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User-Generated Content, Part 1: The Basics

User-Generated Content, Part 1: The Basics

User-generated content (UGC), aka user-created content (UCC), is material—images, videos, audio, text—that is posted by online audiences at will, often on social media. Such content frequently and indirectly promotes products and services for the organizations concerned, lending more credibility than conventional advertisements.

This post, part 1 of a series, explains UGC’s significance and benefits in e-commerce along with tips on how brands should take advantage of UGC for audience engagement and sales gains.

Here are the topics:

Why Is UGC Important for E-Commerce?

UGC is becoming more and more important for e-commerce brands, wielding an enormous influence on customers’ purchase decisions. Three main reasons:

  • We all instinctively trust peer reviews, referrals, and recommendations from people with no skin in the game, so to speak, much more than in-house marketese. The popularity of ad blockers for websites starkly demonstrates the distaste we share for run-of-the-mill ads.
  • Brand owners, marketers, and customer support professionals are at liberty to join the conversations: they can clarify feature usage, answer product-related questions, shed light on upcoming capabilities, and express appreciation. In short, they can engage productively and amiably with patrons by responding to UGC, ideally establishing in the long run a well-connected community for the merchandise and continually raising the brand’s visibility, replete with hashtags that further propagate awareness.
  • Online ads are expensive, running at five times faster than inflation. UGC is not only free, it’s informational and, thanks to megaphone-like social media, spreading fast.

What Are the Major Benefits of UGC?

UGC offers three major benefits:

  • Audiences can acquire a multifaceted view of your product or service in the words of other consumers. For example, ladies who’ve bought a dress would post pictures of them wearing it along with comments on the material, the tailoring, the suitability for certain weather and occasions, along with feedback from family and friends. Such opinions are invaluable for potential customers, let alone that the commenters themselves relish the forum for their voice and enjoy the interactions.
  • UGC specifically directed at products and services makes them unique from competing brands, concurrently establishing customer loyalty. Plus, the consistent look and feel of your site, open 24/7 for audience engagements, is a huge draw of return visits.
  • UGC affords insight into your target audiences and their likes and dislikes, which could serve as valuable reference for marketing campaigns. In fact, some companies have set up reward programs to encourage UGC, honoring patrons for their time and constructive critiques.

How Should Brands Handle UGC?

Options abound for acquiring and making productive use of your UGC. The following three tips will ease the process for you during the planning stage:

  • If the audience can freely and directly upload UGC to your site or app, some of it could be inappropriate or irrelevant. Hence, moderation in the form of a human checkpoint before posting is imperative, for which artificial intelligence (AI) could play a valuable part. Also, ascertain that your system is scalable to accommodate content growth.
  • Typically, UGC contains text and images. However, video is becoming not only more prevalent but also valuable, so scalable workflows are a must. The dating app Hinge, for example, leverages Cloudinary to enable users to directly upload 30-second videos to their profile. For dating apps and their videos, you must be ultrasensitive to the UGC, ensuring no offense to anyone.
  • Once your UGC is clean and ready for publication, optimize and transform your media to show only the relevant content. For example, the picture of a dress that someone wore to a wedding might show other people or background that’s irrelevant. Display only the pertinent details through cropping or other transformation techniques.

How Do Brands Manage UGC With Cloudinary?

Below are articles that describe e-commerce use cases for UGC that promise to attract visitors with illuminating and relevant details that help them reach purchase decisions. Additionally, you’ll learn about Cloudinary’s optimization and transformation capabilities, many of which are automated, slated for those use cases.

Want to Learn More About UGC?

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