User-Generated Content – What is it and How Can You Use It?

Carl Taylor | May 25, 2020

Did you know that your users can help you create powerful content? User-generated content is a surprisingly effective marketing tool.

Your users aren’t trying to sell anything when they talk about your brand.

But you are…

In this article, we’re going to explain exactly what user-generated content is. Then, we’re going to examine some of the ways you can use it in your marketing. Many marketers make the mistake of thinking that they are the only sources of valuable content for their audiences.

It’s an easy mistake to make.

You’re the expert, so you assume that your audience only wants to hear from you.

However…that isn’t always the case.

In fact, your prospects and clients can also be valuable sources of content. These “users” of your website and social media profiles can provide content that you can use to market yourself.

And in some cases, your prospects will see this user-generated content as more valuable than your own. After all, it comes from a third-party source, which makes it more trustworthy.


What Is User-Generated Content?

User-Generated Content (UGC) is simply any type of content that comes from unpaid contributors. This means that it’s content coming from your prospects, customers, and fans.

Furthermore, the UGC umbrella covers a lot of content types.

Almost anything your users share about you could be UGC. For example, the comments left on an article are UGC. Images of your products that your customers share are UGB too. Positive reviews, videos, testimonials, and even social media posts all fall under the UGC banner.

The keys are that you’re not paying for this content and that it’s promoting your brand in some way.

Do you remember when Coca-Cola ran its “Share a Coke” campaign? Millions of bottles of Coke with names printed on them were released. The idea was to get people to buy a personalised Coke for a friend (or even themselves).

That campaign generated a ton of UGC. And with these tips, you’ll create a UGC campaign that creates amazing results for your business.

Tip #1 – Choose the Right Home for Your Campaign

Before coming up with any ideas, you have to think about the platform you’re aiming to get the UGC on. Do you want more people posting on your website? Or do you want to get people to share content on social media instead?

And if you’re going the social media route, which platforms should you promote your campaign on?

These are all questions that you need to answer before launching your campaign.

But on a general level, the correct home for your campaign is wherever your audience can be found.

If you find that most of your audience talks to you on LinkedIn, that’s where you need to focus your campaign. If you have a website that gets thousands of hits per month, the campaign may work best there instead.

The whole idea with UGC is to get people to share their positive experiences with your brand. But that doesn’t accomplish much if they’re sharing on platforms that your audience doesn’t use.

Tip #2 – Create Specific Goals for Your Campaign

It’s tempting to think that you can just encourage your users to post content and call it a day.

However, the most successful UGC campaigns have very specific goals.

Take the Coca-Cola example from earlier in the article. The brand had a specific goal of getting people to share images of their personalised Cokes on social media. That’s because these images increased awareness of the campaign and created hype around it.

That hype led to more people going out to find bottles with their names on them. And ultimately, that led to more revenue for Coca-Cola.

Your campaign needs to have its own goals too.

Those goals may relate to increasing conversions and making more sales, as Coke’s did. Or, you may want to build awareness or generate trust in your brand.

The point is that your goal informs the types of UGC that you encourage your users to create. Your goals will lead to the creation of targeted campaigns that get the desired results.

Tip #3 – Encourage Reviews Across All Platforms

Positive reviews are one of the most valuable forms of UGC.

The reason is that these reviews are opinions from independent consumers of your products. These users have no skin in the game when it comes to helping you to sell more. You’re not paying them to say positive things about you.

As a result, anything positive that these reviews say is more trustworthy than your own sales spiel.

Your prospects want to see that other people solve their problems by using your products. That means you need to encourage your current customers to share their opinions on whatever platform works best for them.

Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll get glowing reviews from 100% of your customers. The occasional negative review will appear as well.

But even those can be valuable forms of UGC. If you confront the issues raised in the review publicly and professionally, you show readers that you’re accountable. They see that you want to fix issues and improve your services, which can make your brand more attractive.

Tip #4 – Focus on Building a Community

UGC campaigns spark engagement between you and your customers. And that’s something you need to take advantage of. By encouraging people to create UGC, you’re opening the doors for them to communicate directly with you.

Take UGC that gets shared on social media as an example.

A user may share a picture of your product and tag you in it. And it’s a UGC faux pas to encourage these types of content and then not engage with the people who share them.

If you’re tagged in a piece, use it to start a conversation. Chat to the person who created it and use the comments section to ask questions that get other people talking.

The idea here is to create a community around your brand and your products.

But to create that community, you need to become an active part of it. You have to collaborate with your users to encourage deeper engagement.

Tip #5 – Leverage Customer Surveys

Any surveys you create are obviously great for collecting data about your users. However, they’re also ideal for encouraging the creation of UGC.

In fact, the results of your survey are a sort of UGC in their own right. After all, they come from hundreds, or even thousands, of people interacting with your brand and questions.

You can also use those survey results to spark conversations, which gives you another source of UGC. And on top of that, the survey results can give you some insight into the topics that your users want to talk about.

Automation Agency can help you to create surveys and quizzes. Just send a ticket to our Concierge Service to learn more.

Tip #6 – Run Creative Contests

Contests tend to work best on social media platforms, due to the ease of sharing.

The key here is that you want to make the contest interesting to generate some good UGC.

On the basic level, you could just have people tag their friends if they want to enter the contest. That will build exposure, but would be much more effective with some context.

Far better are contests that challenge users to do something creative.

Starbucks’ “White Cups” contest is a perfect example of this. The coffee chain challenged people to create interesting doodles on their Starbucks cups and share them on social media. The best doodles won prizes. However, it’s the interesting UGC created for this contest that made it such a winner.

If a user tagged a friend into their doodle, that friend would pay attention and engage with it. You couldn’t say the same if that friend was just getting tagged into a lifeless contest.

The point is, you want your contests to generate UGC that other people actually want to interact with.

Get Started on Your UGC Campaign

We’ve covered some of the key steps for creating a UGC campaign, as well as a few ideas for encouraging UGC. And there are so many more ideas that you could try beyond these.

For example, you could encourage users to take part in case studies or submit questions for your Q&A sessions. You could even collaborate with users to create videos that share their stories.

The point is that you’re creating engaging content with the help of the very people who use your product.

Automation Agency can help here in several ways. Beyond helping you create surveys, we can also install plugins for your website that make it easier for you to gather reviews.

Just send a ticket to the Concierge Service to get started.

And if you’re not a member yet, find out if you’re a good fit with our Right Fit Chatbot.


About the author 

Carl Taylor

Carl Taylor is the Founder & CEO of Automation Agency. For the past 10 years Carl has been building businesses and marketing them online through the use of Sales Funnels, Email Marketing Automation, Landing Pages, and Wordpress Websites. Carl is also a #1 author and highly sought after speaker and consultant whose work has impacted thousands of businesses across various industries worldwide.

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