User Generated Content (UGC) / Customer Generated Content (CGC): the secret weapon

cgc-ucg-influencer-marketing-hivency-blog-photo-credit-Helena Lopes

After the celebrities, the macro-influencers and the micro-influencers, it is now time for the nano-influencers and the consumer-ambassadors. Brands are now focusing on marketing that is close to their customers, authentic and focused on their needs.

Photo credit: Helena Lopes

At the same time, thanks to social networks and other forums, people communicate more easily than ever before. These sharing spaces are veritable agoras, hosting comments, photographs, audio recordings, blog posts and videos. When this content, generated by users, deals with their consumer experiences, it represents a gold mine for companies. Let's decipher a marketing lever that is still under-exploited: UGC and CGC.

What are UGC and CGC ?

User Generated Content (UGC) and Customer Generated Content (CGC) are two categories of Earned Media. Unlike branded content, UGC and CGC are produced by users of social networks, forums and other sites offering a space for expression (blogs and consumer review platforms in particular).

Although they seem to favor the first of these acronyms, the majority of marketing professionals speak of UGC and CGC equally. To be precise, it is however possible to dissociate these two types of content: the latter being an emanation of the former.

UGC are the very matter of social networks since they are onto logically dedicated to the sharing of photographs, videos and other written content (comments, statuses, tweets, news... etc.). UGC does not therefore intrinsically concern brands. It is content published by users of the various sites or networks (influencers, employees, consumers, etc.) on these media.

CGC is a category of UGC. It is content created by the customers of a company and related (intentionally or not) to the company. These publications can be of various kinds:

  • posts on social networks (photographs, videos, audio recordings, texts)
  • online reviews (on the sites of the companies themselves, on dedicated sites or on forums) for example

CGC sometimes refer directly to a brand or product. However, many of the posts do not explicitly aim to relate to a consumer experience. Advertisers can, however, under certain conditions, take advantage of these posts featuring their products in a usage situation.

As first-hand content, UGC, and more specifically CGC, constitute a powerful marketing lever for the brands to which they refer.

UGC/CGC: a powerful marketing lever

CGC are a highly effective marketing lever. They play a decisive role in the passage to the act of purchase and in the volume of baskets. 79% of the people questioned say that UGCs have a significant impact on their purchasing decisions (a figure confirmed by various studies).

CGC, a guarantee of credibility

CGCs are the perfect complement to paid media. They give it the necessary extra credibility that it lacks in the eyes of consumers. Consumers are distrustful of advertising and demand that the information it conveys be "authenticated" by their peers through their feedback.

The CGCs have the value of social proof. Where opinions and experiences overlap, the truth is likely to lie. This probably explains why consumers trust user-generated content 2.4 times more than company-generated content.

The reason? UGC has a character of authenticity. They are supposedly sincere and unbiased opinions and illustrations expressed by customers who have not been paid by the brand and who have bought and tested the product or service independently.

CGC as a source of valuable insights:

Thanks to social media listening it is also possible to gain valuable insights from the CGCs. This social media listening allows brands to refine their personas. CGCs are therefore an asset for brands that wish to offer their customers an increasingly personalized service, in line with the global trend.

Building community through CGC:


CGCs are a real competitive advantage. By humanising the brand-consumer relationship, they make it possible to federate a loyal and committed community around the company. As genuine vectors of social interaction, CGCs create a link between customers and between the latter and the advertiser. Retention is a major advantage since, according to various sources, 65% of companies' business comes from their existing buyers.

CGCs generate a good ROI:

Finally, CGCs are an excellent marketing tool because they are inexpensive and time-saving. While they require moderation, their creation and production are handled by consumers. Consumers create images, videos, audio recordings or written testimonials that can easily be used by the brand on its own media (while respecting copyright):

  • social networks
  • Social Media Wall hosted on the company's website or any other media

These are all assets that should encourage the brands to learn without delay the art of valuing the CGC.

The art of valuing UGC/CGC

Some social network users like to share their consumption experiences with their peers. Various factors motivate users to spontaneously recommend or mention a brand they like: generosity, the desire to form a community or the construction of a personal identity.

However, for many consumers, this effort of content creation and recommendation is not natural. This is why it is preferable for brands to put in place a real strategy aimed at arousing in their customers the desire to generate publications related to their purchases.

1 - Define the objectives of your CGC campaign:

As a marketer, the first step is to define the objectives you wish to achieve through your CGC campaign. In many cases, marketers want to create engagement. However, it is possible to aim for increased visibility, improved brand image or the production of unique visuals in record time. Either way, you need to choose the right type of content for your purpose.

2 - Soliciting and encouraging consumers:

Then, to obtain publications from your customers, there is nothing better than simply formulating your request. To invite users to participate in your campaign, there are several solutions available to you. The most common solution is to create a hashtag and associate it with an incentive:

  • a challenge

  • a special offer

  • a pledge to a charity

3 - Launching your campaign with influencers:

To launch your campaign, there is nothing like having it relayed by influencers. The famous #guacdance orchestrated by Chipotle on TikTok is a good example of a remarkably effective UGC campaign, triggered by hand-picked influencers.

4 - Putting customers in the spotlight:

Another strategy that enhances the brand and its users is to request publications that illustrate the successful use of the product. This includes not only a stylish look, but also real achievements. This is the strategy adopted by Adobe. On its Instagram account, the graphics software company shares creations made by various artists using its computer tools.

5 - Beware of copyrights:

These posts are all CGC that the brand can relay on its own networks and on its various communication media. It is nevertheless essential to ask for the consumers' permission and to credit them when you reproduce their creations via various media.

6 - Create interactions:

Mentioning your customers on your posts also helps to create proximity and to induce exchanges that cement your community. Tagging those of your customers whose posts you have retained also allows you to give them social recognition. Others will probably be tempted to follow in their footsteps in order to benefit from similar exposure.

7 - Define the contours of the desired content, and let the creativity flow:

Whatever strategy you choose, let your customers take ownership of your brand and express themselves on their own terms. This creative freedom, which guarantees unique and authentic content, does not exclude defining precisely the contours of the desired content. Do not hesitate to explain the type of publications you wish to relay and to set "rules" for participation.

UGCs, and more specifically CGCs, are an excellent way to make your customers ambassadors for your brand. Generated spontaneously or at your instigation, they transcend simple digital word-of-mouth and allow you to federate a real community around your brand. CGCs take the concept of customer advocacy, which we mentioned in one of our previous articles, a step further. Hivency, an influencer and opinion platform, can help you make your CGC campaigns a success.

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