tour operations AI

Demystifying User-Generated Content (UGC): What It Is and How to Leverage It to Uplevel Your Social Presence

Many companies in the tourism industry have very similar questions:

  • How do we optimize reservations on weekdays?
  • How do we boost trip reviews?
  • How can we reach a younger audience?

And one of the most common questions we hear as a destination and adventure marketing agency is:

  • How do we build a robust, quality library of creative assets that will bring more conversions?

A library of creative assets is essential because your pictures and videos are your heaviest hitters in conveying your experiences to potential guests and customers. Many companies feel they never have enough content but don’t realize they may have a treasure trove of great images and videos if they only know where to look.

Social media thrives on people sharing content about the pretty places they go and the incredible things they do. Are you taking advantage of that?

As a company in the travel and tourism industry, it’s ideal to have guests and visitors share their experiences online. Sometimes, we have a surplus of content. Other times, we need to drum up more buzz on the business and your unique offerings.

Here are ways to find or increase user-generated content (UGC) to level up your social presence.

What is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content (UGC) is content, such as text, images, videos, reviews, or discussions, created by users or consumers rather than brands. This content is typically shared online, including social media, forums, blogs, and review sites. Customers share this content independently and can often positively highlight your company or general area.

What Are Examples of User Generated Content?

  • Tweets
  • Facebook posts
  • Instagram photos or reels
  • TikTok videos
  • Reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Booking, Travelocity, etc.
  • Comments on company social posts, blog pages, and other digital presences
  • Threads or comments on online forums on sites like Reddit or Quora
  • Content uploaded by users on platforms like YouTube or Snapchat

Why Do You Want User Generated Content

Word of Mouth Marketing is one of the strongest marketing efforts out there. 

Customers are much more likely to trust fellow customers rather than the company that wants their support. Non-sponsored UGC is a form of word-of-mouth marketing that can make your service or experience seem trustworthy and well worth the money.

User-Generated Content can offer sincere and authentic tips, recommendations and ideas on how to best enjoy your service. 

Good UGC can show how good your experience is and how to enjoy it as an informed customer. For example, let’s say you sell whale-watching tours. A UGC of someone explaining how magical their whale-watching tour at ‘golden hour’ was, with whales breaching at sunset, and how it ended just in time for dinner at a quaint cafe nearby paints a full day of fun that other people will want to replicate.

UCG is less sales-y and more informational or entertaining. 

Potential customers can tell when they’re being sold something – and that’s not often appreciated. UGC can help you share the value of your offering without coming off as sales-y. It’s less, “We’re so great, look what we can do!” and more, “We’re so happy this person had a great experience with us!”

Peer-to-peer conversations are much more powerful than a business-to-customer interaction. 

Talking to friends or peers about their favorite products or experiences differs significantly from watching branded ads about them. Something similar happens with UGC. When you see someone with similar interests raving about or seeming to have fun with a particular experience, you can also picture yourself in that scenario.

Your customers’ content may contain perspectives or pieces of value you haven’t considered or prioritized yet. 

You know your experience inside and out. However, your customers may have a better handle on how that experience can fit into a traveler’s or planner’s day. For example, let’s look at ATV tours. One of your customers planned and posted about a 9-year-old birthday party with ATVs, matching T-shirts, a themed cake, and desert-themed games. You didn’t develop these ideas, but the event inspired other groups to try out the ATV-themed birthday.

You don’t have to create the content yourself!

Best of all, you aren’t spending time, money and resources for non-sponsored UGC! People make these videos, quotes, and images because they are delighted with your experience and want to share it with their community.

UGC Family Outdoors

Building Your UGC Library

Look for Existing Content

What about the UGC You most likely already have?? Do a sweep of your digital presence to see if any of the buzz around your business is usable. You can do this by:

  • Checking your tagged posts
  • Reviewing posts tagged at your location
  • Searching hashtags around your brand or type of service

Checking Your Location-Specific Content

This content does not necessarily surround your company but may show the beauty of your surrounding area, if relevant. For example, if you are a backpacking guide, you can find and share photos of different views from summits in the area. Even if the person wasn’t on your trip, it’s still a great way to show what your guests may see.

Generate New UGC

To generate more UGC surrounding your experience, you can try these tips:

  • Have on-site call-to-actions (CTAs)  to post about and tag your company so it’s front of mind for current guests. You can do this through posters in your office or even having your guides or team members mention it during any intro speeches.
  • You can offer incentives for people to post about your service. For example, you can share that you may repost the content, offer a discount on a future experience, or run a giveaway.
  • Host meetups or fun events at your location for people to come and connect with others. Events are great opportunities for you and your guests to get some great creative assets you can leverage.
  • Create partnerships for User-Generated Content through influencer marketing. This is not the same thing as organic User-Generated Content, but you can have more say in how your business is represented while leveraging word-of-mouth marketing power.

How To Leverage User Generated Content

Now that you have some content, here’s how to use it! Before you do anything, you must receive explicit permission from the content owner to leverage it. Reach out to them via social comments or email so you can share their content in writing.

  • Repost social content on all of your digital platforms and include credit to the original poster for context.
  • You can also use portions of UCG to create your own content. This can be using shots of UGC videos as part of a larger reel on Instagram or Facebook, TikTok or video or creating a slideshow or carousel with other assets. Always include credit where relevant.
  • Use images, videos or customer quotes on your website.
  • Create a section on your website for review highlights.
  • Share UGC tips, ideas and recommendations in your content. This could be in blog posts, social posts, print, or more.
  • With the right amount of permission, you can also leverage UGC in your social ad strategy.

Don’t let yourself drown in tasks that your guests are already handling!

Harness the power of User-Generated Content to showcase high-quality posts created by those who’ve already enjoyed your incredible tourism offerings.

If you need marketing help that goes beyond the abilities of UGC, reach out to our team! We’ll help you develop a robust content library that you can leverage for years to come.

Want more tips specific to adventure companies?