Understanding User Generated Content

Understanding User Generated Content


When I was a teenager, I was addicted to Nirvana. I showed my love for my favorite band by creating t-shirts or a zine that had every picture of them in existence. Little did I know I was a key player in their marketing strategy.

It’s called User Generated Content (UGC) and you can use it for your startup to increase brand awareness.

UGC capitalises on the user community you’ve been striving to build. It’s simply an extension of your goals to increase engagement, but you also get the bonus of increased sales and awareness.

What is user-generated content?

UGC is exactly what it sounds like–content generated by the user. Any content–blog post, videos, photos, tweets, etc–that is generated by the user counts as UGC. Basically, it’s anything not created by a brand.

But brands can stoke the virtual fire a bit by creating user-generated campaigns. The genius behind user-generated content is that you’re letting your fans do your marketing work for you at no cost to you.

User-generated content can also be used for product launches, to promote a new feature, etc. What you need is to make the most out of your community. There’s too much potential to ignore.

Why should you use it?

  • Optimizes search engines. SEO is driven by how many people are talking about your brand. UGC increases that brand chatter, increasing your Google ranking.
  • 92% of consumers trust earned media (word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family) over every other type of advertising.
  • 64% of millennials vs. 53% of boomers think companies should offer more ways to share their opinions online in the future – and they’ll continue to participate. (Source: Brazaar Voice)
  • Did we mention that it’s free?

When should you request UGC?

It’s best to start when you have an established community that is highly engaged. The point of a UGC is its virality. If no one shares things related to your brand, then there is no point. This is where campaigns come in. Having a special event will excite users, giving them an incentive to submit content. But when it comes to campaigns, there are legalities to consider. Each platform has their own rules regarding contests and sweepstakes, so check to make sure you aren’t overstepping legal boundaries.

Learn from Threadless, a community that showcases independent designers t-shirt and apparel designs. They provide “community recognition and curation plus the ability to possibly monetize creations if voted to the top.” In their case, their entire product model rests on UGC content, but without their engaged community, their model wouldn’t be successful.

Ways to get UGC

  • Request comments on blog posts, articles and/or web pages. Have a clear call-to-action (“Let us know what you think about X topic in the comments!”)
  • Ask for permission to share testimonials, success stories and case studies.
  • Initiate and participate in social media conversations and forums, like Twitter chats and Quora.
  • Ask questions outside of formal channels, in hopes of sparking an engaging discourse.

Above all, make it easy for users to submit content. The easier it is, the more likely they’ll participate. Get inside the users’ heads and think of why they would want to post or submit content. Is it because they want to feel heard, let off steam, get a reward, be apart of a community or a combination of all? It’s up to you to analyze your users and figure that out.

Tips on making the most out of your UGC

  • Choose a place to live online. You need to have infrastructure in place to catalogue the stream of UGC. An easy way to do that is by designating a hashtag, so that no matter what the content is–video or photo–users can find the content all in one place.
  • Integrate the content with your marketing strategy. This can be done by using a user-generated photo or one created by you and overlaying a testimonial or a flattering social media post over the photo. Showcase this testimonial on your website or social media website.
  • If you choose to have users submit photos of them using or trying your product, link those photos to their respective product pages. This way your UGC is connected to your revenue.

What strategies for getting user-generated content work for you? Let us know in the comments.


What do you think?

One Comment

92% of consumers trust earned media – That is the power of PR. The End!