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  • Writer's pictureJane Hayes Consulting

What Is User-Generated Content, And Why Does It Matter?

Updated: 19 hours ago

Learn about user-generated content and why it's so important for businesses today.

a collage of images with white spaces in-between. The images show customer social media posts for brands they love


Think about the last time you were online and saw a conversation happening on social media. Maybe you read a product review before making your purchase or saw someone post about their latest trip on Instagram. Chances are, at some point, you’ve interacted with user-generated content (UGC). UGC is any form of content created by users, as opposed to brands. This can include anything from text posts and photos to videos and live streams. It’s become an increasingly popular way for people to share their thoughts and experiences online, and businesses can reap the benefits by harnessing it for their own marketing efforts.


There are many benefits to user-generated content; it’s cost-effective as there are no significant marketing dollars going into content creation, and it’s authentic. Authenticity is a vital ingredient in any consumer-facing business and can make a difference when a customer is deciding whom to purchase from; who would you listen to more when deciding to purchase a brand or a customer? Modern customers are sick of the spin and want genuine connection and communication, and user-generated content assists with this through honest, real opinions and advice.


When we start bonding with brands at a young age, we traditionally do so through the advice and influence of people we know and trust, family and friends; UGC acts the same way. When we see someone who looks like our loved ones or us talking about a product or service’s attributes, we are likelier to listen than when we see a polished, highly-produced ad.


As business owners, we also know the pain of constantly trying to feed our social media channels. User-generated content is a great way to add a personal touch, but seek permission before doing so. Read below as we delve into What Is User-Generated Content, And Why Does It Matter?


If you are considering leveraging UGC, here are a few things you should consider:


• Be original and authentic.

• Share content created by a variety of users.

• Give your audience a sense of participating in a larger purpose or community.

• Make it memorable and entertaining.


“79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. (Stackla)”


What Is User-Generated Content (UGC)?

Simply put, user-generated content (UGC) is any type created by users rather than a brand or company. This could mean anything from blog posts and photos to tweets and videos. And as businesses continue to look for ways to connect with their audiences and create more engaging content, UGC has become an increasingly important tool.


Types of user-generated content:

User-generated content comes in many shapes and sizes; below, we will take you through a selection of types to assist you in your strategy.


Videos:

With the increase in popularity of reels and TikTok has come a stream of user-generated content videos. Viewers stream trying on products, doing make-up tutorials, and unboxing new purchases. Yitty, owned by the musician Lizzo has been a star in the category. They have created a strong community, with customers recording their try on’s and unboxing in droves.


Social media content:

Social media channels can be a gold mine of user-generated content for many brands. By partaking in social listening and using branded hashtags and brand tags, companies can track user posts and connect with their community.


Testimonials:

Testimonials are a great way to source user-generated content. They can be encouraged through the check-out process or through follow-up emails, where brands can encourage testimonials through incentives such as discounts and access to VIP services.


Product Reviews:

Product reviews can be very persuasive tools. Many customers choose to purchase from a brand after reading a brand or product review, so it’s vital to both encourage and capture them. Reviews can be encouraged during check-out, after purchase or via review platforms.


Live streams:

Live streams are a great way to generate user-generated content, as they allow viewers to interact with the brand in real-time. Go live with a new product drop, do a Q&A with ambassadors or your team and encourage your audience to ask questions and get involved.


Competitions:

Competitions are a great way to encourage user-generated content. Create a giveaway, design challenge or ambassador contest to encourage your audience to participate. You can monitor content through brand-specific hashtags, brand tags and specific software.


Why is user-generated content important?

User-generated content is important because it provides businesses with an opportunity to connect with their customers in a more meaningful way. It also allows viewers to have a more personal connection with the brands they love. In a world where social media dominates, user-generated content is key to building solid relationships with your audience.


“Millennials trust UGC 50% more than original content generated by the brands.”


The Benefits Of UGC:

1. It’s authentic - When your customers create content, it’s coming from their unique perspective. They’re not just reciting talking points that they heard from someone else. This makes the information more credible and trustworthy.


2. It’s engaging - People love seeing themselves or their friends featured on websites and social media platforms. When they see UGC featuring your products or services, they’ll be more likely to pay attention and maybe even convert into customers.


3. It’s viral - User-generated content tends to go viral faster than other types of content. This is because people are more likely to share things that resonate with them personally, and UGC often does just that. As a business, you can leverage this virality by sharing the best submissions on your own social media channels.


4. It builds trust - When potential customers see positive reviews and stories about your business from real people, it builds trust between you and them. This lays the groundwork for future sales transactions down the road.


5. It’s cost-effective - Generating user-generated content doesn’t require any special tools or software - all you need is an audience willing to participate. This makes it a very cost-effective way to engage with your customers.


“Millennials find UGC to be 35% more memorable than content that came from mainstream sources. “


Brands That Utilize User-Generated Content:


On a phone we see a social media post from a customer of Starbucks.

1. Starbucks White Cup Contest:

Launched in 2014, the Starbucks White Cup Competition was an annual event for US and Canadian consumers. The campaign was key to the sustainability strategy for the brand as the winning design would be printed in a limited run on a reusable cup designed to look like the brand's iconic paper version. Users were encouraged to create their design and then post it, linking to the brand's social channels to go into the running to win. The result was thousands of posts featuring an array of designs that helped feed the brand's social channels through the years it ran.



To help spread the word about Australia’s beauty and encourage tourism, Tourism Australia created a campaign focused on social media - #seeaustralia. They wanted to stimulate conversations through key platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest and help operators become more digitally savvy.


User-generated content is collected through their hashtag on Instagram, their handle on Twitter and their community groups on Facebook. It has resulted in millions of posts that capture big and small moments of life in Australia. The content makes you want to dive into crystal blue water, hike red deserts and explore cities, as the content tends to be unfiltered. You can feel the authentic enjoyment of the user, which is completely infectious.


“UGC increases conversions by 10% when included in an online purchase path. (Salesforce)”


A billboard for brand Apple shows a photo of a baby in the water in a floaty.

3. Apple: #ShotoniPhone:

Apple has always been forward-thinking in marketing, and its user-generated content strategy is no exception. Launching in 2014, each year, apple invites users globally to submit photos shot on the current generation of iPhone. A selection of photos is then selected by an expert panel and used across various mediums in apple campaigns globally. The use of user-generated content in these campaigns acts as proof of the quality of the camera and technology and helps create greater consumer confidence and brand trust.



4. Crocs TikTok Videos:

Crocs, the footwear brand so ugly, they’re cool! It’s safe to say that they have found their community and then some and have established themselves on social media with their quirky presence. Above, we see an example of user content connected to the corn song that swept TikTok this year. From the multiple colours and accessories, their community talk to the brand with love and speaks to their comfort and geek cheque status.


The brand has heavily invested in social media to elevate its position from fashion victim to a must-have accessory through its Come As You Are campaign. The campaign used the crocs community nicknamed CrocNation to encourage customers to spread the word and to encourage their critics to take another look. The campaign focused on user-generated content and influencers to drive the message home. The result has seen a gigantic shift in the brand’s perception and a cult following.

On a mobile phone we see a video froma customer for the brand Dove.

Dove has long since been focused on body acceptance and positivity, and it makes sense in these tech and filtered-focused times that they would turn their focus onto digital distortion. The campaign focused on the mass filter craze that has many young and old social media users filtering themselves and not loving the skin they're in.


Through the campaign, influencers and the general public have been lifting the filters to show the reality of skin to create a healthier digital world for young and impressionable minds through the hashtag #nodigitaldistortion.



A screenshot of Asos's as seen on me page
ASOS's As Seen On Me

6. ASOS: #AsSeenOnMe:

Launched in 2014, the As Seen On Me campaign featured on the ASOS website and social media channels. After making a purchase, customers could submit photos of themselves proudly displaying their wear through social media or the brand's website in the hopes of being featured. After feeding through internal systems, a selection of images was featured and linked to product pages.


Asos was ahead of its time in utilising user-generated content in 2014; to this day, the campaign lives on via social media. The strategic use of images by the brand also added to social proof as viewers could see people who looked like them wearing the clothes and accessories in real-life situations.


A social media post for brand Glossier

7. Glossier’s UGC Instagram Hashtag Campaign:

The cornerstone of Glossier’s marketing efforts is user-generated content. The brand prides itself on being accessible, so it opts for UGC over highly polished brand-created content. The resulting content is authentic, on-trend and intimate portraits of everyday people interacting with the brand’s collections. Glossier utilises its customer base and selects a variety of content creators to be brand ambassadors, along with influencers, to help spread the word on product drops and features. The Glossier community is strong, and according to Weiss, nearly 80% of Glossier’s customers are referred by a friend.


A screenshoot of Adobe showing create work.

8. Adobe:

Adobe has a long-standing and trusted relationship with its creative community and gives back through training, insights and displaying work from their users. Through their social channels, Adobe shares creative from their users that showcase the artist's creative skills and speak to the features of the brand's software. Through influencers and consumers, they collaborate for tutorials that showcase the brand's software catalogue and assist viewers in understanding how to use them.





Jane Hayes Consulting, Leading You Through The Digital World:

Jane Hayes Consulting is an independent digital marketing agency founded to help businesses create consistent, creatively aligned, and strategic content. Jane Hayes Consulting can help you put your best foot forward with our expertly crafted team covering website design and building, marketing strategy, content creation, brand creation, and project management. We work within budget restraints and look toward the future. Need assistance in developing your digital strategy and creating a business advantage? Contact Jane Hayes Consulting today and sign up for our newsletter.


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