How User-Generated Content Helps Businesses Thrive

Feeling like your content distribution efforts are not really paying off? More and more brands are trying to boost user engagement metrics through user-generated content. Should you try it too?
 

In the world of digital marketing, everything revolves around distributing content. Brands want to reach a bigger audience to scale their engagement rate metrics and boost their sales, increasing their revenue at the same time. However, the quality content itself might not be enough. 

User-generated content (user-generated content) is by no means a new or innovative technique. Yet, it is one that brand and marketing experts have progressively started to use more and more in recent years to increase their chances of reaching a broader audience. 

In a report released in 2010 by McKinsey research, it is written that more than twice as many sales are produced by word-of-mouth marketing than by paid advertising. Albeit old news, it is still true that word-of-mouth marketing continues to hold a tight grasp on consumers' desire to purchase. 

User-generated content is a creative practice for marketing experts to advertise brands because, in a way, it is a type of word-of-mouth marketing. After all, what better way to induce more word-of-mouth marketing than having your clients spend their time and efforts creating content for your brand? 

With all this in mind, we are here to unravel the full potential of user-generated content and show you how to create an actionable and result-driven user-generated content campaign. Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Looking for a service provider? Check out Top Design Firms' list of leading digital marketing companies

Key Takeaways
Here are the most important takeaways from this article. 

  • User-generated content is considered more authentic than brand-generated content by the general public.
  • User-generated content is a natural booster for generating brand loyalty.
  • Photos are the easiest way to create user-generated content, yet videos are becoming more and more popular.
  • You can’t run a successful user-generated content campaign without setting your goals first. 
  • Creating guidelines for the audience will help them know what you want and if they are on the right track.
  • Always ask the creators for permission before you reshare their content and don’t forget to give credit when it’s due.
Need help selecting a company?

Based on your budget, timeline, and specifications we can help you build a shortlist of companies that perfectly matches your project needs. Schedule a free consultation with an analyst.

Free Consultation

What Is User-Generated Content?

The term user-generated content comes with quite a self-explanatory definition. It is essentially the process of getting your fans, followers, customers, or potential clients to engage with your brand by creating content for you. Companies don't produce user-generated content, yet they might ask their audiences to do so. 

Experts and marketing gurus consider user-generated content a free advertising approach businesses can use, as unpaid contributors produce the content. user-generated content may come in a variety of shapes and forms - videos, photos, etc. We will talk about the different types of user-generated content in a bit. But now let’s see two examples of how businesses might use user-generated content. 

For instance, Business organizations may request their staff to create content promoting the firm, its values, and the benefits of working there so that more people apply for open positions. 

Beauty companies often try to fuel their brand campaigns through user-generated content by asking influencers to try their products and share their opinions with the public to increase sales. 

This enables brands to reach their audiences through different placements, including web, mobile, connected TV (CTV), and audio, via vloggers’ activity through TikTok, Instagram, VlogBox, Spotify, and other large marketing platforms.

Others might even create competitions fueled by user-generated content to increase brand awareness and recognition among the common public. 

All this makes us wonder: Are we entering a new era? One wherein user-generated content is slowly yet unmistakably becoming another common content distribution channel?

If so, why are suddenly so many companies going through the lengthy process of creating a campaign? Is getting more brand-specific content from the audience as beneficial as it sounds? Let's find out.

4 Benefits of User-Generated Content

One of the things all brands are fighting for is fueling brand-customer interactions. If done right, user-generated content campaigns are a surefire way to increase engagement rates in your social media accounts. But how does that happen?

Benefits of User-Generated Content

  1. Increases brand loyalty
  2. Serves as social proof
  3. Boosts Authenticity
  4. It’s Free

Increases Brand Loyalty

User-generated content increases brand loyalty and makes it easier to build a community that lasts. By releasing a user-generated content campaign, you invite your customers and followers to become part of the growth process. From simple spectators of your brand's journey, they become valuable contributors. 

This sense of involvement they get increases their affinity towards the brand, consequently establishing the foundations of their loyalty. 

Serves as Social Proof

Remember how we talked about the power of word-of-mouth marketing? Imagine you are a person looking to purchase a specific product or book a service - what would you do - ask your close ones for recommendations or rely on the ads you see on the web?

If you'd rather ask your family and friends, you are like 92% of the tested respondents in the Nielsen research. According to the survey, 92% of the participants reported that they don't trust any other form of advertising more than personal recommendations from people they know. 

With that in mind, user-generated content not only gets your product shown to a broader audience but also serves as social proof. Your audience taking precious time to create content for you is a sure sign that they like your offerings and are ready to recommend them to others. 

Boosts Authenticity

Similarly to the idea of social proof, user-generated content helps you appear more authentic in the eyes of your potential clients. No need to even mention how crucial authenticity is for today's buyers. 

With the market being more saturated than ever, buyers are now more selective and take a lot of time looking for brands that correspond with their values, beliefs, and ideas. 

Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to believe user-generated content than brand-generated content. The reasons? They find it more authentic and believable. 

It's Free 

Apart from all the other benefits, there's one more thing that makes user-generated content such a good deal. It provides you with loads of free content you can use. We will discuss the regulations and best practices of using user-generated content for your benefit later in our article, so be sure you will not miss it. 

The audience that produces user-generated content doesn't just do it only to showcase your products and how good they are. Most creators do it, hoping you will reshare it, giving them a chance to gather an audience of their own by doing so. It is a win-win situation for both sides!

Types of User-Generated Content

In the era of social media and digital marketing leading the way, it is unsurprising that more and more types of user-generated content continue to emerge. 

With that said, let's look at the most popular types of user-generated content and how and when you can use them. 

Types of User-Generated Content

Reviews and Testimonials 

Whether good or bad, reviews are a popular type of user-generated content. People like to be asked to describe their experience with a product or service and will happily do so. While what they have to say may not be what you want to hear, the more reviews you've got behind your side, the better. 

How you handle critique is an even more critical indicator for your potential customers than how you respond to positive reviews. 

Don't be afraid of what people will write for your business. As long as you are respectful toward the audience's opinion, this type of user-generated content will do more good to you than harm.

Additional reading, ‘6 Tips for Increasing Online Positive Reviews.’

Guest Blogging

Although video format is becoming more and more preferred these years, there's still room for blogging. People still read blogs to find valuable information, so don't hesitate to create a blog section on your website. 

Not only will it boost your SEO efforts, but opening the doors to guest bloggers will also help you appear more truthful and authentic in your followers' eyes. 

Whether it's a detailed product review, a new point of view, or anything in between, a guest blogger will bring life to your blog section, consequently your brand building. 

Videos

Short or long - it doesn't matter - videos are here to stay. Being better attention grabbers than all other formats grants them a special place in any social media strategy.

With that in mind, the video format is often incorporated in different user-generated content campaigns - whether it be video reviews on YouTube or short stories on Instagram. 

For example, Dove’s #nodigitaldistortion campaign combats the pressure of social media and advocates for body positivity using video and images. 

Dove #nodigitaldistortion campaign

Source

Rather than using models, Dove used images of women that used the hashtag to enhance their brand image. 

Photos 

Indubitably the most common type of user-generated content, photos can bring any brand campaign to life. Most people will easily snap a quick photo and post it without thinking about editing, composition, or following photography guidelines in general. While this may not qualify for the shareable content you need, it will do the job of promoting it to other people, which in the end, is one of your goals.

How to Create a Successful User-Generated Content Campaign?

Now that we've covered the basics of user-generated content and the most popular types - let's see how you can execute a prospering campaign for your business.

Create Specific Goals

You can't do anything marketing-related without articulating and defining your goals. user-generated content campaigns make no exception to this rule. The more specific your goals are, the better your results will be. 

Whether you want to boost conversions, increase engagement, educate your audience or gain their trust, make sure you have your goals written so you can track them more easily. 

Select Relevant Social Networks

Now that you know your goals, it's time to pick the channels on which you will launch your user-generated content campaign. What social media network works best for your business? Analyze the different audiences on your social media accounts and choose where you will position your campaign. 

That's what Shakira did when she launched a user-generated content campaign got viral on TikTok. 

Shakira's viral tikrok challenge
Source

Unlike Twitter or Instagram, TikTok is perfect for video challenges. 

Different networks set the tone for different kinds of content. So think carefully if your campaign will be photo or video-oriented. But whatever it is, always brainstorm a catchy hashtag to get all your content in one place.

Be Clear on the Rules

No matter what content you decide on, you must always be clear about it with your audience. Do you want photos of your product? Do you want people to do something fun and creative with your products? Be specific about what you want. 

That's how you ensure that people know they are doing what you want them to. It will help you avoid situations when they feel like they've wasted time creating something you don't like. 

Don't come up with ideas and guidelines that are too difficult for the general public to follow. Most people don't have the resources to create professional content, so don't set the bar too high. 

The best way to let your audience know what you want is to show them. Always lead by example and offer help and instructions to the audience if needed.

Use Stats to Analyze Your Results

Finally, analyze your results. Look at the stats, and see what worked well and what you might have to change for your next user-generated content campaign.  

Best Practices for Utilizing User-Generated Content 

So you got your content. Your audience advertised you to those that follow them - great. Now what? You go through all the content (the more you've generated, the better your campaign was) and start thinking this piece would make a terrific advertising post or that piece would perfectly match my Instagram layout. 
 
If you find good shareable content, you did a great job. But before you rush to download and reuse or upload it, always think about the person who created it. Reach out and ask them if they permit you to use the content and to what merits they allow you to do so.

GoPro Instagram Post

Source
 
A simple "Thank you for your time and content! We love it! How would you feel about us re-sharing it on our page? Please let us know." will always open plenty of doors for you and make a positive impression on your audience. 
 
Once you get permission, always give credit when it's due. Tagging the person on the content is a must for two reasons:

  1. It shows the creator the respect they deserve; 
  2. It indicates to the other followers that an authentic person created your content.

Often companies thank their audience for the content, together with the time and effort put in by them, by hosting a Giveaway or a contest with real prizes.

Utilize User-Generated Content to Grow Brand Trust

Running a user-generated content campaign is as complicated a task as it might sound, but it does come with some mistakes beginner marketers might make. Now that you know what user-generated content consists of, you are ready to rock a whole campaign yourself! Go and make your audience willingly work for you. 

Additional Reading 

Need help selecting a company?

Based on your budget, timeline, and specifications we can help you build a shortlist of companies that perfectly matches your project needs. Schedule a free consultation with an analyst.

Free Consultation