User Generated Content: Who, What, When, Where and Why

Have you noticed your friends sharing recent purchases or products they love on their social platforms? That’s a marketer’s dream: user generated content. Free advertising. 

User generated content is today’s brand advocacy. Officially, user-generated content (UGC) is defined as any form of content, such as images, videos, text and audio, that have been posted by users on online platforms such as social media and wikis. As consumers turn to their online acquaintances for purchasing advice more often, it’s become a critical component in marketers’ content marketing strategies. Think of it as an additional form of your content curation strategy (if you don’t have one of those, read this.

Here are the answers to the key questions (the who, what, when, where and why) marketers need to employ user generated content effectively in their strategies.

Who: Customers Generate Content Daily and Millennials are the Biggest Group of Creators

User-generated content comes from the brand’s customers—its users. It differs slightly from influencer marketing which seeks out specifically well known people in the industry to promote brand messages. Influencer marketing often costs brands some kind of payment whether in actual cash (according to Ad Age, brands shelled out more than $1 billion on influencer marketing in 2018) or trades of goods/services while user-generated content is earned.

If millennials are part of your target audience, UGC is an ideal strategy to pursue. They produce the most content of any age group by far. In fact, they create about 70% of online content. The believe user-generated content to be both more memorable and more trustworthy. 

What: UGC is Testimonials, Reviews, Videos, Photos, Blogs, Podcasts

Brands have little control over the what. User-generated content is whatever the user decides it is and what form it takes from writing blog posts and product reviews to taking photos and videos. With many tools in the palm of our hands at all times, it’s never been easier for users to create content. 

Users tag the brand or use a particular hashtag to gain their friends’, the public’s, and the brand’s attention. Brands then decide if they want to amplify the post by resharing it on their platforms or using the image and crediting the user. (Always ask permission before sharing UGC.)  

Brands can create campaigns, using specific messaging and hashtags, to encourage user generated content. They can build places for users to upload their own photos to their website’s product pages, encourage product reviews, ask to be tagged in social media posts or even run contests. Consider asking customers to post before/afters, written or video reviews, how they use their purchase, what they created using their purchase and more.

When: UGC is Useful throughout the Buyer Journey

User-generated content can be used at any point along the buying cycle. As many as 93% of consumers acccess UGC before making a purchase. Like all content formats, use different types of UGC at different points in the cycle. For example, gather reviews of products and share them on the product pages so that consumers can easily access them before they click “buy”. 

Where: Social Media is a Hot-Bed of UGC

User-generated content is found all over the internet including websites, but perhaps unsurprisingly, social media is the prime place for user generated content. Specifically, Instagram holds the top spot for user posts. Here are six ways to showcase UGC. 

Why: UGC Unleashes Loads of Benefits on Marketers

Marketers who harness this word of mouth marketing and repurpose it as part of their brand content reap many benefits. We could do a whole post about them. But, here are the top four. First, it lends the brand authenticity and credibility. Second, it creates more opportunities for a personalized brand experience. Third, it creates buzz and adds desirability to the brand’s offering. Fourth, it humanizes the brand’s messages and as a result, increases engagement. 

Salesforce reports that websites with user-generated content galleries see visitors spending 90% more time on the site. It also says it can increase purchases by 10%. SocialToaster says user-generated content shared to social sites see 28% higher engagement rates than other posts. If you’d like more stats on why user-generated content, this Stackla article gives 43 of them!

Need help with user-generated content strategy or execution? Contact glee and we’ll talk about your brand’s goals!


Photo by “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash

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