User Generated Content: Creating, Curating, and Sharing Customer Conversations

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The digital (and IRL) universe is filled with brands that spend enormous budgets on perfectly curated content, beautifully crafted videos, and A-List collaborations and partnerships.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but as marketing progresses into a place where consumers have control over the conversation surrounding a brand, we all must adapt our strategies. Big budget campaigns are great, but building intimate relationships with our communities as a whole, and individually, are what’s most important.

With consumers in the drivers seat, User Generated Content (UGC) should be a key part of your overall marketing strategy. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have consumers promote our brands organically, rather than having to spend enormous budgets promoting it ourselves?

User Generated Content is not just another marketing buzzword. 86% of millennials say that UGC is a good indicator of the quality of a brand, and 68% of social media users between the ages of 18 and 24 take into account information shared on social media when making a purchasing decision.

It’s easy to see why UGC is so powerful.

user generated content

Defining User Generated Content

User-generated content is basically content related to a brand that is voluntarily produced by its customers. Customers who have good experiences with your brand are motivated to inform their peers by sharing their experiences. It can refer to pictures, videos, testimonials, tweets, blog posts, and everything in between and is the act of users promoting a brand rather than the brand promoting itself. Referrals are one of the cheapest and fastest ways to expand your customer base.

User Generated Content vs Traditional Marketing

UGC provides authentic information about a brand’s products and services from previous customers, saving resources and boosting brand credibility.

With an average of 60 million images uploaded to Instagram daily, UGC is among the hottest—not to mention most scalable—ways for marketers to showcase products, celebrate fans and drive revenue online today.

Take into account that consumers are considerably less passive than they used to be when it comes to advertising. They are also more active in the decisions they make, who they follow and listen to on social, and who they choose to buy from and engage with.

Consumers are actively choosing to bypass ads with paid subscriptions for their favorite services (Netflix, Spotify, HBOGo, NY Times – should I keep going?).

Enhance Your Brand Experience

Competing in today’s digital landscape is no easy task. Aside from keeping up with giant brand competitors, brands are expected to stray from the norm and break digital ground.

The expectation to be present on multiple channels and serve unique and engaging content has become a standard, not a plus.

UGC has successfully helped brands build an identity and community that speaks to their consumers’ lifestyles.

Building Trust

Users crave stories, connection, and interaction with other humans. A byproduct, perhaps, of the increasing amount of time we spend in front of a computer screen?

Nonetheless, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from others, even people they don’t know, over branded content.  70% say online reviews are their second-most-trusted source, and 47% of U.S. readers consult blogs to keep tabs on trends and ideas. All of this to say, people trust people, and that is the power of UGC.

Building Community

Instead of creating a separation between brand and consumer, UGC brings people together.

One of the benefits of using UGC that can never be overstated is building a loyal customer fan base. This is even better when you share your customers’ content—both photos and videos—across all platforms, and even within your advertising campaigns.

It’s common knowledge that people enjoy feeling like they are a part of something. Social psychologists MacMillon and Chavis formed a theory they call “Sense of Community” and established four factors that contributed to this theory.

  1. Membership
  2. Influence
  3. Integration and fulfillment of needs
  4. Shared emotional connection

Using UGC not only builds a loyal fan base, but it helps your fan community feel like they are an integral part of your brand.

Final Thoughts

The average person wants to feel a real human connection. UGC is the simplest way to do it – at scale.

How are you incorporating UGC into your content strategy? Let us know in the comments below!


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Brooke B. Sellas is the in-the-trenches Founder & CEO of @HelloBSquared, an award-winning social media, advertising, and social media customer care agency. She's also the author of Conversations That Connect -- a book all about social listening and social media customer care. Brooke's marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on the socials!
Category: Content Marketing
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