How to Boost D2C Brand Awareness and Trust Through User Generated Content

By David Garcia

KEY TAKEAWAY

Today’s consumers have shown that their desire for authenticity extends to the brands they patronize. Recently, user-generated content (UGC) has become a viable option for marketers to connect with their audience in a more truthful, engaging way that consumers are more receptive to.

Recent marketing trends like consumers’ view of a product being influenced by their social media peers’ and brands having to adjust their voice depending on the platform show that consumers are becoming less receptive to traditional marketing practices due to a growing desire for authenticity and representation. The modern consumer wants to see a reflection of themselves in ads so they can trust the brands they spend their money with, without feeling pandered to.
 
According to a study conducted by EnTribe, 84 percent of participants reported that they would trust a brand if it implemented user-generated content into its marketing, while 77 percent claimed they would be more likely to buy the brand’s products.

What is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content (UGC) is content that is not created by a brand but is instead created by a customer. These customers are not representatives of the brand and usually create content because they’re enthusiastic about the product or service. This content can take many forms but usually take the form of a review or video shared across popular social platforms. For example, a customer who loves the camera they just bought might post a video raving about it and demonstrating the camera’s features. 

How User-Generated Content Boosts Brand Awareness

UGC is a successful marketing strategy because it capitalizes on the consumers’ desire for authenticity and provides potential customers with an authentic product review. People trust that the product is quality when a customer makes UGC because the creator went out of their way to share their appreciation, without any intention of receiving compensation. Brand awareness thrives on trust and is boosted by visibility. UGC is a fusion between both of these factors since customers are receptive to the authenticity of UGC and can readily consume this content.

Why UGC And Not Influencer Marketing?

The difference between UGC and influencer marketing is that a brand will usually solicit and pay an influencer to create content that markets its product or service. This content would be sponsored by the brand, whereas with UGC the content is produced by an ordinary person with no affiliation to the brand.
 
Recent changes in consumer behaviors have shown that consumers are less convinced by influencers. According to EnTribe, 85 percent of survey participants felt like influencers were inauthentic. Influencer marketing can also be expensive, and with this method shrinking in popularity, it’s making the transition to UGC more practical.

UGC is an inexpensive marketing strategy that can foster a connection between a brand and its customers in a way that influencer marketing cannot. For example, when a consumer sees their peer enjoying a product, their desire for that product may increase. This happens because the consumer can relate and see a reflection of themselves in their peer in a way that they couldn’t if the same content was made by a representative of the brand.

4 UGC Best Practices For Increased Brand Awareness

The goal of user-generated content is to encourage customers to become collaborators in your marketing campaigns. Implementing the following practices can help you achieve UGC success for your brand.

1. Use Low-Cost Rewards To Entice Consumers To Create Content

When designing a UGC marketing campaign, D2C brands will need to have a way to solicit campaign content. For example, brands can create social media contests or hashtag challenges as an incentive for sharing video and photo reviews. As a reward for their content, brands can consider giving customers discount codes or free merchandise.

Rewards are a great way to build customer loyalty and motivate customers to create UGC. Another method for soliciting campaign content that brands can use is a loyalty program. With a loyalty program, brands can reward customers with points every time they create UGC. These points could then be exchanged for store credit, free shipping, or even exclusive products. Campaigns such as these will boost brand awareness through word of mouth because of the positive interactions customers will have with your brand.

2. Provide Clear Content Guidelines

Gathering content for a UGC marketing campaign is the first step, but to do this properly brands need to give customers clear guidelines. These guidelines should detail the type of content you want to receive, how customers should submit their content, and potentially some tips for how you want the content to look.
 
Share these guidelines where the customers can see them, which is largely on social media. Some brands also choose to market their campaigns on the products themselves by adding a QR code on packaging that takes customers to the UGC submission page.
User Generated Content ASOS

3. Choose the Most Relevant Social Networks

Having enthusiastic customers who are eager to produce content for your brand is great, but you should be specific about the type of content you want. You should understand your demographic and where your customers can be found. Once this has been determined, you can specifically request UGC for your chosen social media platforms. For instance, for brands that have a younger customer base, it could be beneficial for them to put their content on TikTok. 
 
You can also solicit content for a platform that your brand doesn’t currently have much of a following on. Doing so could allow your brand to form a community of loyal customers on a new platform, thus increasing your company’s reach. You can consider using engagement data to better guide your platform choices, if necessary. Brands need to go where their audience is, and doing so successfully is a fundamental part of a successful UGC marketing campaign.

4. Always Request Permission & Remember To Give Credit

When soliciting and sharing UGC, remember to request permission to use the creator’s content. Naturally, a brand would want to use UGC that benefits them, but it shouldn’t be assumed that the existence of the content alone is enough justification to use it in a marketing campaign. Be sure to contact the creator and request permission to use their content before reposting it. By skipping this step, you risk losing that customer’s trust in your brand.
After properly soliciting and gaining permission to use a customer’s UGC, brands should tag the creator in their featured post so they receive the credit they deserve. According to EnTribe, approximately 65 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 44 may be more loyal to a brand if their content was requested and used by the brand.

Utilizing UGC Can Elevate Brand Authenticity

Today’s consumers have shown that their desire for authenticity extends to the brands that they patronize. With these trends being evident, brands should embrace the change and implement user-generated content.
 
Experienced marketers know that marketing trends are always evolving and that brand awareness depends on staying relevant. Connecting with your audience through UGC can be a great way to capitalize on the desire for authentic connection and may even secure loyal customers for the future.
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