User-generated content (UGC) refers to anything created by a person and not a brand. UGC can be social media posts, blogs posts, videos, texts, and simple images.
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User-Generated Content: Why UGC is the new content marketing

User-generated content (UGC) can be a valuable form of marketing for brands, blogs, and platforms. Here's Why.

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Lori Ballen is a member of the Amazon Associates Program and earns money from qualifying purchases. Posts contain affiliate links that benefit Lori as well.

User-generated content (UGC) refers to anything created by a person and not a brand. UGC can be social media posts, blogs posts, videos, texts, and simple images.

The media landscape is rapidly changing. Included in that is how people consume media-related content. 

Along with the rise of social media platforms and the social network, the internet, has come a surge of user-generated content.

With these changes to the media landscape, there are also changes to how marketing campaigns work and how to reach out to potential customers successfully.

What is User Generated Content?

Also referred to as user-created content, user-generated content refers to media content that they share on a platform that they ultimately don’t own. 

In other words, people, not brands, produced the content. UGC is a common abbreviation for user-generated content.

There are a lot of reasons to produce or take advantage of user-generated content. 

This type of marketing campaign is often seen as more effective because it connects consumers with people they trust. 

That way, it doesn’t seem like an ad. Instead, it seems like advice on a product from a friend or a trusted figure.

What Does “Content” Refer to?

Content is a broad way of describing different types of media that people consume. That is to say, it doesn’t refer to one specific thing but anything that someone might think of as entertainment.

Today, the content that is being referred to is web-based content. That means blogs, videos and images, and social media posts are particularly common. In addition, web articles are a type of content that someone might read. 

Images and videos are types of UGC that can be easily posted to and shared on a company’s larger website.

Most user-generated content comes in blogs, social media posts, and community-driven reviews of products and services. 

As for how people consume media changes, these types of content surpass more traditional forms of media in how many people view them. 

Therefore, you can get more eyes on your marketing campaign by marketing in this new campaign.

Youtube is an excellent example of a platform built on user-generated content. Content creators there make videos sharing content that is interesting to them. 

The quality of their product can vary, but they can also connect with other people interested in the same things as them, despite brands not being involved.

Pinterest is a UGC-focused platform as well. On this platform, content that people have created is shared with other users who have similar interests. 

Each pin can reach a large audience because it is being shown to a segment of targeted users rather than a broad group of people who might not be interested in what is being offered.

Marketing campaigns through user-generated content are more effective because they allow consumers to see someone like them or whom they can relate to. 

If someone sees an ad for a product and decides if they want the item advertised based on that alone, there’s no connection between them and the person in the ad. They don’t see themselves as either the model featured or opposite them as another viewer. 

Instead, what happens with UGC is that they see someone who is like them, enjoying the same product. 

Then more people are likely to get excited about the ad because of this connection between them and the creator of it.

What does “User” Mean?

As you might have guessed, user-generated content refers to any type of content that consumers create on their own without any involvement from marketers or brands. 

Users have no marketing agenda behind what is being created but can be uploaded onto a brand’s website or shared through its social media pages. 

User-generated content is also referred to as user creations or user-created content in some cases.

Why Does User-Generated Content Work So Well?

The best type of marketing these days comes from a personal, almost organic feel. 

When marketers were the only ones creating content on social media such as Instagram and Facebook, it had more of an artificial feeling because many posts seemed like they were just ads. It wasn’t genuine content that people wanted to see or interact with.

As for why UGC is working better than anything else, it’s a matter of trust. If a brand has a user-generated post on its website, this serves as proof that users enjoy what the brand offers them. 

It helps humanize the brand because these are actual people doing these things instead of actors portraying characters in commercials and other advertisements. 

Seeing a post with someone’s picture and tagline of “I love _______(brand or product)” is likely to be more compelling than an ad for the same thing.

What Can Brands Do with User-Generated Content?

User-generated content can be used as part of a marketing campaign, but there’s also the potential to use it as social proof that your brand does offer great products or services.

UGC could work as testimonials from customers who have had positive experiences with your company. It could also serve as authentic reviews on your website instead of paid promotions from a third party. 

As far as how you can use user-created content, think about these ideas:

Testimonials and reviews: Letting the world know what you and your company offer is a great way to get things started. But it’s also vital to let people know why they should choose you over the hundreds of others out there like you or doing something similar.

User-generated content such as testimonials and reviews can help build trust between your brand and potential customers. 

Seeing that other people have had great experiences with your company, either through products purchased or services used, could make someone believe in what you’re offering them as well.

Social media outreach: For brands wanting to expand their reach on social media, user-generated content can also be a powerful tool in this instance. 

Not only will users who might not have been interested in your brand before be intrigued by what they see, but it could open up the potential for future sales.

Boosting website traffic or sharing ad campaigns: 

You can include UGC on your website to help boost visitors looking specifically for this type of content. Still, you could share user-generated posts from other sources through social media channels. 

You can get the word out about your business in a more authentic way than traditional ads.

UGC Suggestions for Brands

There are plenty of opportunities and benefits to using user-generated content in marketing and outreach efforts. 

Still, there are some things brands should keep in mind when doing so: It might not always be easy to find actual users to produce and upload content. 

Not everyone will want to do this, so if it’s something you’d like your brand or company to pursue, be sure that it’s a commitment you can stick with for some time. 

Also, keep in mind that UGC doesn’t need to involve actual people. 

For example, some brands choose to add more of a celebratory feel on their websites by sharing user-generated memes and other types of content that followers on social media might be comfortable creating themselves.

UGC Examples

We’ve shared just a few of the many ways users can get involved with generating and uploading their content online within the context of marketing and outreach efforts by businesses and other organizations:

A retail store posts customers’ selfies with products or signs, along with a hashtag encouraging others to do the same. 

A travel company’s website features testimonials from previous passengers about their experiences on vacations booked through the business.

A grocery store chain shares memes and videos of outside brands that use one of its ingredients in their products on social media.

Brands can encourage user-generated content by offering incentives on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

The brand can share posts containing UGC on its social media accounts or page, offering coupons for future purchases, or participating in giveaways for more users to get involved with UGC efforts.

The popularity of hashtags like #IGotFirst dents (where people upload images of themselves arriving at a destination before anyone else does) and #FoundInParis (where people upload pics of themselves in front of famous Paris landmarks) shows that there’s a lot of room for UGC creativity when it comes to travel.

It’s also worth noting that brands don’t have to limit their efforts solely to visual content. For example, General Electric encourages users to submit written pieces about the company through its website. 

These aren’t always published but are still considered user-generated content by GE since individuals outside the organization initially contributed them.

Marketing in User Generated Content

Many people love to produce and consume user-generated content because it makes them feel like they’re a part of a larger community. 

However, for content creators, being able to monetize is essential to continue to produce that content. For companies, this type of content also offers a new platform for their advertising campaigns to reach unique audiences.

Promoting Authenticity and Building Trust in Marketing

One of the biggest strengths in marketing through user-generated content is that it comes across to potential customers as more authentic. 

Think about a traditional ad that you might see on TV or in a magazine. They’re selling something to you. That isn’t true of ads created by other users, though, as they’re not associated with one particular brand.

Think about the relationship that consumers have with content creators. They tend to think of it as a friendship or, at the very least, like to know someone’s personality through their social media or blog posts. 

So, when a creator advertises something, it feels more honest. For instance, someone you trust because you feel like you’re in a community with them may have a beard. 

When they talk about shampoo for their beard, it seems more genuine to potential customers. That’s because that trust built up over time, which doesn’t come from more traditional forms of advertising.

This type of user-generated content also allows for reviews from a person, rather than a company that is just telling you how good their product is. It feels more natural. 

After all, most people look up reviews before buying a product or choosing a company for service. These types of online reviews act as a first impression, building confidence in potential customers.

Successfully Target Customers

Traditional forms of advertising can target customers to an extent. For instance, you can assume that a demographic watching a sporting event might be interested in athletic clothes. 

You’ll probably have more trouble when the nightly news comes on, though. However, with content creators, you’re able to target your audience than you might expect more accurately.

Think about it like this; there is often a thematic link that drives these communities together. For example, if an influencer on Instagram gained popularity through photos of their dog, the people who follow their page like pets. 

Most of those people likely have their own dog too. 

So, when that person advertises a type of grooming brush on their page, making a video to show how easy it is to use on their dog, then the people who see that post are the exact people who need to see that type of ad.

In this way, user-generated content is driving people’s purchasing decisions. These are products that they commonly see and are being recommended to them by people they trust. 

They’re even targeted towards the potential customer’s interests. So, of course, this will have a strong influence on people.

Show Off Your Brand

User-generated content also allows a company to help establish its brand. The establishment happens when creators who have A brand advertise or promote a product. 

Suppose someone commonly posts Instagram posts about makeup and has gained a following as someone who understands elegant makeup and fashion. In that case, when they post about a particular product, that product will get to share in the creator’s brand.

Furthermore, if someone sees someone they respect as fashionable, they will likely want to be fashionable like them. Thus, the use of the product indicates it’s part of what it takes to be trendy in some way. 

Because of this, these products are more likely to be sought out by potential customers.

From there, many people who aren’t generating highly viewed amounts of content are going to share products that they buy and are promoted by influencers they like and respect. 

In a way, they’re trying to show that they’re like the original promoter and derive some standing from them. 

For the product being advertised, though, it means that it’s going to be further promoted and seen within the type of community who would be interested in it.

A Large Backlog of Content That is Easily Shared

Over time, user-generated content will create a back catalog of promotions for a product or service online. 

New content doesn’t always need to be created, as it is already online and available for people to find.

Another good way to build up user-generated content quickly that promotes products is through the use of hashtags. 

A quick and easy hashtag that encourages customers to say something good about your company will create a surge in people who see the product or service being offered. 

For customers, it feels like they’re interacting with a community, but it’s showing off to other consumers who might be interested in what their posts are talking about.

UGC For Market Research

It’s essential to make sure that you look into user-generated content as a form of research on your product and not just an advertising tool. 

Simply put, there could be issues with your product that you don’t see because you’re just too close to catch any problems. 

So, by seeing and researching what people are saying about your product, you can know what people like and what can be improved.

Think about an airline that deals with a large number of reviews online for its services. If they look into these and see that customers aren’t happy with the options for in-flight snacks, they can adjust to what most customers are interested in for their food options.

Sharing User-Generated Content

The goal of a content creator is to reach as many consumers as possible to drive their success. It’s also what’s going to help more consumers see content that highlights your company. 

So, it’s imperative to share user-generated content.

It’s also a good idea to try and get consumers to create and share content. After all, without campaigns that make them want to share content, there may not be motivation for the average person to do so. 

Using campaigns to get consumers to use a hashtag is a great way to do this, but you need to be careful and have a clear vision for the type of content you want to be promoted. 

Sports teams do this all the time, asking fans to share their reactions or why they’re a fan.

Social Listening

Social listening is monitoring social media, blogs, and other forms of media for any mention of your brand. 

By keeping track of this, you fully understand what is being said about your company and how your brand is perceived.

It is also a great way to find user-generated content to share on your channels.

Before You Share User Generated Content

Different social media sites also make it easy to share posts so that these posts are easy for customers to find. For instance, Twitter will show trending items. 

That means that if you get enough people using your hashtag, then it will be available for anyone to see it, even if they don’t know anyone talking about the hashtag.

When it comes to sharing posts, you do have to be careful, though. 

Make sure that the person who posted about your product hasn’t posted in a way that you don’t want to associate with your company in the past. 

People tend to click on profiles, making it look like you’re promoting someone whose views go against your company mantra. You should also ask permission because not everyone loves the extra attention.

UGC For Bloggers

An essential part of blogging is getting readers to interact with your posts. It’s easier for people to promote the content you’ve created, but it also helps generate conversations that can help you make better content in the future.

Creating incentives for users to create UGC can be a great way to build trust and get people involved in creating more content. 

For instance, if you give away one free product or service per month on your blog that readers vote on, then they will want to vote on something they like because not only do they get free stuff, but other bloggers might use their nomination as well.

A popular website that uses UGC is Digg. This social media site is all about news, and people can submit stories that they’ve found interesting. 

They also can vote on which ones they like the best. 

The votes are fair because if the submitter likes their own story too much, other users will probably rate it negatively to balance out the playing field.

In Closing,

The importance of user-generated content is a crucial aspect of the future success of a business. User-generated content allows companies to be transparent and capitalize on what people want – whether information about their products, trying them out, or sharing pictures with friends. 

When brands share UGC, they build stronger relationships with customers because they’re showing that they care about their thoughts and opinions. In turn, this helps consumers feel heard, which builds brand loyalty through thoughtful feedback from real people who are using your product.”

Lori Ballen is an entrepreneur who makes money online through blogging, video, social media, and other content marketing strategies. She's a 6-figure affiliate marketer and coaches others on how to make money online. SEO, Search Engine Optimized Content is her specialty. Lori is the creator of Ballen Academy and owns a real estate business in Las Vegas, NV.

Lori Ballen

I teach bloggers how to grow their blog, and make money through multiple streams of income. From affiliate marketing, to building courses, I share 7 income stream strategies through blogging.

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