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User-Generated Content: The Content Marketing Buzzword to Embrace in 2020

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As the buzzword “user-generated content” (UGC) continues to float through the marketing industry, we see a fearful response from marketing agencies and professionals. Some see UGC as the next robot that will take over content creation efforts, while others simply fear the need to add something new to their marketing mix.

We’re here to say you shouldn’t fear UGC—you should embrace it.

Why? User-generated content is the holy grail. It’s virtually free online content generated by those who matter most: your customers.

What Is User-Generated Content, Anyway?

User-generated content, also known as UGC or user-created content, is simply content that’s created by your customers. There are literally hundreds of examples of UGC, including:

  • Social media posts
  • Online reviews and testimonials
  • Videos
  • Blog posts
  • Photos

For example, an online review left on Google about your services is UGC, as is a blog post written by a customer that links back to your website. If a customer takes a photo in front of your office and posts it on Instagram? You guessed it; that’s UGC, as well.

And here’s the kicker: around 92% of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising. When you’re able to turn your customers into advocates that shout your name from the rooftops, magic happens.

3 Ways to Incorporate User-Generated Content Into Your Content Marketing Efforts

Here at CCS, we’re constantly talking about how to create content that speaks to your ideal audience. It’s critical to your success. So what happens when your audience creates the content they want to see for you? You use it to inspire and enhance your content marketing strategy.

Here are some quick tips you can use to add UGC into your content marketing strategy.

1. Take Notes From Your Competitors

UGC isn’t new. That’s why it’s important to know what your competition is doing so you can do something different. For example, choose a couple of competitors and scour their social media pages or website. What UGC are they sharing? How are their customers reacting? What can you do differently that speaks to your audience in a better way?

2. Create a Community

Starbucks’ White Cup Contest campaign resulted in thousands of customers posting their white cup doodles to Twitter and Instagram. Apple’s Shot on iPhone campaign allowed Apple customers to post photos shot on their iPhones to social media, complete with the #ShotOniPhone hashtag.

As a result, Apple and Starbucks generated thousands of images they could use to market their products, while their customers felt as if they were a part of something. Take a note from these two companies and create a community using UGC. This can be as simple as reposting images your customers take that pertain to your niche or featuring a customer success story on your blog.

3. Ask Your Customers for Content

It’s okay to ask your customers for UGC. In fact, it’s one of the quickest ways to gather it. For example, ask one of your returning customers for a testimonial you can place on your website. Then, take that same testimonial and turn it into a customer success story to share on social media.

Don’t Forget Your Content Marketing Strategy When Using UGC

To use user-generated content successfully, you’ll still need to gather it, wordsmith it and curate it. You’ll need to know where to look for UGC and what pieces will help you reach your marketing goals. If you’re struggling with how to use UGC in your content strategy or lack a content marketing strategy altogether, send our team a message. We can help!

Cari O'Brien

Founder & Chief Word Nerd
Cari has been providing content marketing services to businesses for over 15 years. She writes and speaks frequently about brand messaging, SEO copywriting and audience-focused copy. She’s the creator of the Connection Copywriting Method and the online writing course, Write that Site®.

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