Content Marketing, For Transfer (To Production)

How to Become A User-Generated Content Marketing Master

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As a marketing professional, your entire life is about content. Content can include written copy, visual content like images and graphics, video content, podcasts, and anything else that might result in positive attention for the brands you manage.

The content creation process is slow and expensive. Whether your content marketing strategy includes influencer marketing, professional content creators, sponsored partnerships, or a combination, marketers are always looking for ways to streamline the process.

After all, time is money.

But what if there was a way to let your audience do the work for you? User-generated content is a very real and effective form of content marketing.

By allowing your audience to generate content, you’ve effectively deputized your most loyal followers into your marketing department. What’s more, they’ll work to create content for free that prospective customers will trust more than company-branded messaging.

Of course, every marketer’s dream is to receive unsolicited high-quality customer content, but we’re seldom that lucky in the marketing world. That’s why you must seek this content out, gathering it until you become a user-generated content marketing master!

But how does someone become a user-generated content marketing master? What are the steps to convince users to create social media posts, reviews, and images for you to share with the rest of your audience?

In this article, we’ll cover several ways to gather user-generated content and install it into your marketing plan.

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What is user-generated content?

Simply put, user-generated content is content that your users create. These can include reviews, videos, images, and social media posts that the real people who interact with your brand create without directly associating with your brand.

infographic showing UGC and branded content stats

(Image Source: Hootsuite)

If a customer writes positively about your brand on Twitter, they’ve just created user-generated content (UGC) for you. Similarly, if they share photos of themselves using your products, that’s another form of UGC. Discussing your company on a podcast is another way users can create beneficial content for you at no cost.

UGC can be great for marketing in any industry. For example, if you’re offering long-distance moving services, you can record the moving process (with your customer’s permission) and use it in your advertisements.

In the gaming industry, user-generated content sometimes comes in the form of “mods.” Modding is the process of editing or modifying a game’s code. Some of these mods have been so successful that they’ve inspired game developers to integrate them into sequels.

Revolutionary games like Fortnite have integrated this kind of UGC along with different marketing tactics to get to the top, like launching collaborations with trending artists, brands, comics, and so on. Creators and web developers can use their imaginations to create business opportunities with Fortnite UGC.

screenshot of Fortnite creative homepage at EpicGames

(Image Source: Epic Games) 

User-generated content is a blanket term that covers any and all content created by ‌users of your product or service that is in no way associated with your official marketing messaging. You can generate user-generated content in many ways, which we’ll go over in detail. But first, let’s talk about why you want user-generated content.

Why is user-generated content so useful?

User-generated content is incredibly useful and coveted by the marketing world. Why is this? Because prospective customers trust the word of their peers more than corporate messaging. We live in a world of never-ending advertisements, with someone always trying to sell us something.

We also know that a business will always speak positively about itself. But the words of a peer with the same pain points can go a long way toward providing social proof and instilling a sense of trust in a brand.

When a company shares user-generated content, like customer reviews, 82% of prospective customers see it as similar to a recommendation from a friend or family member. Additionally, a whopping 98% of those consumers say that reviews are a crucial piece of their purchasing decision. You can’t ignore numbers like that.

graph showing consumer review stats

(Image Source: PowerReviews)

That’s why it’s such a great idea to proudly display your user-generated content in a way that pops. You can also play around with and edit UGC to better fit your brand’s aesthetic. For example, if a user uploads content with a cluttered background and colors that won’t match your website’s theme, you can use an online editing suite to edit and upload the image against a neutral backdrop. This allows you to curate customer centric content that aligns with your brand while maintaining the authentic voice of your audience.

How to master user-generated content marketing

1. Make the submission process simple

The first step in generating user-generated content is making it easy for your audience to create and submit it. That’s why you should create an open platform through your website that allows users to submit content.

This can include guest blogs, where users write about their experiences, including images, videos, and any other content they want to add. If you’re selling individual products, ensure you have review pages with a simple submission form. People want to see reviews before buying a product, so the best way to gather these necessary reviews is to make the submission process a breeze.

Additionally, you can share social media posts created by users through your brand’s pages so that people can see the actual person who made the post. Lastly, utilizing CapCut AI avatar can further personalize and amplify brand engagement across various platforms.

2. Ask permission to use content

While the content generated by users is valuable and pertains directly to your business, it’s important to remember that you didn’t create or own it. Because of this, you can’t just snatch up someone’s social media post or blog and put it in your marketing content.

Instead, you must first ask the user’s permission before using the content they’ve generated for commercial use. However, sharing or retweeting a social media post on your company’s social platforms doesn’t require permission.

Social media is an excellent place to display your user-generated content, and many brands have made great use of this over the years.

For instance, if your company offers ecommerce development services, you might leverage user-generated content to showcase successful online stores or highlight products in action.

However, if you’re considering using UGC in marketing campaigns, you must contact the original creator and get informed consent. A simple email thread or direct message is usually enough to get them to sign off.

Just be polite and upfront about what you want to use their content for.

3. Ask questions to encourage conversation

Sometimes, you and your customers can create user-generated content naturally through conversations on social networks. Users enjoy engaging with the brands they frequently buy from, and by starting that conversation on social media, you can facilitate the growth of user-generated content without ever directly asking for it.

The “share” button is social media’s version of word-of-mouth advertising. Use that to your advantage.

screenshot of UGC LinkedIn post about ChatGPT

(Image Source: LinkedIn)

The above LinkedIn post is a great example of engaging UGC. The poster knows his audience’s pain point, targets it, and offers a solution by asking them to engage with the post. 900+ comments later, we’d call that a success.

You can do the same or simply create your own social posts and ask questions. Something as simple as, “Where do you normally use our product?” or “What’s your favorite product in our catalog?” can go a long way toward UGC generation. Include branded hashtags and encourage audience members to use them when they respond.

The beauty of this tactic is that you’re generating authentic responses by simply starting a conversation. If someone responds with some quality UGC content, share the response on your social pages and contact the user to see if they’ll let you use it on your website or advertising campaign.

4. Create live events

Social media live events can be a great place to drum up user-generated content. Go live on your social media group or one of your pages. You could feature a new product demonstration or a simple how-to guide. It’s very important for you to create a timeline of the key points you’ll be presenting so that your content doesn’t become scattered.

Your users can then leave live comments asking questions you can answer or share their experiences, which you can react to in real time. Users can also request to join your live stream through video, which can be a UGC gold mine. Having a live video or video event conversation with a satisfied customer can go a long way toward winning the hearts and minds of your audience.

screenshot of Instagram live video

(Image Source: TechCrunch)

This kind of content is simultaneously corporate messaging and user-generated content, making it a unique way to create social proof while also getting your message across to prospective customers.

5. Incentivize content creation

While it would be great if we could just sit back and let our audience create content of their own accord with no coaxing whatsoever, that’s not always realistic. Sometimes, users need a little push to create content. That can easily come in the form of incentives.

When we say incentives, we’re not solely referring to giveaways like monetary or material incentives. Sometimes, people just want to have their stories shared with the masses.

Take, for example, Nike, a one-stop shop for athletic apparel and footwear. Their Instagram page has a story highlights section dedicated to its customers and collaborators. Additionally, the company collects all its tagged UGC and displays them on the “Tagged” posts for potential consumers to explore.

This is an excellent example of social proof for a brand that incentivizes customers to share their experiences. By sharing and using Instagram, they can appear on Nike’s page to over 300 million followers.

screenshot of Nike's Instagram profile

(Image Source: Instagram)

You can also run contests on social media. For example, encourage users to share images of themselves using your products while including a branded hashtag.

You can then share these posts on your social media pages. At the end of the contest, randomly draw a winner from the pool of contestants for a prize. This could be a free product or a percentage off future purchases.

Competitions like these generate not only new followers and potential leads but also UGC for the brand. It increases brand awareness and provides UGC to use later in the company’s social media feed.

Talk about a cost-effective marketing strategy.

6. Make the process exciting

People like to compete, and the more exciting and creative you can make your user-generated content initiatives, the more results you’ll see.

Of course, offering incentives is one way to make the process exciting, as we covered in the last section. But you can also make the experience exciting, coaxing users to take action through fun, creative projects.

A great way to do this could be to ask users to incorporate your products into a popular TikTok dance or create a song parody about your company and products. Content campaigns like this are ideal for re-sharing and, when done well, quickly capture the attention of target audiences.

By infusing excitement and fostering participation through creative UGC initiatives, you’re not just creating engaging content, you’re also laying the groundwork for effective marketing strategies. These strategies will resonate with your audience’s preferences and interests, leading to stronger brand loyalty and increased conversions.

One of the most frequently cited examples of viral user-generated content is Starbucks’ white cup campaign (#whitecupcontest). Coffee fans could enter to win a $300 gift card by decorating a white reusable cup and posting a photo of their design on social media.

As artists and doodlers put their unique spin on (and surrounding) the classic siren logo, they shared and re-shared Instagram posts with the hashtag #whitecupcontest.

Starbucks White Cup Contest example

(Image Source: Instagram)

This type of user-generated content is exactly what makes unforgettable marketing campaigns. Starbucks’ UGC strategy made brand advocates of existing and potential customers worldwide, and the brand reaped the benefits.

The resulting social media content from the campaign received over 4,000 entries in just three weeks — a marvel of social media marketing.

7. Gather customer reviews

Customer reviews can be some of the very best types of UGC. That’s why you should constantly gather your best reviews and promote them in your UGC campaigns and social media platforms.

Contact those customers and interview them for additional content to expand reviews into case studies whenever possible. These can have a tremendous impact on conversion rates.

Product reviews can be a great form of user-generated content because they share first-hand customer experience. 

screenshot of monday.com review on Codeless.io

(Image Source: Codeless)

Let’s say you are selling something vital to safety, like dash cams for trucks. People want to know that other users feel protected when using these products. To demonstrate this, you can take the top reviews from your website and share them in different formats on your social media channels.

Your products need review pages dedicated to them, but it’s also a good idea to curate some of the best reviews and create a customer testimonials page. These can include both written reviews and video testimonials.

Video testimonials can have a huge impact on prospective customers. Not only are they getting a customer’s unfiltered opinions about your products or services, but they can also see this person and look into their eyes. That goes a long way toward establishing trust.

Suppose you see a particularly glowing review posted for your business. In that case, you can always contact the person who wrote it and see if they’d be willing to sit for a video testimonial to share their feelings on camera.

These can’t be overly scripted and should include different camera angles to keep the viewer engaged. If you can incorporate b-roll footage, that’s even better.

Include links to your testimonials pages in customer emails, social media posts, advertising campaigns, and landing pages. If you have video testimonials, you can include them on the landing pages to help catch the customer’s eye and instantly establish trust.

8. Be clear about what you’re looking for

Before you seek user-generated content, you must first generate a plan. Developing a new content strategy isn’t a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants process.

Strategize beforehand, decide what kind of content you want to generate and what you’re ultimately looking to achieve through said content, and then lay out how you plan to gather it.

Be specific when formulating your plans with realistic numbers set as goals. If you’re looking to incorporate user-generated content into your marketing plan to help reduce content generation costs by 5%, write that down and include it as a benchmark you can measure your success against.

The plan should be specific but also open to change. If something isn’t working, don’t doggedly stay the course. That helps no one, and sometimes, on the road to finding what you think you need, you’ll find something even better.

9. Converse on social media

Conversation produces the best, most authentic user-generated content. That conversation occurs between you and your customers on social media. But this goes beyond simply asking questions, as discussed earlier in this guide. You should also respond to your customers’ tweets, posts, and comments, encouraging them to do the talking.

Some businesses know or understand that the best way to have a social media presence is to engage the users, hire influencers and let them do the talking.

Engagement is huge, and it’s a two-way street. You can’t expect users to engage with your posts if you don’t engage with theirs. Answer their questions, comment on memes they share, join in on the conversation, and befriend your best customers.

This give-and-take not only creates a massive opportunity for user-generated content but also opens the door to brand loyalty. It’s the fastest way to create a massive pool of recurring customers.

10. Create shareable content

If you want users to interact with your content and create their own, you must create shareable social media posts that delight your audience and encourage interaction.

pie chart showing topics covered in highly-shared headlines

(Image Source: Buffer)

Try to make your audience laugh, appeal to their pain points, and be clever and original in your posts. By doing this, you’ll encourage sharing.

Sometimes, when users share content, they include their own comments. This counts as user-generated content, and you can then, in turn, share those comments on your pages.

Conclusion

User-generated content can be a considerable part of your marketing plan. But you must generate that content and encourage your audience to participate if you want to become a user-generated content marketing master.

To review, when trying to generate UGC:

  • Make the submission process simple
  • Ask permission before using content
  • Ask questions to engage with your audience
  • Create live events on social media
  • Incentivize the creation of content
  • Make the content creation process exciting or fun
  • Gather customer reviews
  • Create a clear plan for your UGC
  • Converse with your audience on social media
  • Create shareable content

By sticking to these ten tips, you’ll be able to let your audience do the work for you and inject trust and social proof into your marketing efforts.

Get long-term ROI.

We help you grow through expertise, strategy, and the best content on the web.