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user-generated content

How to Make User-Generated Content Work for Your Brand

Written by
Zlata Faerman

Today’s users wield a particularly sharp sword in the marketplace. With so much of our lives happening online — and on the heels of a pandemic that kept the entire globe socially distanced for more than a year — user-generated content is a powerful tool for marketers. 

User-Generated Content and the Allure of Authenticity

UGC has proven time and again to be a solid driver for marketing. In fact, according to one study, consumers are 2.4 times as likely to consider UGC authentic compared to branded content, and 90% of them say authenticity is an important factor to them. In the same report, 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

This idea of authenticity is the driving force behind UGC because it creates a level of trust between the brand and the audience that is otherwise very difficult to achieve. Even among the most loyal fans, users will almost always trust another user’s recommendation over that of a brand. In many ways, data has shown that trust is the primary vehicle for purchasing decisions made online. 

Using UGC for Marketing Efficiencies

Marketers are challenged with increasing demands and workloads, and according to TINT’s 2021 User Generated Content report, 41% of marketers say departmental staffing is a challenge when it comes to content production. Because it’s generated naturally by external resources, UGC limits the draw on marketing staff, providing a head start to content creation with content that feels more authentic to the user base, and performs better. 

Ads featuring UGC also tend to garner more positive engagement. One study found UGC ads received 73% more positive comments on social media than traditional ads. Another 31% of consumers say ads with UGC are more memorable than branded ads, and 28% say they are more unique. 

UGC in Social Commerce Has Never Been More Powerful

TINT’s study also shows some powerful statistics for eCommerce and social media. Social commerce is expected to increase by 34.8% to become a $31.4B industry and user-generated content is in the driver’s seat.

  • 40% of consumers have made a purchase via Facebook
  • 13% have made a purchase via Instagram
  • 12% have made a purchase via Pinterest
  • 50% of global eCommerce sales happen on mobile devices 

While 92% of marketers believe the content they create is authentic, only 51% of consumers think so (Stackla, 2020). With UGC offering built-in authenticity and so many purchases happening in this space, it is a perfect choice for social media marketing. One survey reported that 90% of consumers say UGC holds more influence over buying decisions than emails and search results. If you haven’t already, now is the time to invest in your social strategy.

Putting UGC to Work in Your Marketing Strategy

These stats are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential your brand might find with user-generated content. The data is clear: Authenticity sells. Users are intrinsically authentic. Use this dynamic to your brand’s advantage. 

Here are a few key considerations for your UGC strategy: 

Build a clear process for content generation. How will you gather your user-generated content? Will you request it directly from your audience? Seek out happy clients or employees who can promote your products and events? Run a contest? There are many ways to engage with your users to drum up content, but they all risk failure if you don’t have a plan in place before you begin!

Know your users as well as you know your brand. Successful UGC campaigns happen because people seek connections. When we see something that feels authentic and representative of something we personally like, we are more likely to engage with that content, trust the message it’s conveying, and act on its suggestions (whether explicit or subliminal). We have an innate desire to relate to one another. When brands can create those connections, user engagement — and ultimately conversion — happens more naturally. On the flip side of that coin, trying to force fit inauthentic UGC can be detrimental to brand loyalty: 20% of consumers say they have unfollowed brands who they felt were inauthentic. 

User-generated content can be an incredibly useful tool in the arsenal, especially when it’s given its own segment of a broader strategy. But it’s important to remember that authenticity is the secret sauce — and it can’t be faked. 

To talk more about UGC and how it fits into your company’s marketing plan, let’s talk.

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Written by
Zlata Faerman

Zlata is a full-time publicist, part-time writer, and round-the-clock ambassador to wit and humor. As a publicist for over 15 years, she helps launch products with creative ideas and garner press coverage that drives reputation and sales. She also contributes to a variety of lifestyle publications in the areas of food, parenting, health, beauty, marketing, travel, and home. When she’s not crafting kitchen concoctions for her food blog @lifeandthymez, Zlata can be found spending time with her family, having #zlatathoughts, and fantasizing about being a Real Housewife of New Jersey.


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