Social Media Marketing

What Is User-Generated Content And Why Do Marketers Need It?

What Is User-Generated Content And Why Do Marketers Need It?

User-Generated Content

People want to feel included, involved and important and as a company, you can use this to your advantage. Using user-generated content (also known as UGC) can boost a company’s brand awareness, brand loyalty and evoke a deeper sense of trust from customers. By incorporating user-generated content into your social media marketing strategies, you can boost your sales greatly. You will also show customers and users that you appreciate their support, improving your relationship with the public.

What Is User-Generated Content, Exactly?

As the name suggests, any content created by users of a product or service is UGC. This can be videos, photos, testimonials and even blog posts or tweets. It is a great way for users to interact with a brand and creates a lot of brand authority for a company.

People who have used a service or bought a product will share their experience on social media. If they are happy, they will gush and shower compliments on the brand and this kind of advertising is priceless. You can’t pay for that kind of publicity. (If you do, people will realise and won’t be impressed)

Why Use User-Generated Content?

You can see user-generated content as a type of word-of-mouth promotion of your brand. It is an organic and real-time referral and if you’re not using it, you’re losing out on an awesome marketing strategy. Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are some of the biggest users of social media and they’re the people you want to target with social media marketing plans. More than 80% of them feel that UGC shows off a brand’s quality. Social media posts influence about 68% of millennials when it comes to purchasing new brands, so you can’t discount the power of UGC.

What Makes User-Generated Content so Successful?

Keeping up with the trends of your audience can be difficult. We live in a fast-paced and digital world, and traditional marketing doesn’t always work. There are several reasons why UGC is such a big deal and makes a difference.

It Puts the Focus on Customers

People want brands who cater to them, and if they don’t find it with you, they’ll find it elsewhere. By showing your audience that you are taking notice of them, their needs and how they’re using your service/product, you’re reminding them that they matter.

Marketers Are Not Trusted

Users have become much more informed and if a company is using ‘slimy’ marketing tactics, they will know. And they will walk away. Sales tactics that are pushy won’t work – it doesn’t impress anyone. Marketers have to be relatable and make real connections for marketing to work. People are craving interactions and if a company can give them that, they will trust and support them. Research has shown that people between 18 and 35 can spend days browsing Instagram for food images. About 30% would not go to a restaurant if it doesn’t have a strong presence on the social media platform. This shows that users trust what they find on social media more than they’d trust a salesman.

User-Generated Content Is Authentic

Content that was created by real users and that shows real experiences have a lot of value to users, old and new. If people can see that a product works and pleases others, they are more likely to want it too. In general, more than half of consumers would rather buy from a company they consider to be authentic and honest than from a competitor they don’t see as ‘real’.

Benefits of User-Generated Content

It Is Cost-Effective

No team of marketers is behind user-generated content so there are no costs involved. You can use photos or videos of happy customers for free. Of course, you would need to ask permission first. Most people would love to have their content shared by brands, so getting permission shouldn’t be too difficult.

Expands Social Media Reach

User-generated content and social media go hand-in-hand. You can’t effectively make use of UGC if you don’t combine it with your social media platforms. You can do this by creating photo contests or hashtags on Instagram. It is one of the best platforms for UGC. You can even call for video content and create social media challenges on Facebook and Twitter.

Gain Audience Information

UGC can be more than just a visual marketing tool. It can also serve as a source of information on your target audience. By analysing the content your users share, you’ll learn key information. You will be able to understand your market better and adjust your marketing strategies appropriately. Your company can also develop better strategies on how to improve relationships with your audience.

Traditional Marketing vs UGC Marketing

Times have changed and people are not as passive as they used to be when it comes to advertising. They are more active (and fussy) in their decisions and what influences them. Traditional advertisements could fall short, especially in reaching your target market. The buying process has changed and using methods from days gone by just doesn’t work anymore. On the other hand, user-generated content has become a great way to show the world that people trust your brand.

With that said, you have to approach UGC marketing the right way. Which brings us to the next point – how to successfully use social media to promote your company.

How To Use User-Generated Content To Your Advantage

A study has found that a combination of UGC professionally created content can drive sales. So how do you make the most of this kind of content?

Spark Brand Desire

You can make people want to use your brand by sharing user-generated content that taps into emotions. If someone shared a post or video that will make viewers a bit jealous of that experience, it will make for amazing advertising. If people can be left feeling like they’re missing out because of a photo or video, you’ve got a goldmine in brand desire. Show people how unique and good your product or service is, share real people’s experience with it and you’re on the right track.

Inspire Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is very important in keeping people interested in your company. One of the best ways to inspire loyalty is to build long-term relationships. By sharing user-generated content that shows this relationship with your customers will lead to more people becoming loyal supporters. It is a win-win cycle that (hopefully) doesn’t end. The UGC you’ll share will most likely come from fans of your brand – this will spark new interest and loyalty. Sharing content created by users will also show people that you are engaged with the public – always a good thing.

Things To Remember


You should never use people’s content without getting proper permission to do so. Even if it’s just a photo, you need to make sure you have the owner’s consent. Not only will you prevent any issues with the owner, but you’ll also look good. When you have asked for permission to share someone’s content, it shows you appreciate what they created. It also creates excitement and makes people see your brand as one that cares.

Make It Worth Their Effort

You want a steady stream of user-generated content and for that, you have to give people a reason to create it. Offering them something in return is a great way to keep the content coming. This doesn’t mean you should pay users or give them prizes all the time. Instead, offer something like a social media contest once in a while. Most people just want likes and the chance to be featured by a popular brand.

Be Clear

Make sure that your audience knows what kind of content you want. User-generated content creators want their stuff to be shared. But for that to happen they should know what you need from them. It has been found that only about 16% of brands give clear guidelines of what they want to share. If you want the best content, be specific. Keep in mind that for you to be specific, you have to have an idea of what your marketing strategy needs. There’s no point in sharing UGC that won’t fall into your strategies.

Examples of Successful User-Generated-Inspired Campaigns

Many companies were great at using content created by their supporters and fans to grow their brand. You can take a look at what they did to get an idea of how to do it and get results. Of course, your approach will be a bit different. You can learn from the following examples and adjust your plans to include your new knowledge. 

The Ice Bucket Challenge

Who doesn’t know about this challenge? The ALS Association created one of the biggest and most successful user-generated content campaigns of all time in 2014. They roped in millions of people all over the world and created massive brand awareness. The challenge called on people to share videos of ice-cold water being poured onto people who would nominate the next challenger. An opportunity to donate was part of the challenge and it showed just how to run a brilliant campaign. The Association managed to get 3 million donors, exceeding expectations.

Share a Coke

Although Coca-Cola needs no introduction, it launched a very successful campaign when it got consumers involved with the Share a Coke experience. The whole world got involved with the personalised bottles – no one even had to be asked. People shared pictures of bottles (or cans) with their names on them and  Coca-Cola got massive publicity for free.

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Paul Walker ❤️ “““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““ ❗This post was shared in memory of @paulwalker. “““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““ ❗This post has been shared with the required permissions. “““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““ ❗All rights of this post are reserved and belong to @paulwalkerstory. “““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““ ❗Our Instagram partner @paulwalkerstore. You can follow! “““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““ #PaulWalker #PaulWalkerForever #PaulWalkerTribute #ForPaul #ItsNeverGoodbye #RIPAngelWalker #RIPAngelPaul #ForeverInOurHearts #LegendsNeverDie #PaulWilliamWalker #PaulWilliamWalkerIV #PaulWalkerLove #BrianOConner #FastFamily #Family #FastAndFurious #TeamPaulWalker #TeamPW #ForeverPaul #BlueEyesAngel #WeLovePaul #ILoveYouPaul #AlwaysInOurHearts #WeLovePaul #LovingPaulWalker #LovePaul #WeWillNeverForgetYou #TheFastAndTheFurious #ShareACoke

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Both of these campaigns display the power of involving your users in your marketing. Despite ending the campaigns long ago, people are still continuing to share content related to it. It’s can be assumed the marketing teams behind these ideas marked their campaigns as very successful.

Possible Challenges

There are a few things to watch out for when you’re incorporating user-generated content into your marketing strategy. However, if you are aware of the problems, you can be prepared and avoid any messes. Keep the following in mind:

Monitoring Content Can Be Tricky

When you’re calling on people to share their content and associate it with your brand, you are opening yourself to some issues. It can be difficult to keep a track of all the content, which can lead to tarnishing that you’re not aware of. Whether people are uploading content to your social media platform or your website, you should do your best to have a team monitoring everything. This way, you can deal with inappropriate behaviour and content much easier.


Because user-generated content is owned by the creator, you need to tread carefully. As mentioned, you should ask for permission before sharing anything. It is also a good idea to properly acknowledge the owner. 

Fake Users

It can be difficult to ascertain why fake users would make their way into your campaign, but it does happen. It can result in unreliable information being shared and your brand’s trustworthiness can be affected. You should do your best to keep an eye on content shared and fake users that may pop up. A good way to deal with this is to provide ‘authenticity badges’ to users to differentiate between real ones and fake ones.

Support Is Necessary

You can’t allow all content to just be uploaded or shared – your marketing team needs to review as much as possible. This will help you separate the good quality content from the rubbish and nonsense. As with all marketing, UGC campaigns should be run professionally.


Now you know just how valuable user-generated content is and how it should be approached. If you make it part of your social media campaign, you will reap many rewards. Add to that a tool such as SocialPlanner to manage your plans and ideas, and you’ll be on a winning road. SocialPlanner will enhance the effectiveness of your strategies and execute them well. The value of UGC has been noticed in recent years and you should be making it part of your marketing. If you don’t, there’s a whole world of potential that you’re missing out on.

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