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User Generated Content: It Takes a Village to Raise a Business

August 26, 2022

In the marketing world, adaptation is key to business survival. Times are changing – just about constantly – and this requires a quick-on-your-feet approach to meeting and exceeding the expectations of customers and clients. These expectations and perspectives of a consumer base may be unique to your business. Still, society evolves together, which thankfully means that intelligent marketers can obtain a glimpse into the future by observing the past and analyzing where business content priorities need to be now to continue growth ahead. For example, it was not long ago when the direction of content creation reigned with a giant sparkling crown and promises of supermodels, celebrities, and luxurious lifestyles. Successful content is like looking into a mirror with purchasing desire born from a sense of realism. Modern consumers are appealing less to brands and more to people. They want to relate to a company and are more apt to purchase if they trust who is behind the curtain. So, what lies ahead in the future of marketing in an ever-changing business climate where consumers require trust, relatability, and transparency? Like a child, a business takes a village to nurture with user-generated content.

 

WHAT IS USER-GENERATED CONTENT?

User-generated content (abbreviated as UGC) is a form of content marketing that draws directly from the source: consumers. Although related in terms of individuals creating content, UGC is not the same as influencer marketing. Content generated from influencer marketing is typically paid – with a higher price for broader reach – and still relies on names and branding, as many influencers have leaped toward the fame of celebrities. There is a place for influencer marketing, but it still often appears similar to an advertisement that one would see on television or in a magazine, with an extensive audience opportunity but less individual trustworthiness. User-generated content, alternatively, is not a paid promotion. Instead, this content is created by users (with or without incentive) and placed in appropriate streams like advertising, social media, and even print marketing.

 

USER-GENERATED CONTENT IN SOCIAL MEDIA.

Although marketing is constantly evolving, perhaps there is not one more frequently changing than the world of social media. Demand for fresh ideas is constant in platforms where every brand, company, influencer, and celebrity is competing for attention in a pool of billions of people – a small fraction of which you are attempting to gain the interest of and interact with. While heavily branded posts and a quick grab from Google images used to suffice as content before, now your social media page is more akin to a storefront. Humorous memes and helpful tips have their place, but so do quality information and customer service. Consumers use social media to research potential businesses and connect with those to whom they are currently loyal. User-generated content on a social media page serves two essential purposes that drive research and connection. 1) UGC in the form of quotes from reviews, snippets from videos (YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, and more), and links to blog posts can be crafted into graphics or posted directly onto the page to emanate trust to those “on the fence” about making a purchase. 2) UGC inspires brand loyalty by motivating those who already love a business to create content to be featured. This facilitates a cycle of content creation where information is posted for all to view and then inquires for others to share their opinions. Social media is about community – and UGC harnesses this power for mutual satisfaction.

 

USER-GENERATED CONTENT IN ADVERTISING.

While user-generated content is fantastic for maintaining a brand’s pool of success, can it also be used for attracting a new audience? Absolutely. UGC-style advertising is similar to native advertising, where it does not always have to appear to be a highly-crafted promotion in the same way as a commercial. Often, UGC advertising is used on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok advertisements and blends into the natural format of the platform. For example, scrolling through Instagram posts of friends looking at the camera and smiling or talking would lead a consumer toward a UGC advertisement that also appears like a friend looking at the camera, smiling, and talking – giving a recommendation about a business. The best part? This content is not paid or baited and is pulled directly from an individual’s video. Therefore, the authenticity of the advertisement is more apparent. UGC in advertising is highly cost-effective, as this form of content is provided voluntarily rather than paid for, saving time and generation, with funding funneled toward advertising costs alone.

 

USER-GENERATED CONTENT IN PRINT MARKETING.

Digital marketing and advertising are essential for running a business today; however, that does not mean one can neglect a print marketing strategy. In fact, print marketing is still just as important as ever – especially when each individual’s inbox is flooded, but their physical mailbox is wide open. When crafting a brochure or postcard to send out to prospective or previous purchasers, user-generated content has been used for years to capture attention and build trust. Obtaining a great quote from a customer testimonial can be a fantastic way to solidify a business as caring about and connecting with its audience. Additionally, every print marketing material sent to previous customers should have a small call-to-action to either leave a review or post a photo on social media with a designated hashtag. Generate the content, obtain the content, market the content, repeat.

 

WHAT IS CONSIDERED USER-GENERATED CONTENT?

Many forms of user-generated content can be used across all paths of marketing. These include:

  • Social media posts - you can share consumer-crafted social media posts directly from user pages, or quotes can be taken for focused content.

  • Blog posts - Similar to social media posts, unpaid blogs about a business are great forms of UGC that can be shared directly or as graphics.

  • Testimonials - Snag testimonials from your website for easy graphics.

  • Videos (YouTube, Facebook, TikTok) - Reviews, unboxings, test runs, and more should be shared when created by consumers.

 

HOW CAN I FACILITATE USER-GENERATED CONTENT?

Consumers create user-generated content, but marketers can facilitate it. Here are several ways to do so:

  • Ask! Create a Social Media Post

  • Create a Hashtag Campaign

  • Survey Your Audience

  • Host a Q&A in a Webinar or on Social Media

  • Feature in Your Newsletter CTA

 

USER-GENERATED CONTENT: THE STRATEGIC ART OF INDIVIDUALITY

Every business can have a UGC strategy, whether through the simplicity of testimonials or the complexity of unboxing videos. It takes effort on the part of the marketer to form a content generation, management, and implementation strategy; however, UGC leverages the art of the consumers themselves – not only assisting with the growth of a business through authentic content but also offering critical insight into the perspectives of the audience. What does your consumer base love about your business? What attracts their attention? What phrases do they mention the most? UGC crafts high-quality information for prospective and returning customers, providing an invaluable source of research for the marketer to look into the future of business.

 

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