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User-Generated Content: What Is It and Why You Need It?

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User-generated content (UGC) is the social-media equivalent of word-of-mouth. It can also be an inspiring way to grow your business and build brand bias, especially within younger audiences.

Whether you’re looking to raise awareness for a product, reach a new audience, improve brand image, or build a loyal fan base, letting users speak for you is possibly is an excellent way to enhance your marketing strategy.

On the constantly evolving social media scene, keeping up with emerging social media trends and channels can be an effective way to communicate with your target audience and make the most out of your UGC campaigns.

What Is User-Generated Content

In a nutshell, user-generated content is any type of content that a brand’s users create, consumers, or followers. This can be a review or testimonial, a case study, a social media post, a blog article, or a video.

Ultimately, the goal of a UGC plan is to generate content that people will use, which will influence their buying decisions.

Why Use User-Generated Content

Because it’s produced by consumers themselves, UGC is generally perceived as being more authentic, unbiased, and trustworthy. This often makes user-created content more effective and influential on purchasing decisions compared to traditional advertising.

It’s also a great tool for influencing the “messy middle” of the buyer’s journey – its authenticity creates trust. USG creates a strong cognitive bias that you can leverage when communicating your brand.

User-generated content is also a great way to save time and money on content creation. With millions of photos and videos being uploaded daily, UGC is a whole new visual source to supplement your existing content. It supports your content marketing strategy, your social media calendar, and boosts engagement.

How to Start Curating User-Generated Content

When executed correctly, UGC can be a true win-win situation. For consumers, being mentioned or having content shared by a brand is often a fun and exciting experience that gets them extra exposure. In turn, UGC helps increase a brand’s earned media audience and develop stronger customer relationships.

Some of the best ways to get consumer-created content on social media include running contests that encourage creativity, inviting regular customers to put your product to work, creating a personal hashtag, hosting events, and tapping into influencers.

UGC and the Social Media Landscape

From new features to updated algorithms, the social media landscape is changing continuously. These rapid changes are challenging brands and marketers to review their current strategies and make room for new trends and content types.

One of the fastest-growing social media platforms is TikTok, with app downloads surpassing those of Instagram and Snapchat. The video-sharing, creator-led network is most popular among Generation Z’ers, though millennials are following close behind.

Keeping an eye on TikTok and experimenting with campaigns is worth considering, especially for brands whose audience matches the platform’s user demographics.

Leveraging the Power of UGC on TikTok

Many brands are starting to recognize TikTok as a marketing opportunity with its 800 million monthly active users. This, in turn, has led the platform to roll out TikTok for Business, enabling brands to add more information to their profile and allowing them to access real-time metrics and insights.

If you’re considering getting started on TikTok, focus your content strategy entirely around user-generated content.

Implementing a UGC plan can take your brand’s marketing strategy to another level, but just like any other content strategy, setting goals and guidelines is crucial.

Use UGC to Cultivate Relationships

A crucial aspect to remember when marketing to millennials and Generation Z’ers is that they want fresh, relatable content that carries an impactful message. To ensure you’re serving your audience in the best way possible, remember that your marketing strategy should meet them where they are, speak their language, and cultivate relationships.

An great example is Samsung Poland’s branded hashtag challenge #YOUAREAWESOME. They invited TikTok users to show their true passions, hidden talents, unique skills and whatever else makes them truly awesome. Even the smallest, least obvious talents were encouraged and celebrated. The brand offered the latest Samsung Galaxy A phones to 6 of the winners of the challenge, as well as an opportunity to shoot content with three top creators who helped activate the campaign.

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Fresh and Engaging Content

Short videos are at the heart of TikTok, so it goes without saying that UGC should also be memorable and entertaining – whether it’s showcasing how to use your product, sharing a review, or simply serving as an inspirational message.

For example, Netflix created a Christmas hashtag challenge #NetfliXmas, with one ambition: to spread creativity, bring joy, and get the German TikTok community interacting with Netflix’s selection of holiday Christmas films. The campaign inspired the whole community to compare their own holiday celebration with their favorite Christmas scenes.

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Offer Something in Return

The best way to generate UGC is to offer something of value in return. Be specific about what you’re offering to those who accept your challenge. At the same time, be clear and specific about what type of content you’re looking for. It’s nice when people tag you in a picture, but how can you use this content to support your marketing goals?

Always Credit the Original Source

Another thing to keep in mind when sharing UGC on any social platform is that there are still some gray areas on the legal requirements and the best protocol for sharing content created by someone else. As a rule of thumb, before you repost any type of content, make sure to ask for permission and credit the original creator.

Integrate UGC Into Your Marketing Strategy

Embracing the latest social media trends could help you build a stronger, more engaging presence in the future. Whether it’s TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook, the opportunities with user-generated content are endless.

From growing your audience to increasing sales, remember that your loyal customers are one of your biggest assets.

Want to stay on top of digital marketing trends? Find inspiration and learn more about the comeback of nostalgic marketing in our blog.