User-generated content marketing is a relatively new concept in the marketing world. With the rise of social media, people everywhere can share their voices with the world. Sometimes they even use their voices to create user-generated content that helps your brand.

Today, we’re going to break down user-generated content marketing and how it works. Let’s get started.

First, let’s get our definitions straight.

User-generated content (UGC) is anything that your customers make about your brand. That “anything” can be videos, blogs, Tweets, reviews, and more. Customers shouldn’t be paid to produce anything, but they can use their content to enter into a contest.

User-generated content marketing is using that customer-created content in your own communications strategy on your own digital channels. You, essentially, work their creations into your social media posts, on your website, or in your commercials.

But where do you find user-generated content? You have to search for it. Sometimes customers will tag you in their posts and make things easy. Other times, you’ll have to search for specific hashtags or do a bit of plain ol’ internet sleuthing.

If it doesn’t already exist, you have to ask for it. That means hosting a contest, offering a giveaway, or just openly inviting people to share their message. 

You can use UGC as part of your everyday marketing communications or as part of a specific campaign strategy. We’ll talk about examples of both as we discuss the reasons why you need to use user-generated content marketing.

Reason #1: People care about authenticity.

Ah, authenticity. Marketing junkies talk about this concept so much that we almost start taking it for granted. But don’t let it become just a buzzword – authenticity is still really important. Like really, really, really important.

Time and time again, research shows that modern customers consider authenticity to be one of the most important factors when choosing a brand. User-generated content is authentic by definition, so it has a huge influence on customers.

Graph: What type of content highly impacts your purchasing descisions?

A lot of people don’t believe the professional ads and marketing campaigns that are just thrown at them. But many do value feedback and reviews from peers who are not paid for voicing their honest opinions. 

UGC won’t always be the most polished or have the highest production value. But those flaws are just part of the authenticity; they’re a sign that a real person is sharing views that haven’t been scrubbed and sanitized to fit a perfect corporate identity. That’s authenticity. 

Reason #2: It shows you’re open to interaction.

People want brands to listen. It’s important to interact with customers no matter your campaign strategy.

Responding to reviews, answering questions, and accepting feedback – these are all things you should be doing anyway. Doing it in the context of user-generated content marketing just builds a closer connection to customers. Being open to feedback and willing to celebrate your customers is tough, but powerful.

Just a note: remember to ask permission before sharing UGC on your own channels. It’s a nice way to have a connection moment with a customer – and it’s just the polite thing to do.

Success Story: Starbucks

The winning black-and-white swirl design of Starbuck's White Cup Contest

Way back in 2014, Starbucks launched their White Cup Contest. The rules were simple: just draw a design on a plain white Starbucks cup, take a photo, and submit it.

Starbucks got over 4,000 entries in three weeks. The winning design graced an official, limited edition cup. This contest was a great way to encourage UGC and gave Starbucks a chance to share customer voices. Pretty brilliant, if you ask us.

Reason #3: User-generated content helps build a loyal community.

Customers who create UGC already know and love your brand. When they promote your brand online without being paid, it endorses you to everyone in your loyal customers’ circles.

Think about it: when potential customers are seeking out word-of-mouth reviews and recommendations, where do they look? They often first look to their community.

A community can be family, friends, or even an online group of people who share a love of something. We trust what our community has to stay. In fact, 92% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends and family. 

We don’t have an example for this one because you can look at your own life for an example. Just think about the time you or someone you know solicited recommendations for a product on Facebook or Twitter. Word-of-mouth is huge – and user-generated content takes it to the max. 

Reason #4: It takes (some of) the work off of you.

It’s less of a strain on resources to curate user-generated content than it is to produce new content yourself. With UGC, you’re not paying for actors or equipment and you’re not spending hours brainstorming and producing content. That can be a major blessing to your tight budget.

But you can’t leave everything to your customer base. Encouraging customers to post their content? Curating what you find? Actually sharing it to your branded social media? That’s all work you still have to do to make the most of your customer’s messages.

Success Story: Adobe

Screenshot of Adobe's instagram showing share UGC

Adobe is all about creating the software people use to make great things. But do they need to spend time making their own art pieces to show off their products? No – they can just share the great things customers make using their software.

Adobe’s Instagram is full of user-generated content. Adobe encourages people to share their work with hashtags like #AdobePerspective and #CreateYourStory. This is a great way to use UGC in your daily social media feeds – and a great way of showing off what your product can do.

P.S. We’re here to help.

At Slice, we believe user-generated content marketing is best when it’s paired with other efforts – like YouTube marketing, a strong social media presence, and an expertly-made website to host all of your wonderful content. (Hint: we can help you with that last one.)

If you want to learn more about how we can help you with your digital marketing efforts, just contact us. We’ll help you create a robust marketing strategy that blends all kinds of different tactics to make the biggest and best impression.