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What’s more appealing: 

A company telling you its product is great, or a fan of the product telling you it’s great? 

When users see an unbiased opinion from another user, it gives them more insight into quality than the typical advertisement. So, as an e-commerce brand or marketer, how can you harness that influence? 

Enter user-generated content.

With user-generated content (UGC), brands can provide an authentic look at their business through the eyes of their users. An organic post from a satisfied customer helps provide social proof and sway other potential customers.

But the benefits aren’t limited to just customer reviews. User-generated content can also help engage your audience, foster community, and build brand awareness. 

By creating a comprehensive UGC marketing strategy, you can leverage your audience to help your business flourish.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

User-Generated Content Marketing

Why You Need a UGC Marketing Strategy

How To Get User Content

Starting Your UGC Strategy

User-Generated Content Ideas

Where To Use UGC Marketing

Best Legal Practices for Using UGC Marketing

Final Thoughts: What Is User-Generated Content? + Tips for UGC Marketing

User-Generated Content Marketing

As the name suggests, user-generated content is photos, videos, audio, and text created by your audience. Also called consumer-generated marketing or UGC marketing, it can be an excellent way to connect with your audience and collect content for future use.

UGC marketing can look several different ways. For example, a customer might post something on their feed with a brand’s product, as @thetinyherbivore did on Instagram with her morning coffee. In the post, she tagged @Starbucks, bringing the company’s attention to it. 

Screenshot of Instagram post from @thetinyherbivore

Since the post was on-brand and Starbucks liked it, the company reposted the photo on its Instagram account a few weeks later. 

Screenshot of Instagram post from @Starbucks

That is a quick, easy way to use user-generated content. Now, let’s take a closer look at how UGC can help your business. 

Why You Need a UGC Marketing Strategy 

There are myriad benefits of using user-generated content, such as: 

  • Engagement 
  • Sales
  • Brand awareness
  • Authentic content
  • Community building
  • Customer research 
  • Brand trust
  • Audience insights
  • Content variety
  • Collaboration
  • Time-saving 
  • Low cost 
  • Brand loyalty

With UGC, your users become brand advocates and help sway other people’s purchase decisions, improving your conversion rate. After all, good word-of-mouth can be powerful.

While traditional marketing efforts are essential, too much branded content can negatively impact your audience. Sprout Social found 60% of social media users get annoyed with too much promotional content. But user-generated content can help break up the noise. 

Moreover, a user-generated content campaign or something as simple as users retweeting funny brand posts can help increase engagement and make your audience feel included.

You can also use UGC to learn about your target audience or those you might not be targeting and should be. It can give you insights into opportunities your brand might be missing. 

Another way it helps is with content creation. Repurposing a post from a user is a time and money saver for your marketing team that can nicely complement your content or social media strategy. 

How To Get User Content 

There are multiple avenues for collecting user posts. Sharpen your social listening skills and use tools to help you monitor your brand mentions.

Encourage users to tag you in photos or to use a branded hashtag. Consider posting your hashtag in your bio or including a call to action (CTA) to keep the content coming. 

Screenshot of Aerie’s Twitter bio with a branded hashtag

A popular method to collect user-generated content is to host UGC contests or giveaways. For example, GoPro frequently posts user-made videos and gives prizes for the best entries. 

You can also offer explicit incentives like discounts or coupons for social media mentions or reviews. Social incentives like being featured on your page are also another great motivator. 

If you regularly share UGC content on your social channels, your followers become more invested in your account to see if their content gets reposted. 

Social media users want to be seen on other accounts. According to an Offerpop report, 60% of the surveyed consumers were motivated by UGC to have their content featured or liked.

Influencer marketing is another area worth exploring. With influencer content, you continue to show your brand through another lens, and your audience can see how others view and use your product. 

And don’t just go after big names. Micro-influencers can be invaluable to your business. If you see someone with a significant following using your product, you can reach out and harness their following with UGC.  

Starting Your UGC Strategy 

Now that you know how user-generated content can improve your company, here are some things to keep in mind when curating content for your UGC campaign.

Know What You Need

Before you start any project, it’s a good idea to get a sense of what you need. For example, are you looking for social media content, a new advertising campaign, or do you want to engage more with your audience?

Determining what you want will help you track down the right content and choose which type of content you need, including: 

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Text
  • Online reviews 
  • Comments
  • Blog posts
  • TikTok videos 
  • Tweets 

Be Specific

The Offerpop survey revealed 53% of consumers like it when brands tell them what to do. So, while it may feel strange to tell your audience exactly what kind of content you want from them, don’t be afraid to offer direction. 

That way, you get the high-quality, relevant content that you want. Consider posting content examples to give users something to work off.

Plan the Logistics

Gathering user-generated content across various social media platforms can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be if you have a proactive method for collecting and organizing everything you accumulate. 

You don’t want to come across an incredible social media post, forget to save it, and then need to root through a mountain of posts when you want to use it. 

User-Generated Content Ideas 

  • Reuse customer photos and videos
  • Product reviews and testimonials
  • User artwork 
  • Customer experience stories 
  • Case studies
  • Creative user ideas for your product
  • Unboxing videos 
  • Q&As or feedback
  • Support a cause with your users
  • Event content 
  • Influencer or customer takeovers
  • User holiday celebrations 
  • Resource library 

Where To Use UGC Marketing

User-generated content can come in handy just about anywhere, including: 

  • Advertising 
  • Social media feed/stories
  • Website landing pages
  • Pinterest board or Facebook album
  • Product pages
  • Instagram Stories Highlight
  • Campaign promotion 

You can use UGC marketing on various social media networks. 

Note that a survey by Visual Objects found that Instagram is ideal for UGC marketing, but don’t be afraid to mix it up on other social media channels. 

Many brands use stories as a way to share user-generated content. For example, Puma has a “Fit Check” Instagram story series where they share highlights from their fans. Plus, it also lives in its highlights section under its bio on Instagram, so the UGC is preserved longer than 24 hours.

Screenshot of Puma’s Fit Check story series

But more than just social media content, another way to use UGC marketing is with user-generated content advertising. With UGC advertising, your audience becomes an even more significant part of your company, and they feel permanently included. 

Consider creating a user-generated content marketing campaign where the whole point is to get users involved. For example, in its Love, Sleep & Play campaign, Pampers invited parents to share their baby’s sweet moments. 

Instead of hiring actors, Pampers took advantage of its actual users to promote its brand and connect with its audience authentically. 

See how your audience interacts with your product and use that to determine the best way to use their content. 

Before you share content from your UGC campaign on social platforms, consider the legality of what you’re posting. You must understand image copyright laws, especially if you plan on using UGC photos or content for commercial use. 

Moreover, ask content creators for consent before reusing their content. It’s something you can do quickly over direct messages, emails, or comments on their post. 

Screenshot of an Instagram post where Whole Foods is asking permission to use the photo

Even if you’re hosting a contest with a specific hashtag, for example, and you’re using a photo with the hashtag, it’s still a good idea to ask for permission. The user might not have seen the original contest post, and asking for permission saves you a future headache. 

And when you repost the content, always credit the user. 

If you’re hosting a contest or giveaway, it’s a good idea to draft a user-generated content policy for entrants. 

Make sure to seek legal advice for more detailed information. 

Final Thoughts: What Is User-Generated Content? + Tips for UGC Marketing

UGC marketing can be an easy, authentic way to engage your customers and build brand loyalty. With consumer-generated marketing, your audience is helping you build social capital and provide an authentic look at your business. 

Develop your social listening methods to collect UGC and use it on your website, social media, and advertising. But make sure to ask for permission and give credit any time you post it. 

UGC can help your digital marketing efforts and be a staple in any content or social media marketing strategy.   
Need help getting your UGC marketing campaign off the ground? Check out Bluehost’s professional marketing services today.

  • Machielle Thomas

    Machielle is a content enthusiast who has a passion for bridging the gap between audiences and brands through impactful storytelling. Machielle has also spoken at dozens of WordCamps throughout the years.

    Texas State University
    Previous Experience
    Brand Content, Content Marketing, Brand Lead, Operations Lead, Course Instructor
    Other publications
    Shopify, Contently
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1 Comment

  1. Authentic ugc Reply

    Genuine user generated content can help with your marketing strategy very nicely. A few tips can be lifesaving and content can be made according to customer interest. Thanks. Keep it up!

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