The Rising Tide of User-Created Media in Digital Marketing

Ever discovered the perfect pair of shoes via a Facebook ad and shared the joy on your feed? Or perhaps you’ve live-tweeted the thrill of unboxing the latest kitchen gadget?

Unbeknownst to you, you’ve participated in a widespread movement called user-generated content (UGC), alternatively known as consumer-generated content.

User-Generated Content

So, Exactly What is UGC?

UGC encompasses all original content related to a brand’s products or services, created by consumers rather than the brand. This broad category includes tweets, online reviews, blog posts, videos, podcasts, unboxing experiences, forum discussions, and product showcase images. Often, the most impactful UGC originates from devoted brand enthusiasts, those deeply invested in the brand’s story.

The Importance of UGC for Brands

Recognising the value of UGC is crucial in today’s competitive market. As Hootsuite point out, it empowers customers to be active participants in a brand’s narrative, ultimately building a stronger  sense of allegiance and community. Unlike traditional brand-centric content, UGC is all about authenticity and real-life experiences, stripping away exaggeration and fakery. It echoes the timeless impact of word-of-mouth recommendations, a staple strategy when it comes to influencing consumer behaviour. But what specific advantages does UGC offer?

1. Providing Credible Social Validation

Social proof (essentially others’ endorsements of a product or service) is a powerful tool in shaping potential buyer decisions, as people inherently trust other consumers over marketers. UGC, being akin to advice from friends or professional networks, boosts consumer confidence as it allows products to appear more relatable and as result, desirable. In fact, a recent Stackla survey indicates that 60% of consumers’ purchasing decisions are swayed by content from their social circles.

2. An Infinite Source of Genuine, Unscripted Content

Brands that embrace UGC demonstrate their commitment to open, two-way customer dialogues, and so foster deeper consumer connections. Let’s take Sugar Factory for instance, hailed as one of the most Instagrammed eateries in the U.S. With their stunning array of fancy menu items naturally encouraging customer content creation, the company’s UGC has effortlessly outperformed their traditional advertising efforts. Outlining this, company partner Tom Recine explains that “Pretty much every single table will have their camera out because they see something they think is fantastic.”

3. A More Human Connection

With 4 in 5 consumers considering ‘community’ highly important to brand engagement, it’s clear that the basic human need for belonging can be nurtured through UGC, creating a community around shared passions and welcoming individual voices. This community-driven buzz directly fuels active brand participation, while sparking a variety of creative content that boosts online traffic, engagement, brand visibility, and conversions too.

Harnessing and Utilising UGC

Brands typically monitor UGC by tracking hashtags or through brand mentions, although activity can be monitored via more-direct methods including competitions, or campaigns with branded hashtags to inspire user participation. Additionally, you can engage followers through interactive captions featuring compelling CTAs. For example, an airline could ask their followers to take a holiday selfie, wearing branded bucket hats, given out as a promotional freebie in-flight.

However, it’s imperative for brands to seek explicit permission from individuals before repurposing their content, as to adhere to ethical standards. Once obtained, UGC can be utilised across digital platforms and physical stores, lending a human touch and fostering trust. Featuring UGC on product pages or in email marketing campaigns is also very common, leveraging personal recommendations to promote products or services.

The 2012 Coca-Cola ‘#ShareACoke’ campaign serves as an outstanding example of successful UGC. This innovative campaign featured over a thousand first names on Coke products, inspiring individuals to share their experiences through photos, videos, and posts, whether with friends, family, or solo. Its phenomenal success was evident in the initial results: 76,000 virtual Coke cans were shared, Facebook traffic surged by 870%, and 170,000 tweets were posted by 160,000 fans, showcasing the remarkable impact of UGC.

Choose Saturate as Your UGC Experts

In the unforgiving digital marketing landscape, brands thrive on the validation and attention given by their customers. UGC allows this customer satisfaction to be demonstrated publicly, in turn persuading others to join the customer base. Ultimately, this dynamic makes UGC an indispensable tool for modern marketers.

So if you need guidance on this matter – whether it’s how to curate or leverage UGC, don’t hesitate to reach out and start your digital marketing journey now. Give us a call, or fill out a contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our seasoned marketing veterans. Take advantage of our remarkable range of digital marketing solutions, and start flooding your market today.

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