User Generated Content: word-of-mouth in the digital age?

Some best practice guidelines to persuade you to give it a go.

In basic terms, User Generated Content (UGC) is any type of content that has been created and put out there by unpaid contributors; better yet, fans. Such content may take the form of pictures, videos, reviews, testimonials, tweets, blog posts – anything really that comes from users promoting or discussing a brand, but not coming from the brand itself or a marketing team as such.

Take note from three of the best UGC campaigns to date:

Starbucks’ #WhiteCupContest
the doodling winner: 

Belkin-Lego and iPhone teamed up
to expand your creativity!

Coca-Cola’s #shareacoke
needs no introduction!


UGC in numbers

  • 86% of millennials claim UGC is a good indicator of a brand’s quality
  • 68% of social media users (age group: 18-24) take into account info shared on social media when making a purchasing decision
  • 92% of people are more likely to trust a recommendation from another person vs branded content
  • Brand engagements rise by 28% when consumers are exposed to a mixture of professional marketing and UGG
  • 79% of consumers admitted to trusting online reviews as much as in-person recommendations


UCG matters because…

…it puts customer front and centre!

If you want your consumers to hang around, brand messages must cater to them. If you can’t resonate with them, they’ll find another brand that does. UGC can help unfold your brand’s authenticity and credibility – after all, it’s accounts and experiences by real people.

…people just don’t trust marketers!

No one likes pushy sales tactics! People want stories, emotional connections, interactions, shared values. It is bad enough they’re in front of a screen most of the day – if you’re going to attract and engage with them you must be human.

UGC allows brands to do this and rest assured your audience is more likely to trust another person rather than your marketing team’s pre-rehearsed lines.

…it’s fresh & authentic!  

Consumers are digitally savvy, fake-promise aware, ad-sensitive and active buyers – they will choose who to buy from and who not to.  UGC is fresh, unfiltered content coming from humans that “get them”, making brands that utilise the potential of UGC a preferred option.

…it builds community!  

UGC essentially brings audiences together. It manages to remove the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ context whereby brands are constantly trying to win over consumers. With UGC everyone is part of one big happy family taking part in healthy dialogue. People love to feel part of something, be able to influence their peers, as well as build emotional connections via shared stories.

…it’s cost effective!  

UGC is all about users creating content! For example: by sharing an experience, posting a photo, writing a review, and more. This usually requires no payment, unlike costly ads which may not even perform well. Brands can reward users in ways they deem suitable – a prize, a free membership, even a mention on social platforms suffices at times.

…and finally, because it’s a great way of increasing your social media reach and boosting your SEO value!

UGC is a fantastic method for brands to increase their follower base, get more likes, shares, retweets and ultimately lead to more traffic and page views. On top of that, there’s SEO perks that come with it: UGC links appear higher up on SERPs and using your audience’s most frequently used words and phrases can definitely improve your optimisation strategy.

Remember, consumers are not passive!

They are active decision makers – they choose who to listen to, who to trust, who to engage with and ultimately who to buy from.

Also consider the fact that users bypass ads all the time (take Netflix and the rise of ad blockers), and are more likely to click through to a site if a friend recommends it.

Basically, UGC is a form of social proof that every brand needs!

If you’re going to start your own UGC campaign do make sure your efforts are connected and coherent throughout your social media channels and website, and always reward and recognise your fans’ efforts.


A few tips to consider:

  1. Match promotion to your audience

If, for example, you are asking your fans to upload a video, keep in mind that elderly customers may not have the skillset.

  1. Ask for entries you can use in your marketing campaigns

Make sure you ask for UGC types you will be able to utilise for advertising purposes.

  1. The reward must match the effort

If you are donating large amounts of money to a charity as part of the campaign, you must ensure that participants are delivering something of value to the campaign.

  1. Eliminate obstacles

Entry instructions should be clear, your website should be easy to navigate, forms should only require fields needed to process an entry, and always comply with legalities (a Terms & Conditions document perhaps?).
[And speaking of legalities, make sure you always acknowledge users’ ideas and content, as well as deliver on your prize promises!]


Let your followers step into the role of advertiser!  If you’re not sure on ideas give us a shout!


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