What Is User-Generated Content Marketing?

User-generated content marketing almost seems like a dream scenario for an inbound marketing team.

Imagine a world where you no longer had to spend hours upon hours creating content marketing campaigns, but instead left all the hard work to your customers and followers. Can you picture it in your mind?

Well, if you can, then you have just imagined a world of user-generated content marketing. And there’s good news – it doesn’t have to be imaginary.

What Is User-Generated Content Marketing?

To understand what user-generated content marketing is, all we need to do is take a quarter-step back and consider the concept of user-generated content (UGC).

User-generated content refers to the content that has been wholly and 100% created by unpaid contributors.

That’s right. Marketing content that literally magics out of thin air at no cost to the business that will ultimately benefit from it.

Who would create such content, we hear you cry, especially for no money?

The answer is quite simple – fans. And when fans start sharing their user-generated content amongst their own networks (again at no cost to the business), then we are in the realms of user-generated content marketing.

UGC marketing can take the form of images, videos, blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts, testimonials, infographics – you name it. Whenever users of a brand or product start promoting themselves, they are partaking in the practice of user-generated content marketing.

Read about the work we've done for clients on content marketing projects

Examples of User-Generated Content Marketing

User-generated content marketing is best illustrated by example. One of the best is the #PlayWithOreo campaign used by one of the world’s favourite cookie brands – Oreo.

The hashtag encourages followers of the Oreo Instagram page to post images featuring Oreo cookies being used – or “played with” – in all sorts of innovative ways. Along with recipes and other foodie indulgences, fans of Oreo like to post things like this:

USer Generated Cont with #PlayWithOreo campaign

And this:

User generated content is often at its best when it's creative and surprising

How cool is that?

At no cost to Oreo itself, cookie fans are inventing genius little user-generated content marketing campaigns that promote the brand message in all sorts of ways. (Hmm – think we’ll be sitting down with a hardback, a glass of milk and a biscuit after work this evening. Seems fun and relaxing for some reason…)

One truly dedicated fan of the Play With Oreo concept even put together this little video called “Oreo Trick Shots”, which, at the time of writing, has well over 600,000 views on YouTube.



User-Generated Content Marketing Campaigns Work

As we say, user-generated content marketing campaigns are a dream come true for inbound marketing teams.

For one thing, such campaigns work. According to a report by Business Insider, retail shoppers who interact with user-generated content are 97% more likely to convert than those who do not, and brands see a 78% conversion lift when customers interact with UGC.

Additionally, average order values go up 10% for retailers and 8% for brands when user-generated content is involved, with revenues increasing 106% and 75% respectively.


(Image source: businessinsider.com)

Ok, so we can see that user-generated content marketing campaigns work – the question is: why do they work?

Well, it all comes down to trust.

Recent research by ratings and reviews platform Feefo finds that consumers trust online reviews and other endorsements by consumers far more than they do any messages the brand itself puts out, and indeed more than recommendations made by family members, friends or celebrities. Key findings from the research are as follows:

  • 75% of consumers are influenced by good reviews
  • Less than half of people are influenced by family, celebrities and friends
  • 85% of UK consumers will always check out online reviews before making a purchase 

And this of course makes perfect sense. When we’re deciding where to spend our hard-earned cash, we naturally want to take guidance from people who are as neutral as possible – complete strangers.

And, if those complete strangers have gone to the trouble of not only leaving a positive review of a product or brand, but actually creating something cool and exciting about it to share with the world without getting paid to do so – well, what better endorsement could there be?

Read about the work we've done for clients on content marketing projects

Another reason that user-generated content marketing works comes down to the fact that today’s consumers are eager to partake in it. Indeed, a separate report from The Bazaarvoice reveals that 64% of millennials and 53% of baby boomers want more ways to share their opinions about their favourite brands online. And, even if they don’t want to participate in generating the content themselves, both cohorts overwhelmingly turn to user-generated content to inform their purchase decisions.

Both millennials and boomers trust user generated content more than brand-produced media

(Image source: resources.bazaarvoice.com)

Another Model Example: Lego

We’re of course all familiar with Coca-Cola’s famous “Share a Coke” campaign – perhaps the most famous of all user-generated content marketing campaigns, in fact. But the one we like the best comes from Lego.

Lego has a genius user-generated content marketing campaign called Lego Ideas. The premise behind it is that Lego fans are invited to submit their own ideas for brand new Lego sets. But the beauty lies in the fact that each user who puts a new idea forward must independently gain the support from 10,000 other people before Lego will consider the proposal.

Lego have a great system for user generated content by inciting their customers to create new product suggestions

Everyone who wants to see their ideas for Lego sets come to life has to create their very own marketing campaigns to garner support, turning them literally into unpaid inbound marketers for the Lego brand themselves – even if their ideas never come to fruition.

Some fans have taken this task extremely seriously, and have created Facebook pages, Twitter campaigns, YouTube videos – all with the effect of promoting the Lego brand, and all at absolutely zero cost to Lego itself. Here’s the YouTube video promoting a Lego Ideas set for none other than the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.


Now it’s Your Turn

User-generated content marketing is a powerful tool, and no inbound marketing strategy should be without it. The trick to get one started often comes in the form of a #hashtag – such as #PlayWithOreo or #ShareACoke.

If you can kick start a craze that gets users of your product, whatever it may be, creating and sharing their own content on social media, and, importantly, encourage its spread by getting involved with the fun and games yourself, you’ll have the basis for something special indeed. User-generated content marketing – it’s your secret sauce to inbound marketing success.

Read about the work we've done for clients on content marketing projects



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