User-generated content is simply content that has been created and published by an unpaid contributor. Usually, it is fans promoting a brand. This lends authenticity to a brand over self-promotion. It can include several types of content like blog posts, websites, social media posts, testimonials, or images.
One of the best examples of user-generated content is Coca Cola. When they introduced personalized cans and bottles, fans loved them. Coca Cola announced a “Share a Coke” campaign and fans started sharing images of themselves drinking a can with their name on it all over social media.
This wasn’t just a fluke; it was a well-planned marketing campaign using user-generated content. It’s not the first time a brand has asked fans to share photos of themselves with the brand’s products, but it’s always been popular means of marketing.
In fact, 86% of millennials say that user-generated content is a good indicator of a brand’s quality and the direction of a new trend. And 68% say they take into account information that is shared on social media when they are making a purchasing decision.
User-generated content takes the focus off the “sales pitch” a brand may have and puts the focus on the customer; keeping the customer front and center. This customer-focused type of marketing allows a brand to build their trust factor faster and easier.
Shoppers are not interested in pushy sales tactics or commercials that tell them how great a product is. They want to hear from real users that it’s a good product. More and more shoppers spend time researching a product’s reviews more than the product’s features.
User-generated content creates stories and connections, allowing a brand to become part of the story. And social media helps to build on that story. When a user shares a product they like and tags the brand, it builds more traffic to the brand’s social media pages.
Not only does it create authenticity and trust, but it also builds community. People want to be part of a movement. Like the Coca Cola campaign, when they see a few people participating in the challenge, they want to participate too. And the trend grows. Users can feel like they’re part of something that’s bigger than themselves. They’re part of a large online community of people who have a common interest.
As if you need more incentive, user-generated content is also cost-effective. Get your followers involved and they do all the work for you without any cost to your bottom line.
Brainstorm the type of campaign you can start for your brand; the options are endless. In 2014, Starbucks started a White Cup Contest encourages customers to doodle on their white cups and share the images on social media. In just a three-week period, 4,000 customers had entered the contest.
Get your followers involved in marketing your brand with user-generated content. Start a contest or a request to share photos of your product in use. Be sure to create a campaign title and hashtag to go with it to encourage more followers. Then sit back and watch the magic happen.