What is User Generated Content?

Among several other types of content such as branded and evergreen content, user generated content has its own value. It is a must-have content type that you cannot go without. No matter how effective your content marketing strategy is, if you aren’t focusing on user generated content, you aren’t even in the game.

Statistics show that 74% of millennial travelers say user-generated content has the most noticeable impact on them as compared to professional photos while 83% of millennials reported that user generated content inspired them to purchase a consumer product as compared to professional photos:

user generated content stats

It is powerful, effective, and gets the job done.

Let’s find out what is user generated content exactly and how it can strengthen your content marketing strategy. 

What is User Generated Content?

Any content that is created by people instead of the brand refers to user generated content (UGC). It includes all content types such as text, videos, images, photos, comments, reviews, etc. GoPro is the perfect example of UGC. Its YouTube channel features videos created by GoPro users:

gopro youtube channel screenshot

Check out reviews posted on Amazon by buyers, all these reviews are user-generated:

amazon reviews

UGC is everywhere. Think of social media sites, they’re driven by user-generated content. Facebook, for example, is nothing without UGC. The posts, photos, videos, comments, groups, pages, and everything else are user generated. Facebook itself doesn’t create any piece of content on its network.

The same goes for other social networking websites.

Types of User Generated Content

UGC comes in different types. Selecting the right UGC type for your brand is an essential part of your marketing strategy. You can’t just ask your customers to write content and share it with you, rather you need a UGC strategy where you need to identify the right content type for your business.

The most popular UGC types are:

  1. Reviews and testimonials are the most common types of UGC
  2. Comments on social media, blog posts, and other third-party sites by your users
  3. Social media content published by users on their social media accounts with or without tagging the brand
  4. Question and answer platforms like Quora
  5. Video content
  6. Images and photos 
  7. Case studies that customers share on their websites or third-party platforms such as Medium
  8. Blog posts published on personal blogs.

User Generated Content Benefits

UGC offers a lot of benefits to businesses and marketers. It is every brand’s desire that its customers talk about it, leave positive reviews, share their photos while using their product, and so on. Here is a list of the top benefits of UGC:

It is Authentic

What’s better and authentic than customers talking about a brand instead of a brand talking about itself? User generated content is the most authentic content type out there. People consider user generated content 2.4x more authentic than brand created content:

user generated content stats

As much as 85% of consumers and 65% of brands believe that UGC is more influential than brand created content:

user generated content statistics

What happens when consumers start considering a brand authentic? They buy from it.

A study found that 63% of consumers will prefer buying from a company they consider authentic as compared to its counterpart (that they don’t consider authentic). When your ideal customers consider your brand authentic, they’ll ultimately buy from you.

Cost-Effective

User generated content is free, and this makes it extremely cost-effective for businesses. You don’t pay a penny for UGC.

Consider Quora that is entirely based on UGC. It ranks for hundreds of keywords in Google and it receives more than 300 million unique visitors per month.

And the content isn’t produced by Quora.

That’s how cost-effective UGC is for brands. 

However, it doesn’t mean you can rely totally on UGC for marketing. You’ll still have to create content for your brand to meet marketing objectives.

Ideally, you should add UGC into your content marketing strategy. Use it with other content types that you are creating to improve brand authenticity and credibility.

It is Trustworthy

Since UGC is created by people so it is natural for other people to trust it. An estimated 70% of people trust images taken by other people over brand images:

user generated content stat

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, and 70% trust consumer opinions online:

user generated content statistics

Here is an example of how UGC makes your brand trustworthy:

twitter screenshot

You can’t deny the power of such reviews and testimonials, right?

User Generated Content Creation Techniques

This is the hardest part.

Creating content for your brand in-house isn’t a big deal, you need content creators, editors, and SEO experts to create and implement your content marketing strategy.

Creating user generated content is different yet challenging. You can’t force your customers to write content, you can’t bribe them, and you can’t fake it either. It must come from your customers organically.

Here are a few advanced tips and tricks for UGC creation:

  • Develop and promote UGC culture. Start sharing it on social networking platforms so that your customers understand that you share user generated content and take it seriously. A whopping 60% of consumers create UGC because they want to get featured by a major brand. So start featuring UGC
  • Seek permission from the user. If you see a comment about your product on a forum that you want to republish on your blog, seek permission from the creator. Using content and then linking to it isn’t just enough
  • Offer something highly valuable to the users in exchange for their content. Create a win-win situation. Compensate your customers for their time and effort. Around 32% of consumers created UGC to win a prize. Create UGC, offer discounts such as free shipping, and other valuable prizes.

Final Words

If there is one type of content that will never disappoint you, its user generated content. All brands create UGC. When people talk to each other and refer to products they use, it is a form of UGC. Word of mouth is another UGC type. Your job is to make your customers create and share it with you so you can republish and use it.

Yes, you must have a clearly defined user generated content plan, objective, and guidelines for users. Do it properly to grow your business.

Featured Image: Pexels

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