What is User-Generated Content?

By | Last Updated: 29th May 2019 | This post may contain Affiliate Links

Are you looking for new ways to reach your target audience? Why not consider using user-generated content? User Generated Content is defined as any type of content that has been created and put onto the internet by unpaid contributors, in many cases this will be fans of the brand or company.

It can refer to pictures, videos, testimonials, tweets, blog posts, and everything in between and is the act of users promoting a brand rather than the brand marketing itself – remember the brand doesn’t pay for the shopper to create the post.

In modern marketing terms, 86% of millennials say that user-generated content is a good indicator of the quality of a brand, and that 68% of social media users between the ages of 18 and 24 consider information shared on social media when they make a purchasing decision. Many large companies have attempted to capitalise on this emerging trend over recent years, some to great effect.

Remember user generated content is popular for your fans and customers as it puts them at the centre of your business, a shopper may post a picture of them trying on your clothing or unboxing your product and so on. Having user-generated content brings everyone together, it connects a brand more easily to its audience, long gone are the days of a “us” verse “them” mentality.

Typically, people like to feel part of “something”, this goes back to our basic human instinct of being part of a tribe or pact. From a marketing point of view, you can easily tap into this notion for your own benefit.

In most cases people like to feel part of a community when there’s a membership, shared emotional connections, fulfilment needs and influence. The last point of influence is vert interesting, as user-generate content makes people feel like they have influence in your community – equally the same could be said about a shared emotional connection, as most people in your community will be there for similar reasons.

For example, let’s say you owned an extreme sports brand, the lifestyles of your customers will most likely be very similar. They’ll like the same type of sports, fashion, music, art, movies and so on – they share common connections with each other, thus making a community.

Obviously from a business point of view, user-generated content is popular because its cost effective. At the end of the day, your fans or customers are unpaid, they ultimately create content for several reasons, however for businesses its significantly cheaper than spending thousands on a marketing campaign which may not work.

According to ComScore, brand engagements rose by 28% when consumers are exposed to a mixture of professional marketing content and user-generated content.

Of course, as purchasing habits change, so does the marketing strategies that go along with it, here’s some great ideas which can help you to engage user-generated content for your business:

Host a contest – One of the coolest ways to grow user-generated content is by hosting a contest. The most popular user-generated content contest would likely be a photo contest. You can email your customer list and ask them to upload their photos to your website or post them on your social media platforms using your hashtag for a chance to win a gift card or some other prize. You’ll need to create contest rules so that everyone knows what type of content you’d like and when they can expect to be notified if they win a prize.

Re-post content – Of course before you re-post user content on your social networking profiles, you’ll need to ask permission. If you want to share that customer photo someone tagged you in, make sure to send over a Direct Message asking for permission first. Once someone gives you the go ahead, you can then repost the photo or video on your social media.

Have an Affiliate Program – An affiliate program on its own doesn’t essentially lead to user-generated content. However, for some industries it can. A customer who just bought a brand-new pair of shoes can then share a picture of it on social media and include their ambassador/affiliate link to receive a commission for sales. By potentially getting a financial reward they’re incentivized to share their photo or experience with the product.

Feature customer photos on your website – You can collect customer photos and promote them on your website or social media for extra social proof. User-generated content is easier to collect this way and helps you to gain trust and confidence from your target audience. After a person sees a photo of a customer using your product, not only are they more likely to buy the product, but they may also be more likely to share their own photos too.

Advertising Campaigns – One of the most influential uses for user-generated content is for ads. You may have noticed that when you post a standard product photo it usually doesn’t perform well for your ads. However, when you post a customer photo using your product your engagement rises dramatically. Of course you’ll need to ask permission from your customer to use their image in your advertising, however for many industries this tactic can work extremely well in most cases.

As you can see user-generated content is definitely something you should think about using to your advantage, at the end of the day it can help you to increase sales, build trust and generate better brand awareness.

Remember people have purchased from you because they like your company and the products and services you offer, so get a head start of your competition and stand out from the crowd with the help of your customers. A good tip is to create a dedicated section on your website, which details how to submit a photo and the general guidelines you expect.