How & Why to Incorporate User Generated Content into Your Marketing Strategy

user generated content child offering flower

Wikipedia defines user generated content (UGC) as “any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements and other forms of media that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites”.

In other words, content not from YOU.

The Power of UGC

Keeping a steady stream of content flowing via your blogs, email, website, and social media is a huge task. Keeping it compelling is even…more huge!

That’s why part of your marketing and engagement strategy HAS to be generating content from your audience. It’s important because, as DMN reports:

  • 59% of millennials say they use UGC to inform their purchase decisions about major electronics. That’s followed by cars (54%), major appliances (53%), mobile phones (46%), hotels (45%), and travel plans (40%).1
  • 70% of consumers place peer recommendations and reviews above professionally written content.2
  • Pinterest pin creation is up 75%, Twitch video broadcasts are up 83%, Wattpad stories are up 140%, and Airbnb reviews are up 140% year-over-year.3
  • 65% of social media users from ages 18 to 24 consider information that’s shared on social networks when making a purchasing decision.4
  • 84% of millennials report that UGC on company websites has at least some influence on what they buy.5
  • 86% of millennials say that user-generated content is generally a good indicator of the quality of a brand or service.6
  • Brand engagements rise by 28% when consumers are exposed to both professional content and user-generated product video.7

Why Do Audiences Share?

70% of sharers do so because they believe other consumers care about what they think. (And with stats like those above, they’re right!)

UGC sharers are motivated by:

  • Reputation – People like to be associated with certain brands or perceived as being “in the know.” Many are attempting to build their own brand and platform via sharing.
  • Exclusive access – Sharing sometimes has its perks!
  • Co-creation – Many people love contributing to the body of knowledge and content the world’s platform–the Internet–provides.
  • Competition – Social status in the form of likes, shares, or even just online bragging rights are the spark that ignites users’ impulse to share opinions, knowledge, experience or creativity.
  • Altruism – If someone had a bad experience, they want to make sure others know what they’re getting into with that brand. They recognize that their opinions are what makes sites like Yelp, Airbnb and Amazon trustworthy, and feel they’re being “part of the solution.”

Kinds of UGC to Seek

Social media engagement – We’ve said it many times before: Getting people to comment on and share your content (even the content you’ve shared from others) is highly valuable. For just a few dollars, you can boost highly-engaged posts so even more people see them.

ImagesPhoto contests and sharing are popular! When you need an image for a blogpost or other content, don’t get stuck with stock imagery. Instead, host opportunities to collect and showcase (with permission) user’s images, such as through:

  • Onsite displays (Set up a monthly display and let people vote on their favorites!)
  • Displays on website or other digital platforms (How about a user image of the day or week? i.e. Frost Bank posts a new user photo of scenes of Texas daily on their website and mobile app.)
  • Calls (or contests) on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for images on certain topics (i.e. “Funniest picture from last session.”), with the winner being determined by number of likes.
  • Email newsletter containing customer or employee images of the week. (ACTIVE’s internal ACTIVEx program sends out a weekly newsletter to the entire company with images and descriptions of what employees did over the week to stay active.)

Guest blogging – If a customer exhibits passion on a topic related to your industry, ask them to articulate their thoughts in a blogpost!

Complaints – Complaints?! Hopefully, users aren’t generating complaints about your organization or service, but if they are, you want to seek them out and address them! Consider those who complain a gift, as we discuss here.

Think Outside the Camp (or Class)

A great user generated content strategy isn’t necessarily getting your audience to talk about you and what you offer. It’s about generating engagement, buzz, and conversation-starters on a variety of topics — on your platforms.





3Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers