10 minutes

Leveraging user-generated content (UGC): A beginner’s guide for local marketing success

User-generated content (UGC) is a game-changer for businesses, especially for local businesses. This beginner’s guide explains what UGC is, why it's important, and how to leverage it for marketing success. Discover practical steps to encourage UGC, examples of successful campaigns, and ways to build community and enhance credibility through UGC.

In today’s digital age, user-generated content (UGC) has become a game-changer for businesses, especially local martial arts studios. UGC includes any content—text, videos, images, reviews—created by your customers or students rather than your business. This content is often shared on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, providing organic promotion for your business.

But why is UGC so important, and how can it help your martial arts studio grow? Let’s explore the ins and outs of UGC, its benefits, and how you can effectively leverage it to expand your reach.

What is user-generated content?

User-generated content is any type of content created by your customers or community members. This can include:

  • Social media posts: Photos or videos of students in your classes.
  • Reviews and testimonials: Honest feedback from your students.
  • Blog posts or articles: Stories written by your customers about their experiences.
  • Videos: Clips of students demonstrating techniques or sharing their progress.

Why UGC matters:

  • Authenticity: People trust content created by real users more than they trust traditional advertising. According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than traditional advertising.
  • Engagement: Content created by users tends to generate more engagement. A study by Adweek found that UGC posts have a 28% higher engagement rate than standard brand posts.
  • Cost-effective: UGC is often free. Your customers create the content for you, saving you time and money on marketing efforts.
  • Virality: UGC can go viral, especially on platforms like TikTok and Instagram. A single post can reach thousands, if not millions, of potential customers.
  • benefits of UGC for your martial arts studio
  • Builds community: When students share their experiences, it fosters a sense of community. Potential customers see that your studio is a welcoming and positive place.
  • Enhances credibility: Reviews and testimonials from real students boost your credibility. New customers are more likely to trust a studio with positive feedback from others. BrightLocal’s survey shows that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • Boosts SEO: Search engines favor fresh, relevant content. UGC can help improve your search rankings, making it easier for people to find your studio online.
  • Increases reach: When your students share their experiences, their followers see it. This can attract new students who may not have heard about your studio otherwise.

Data and statistics supporting UGC

  • Increased conversion rates: According to TurnTo Networks, UGC can increase conversion rates by up to 4.6%.
  • Trust and credibility: A survey by Stackla found that 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.
  • Cost efficiency: Brands that incorporate UGC in their marketing see a 50% increase in content creation efficiency, according to a study by TINT.

Inspiring brand loyalty with UGC

Successful UGC campaigns not only attract new customers but also inspire brand loyalty. When people see others regularly sharing positive experiences about your studio, they are more likely to trust and engage with your brand.

Practical Steps:

  • Feature student stories: Regularly highlight posts from your students on your social media and website. This shows appreciation and fosters a sense of community.
  • Engage with your audience: Respond to comments, like posts, and share user-generated content. Engagement shows that you value your community’s contributions and encourages more participation.

5 examples of large brands' successful UGC campaigns

  1. Starbucks’ ‘Red Cup Contest’: Every holiday season, Starbucks encourages customers to share photos of their red cups. This generates a massive amount of content and engagement. In one year, over 40,000 posts were shared on Instagram using the hashtag #RedCupContest.
  1. GoPro’s ‘Million Dollar Challenge’: GoPro features videos shot by its customers. The Million Dollar Challenge has become GoPro's most recognizable contest. The idea is to award some of the best creators in GoPro's community in exchange for their action-packed footage while encouraging people to upgrade to one of GoPro's newest camera models. These authentic clips showcase the product's capabilities and inspire others to create their own. GoPro’s YouTube channel, filled with user-generated content, has over 10 million subscribers.

  1. Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’: Coca-Cola's "Share a Coke" campaign personalized the iconic Coke bottles by replacing the brand's logo with popular names. Customers were encouraged to find bottles with their friends' and family members' names, take photos, and share them on social media using the hashtag #ShareaCoke. This campaign was incredibly successful, leading to a 2% increase in U.S. sales and over 500,000 photos shared on social media during its first year.

  1. Apple’s #ShotOniPhone: Apple's #ShotOniPhone campaign showcases photos and videos taken by iPhone users. By encouraging customers to share their best shots on social media with the hashtag #ShotOniPhone, Apple created a massive gallery of stunning user-generated content. This not only highlighted the quality of the iPhone camera but also engaged a global community of photographers. The campaign has generated millions of posts and has been featured in numerous Apple commercials and billboards around the world.
  1. Lululemon’s #TheSweatLife: Lululemon’s #TheSweatLife campaign encourages customers to share their active lifestyles, showcasing how they wear Lululemon gear during workouts and daily activities. This hashtag has generated a significant amount of content, with users posting images and stories about their fitness journeys. By promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, Lululemon has built a strong community of brand advocates. The campaign has not only increased engagement but also helped the brand to understand its customers better and create products that meet their needs.

Creating desire through UGC

You don’t have to be a big brand to run a successful UGC campaign. Small businesses with a local following can harness UGC to drive engagement and conversions. Sharing content created by your users taps into the natural human tendency towards FOMO (fear of missing out), creating a sense of desire among potential customers.

Practicals steps:

  • Highlight real experiences: Share photos and videos of your students in action. Authentic content showcasing real people and real results can make your studio more appealing to potential clients.
  • Branded hashtags: Encourage your students to use a unique hashtag like #MartialArtsJourney or #KickWithUs when they post about their experiences. This makes it easy to track and share their content.

Building a UGC library

Curating a library of user-generated content can keep your marketing fresh and engaging. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter offer tools to help you organize and highlight UGC, making it easier to maintain a steady flow of content without constantly creating new material.

Practical steps:

  • Create Instagram highlights: Use Instagram Highlights to save and showcase the best stories and posts from your students.
  • Facebook albums: Organize user-generated photos and videos into albums on your Facebook page to keep them easily accessible for new visitors.
  • Pin top tweets: On Twitter, pin top tweets that feature exceptional UGC to your profile for maximum visibility.

How to encourage UGC locally

To maximize the benefits of UGC, it’s essential to actively encourage your local community to contribute. Here are some strategies to get your students and customers involved:

  1. Create a branded hashtag: Develop a unique hashtag for your studio. Encourage students to use it when they post about their experiences. For example, #MartialArtsJourney or #KickWithUs.

  1. Host contests and challenges: Run social media contests where students can win prizes by sharing their stories or videos. For example, a “Best Kick” challenge where students post their best kick videos.

  1. Showcase UGC: Highlight user-generated content on your website and social media pages. This not only shows appreciation but also motivates others to contribute. Share weekly or monthly “Student Spotlight” posts.

  1. Ask for reviews: Encourage students to leave reviews on Google, Yelp, and your Facebook page. Respond to these reviews to show you value their feedback.
  1. Engage with content: Like, comment, and share the posts your students create. Engagement shows that you value their contributions and encourages others to join in.

5 ways real everyday users are using UGC on social media

  1. GRWM (Get Ready With Me): "Get Ready With Me" (GRWM) videos are popular across various niches, from makeup tutorials to fitness routines and even mom-life hacks. In these videos, users film themselves as they prepare for their day, providing tips, product recommendations, and personal insights. GRWM videos are highly engaging because they offer a personal glimpse into the creator’s life, fostering a sense of connection and relatability. This type of UGC is especially effective for brands in beauty, fashion, and lifestyle industries, as it showcases products in a real-world context.

  1. Reaction videos: Reaction videos feature users reacting to music video releases, TV or movie scenes, and other viral content. These videos are popular because they capture genuine emotional responses, making them entertaining and relatable. For example, a reaction video to a new movie trailer can create buzz and drive engagement as viewers share their own opinions in the comments. Brands can leverage reaction videos by encouraging users to react to their content or products, thus generating authentic and engaging UGC.

  1. Unboxing: Unboxing videos involve users opening and reviewing new products on camera. These videos are highly popular because they provide a detailed look at the product and offer the viewer an honest first impression. For example, tech enthusiasts often create unboxing videos for the latest gadgets, while beauty influencers unbox new makeup collections. Brands can capitalize on this trend by sending products to influencers or encouraging customers to share their own unboxing experiences, thus increasing brand visibility and trust.

  1. A day in the life: "A day in the life" videos take viewers through a typical day in the life of the creator, showcasing their daily routines, activities, and interactions. These videos are popular because they offer a personal and authentic look into someone else’s life, making them relatable and engaging. For example, a martial arts instructor might share a day in their life, including training sessions, classes, and personal time. Brands can encourage users to create "A day in the life" content featuring their products, highlighting real-life usage and benefits.

  1. Role-play videos: Role-play videos involve creators acting out scenarios, often playing multiple characters themselves. These videos can be humorous and entertaining, making them highly shareable. For example, a user might create a funny role-play video depicting a customer service interaction or a day at the gym. Brands can engage with this trend by hosting contests or challenges where users create role-play videos involving their products or services, driving creativity and engagement.

Wrapping it up

User-generated content is a powerful and cost-effective way to promote your martial arts studio. By leveraging the experiences and voices of your students, you can build a strong community, enhance your credibility, and reach new customers. Start encouraging your students to share their stories today, and watch your studio grow!

By following these steps, you can harness the power of UGC to expand your reach and establish your martial arts studio as a local authority. Happy content creating!

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