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User Generated Content, The Key to Digital Marketing

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by Startacus Admin

Written by Anna Lemos- Anna is a creative content editor and strategist at Quick Formations, AKA Quick- an online Ltd. Company registration and formation service. Originally a designer, Anna has worked with various startups and SMEs creating graphics, social media campaigns and brand identities to catapult them into the market.  Here she picks apart the much-discussed role which User Generated Content (UGC) can play in a business’ digital marketing strategy.

User Generated Content and Digital Marketing 

User Generated Content: The key to powerful digital marketing

In an age of content marketing, User Generated Content (UGC) is the key to your consumer’s mind. Without it, you’re throwing away valuable engagement and trust.

But what actually is it?

UGC is any form of content (blog, tweet, video, etc.) that is produced by your users (i.e. not produced by a brand). It is normally made available on social media which can drive high engagement. According to Bazaarvoice, millennials are more likely to trust likeminded or experienced consumers over their acquaintances than the Baby Boomer generation. In short, a millennial won’t make a purchase without input from others.

Why exactly should you get on the UGC band waggon? Here are some convincing stats.

There is something known as the psychology of social proof that is entwined in consumers nowadays. They are attracted to products or services that others have engaged with and trust. Reevo surveyed that 70% of consumers place user recommendations and reviews over professionally written content. In fact, 86% of millennials concur that UGC is a good indicator of the quality of a brand. To put this into context, a third of young Brits admitted that social media had an impact on their vote in the last General Election because they were influenced by their friends. Saying this, eMarketer found that 65% of social media users aged 18-24 consider information shared on social networks before making a decision on purchase - or voting apparently.

In terms of purchasing decisions, it’s pretty clear why UGC is important, but here is another aspect of it. Kissmetrics found that 25% of search results for the top 20 global brands are links to UGC and there was a 28% rise in brand engagement when consumers saw both professional and UGC video content. It can also inspire new marketing campaigns

UGC = Purchasing decisions, brand engagement, campaign ideas, testimonials and brand loyalty. Not bad, hey?


Kia Understanding Their Customers' Decisions

Where do I start?

UGC relates to so many different aspects. The important thing is that it is easily sharable and thus, visible. It can compliment a campaign or you can ignite one.

Some of the most common types of UGC are:

  • Reviews

  • Facebook comments/posts

  • Blog comments

  • UG video

  • UG blog posts

  • Forums

  • Podcasts

Here are some ways to tap into using UGC.


Creating competitions are a great way to set your followers into an online frenzy and a chance for you to engage with new consumers too. The incentive, i.e. the prize, should correspond to the level of work the user has to put in.  Not only are they aiming to win a prize, but it gives the winner an opportunity to be named and famed by their favourite brand. Take this opportunity to promote the UGC piece they created as well as the actual individual. A good way of focusing on the winner is by having an interview with them.


Tourism Queensland Exceptionally Effective Campaign


Crowdsource marketing ideas

By talking to and monitoring your users on social media platforms, you can see what they are truly interested in. If you’ve got an idea, you can subtly test the concept on them and, if it’s a flop, you’ve saved a lot of time and money on a destined-to-fail campaign.

Creative community

You’d be surprised at how creative your consumers can be. Find a way of incorporating their creativity with your product or service to get some UGC going. Belkin nailed this concept by using UGC images on their product pages. It gave fans the chance to showcase their customised Lego phone cases on a global platform. #LEGOxBelkin for the win.

 User Generated Content and Digital Marketing


It seems obvious, but people love brands sharing their content and mentioning them. Retweets, Facebook shares or regrams are all great options. This is particularly powerful in fashion, retail, food and travel. Why not include them in a blog post and then mention them in social media?

How to create a UGC contest

One of the best ways to get UGC is to design a contest. This could be running side by side with an overriding campaign, or may be a one off. These are some of the main points to keep in mind when creating a UGC contest.

  1. Goals
    UGC contests take a lot of time, but, if executed correctly, are definitely worth the effort. In order for your contest to be effective you need a clear set of goals and ways of measuring them. This is known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). You could collect email addresses, Facebook likes, photo/essay/video submissions, links, site visitors, time on site, sales, and the list goes on. Pick a few measurements that will truly measure your goals.

  1. Contest rules
    Any UGC contest will require original content. That is kind of the point. You’ll need to also think how they are submitting their entry and what type of content you want them to create. This normally falls into 3 categories: text based, photo or video content.

    Referring to your goals and KPIs, figure out what information people will have to submit to enter. There is no point hosting a contest on Instagram if you want to collect emails for example.

    Set a time frame and choose a prize. There are no set rules on time frame, but normally the shorter the period the more excitement there is surrounding your contest. 1-2 weeks is normally a successful period. The prize is the main reason they are getting involved with your brand. You need to offer something of value to the competitors that relates to your brand, promotes your product or service, and that provides a good enough incentive for people to spend time creating content for your contest.

  2. Legal parameters
    You need to make sure that your contest sits within the law. That isn’t just general legal requirements, but also rules set by social networks.

    Have a read of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube’s contest guidelines.

  3. Optimisation
    You need to make your contest search engine friendly. Google continuously crawls sites for fresh links, so host your contest on your main website, not a microsite. Try to work in valuable keywords – without keyword stuffing – and optimise any meta data and other various tags.

    Sharing is a key component of UGC so make sure you have share buttons.

  4. Promotion
    You’ve got your contest, participation guidelines and legal requirements all sorted, now you need people to discover it. Start promoting it on the most relevant outlets you have. Think social media, emails, newsletters, banners ads, PPC, blog posts, press releases and on the actual packaging of your product. You need people to see your contest in an engaging way to let the magic happen.

  5. The winner is...
    There are several ways to choose a winner. You could let a member of staff choose, or leave it to the public vote by using social media or a widget to vote on your site. If you can get a celebrity judge on board, that is also a great opportunity to associate your brand with an icon or influencer.

    Then, you’ve got to notify and identify your winner. Don’t just email them, glorify them. Write a blog post or interview them. Publicise their winning entry and ask them what they’re going to do with their prize. You’re giving them a moment of fame, help them embrace it.

UGC is a great way to drive engagement, sales and brand awareness. Whether you’re looking for testimonials or an exciting way for users to get involved with your brand, UGC can lead you down a road of success. Similarly, negative reviews could be catastrophic so keep your users happy!

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Published on: 16th June 2016

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