How to Make User Generated Content Work for You

Posted by Chris Formosa

Have you invested in UGC? This is not just another buzzword in the realm of content marketing. In fact, this marketing method is used by thousands of brands successfully; however, it can be quite unpredictable, which may be why your marketing dollars have not been thrown in this direction yet. But, according to a report from, people are 50 percent more likely to trust user generated content than traditional blog posts, in-depth resources and even news articles.

In order to harness the power of user generated content you must first understand how it works and how it evolves. Making UGC work for your content marketing strategy can be difficult, but with the tips here, you will be on your way to user generated content success.

The Origination of UGC

UGC became mainstream in 2005 and quickly gained popularity due to it's accessibility through social networks. It allowed internet users to quickly and easily broadcast their images, video, audio and text on larger content platforms and social networks like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram; effectively giving everyone a voice online.

However, the earliest attempts to leverage user generated content weren't great. Some of the early-adopters/brands made a few mistakes.

For example, there were a number of brands that actually used Guerilla marketing techniques and paid "everyday" people to talk about their products. They also created fake customer reviews, hoping that this would build customer trust, but in many cases the opposite effect was experienced. Also, companies such as Amazon and Ebay have strict regulations, kicking some reviews and even products off of their sites if their reviews are suspected of being bought or fake.

The fact is that sincerity isn't just helpful for success in terms of user generated content – it's essential.

Establishing Trust

There has been a major shift in UGC, offering a more transparent option that helps customers trust brands.

Not only will potential contributors be much less likely to accept a payment, they are much more likely to share their real, authentic ideas. This is even truer for larger commerce sites where reviews are requested after almost every purchase.

You can implement genuine UGC in your own marketing strategy. Even if your brand does not usually collect reviews from users, you should try to obtain a few testimonials, images or videos from loyal or notable clients.

An example of UGC that stuck was a campaign created by Target, asking high school seniors to tape themselves reading college acceptance letters. The commercial created from these user-generated videos was exciting, compelling and came along with a promise to donate a billion dollars to K-12 education from Target. Not only did this video demand attention, it did it in such a positive manner that other brands have attempted to mimic the idea.

Why UGC is Right for Your Brand

Content marketing is not just about creating great content. It's also the connection it creates. When different influencers are able to connect through conversations about your service or product, you will have a much higher likelihood of making a sale when your customer needs the type of product you are offering.

Some of the most effective campaigns are funny or make you feel the "warm and fuzzies." An example of a brand using humor to its advantage is the Doritos Roulette commercial. The commercial is a series of user generated videos that show real people eating the latest offering from the brand that has one "seriously spicy" chip inside the bag. Effective and funny, this commercial, full of UGC has helped to sell millions of bags of its chips. #Burnselfie has also gone viral, giving Doritos even more of a boost in social media.

Executing UGC

Prior to creating your own UGC strategy, it is important to determine how you want to connect with your audience. Some questions to help you get started include:

  • Are you creating content that entertains or informs?
  • Where are your customers hanging out?
  • Are your customers willing to create content?

When you know the why behind what you are doing, it will help create an effective and clear message and strategy.

Remember, just because you are relying on consumers for some content doesn't mean it needs to be of low quality. Take some time to create engaging information that will spur responses and engagement.

Stay tuned for our next post, which will discuss the many ways you can effectively collect and leverage user generated content for your brand.