8 Ways to Select the Best User-Generated Content

This is the third part of our 4-part blog series on user-generated content. This series has everything that brand and social media marketers need to know about using user-generated content in their marketing strategy.

In the first part, we talked about how to create a well-defined strategy for your user-generated content. In the second part, we discussed how to search and curate the user-generated content. Now when we have a strategy in place and we have the curated content with us, it's time to select the best content piece for our use. In this blog, we will discuss simple 8 rules that you can follow while selecting user-generated visual content for your brand.

You can use this selected visual content across your owned, earned and paid media like product pages, advertisements, social media and email etc.

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How it is different:

We all choose visual content for our personal use and consumption in our daily lives and we are pretty expert in it. But selecting the visual content for your brand is a slightly different process. The reason is simple, the user-generated content you select will represent your brand and anything that goes out from a brand in its communication affects its business as well as its larger audience.

So, every brand and social media manager should be very careful while selecting the user-generated content for their brand communications. Selecting that perfect piece of content from a lot of curated content can be tricky and time-consuming but these 8 simple rules will help you select the best and high performing user-generated content easily.

But before that let's have a quick look at few stats on why brands should use user-generated content in their marketing strategy.
- Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than content generated by brands. (Smart Blogs)
- Millennials find user-generated content is 20% more influential than other media sources like TV, newspaper, and magazines, in taking buying decisions. (CrowdTap)
- Brands see 25% increase in conversions when user-generated photos are used instead of professionally made product shots by brands. (Source)

Here are 8 simple rules to consider before selecting any UGC image to use in your marketing content. Make sure:

1. It follows your brand philosophy

Make sure selected content depicts the spirit of your brand and product in the true sense.

See how natural food brand Big Tree Farms makes a good use of its user-generated content in its beautiful Instagram feed. All of the images shared by them follow their brand policy which is to promote eating organic, unrefined, low glycemic food products.

Select the best user-generated content- Artifacia Blog- BigFarmsBali example

2. It is not offensive to anyone

Whether you create your own content or share user-generated content, make sure it is not offensive to any person, gender, religion, nationality, creed or race.

This point becomes especially important in the case of user-generated content because your users don't think from a brand's perspective while creating the content. Users bring their own biases into it. It's the brand's duty to filter out any content which can create a negative sentiment for the brand leading to bad consequences.

See how advertising went wrong with Nivea when they used the slogan "White is Purity". This phrase proved as racist and Nivea had to remove the ad immediately.
While selecting the user-generated content for your brand, make sure it does not contain any of such element both in both the visual and text format.

Selecting the best user-generated campaign- Artifacia Blog- Nivea Ad

You can take a clue from 12 offensive advertisements about what else can go wrong.

Tip: You should also be aware of any ongoing controversial and sensitive topic in your space and country. Make sure you don't use any user-generated image or video that says some biased opinions about that context.

3. It is of high quality

At the end, all your visual assets should look beautiful invoking a purchase inspiration or a happy sentiment for your brand. For this, always select the high-quality images from your user-generated images. There might be a lot of blurred, shaky and unclear images as they are not shot by professionals and high-end cameras. It's your responsibility to filter out the low-quality images and videos from your user-generated content collection.

Select the best user-generated content- Artifacia blog- high quality image example

Tip: Select the images that are beautiful. The general misconception about user-generated images is that they are not as beautiful as needed for brand communication usage. But when we talk about conversions, user-generated images prove to be more engaging and converting. So, just find the most suitable and beautiful user-generated content from your collection and use them upfront in your brand story.

4. It does not have fake products

Make sure that the product used in the user-generated images or videos is the real and original product from your brand. People can use your brand hashtag with images of duplicate and non-original products as well. You need to be careful about your selection. By sharing an image of someone using your fake products, you might promote piracy of your products without even knowing about it.

Tip: If you are high-end luxury brand and there are so many other manufacturers creating duplicates of your product, then you should be extremely careful. You may check the purchase history of the user and verify if he/she using the authentic product in the image or video.

5. It is from an authentic user

This is a quick but important check. Before selecting any user-generated content, make sure that the profile of its user is genuine and not fake. Just check out the profile details and some posts from the past. You may also want to interact with the user is some cases.

6. It has the verified facts

Many times, brands share some real-life stories of their users who are doing amazing things with their product or living the brand philosophy in its true essence. These stories are inspirational user-generated content and add a magic ingredient to your brand story.

Brands share a lot of facts and details about the user like their place, their age, their struggles, their business, their motivations and many such other facts. No doubt these stories are the most interesting ones because your audience takes much time to read these long stories and get inspired.

Make sure you verify all the details and facts presented by the user. Any misleading or incorrect fact shared with a larger audience can malign your brand image.

In most of the cases, brands use this kind of campaigns for social awareness of some social issue or their CSR initiatives but yes at the end it adds trust to the brand in the long term.

See how Coca-Cola has partnered with Humans of Pakistan to share the true stories of people living in Edhi Homes for their CSR Eid campaign.

Select the best user-generated content- Artifacia Blog- Humans of Pakistan

Here are some more examples of brands using real inspirational user-generated stories.

7. The text with the visual user-generated content

Not only the image and video, but the text which is shared with the visual content should also be taken care of. It should also go with your brand story. Be careful while sharing the content where someone writes a negative review about you. You must always handle such cases in a good spirit.

Last and the most important rule is here:

8. You should have the permission to share content

This goes without saying, always ask the rights and permissions from the user before sharing or using their content in your marketing strategy. So, with all the above 7 rules to select the best user-generated content, if you don't get permission to use the content, you can not use it anywhere.

These above 8 rules are not the only 8 rules you should follow to select the most suitable user-generated content for your needs. You can think about new points to be considered, drop a few of these 8 rules and decide what works well on the kind of content collection you have for your brand.

One thing that we all should be clear about is that you don't need to use each and every piece of user-generated content for your brand but you need to collect all the user-generated content for your brand so that you can draw important insights from them. In the last and the fourth part of this blog series, we will talk about the important insights that you can draw from these collected content.

Here are the previous posts from this blog series, in case you missed them:
1. User-generated content strategy
2. Search and curate user-generated content

We at Artifacia help brands curate, publish and analyze their owned and user-generated content at scale. Our customers are driving high-quality traffic by using our solutions that spend 37% more time on the site, view 48% more pages and have 64% more e-commerce conversion rate.

If you are also looking to leverage your user-generated content, then request a demo below.