobody’s brain is working the same way after last year, and that means you have to switch up your marketing to be relevant.
When you take the plunge on UGC, your business will reap the benefits.
1 - It’s relatable
If customers can’t visualize themselves using your product, you’re toast. UGC is so important because the content is relatable: after all, it’s coming from fellow consumers.
Yes, there’s a time and a place for your more polished, traditional content, but it’s not always the best option.
In fact, in the wake of the pandemic, some branded content can look tone-deaf and unrelatable.
You’ve got to create trust with your shoppers. 93% of marketers agree that consumers trust their fellow consumers more than they trust you (sorry, but it’s true). The most efficient way to build trust is to feature other users’ content on your website, social media, emails, and more.
2 - UGC builds relationships
Customers want to “know” the brands they’re buying from, but on the marketing side, it’s hard getting to know followers on an individual basis.
The problem is that it’s really, really hard managing these relationships with customers at scale.
UGC makes it possible to build strong connections with your consumers—even if you have thousands of buyers. When you share authentic, relatable content, it makes you stand out. People appreciate brands that keep it real; in fact, 90% of shoppers say authenticity is a factor when they’re deciding where to shop.
3 - UGC gets results
Sure, authenticity and relationship-building are super important. But we know you need hard data you can take to your boss that proves UGC is worth the investment.
Campaigns with UGC have 29% higher conversion rates than campaigns without UGC.
Ads with UGC get 4X the clicks for 50% less ad spend.
UGC clearly has a lot of benefits for your business. If you haven’t used it yet and aren’t sure where to start, we recommend starting with a UGC platform.
Why do I need a UGC platform?
If you want to do UGC right, we recommend using a platform to manage and collect everything.
But hey, we get it: adding a platform to your marketing stack is a big decision. So why do eCommerce brands need a UGC platform, anyway?
It comes down to this:
DIY sourcing takes forever: Do you really have the time to painstakingly dig through Instagram, review sites, and email responses? A DIY approach means you have to manually use that UGC when you do find it. It’s a time-wasting nightmare.
UGC platforms make your life easier: The structure of a UGC platform saves you more time. It automatically looks for UGC and ports it over in a format that works for your team. Some platforms will even allow you to reshare the UGC directly from your dashboard. Easy, right?
Platforms have existing relationships: Psst, did you know that you can tap influencers to do UGC for you? A good UGC platform will pair you up with experienced content creators and influencers to make your UGC go even further.
You’re free to do the DIY option, but we’re willing to bet that it isn’t sustainable for your team. When it’s time to do UGC for real, turn to a trusted platform to save time and market at scale.
The 13 best UGC platform options for your brand
There are plenty of UGC platforms on the market. At their core, they share a lot of the same functionalities. We recommend testing out a few UGC platforms to find the right match for your brand.
Not sure where to look? Check out these 13 UGC platforms for starters.
We don’t have anything against content created by everyday users and customers. But sometimes you need a little more mileage out of your UGC, and the grainy images you’re gleaning from Instagram might not cut it.
This is where Trend stands out. Trend allows you sit on the director’s seat and predetermine the exact kind of content you need, the kind of content you know will convert into sales best.
That’s why brands partner with Trend.
We not only connect you with influencers and content creators but we facilitate the UGC creation process.
Our curated influencer network is invite-only, ensuring you get hand-picked influencers tailored to your campaign goals and audience.
Instead of begging users to submit UGC, use Trend to partner with influencers. The influencer will:
Create quality UGC according to your brand guidelines.
Promote your content to their audience.
Give you all of the rights to the content.
You source UGC, grow your audience, and own all of the content through the Trend platform: it’s a true triple-win. Trend also includes easy campaign management tools for communication and payment, so sourcing UGC from experienced creators is a breeze.
TINT bills itself as a platform for enterprise brands, so if your business is growing like a weed, it could be a good fit for a scalable platform like TINT.
TINT allows you to aggregate all of your content in one place to source UGC more quickly.
You can connect dozens of social channels to your feed, filtering by keywords, dates, engagements, and more.
This UGC platform also includes:
Permissioning features. You can request permission to a customers’ content within the platform. TINT will also auto-detect potential copyright issues in an image and warn you before you post it.
Templates so you can customize content to fit your brand.
An image editor so you can repurpose images in multiple ways without leaving the platform.
A video converter.
TINT is special because it uses machine learning to automate much of the curation process (translation: you don’t have to spend as much time on UGC). The platform will highlight the best content, giving each result a score based on its effectiveness and relevance.
Who doesn’t love visual marketing? In fact, more than 56% of brands use visuals almost exclusively for their content.
If you’re all-in on the visuals, you might like Olapic as your UGC platform of choice. Olapic bills itself as an all-in-one platform for:
Olapic uses AI to determine what content will perform best on your marketing channels, so if you’re not sure what your audience will enjoy, this platform can help you out.
This platform is unique because of its “content in motion” feature. This takes your static UGC images and turns them into short, branded videos that you can share across platforms. Oh, and you can even make them shoppable, which is a must for eCommerce!
What started out as a platform for sourcing testimonials and reviews has grown into a full-blown UGC wonderland.
Yotpo helps brands find and leverage social proof to boost sales. Some of its more notable features include:
Shoppable galleries on your homepage for product discovery.
UGC galleries on product pages to give customers a real-world view of the products they want to buy.
Displaying UGC on the checkout page. This decreases cart abandonment and, done right, is a smart upsell to boost your average order value.
Yotpo is best for eCommerce brands that specifically want to pull a feed of UGC onto their website. Visitors that view UGC galleries spend 90% more time on your site, which increases the odds that they’ll buy your products.
Best of all, with a platform like ShortStack, you can create interactive content that grows your customer contact list.
ShortStack also includes other fun features like:
Website embedding for a seamless experience.
Website, CRM, and email integrations.
While ShortStack might not be a typical UGC platform, it’s still a great way to learn more about your customers and personalize every touchpoint in your funnel. Since 75% of marketers say personalization improves results, it can’t hurt to try.
Taggbox allows you to see all of your social media feeds in one dashboard. With just a few clicks, you’re able to:
Curate content from multiple sources.
Get the legal rights to UGC.
Publish UGC to your own social media feeds.
Measure your performance with analytics.
We like Taggbox because it allows you to repurpose UGC in a more personalized way. With features like shoppable Instagram feeds, UGC galleries, embeddable social feeds, and reviews for your website, Taggbox is a solid UGC platform for creating UGC more efficiently.
Photoslurp marries user-generated content with eCommerce. Through this platform, you can collect UGC according to hashtags, tags, mentions, and stories from Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
You can enable shoppers to submit content directly or, if you want a little more control, you can approve submitted content before you use it.
Photoslurp also lets you:
Automate requests for media rights.
Create shoppable curated content.
Publish approved content directly to your website.
Use Photoslurp’s analytics to find your best-performing content and include it in social media ads or email marketing. With a plugin that integrates with most major marketing platforms, Photoslurp is a breeze to add to your marketing stack.
Gleam is a growth marketing suite but its features as a UGC platform definitely get our attention.
Gleam is a suite of apps to grow your business. For the purposes of UGC, you’ll want to use features like:
Competitions: Create a compliant competition through your website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. If you’re partnering up with influencers through a platform like Trend, Gleam allows your influencers to embed your competitions on their channels, too.
Social galleries: Create a UGC gallery that feeds from your social media images. You can have these come through via a competition or with a special hashtag.
Rewards: Is a competition still not driving enough engagement? Incentivize customers even more with Gleam’s reward function. Offer coupons or free downloads to thank customers for contributing their UGC.
Choose your UGC platform
Relevance is the key to promoting any eCommerce product online. When you need to get relevant in a hurry (and on a tight budget), make the most of your resources by incorporating UGC into your marketing strategy.
Know how UGC works, its big benefits, and then choose one of these 13 UGC platforms to make sourcing content a breeze.
When you want the UGC with the power of influencers’ fame, go with a UGC platform like Trend. We make it easy to connect with trusted influencers and content creators—complete your first campaign in as little as a week. Create your free account now to match with influencers.