User-Generated Content: What Is It, and Is It Right for Your Business?

Angela Chaney
Angela Chaney

Have you ever made a purchase based upon a friend’s enthusiastic recommendation? It’s likely, because you trusted your friend and shared common interests with her, you too were pleased with your purchase. Word-of-mouth has always been a popular way to spread the news about a fantastic new product or a helpful service provider and, while it’s changing with the times, it’s still a powerful way to build a brand. 

Even though we seem to be increasingly living in a virtual world, we can’t deny our fundamental need for human connections and the power of authentic experiences. Enter the 21st century version of relational consumerism, user-generated content. Join Pixel Fire Marketing in an overview of this fresh-and-new-while-tried-and-true approach to building your business and brand.   

What Qualifies as User-Generated Content?

UGC, or user-generated content, is any shared media made by individual people. Most UGC is provided by a company’s customers, often in the form of photos of them enjoying a company’s product or service and written reviews of their experience with the company. It’s personal and relational in nature while adhering to a company’s brand and message. A wide range of content qualifies as user-generated, including videos, photos, podcasts, product evaluations, and more.  UGC has continuously risen in popularity with the explosive growth in social media engagement, email marketing strategies, and video platforms. 

Why Is User-Generated Content Growing in Popularity?

Customers can satisfy their craving for connection and relational value while enjoying the convenience of online shopping. UGC provides the bridge that leads to conversions and builds brand loyalty.  If you want to boost your business through this means, look first to the people most closely connected with what you do- your customers- and then your employees. 

Surveys show that people have more confidence in user-generated content than they do in glossy business-generated marketing. We all know that an ad campaign is an effort to get us to buy something, but a satisfied customer telling his story feels more like one friend helping out another as he passes on a great find he has made. 

Closely related, and uniquely relevant because of the insider view they provide, employee- generated content can help to build your brand, cement your company’s vision, and humanize the work you do by connecting viewers with the faces and personalities behind the product. 

User-Generated Content

How Does User-Generated Content Help Businesses?

The benefits of user-generated content are well worth the time required to strategize its implementation and invite consumers to become contributors. Customers become invested members of a brand’s “community” when they can have meaningful interactions that support its growth. What other benefits might you receive?

  • Companies can gain insightful feedback and understanding of their customers through the interactions soliciting UGC can create.
  • Growing trust in an era of fake news, candy-coated rhetoric, and sensationalism is vital. Americans, on the whole, have lost respect for all things corporate, whether that be companies, media outlets, or politicians. Ordinary people sharing ordinary experiences and real images provide welcome wholesomeness.
  • UGC provides an endorsement stamp that can tip the scales in the favor of conversion by even the most reluctant consumer.
  • The versatile content your users create can be used and repurposed across platforms and in a variety of approaches. 
  • Because there is little-to-no cost associated with gathering this sort of content, it’s a budget-friendly option that’s perfect for the newcomer beginning to build his company’s brand and the rapidly growing firm that longs to stay connected with her clients.
  • Results algorithms (the ones that drive traffic to your site) are attuned to user-generated content and will help more potential clients find you. 

If you still aren’t sure UGC is right for your company, consider this. The latest trend in consumerism is social commerce, a user-friendly approach to promoting a product and allowing customers to purchase it right in their preferred social media app, where, by-the-way, 302 million Americans spend time every day.  

Making UGC Work for You

As your company begins to explore consumer-generated content, be aware that UGC only works when it is authentic. Generating artificial praise or insincere endorsements will backfire and betray consumers’ trust, a blow that will be difficult- if not impossible- to recover from.

Consumers appreciate it when your needs and guidelines for UGC are detailed and clear. If you have a specific campaign, slogan, type of content, or image in mind to promote your brand, ask for it directly. Your future creators will thank you for it! 

Also, keep in mind that the customer who posted that picture, review, or video that improved your reach and engagement is the owner of that content. Respect the creator (and potentially encourage him to create more great content in the future) by giving credit where it is due through a shoutout, a tag, or a request for permission to share.

If you want to encourage more user-generated content, consider creating an employee or client engagement or ambassador program, launch a contest on Instagram, ask for feedback from your customers or clients, or offer rewards or discounts to those who create content for you. 

For the most beneficial results with UGC, it needs to be a part of a larger vision within your overall marketing strategy. Your best resource for great ideas and the implementation of a meaningful campaign is your professional marketing team at Pixel Fire Marketing. Let them help you cement your company’s brand image and growth by strategically connecting your products with the customers you serve through a full range of proven marketing services. Give them a call today.  

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