In a world where brands are trying to mimic their follower’s content due to the increasing difficulty of the platforms algorithm as well as the authenticity of the brand’s content, UGC is more important than ever. User Generated Content, commonly referred to as UGC, is a phrase used to describe content that was created by a consumer. That content can be found through a multitude of avenues such as branded engagement, non-branded engagement, influencer programs and more.

There are many ways your brand can benefit from UGC, with the obvious one being content. In the advertising and marketing world, meaningful content may be hard to come by for many brands. UGC is a way to not only gather assets for your social channel, but also it can be a real chance to connect with your brand’s fans and let them know that their time spent with your product matters.

So how do you get started collecting your UGC? The easiest way to get started collecting and using this type of content is to regularly check the posts that are tagging your brand. Most users enjoy the thrill of a brand they know and love reposting their content, so make sure you make it easy for the user to get in front of your social media team by telling the users to tag your brand and use branded hashtags.

When searching for UGC to use, most times the realest images work the best. 90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support (up from 86% in 2017) per Stackla. Although professional photo shoots will always be needed in the marketing world, there’s something real and down to earth about an authentic moment, such as a child with ice cream all over their face or a dog that just happened to sneak into your favorite brand of potato chips. Your users also may know the various social media trends by platform more than you personally, providing key insights into the timely trends on social media faster or more organically than your team is aware of. This leaves UGC as an opportunity to not only share real images, but also to stay up-to-date on ways your product could evolve, or content opportunities you may be missing. For example, an Ice Cream company may assume that chocolate ice cream with sprinkles is the most sought after combination on the planet, but by using branded hashtags and collecting UGC, you can find out the variety of flavor combinations your customers truly enjoy, leading to possible new menu items and sales for a product you may have overlooked.

Once you have found the perfect UGC for your brand, ask the user openly to use the image. Aside from just securing the permission to use the asset, it allows that user to know that their image will be on your page and shows other users just how easy it can be to engage with their favorite brands! A simple “Hey NAME, we love this image! Do you mind if we share?” can go a long way in the world of content, especially for up and coming content creators. Also, make sure you tag or call out that this image was from another account originally. Again, this step doesn’t just ensure that you have the permission to use the asset, but it lets your followers know that you do share UGC images and could share theirs in the future, enticing people to tag your brand more!

Finally, make sure you use UGC to get testimonials and feedback from your users. UGC can be the best review of your product simply because the user enjoyed your product enough to post about it onto their social media channels. Per Tintup, 86% of Millennials believe that UGC is a good indicator of a brand or product’s quality, and 51% of Millennials trust a UGC post more than anything on a company’s website, news articles or blogs about the company or product. If someone writes a glowing caption about your specific product, don’t be afraid to use that as well. If community managers know one thing, it’s that people will be brutally honest when given the chance on social media, so make sure you use the good reviews every chance you get!