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How to Create a User-Generated Content Marketing Strategy

Putting together a user-generated content marketing strategy can be a great way to engage your audience and leverage their creativity – all while boosting your brand’s visibility.

After all, when your customers share their own experiences with your products or services, it doesn’t just add authenticity to your brand, it increases your reach and deepens customer loyalty. With this in mind, and if done correctly, a user-generated content marketing strategy can ultimately transform customers into powerful brand advocates and continue to build momentum for your brand.

But we’re probably getting a little ahead of ourselves here.

Before we can get into how to launch a successful campaign, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of user-generated content and how it can benefit your business – and, of course, what a user-generated content marketing strategy even is.

From understanding what drives your audience to finding ways that’ll encourage them to contribute, and ensuring that the content aligns with your brand’s values and image – there’s a lot to consider before you dive in.

Let’s take a look at the process step by step.

What is user-generated content?

First things first, it’s important to try and define what user-generated content – sometimes referred to as UGC for short – actually is and what it entails.

In short, UGC refers to any form of content created by the consumers rather than the brand itself. 

This means that instead of professional marketers putting together the narratives, your customers – aka, the people actually using your products or services – are the ones creating content for your brand and showcasing their real-life experiences.

Typically, the term applies to photos, videos, reviews, social media posts, and even blogs – all of which can enhance your brand’s online presence.

Great examples of user-generated content

When it comes to content marketing, sometimes things are a little easier shown than told

So, let’s take a look at some examples of brands currently using user-generated content that knocked it out of the park:

1. Away

The suitcase and travel brand uses playful clips filmed by their customers to showcase their personality and add a touch of fun to their marketing. Some might think selling suitcases and bags would turn boring very quickly, right? Well, Away doesn’t…

2. Glossier

Glossier loves showcasing its customers’ selfies and videos to promote its products and bring the brand closer to the public (relatability is key here!). By sharing UGC on their social media profiles, they’re all about making their products look and feel accessible to everyone – from everyday girlies to fashion-obsessed trendsetters.

3. Crocs

To try and reach out to a younger audience – and transform their reputation from being an “uncool” shoe to a cult favorite – Crocs uses UGC to get on Gen Z’s level. By partnering with influencers to advertise their product, they avoid the pitfall of “trying too hard”.

So… what’s a user-generated content marketing strategy?

Well – considering that user-generated content is basically a fancy term for user-made content – a user-generated content marketing strategy means making the most of this resource and opportunity to engage and expand your audience.

Whether you decide to use it for product promotion or brand storytelling is entirely up to you. However, one thing’s pretty certain: a user-generated content marketing strategy is all about leveraging authentic customer voices and building stronger connections to enhance brand trust and reach.

How to design a user-generated content marketing strategy

Designing a user-generated content marketing strategy involves careful planning and understanding of what motivates your audience to engage with your brand. 

It is *NOT* about getting a friend of a friend who knows how to use a phone to create content that looks ‘authentic’ – there’s strategy and creativity behind each piece!

Here’s a handy six-step guide to how you can build a UGC marketing strategy that both encourages participation and amplifies your marketing efforts:

1. Set clear objectives

Before diving into a user-generated content campaign, it’s important to define what you hope to achieve. 

Are you looking to increase brand awareness? Do you want to boost sales? Are you more about improving customer loyalty? Setting specific, measurable goals will help you tailor your strategy and measure its success.

2. Know your audience

Understanding who your customers are and what motivates them is essential before launching any new campaign. Analyze your audience’s behavior and interests, and then use what you learn to create content prompts that will resonate with them. 

These insights will guide you in designing campaigns that your audience will be more likely to participate in (and engage with).

For example – if you’re a cocktail bar, UGC content could be someone taking videos of their drinks and sharing a ‘point-of-view’ of their table. If you’re eager to get organic UGC content, try offering a raffle for patrons to participate in during a specific day and time – any mentions of your cocktail bar on social media will be reposted and they’ll be interested in to win a prize!

3. Create simple guidelines

Your audience will need clear instructions on what type of content to create and how to submit it. That said, make sure you establish simple, easy-to-follow guidelines that clarify what is expected. 

Also, it’s important to communicate how the content will be used, respecting their privacy and rights in the process.

4. Provide incentives

Encouragement can take many forms – from contests and giveaways to featuring user content prominently on your platforms. 

To maximize the amount of content you receive, you’ll want to choose incentives that align with your brand and that genuinely value user contributions. This will not only increase participation rates, but it’ll also make participants feel seen by your brand.

5. Monitor and moderate

As submissions start rolling in, monitor the content to ensure it aligns with your brand’s image and values. Ideally, you’ll want to set up a process for reviewing and approving submissions before they go live – especially since user-generated content can vary widely in quality and relevance. 

Effective moderation will help maintain the quality and appropriateness of the content that’s shared under your brand’s name.

6. Leverage the content

Lastly, make the most out of the content you receive. Showcase standout submissions on your primary marketing channels, integrate them into your advertising campaigns, or use them for product feedback and development. 

This won’t just enhance your content pool, but it can also help strengthen the bond you share with your community, as well as the bond they share with each other.

The benefits of a user-generated content marketing strategy

Truth is, integrating user-generated content into your marketing efforts can be a game-changer for your brand in terms of credibility, SEO, and more.

Here are just some of the benefits that come with adopting a UGC mindset:

1. Builds trust and credibility

Most people trust content from other users a lot more than traditional advertising. That said, showcasing real customer experiences can make your brand seem more reliable and authentic.

2. Boosts engagement and community feel

User-generated content generally encourages people to interact more with your brand and each other. This can help build a community of engaged followers connected to what you do and who you’re doing it for.

3. Saves you and your business money

Creating constant high-quality content can really get expensive. With user-generated content, your customers take care of part of the work, which can cut down on your marketing costs.

NOTE: This DOES NOT mean that you shouldn’t pay the Creators who are taking the time and energy to produce content for your brand. Always, always, always pay your Creators for their talent and creativity!

4. Provides valuable customer insights

Seeing what your customers post about your products gives you access to direct feedback on what they like or don’t like. This information can, in turn, help you better meet their needs and improve your offerings in the future.

5. Improves SEO

User-generated content can help boost your SEO efforts by bringing more traffic to your site and improving your search engine rankings thanks to fresh content that’s filled with relevant keywords.

6. Extends your reach

When users share their content, they introduce your brand to a wider audience. This natural promotion can expand your reach further than most traditional marketing methods ever will.

Is creating a user-generated content marketing strategy for you?

Deciding whether or not a user-generated content marketing strategy is right for your brand comes down to a few key considerations: your goals, audience engagement preferences, and resource availability.

After all, this approach usually works best if you’re hoping to build deeper connections with your audience, enhance your brand’s authenticity, and expand your reach without a huge budget increase.

However, remember that success in this area also requires commitment. So, if you have the resources to manage this effectively and believe in the power of community-driven marketing… a user-generated content marketing strategy could be a perfect fit for your brand! 

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