Marketing Trend: User Generated Content (UGC)

13 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the types of user generated content
  • How to use UGC to reach your campaign goals & build your brand
  • Best practices for using UGC, including copyright/permission information
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Skill Level

Beginner, Intermediate
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User-generated content (UGC) is quickly becoming the cornerstone of building audience engagement and trust in your brand. If you’re looking for a way to boost your content strategy and enhance your reach, user-generated content is an absolute must for your business. In a nutshell, UGC is any content that has been created by your audience or fans, such as the people who go on your tours, or influencers in your industry. The types of content tht comes from these users might include photos or videos of someone on your tour, tweets or blog posts about their experience, and reviews or testimonials about the awesome time they had.

Curating UGC and working it into your marketing strategy is a huge marketing win for a few reasons. Firstly, finding UGC to share means that you can spend less time and money creating content yourself since UGC is so easy and inexpensive to source. Also, posting UGC facilitates a more authentic way to advertise a tour or activity, in turn promoting trust in your brand. 

In fact, 78% of Millennials prefer seeing UGC over professional content (Chute) and people are more likely to engage with UGC over any other type of content since it’s being “crowdsourced” from their contemporaries (Marketing Land). Finally, UGC is more likely to convert than other content, leading to more bookings and more happy guests participating in your tours and activities. 

Ready to start sharing UGC? Keep reading for tips on curating the best content, where to share it, and how to get started.

Benefits of UGC by The Numbers

  • UGC increases eCommerce conversions by 15% on average (Photoslurp).
  • UGC photos are 5 times more likely to convert compared to professional content (Photoslurp). 
  • UGC helped this healthcare network nonprofit increase organic traffic by over 200%.
  • Consumers are over 2 times more likely to view UGC as authentic compared to professional content (Stackla).
  • Almost 80% of people say that UGC has a high impact on their purchasing decisions (Stackla).
  • Millennials trust UGC advertising 50% more than traditional marketing messages (SmartBrief).

Ways to Use UGC

It’s no surprise that UGC increases conversions and purchase likelihood, but there are plenty of other reasons to start a UGC campaign. Before diving in and looking for guest photos or testimonials to share, think about the purpose behind your desire to share UGC. Start with one campaign or goal in mind and then expand to others – these might include building brand awareness, launching a new tour, advertising an upcoming seasonal promotion, or increasing organic traffic. Keep these goals in mind as you choose platforms to find and share UGC.

Promote new tour offerings

If you’ve recently launched a new tour, activity, or service, using UGC helps to paint a picture of what future bookers can expect. Include customer photos in your promotional social posts or even update the images in your item description in your FareHarbor dashboard. 

Increase social engagement

It is challenging to stay fresh and relevant on social media, and when your content becomes stale so too does your social interaction – use UGC to diversify the content on your social accounts, and to energize your following base.

Pro tip: Start by dedicating a day in the week (or month) to focus on UGC. Highlight a photo taken by a customer, or post interactive content such as a poll or survey that customers can comment on. Setting a regular schedule for your UGC posts helps to make sure you stay consistent in your efforts, and your followers will look forward to your next post!

Run a social media contest

The thing about putting UGC to work is that you have to have UGC available to use. To quickly build a library of UGC consider running a social media contest, where customer photos are used as submission entries.  Bear in mind you will still need to review your state’s promotion and sweepstakes laws. Learn more about how to run a successful social media campaign or contest in another of our Compass guides.

Boost website conversions

Update your website with the content you collect! Whether it be creating a reviews page on your website to showcase comments and feedback left by customers or providing a gallery of photos that accurately portray your services, leveraging UGC on your website can help provide additional information to new bookers. 

Start video marketing with UGC

If you’ve been hesitant to dip into video marketing, UGC is an east way to start! Look for videos customers have posted on their social media, whether it be a social post or a Facebook or Instagram story, and compile these into one video to share out on your social platforms or website!

Where to Find UGC

Social Media

a screenshot of a social media postYou’re probably used to seeing guests snap photos on their smartphones during your tours and activities, and it’s likely they’re sharing those shots on their social media accounts! Social media is an essential platform for building brand awareness and it’s a great place to curate UGC.

Take to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest and look for any mentions or tags of your profile (check out the example to the right).

Pro tip: Get into the practice of checking tags and mentions at least once a day. Not only will it help you find great UGC, but it’s also essential to keep tabs on your social media mentions so that you can respond in a timely manner. 

If you don’t have a big audience just yet, you might not see your business tagged in a lot of content. That’s okay! Building an audience takes time, and thinking about incorporating UGC into your branding strategy is a step in the right direction. In the meantime, search hashtags for your location or keywords that describe your business to see what kind of content people are sharing in your area. 

For example, if you run walking tours in a major metropolitan area, there are likely many visitors to the city posting vacation shots in places that your tour also visits. Those could be great candidates for you to highlight on social media as one of the popular stops on your tour. We’ll go into more detail on how to ask permission to share UGC later in this guide.

a screenshot of a cell phoneReview Sites

In addition to visual content shared on social media, reviews are another popular form of UGC, making up 29% of the UGC that is created and shared (Statista). Encouraging tour guests to leave reviews after their experiences offers many benefits, like improving organic SEO, learning what your customers really want to see in a tour or activity, and boosting your online presence in local search. Reviews also make for fantastic shareable content across channels when promoting your tours and activities.

In much the same way that you would share positive testimonials on your website, you can share reviews across your digital marketing campaigns (and social platforms). Potential customers tend to trust the opinions and perspectives shared by objective reviews more than outright advertising by your business. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (BrightLocal).

Keep an eye on your incoming reviews on these top review sites and curate a collection of your favorite positive reviews to use in your digital marketing campaigns. A great way to get more reviews is to ask tour guests to share a photo of themselves on  your tour on social media, with a brief description of their experience. Then you can share the content in an email newsletter, on social media, or on your website.

Best Practices For Sharing UGC

So, you’ve found an awesome guest photo or testimonial that you want to share – great! Always keep these best practices in mind when working the content into your campaigns and before you hit that “post” button. 

Request Permission

Even if your business was tagged in a photo or a photo was posted to your profile, it’s still important to ask the owner for permission to use the photo for other purposes (such as your marketing efforts). Sharing content without acknowledging the original poster could lead to a disagreement and cost you followers. Asking for permission shows the owner that you appreciate their content and it helps to cover your bases when it comes to any potential copyright concerns.

So, what is the best way to reach out to the original poster? Common ways of asking for permission are to send a message via the social platform where the content is posted! You can do this either directly on the post (in the comments) or in a private or direct message. Keep it simple: Say something like “Thanks for sharing this photo! We love this image and would like to feature it in a future social post. Please respond with the hashtag [your hashtag here] to confirm that we can share! Thanks again!” The hashtag you either be your company name or relate to whatever campaign you intend to promote.

Give the Original Poster Credit

a screenshot of a cell phoneIf the owner of the content gives you permission to share, be sure to give them clear credit in the form of a tag directly in the post. If you’re also using their comment, be sure to put the words in quotation marks and include their name or social handle to show that they said it.

If you’re going to share the post across social channels, check with the owner to see if they’d like to be tagged on their other social media accounts in addition to the one used to post the content in the first place. Providing credit recognizes the work of content creators and maintains a healthy relationship with tour guests or potential customers. Plus, it shows other viewers that someone outside of your business created the content, making it more authentic.

Offer Something in Return

a man and a woman standing in front of a buildingThe best way to keep those great UGC posts coming is to reward the posters for sharing their content. One fun way to generate more UGC is to run a social media contest with a prize like a discount on your tours or a fun branded t-shirt. If you have a big social media following, many content creators will share content just for the exposure and the chance to be featured on your page.

Ready to get started with UGC? A fun first try at UGC is a post asking tour guests to share their best photos from a recent tour. You can also scroll through the social media feeds of your favorite brands and see if you can spot any UGC being shared – check out our list of social media travel accounts to follow. For more inspiration, head over to our social media guides and try out campaign ideas where you can incorporate UGC.

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