UGC: The Missing Element in Your Content Marketing Plan

Study after study touts the effectiveness of incorporating user-generated content into marketing plans in order to boost brand affinity and drive sales. Millennials are particularly swayed by peer-recommended products or services; 84 say UGC influences what they buy. (Bazaar Voice) That demographic alone commands over $200 billion in purchasing power and companies that market to them when, and how they desire are reaping the rewards.

Mature social marketers realize that they must collect, cultivate, and curate relevant UGC to leverage as part of their own content streams. Relevant UGC lends authenticity to a brands' voice, brings scalability to its content strategy, and drives insight about how users experience their products and services. So, why is UGC the most buzzed-about aspect of content marketing? And perhaps more importantly, how come it isn’t more widely used?


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Since consumers trust advertising less and less, user generated content demonstrates to potential consumers that other people love a brand’s products & services. These photos, videos, and reviews convey an authenticity that branded advertising struggles to achieve. And when a brand or organization shares these assets or opinions with their audience, the consumer who initially posted becomes even more deeply invested in the brand.


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The Content Marketing Institute released studies in 2015 and again in 2016 confirming that content marketers are creating over 70% more content that they did in the previous year. Cultivating and encouraging fans to share brand or product experiences generates material that helps alleviate the ever-increasing need for your internal teams and agencies to keep up with the constant demand for original content. Social marketing teams are now acting as both creators and curators.

However, many organizations have been slow to adopt UGC into their marketing plans and it’s costing them every day. Common objections include the fear that consumers will be turned off by imperfect product shots, consent rules for redisplaying or sharing UGC, and not getting enough passionate fans to participate in campaigns.

Three Tips to Elevate your User Generated Content Strategy

1 | Mix branded content with UGC for the best results. Far from the catastrophe that many brands fear it will be, intermixing UGC with your polished product shots can actually help a brand vs. hurt it. (comScore) You start by searching for mentions of your brand on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to see how your audience is interacting with your brand and then curate the best content to share with your followers. Spredfast’s shoppable experiences software enables our customers to link user photos directly to e-commerce pages where people can purchase the item they’ve just liked, shared, or commented on.

2 | If there’s a concern, ask for consent. When you are running a specific campaign requesting user-generated content, ask your legal team to incorporate re-purposing permission into your terms and conditions. If your team is curating content not specifically generated as part of a campaign, you can quickly request consent with a few clicks within Spredfast’s tools.

3 | Gain participation by incenting natural behavior. UGC campaigns falter when consumers are asked to act unnaturally such as unsolicited product reviews or recommendations shared on social media. Instead, request photos of the consumer with their shiny new purchase on their five star vacation,and you’ll probably get better results.

As social media continues to become a valuable medium for marketers, UGC shows promise as a selling tool to customers fatigued by normal forms of advertising. It gives companies the opportunity to get on a more personal level with their consumers when it comes to their product. This results in not only a spike in sales but also a deeper connection between the consumer and the product resulting in an increase in longevity as well.

Patricia Marchetti's picture

Patricia Marchetti

Boasting 20+ years experience in marketing from direct mail to web design, email marketing, and social media, Patricia also co-founded and managed a start-up, where she was recognized as leading female entrepreneur. Acting as a digital business consultant to Spredfast prospects and customers, Patricia draws on her wide knowledge of social strategy, from best practices to content strategy and influencer programs.