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5 ways to use user-generated content in marketing

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 06 Nov, 2018
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Leverage the power of user-generated content to drive traffic and increase conversions

User-generated content (UGC) has become an important part of the content marketing strategy in the current era where customers are ready to rave about your products or services online. UGC refers to the content that is created by the users of a brand. It can be anything from comments, reviews, and images to social media posts.

According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92% of consumers trust organic, user-generated content more than they trust traditional advertising. This is because brands don’t pay for UGC, it is unbiased and created by users because they like the offerings of a business. As a result, UGC is perceived as more authentic and honest.

User-generated content acts as social proof to promote your brand’s message, helping you expand your social followers, strengthen relationships with clients, instill trust in the target audience, build SEO value and boost sales. Below are five effective ways to use UGC to ensure success in your marketing efforts:

1. Reviews

Over 70% of consumers say they look at product reviews before making a purchase. Reviews show your potential customers that your offerings are reliable. Ratings and reviews can help you increase traffic to your website, build dependability, and enhance conversion rates.

You should encourage your customers to leave reviews about your brand where possible. You can allow them to write reviews either on your website, Facebook page or third-party review sites like Yelp, Google, G2Crowd, TripAdvisor, etc. Both on-site and off-site user-generated reviews are important when it comes to conversions.

You can incentivize your customers to motivate them to write reviews by providing them with coupons, reward points, gift cards, etc. Try sending them emails with incentive keywords in your subject line in order to get more reviews, as email subject lines have the biggest impact on buyers.

When you get negative reviews, consider them as opportunities to earn the trust of your customers. Be courteous and respond to each customer personally to show you care about their views and experience. Remember that both positive and negative reviews play key roles in terms of helping a brand look authentic.

Take a look at the reviews received by a dress on the  Modcloth website. It has over 1,600 reviews, most of which are positive.

UGC reviews for ModCloth

Showing buyers this many user-generated reviews can prove to be very effective in enhancing sales for your business.

2. Hashtag contests

One of the ways to get customer content is to host contests on social media, create unique hashtags and get your followers to contribute to your hashtag. With a UGC hashtag contest, you can encourage followers to share content on social media, along with using a particular hashtag. Users can share content like photos and videos accompanied by a specific hashtag, in order to win prizes.

By using specific hashtags and popularizing them, your followers can push your hashtag to trend. This can help to enhance engagement with your target audience, build brand awareness and, ultimately, boost sales.

Create hashtags that are easy to remember and aren’t difficult to spell in order to ensure success. It's also important to use hashtags that set your brand apart from your competitors, also including your branded hashtag in all your posts.

Popular fashion designer Marc Jobs, for example, declared that his company would cast the model for their next advertising campaign through social media platforms Twitter and Instagram. Users who wished to participate were required to post an image on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #CastMeMarc. The contest was extremely popular and within 24 hours there were 15,000 hashtag entries.

Hashtag Contest

3. Video Content

Video is a really effective way to create UGC irrespective of what your content is. It can help your audience connect with you in ways other media can’t.

According to Octoly, on average, user-generated videos about a brand were viewed 10 times more than official brand videos on YouTube.

User-generated videos have immense potential for shareability and there is a higher possibility of them going viral, which can help to boost your following substantially.

UGC videos offer original perspectives to your products and services, giving credibility to your brand. They provide audience-trusted insights into your business’ genuineness and integrity, boosting your brand image. Using UGC videos is better than traditional marketing, as they can help you engage your audience and show the support of your customers.

Pampers’ Love, Sleep and Play campaign included a UGC video. The brand created an effective video using the curated content from the customers. The customers were asked to submit videos of babies through Facebook, which were then combined to create a single video. In the video, the babies were shown playing, falling asleep and having fun together, which was relevant to the brand's audience, leading to positive feedback.

4. Gamification

Another way to create UGC and engage users is through gamification. In gamification, users are required to complete a few tasks and are then rewarded and recognized for their participation.

Brands use concepts like levels, high-scores, badges, leaderboards, points, etc. to make users complete tasks and share their achievements. You too can give prizes to the winners of the games like offering them special discounts, unlocking badges, making them a part of your VIP club, etc. to increase engagement.

Small incentives inspire users to put extra efforts to do things they otherwise wouldn’t. Gamification, therefore, allows you to build a long-term relationship with your clients and helps to transform followers into loyal customers, encouraging them to make repeat purchases from you.

Nike had leveraged gamification to stay connected with its customers. In the Nike+ campaign, the brand incorporated gamification into its Nike+ fuelband app. The runners could track their physical activity including distance, time, pace, calories burnt, etc. from the app. The app was also linked to social media for users to compete against each other and share their results, helping the brand increase its presence and visibility.

After the users completed different levels, they were rewarded with badges and trophies, which lead to further engagement and encouraged customers to buy Nike products. The brand could also collect users’ data to segment and market its products through gamification.

5. Content for holiday seasons

The holiday season offers many opportunities for businesses to engage with their customers. Brands can humanize themselves by connecting with their followers on an emotional level.

However, you need to come up with unique and engaging ways to include UGC in your marketing strategy for holiday seasons or major events. You have to determine your target audience and what your UGC holiday goals are, with these decisions allowing you to choose the best-suited platforms. Followers can be asked to share images, submit videos, use your hashtags, write testimonials, participate in contests, etc. and then share that among friends.

During the holiday season in December, Starbucks launches the #RedCupContest for its followers. The brand invites fans to share their customized coffee cups on social media and get a chance to win Starbucks gift card.

Holiday season content - Starbucks

This is a smart campaign using seasonal UGC because to post photos followers have to buy a red cup from Starbucks first. The coffee giant incentivizes its fans to create engagement and increase its brand awareness. By generating excitement in your customers during the holiday season, you too can encourage them to create UGC and positively impact your sales.


User-generated content can spread awareness about your business and solidify your brand image, enabling you to get a competitive edge. With the above tips, you can leverage UGC to build a strong online presence and drive engagement from your target audience.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to gathering user-generated content to ensure success. Your UGC strategy will be totally dependent on your business goals and the target audience.

By using effective methods, you can give a proper direction to your UGC efforts. So, include user-generated content in your digital marketing strategy and get ready to derive positive results as reliability and authenticity rules the marketing world.


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