This process is the loophole to fast, engaging and fun content creation. Your followers become providers. User-generated content is nothing but content submitted for publication by the users, fans, or brand followers. This process helps the brand post relatable content for almost no cost.  

Bruno Estrella, growth manager at Webflow, defined user-generated content as a content type that is created by customers/users. This content can be in different formats like video, text, audio, etc.

User-content usually starts by asking users to submit the content in return for the completion of a campaign. To understand this better, let’s take an example.  

How User-Generated Content Works. 

One of the most significant user-generated content phenomena of the decade was the “Shot-on-iPhone” ad-campaign. For this, the iPhone users were asked to send in their best photos, shot using only the phone camera. 

These stunning and unedited made it on hosting boards, bus shelters, and social media posts with a single title, “Shot on iPhone.” This idea was a simple yet powerful way to showcase the capabilities of the iPhone. 

This ad also gave credit to the users who sent in their photos on each promotion in this process. This gave budding photographers an incentive to promote the phone further and send in pictures. It was a win-win situation for the brand and users alike.   

Using the hashtag #ShotOnIphone, users sent in their entries, and Apple remained spoiled for choice. In this way, Apple used the user’s content to highlight their most prominent selling point — the phone camera. 

Understand User-Generated Content For Brands. 

While we did state the example of one of this type’s most notable executions, there is no scale to define this movement. User-generated content included pictures, testimonials, videos, tweets, social media posts, and anything else that needs a user’s inputs. 

As said by Bruno Estrella, the content can be in any form you like as long as the users send them. The word “User-Generated-Content” is more of a buzzword that has morphed into bragging rights for the publishers. 

However, this is not a fresh idea. For as long as we know, newspapers have used this trick. With sections like “letters to the editors” or “send in your photos,” — newspapers beat the internet to this trend. 

Even today, newspapers have a section where they feature tweets and posts from the internet to showcase the online narrative of an issue. 

Another exceptional yet straightforward example of the trend is websites like Unsplash. The website is known as the go-to source for royalty-free images. In return, the photo-users give credit to the photographers for using it. 

Unsplash themselves do not own any of the photos. They opened the website to creators and photographers who upload their content with the hope of discoverability. 

But, Why Choose UGC? 

We now understand that UGC is the best way to create large volumes of content. But is this really worth the effort? And why should your brand not ignore this trend?

Here are a few simple reasons that will enlighten you. 

1. It’s FREE

Free, the one that can imperceptibly tip any scale. While there is a slight cost in gathering, reviewing, and filtering content — for the most part, it’s a free way to produce content. 

If you are looking to meet your weekly or monthly content volume, this process will give you genuine and straightforward user content. Most brands reward UGC with their own products or partner-awards. 

This process also gives you, the brand, a breathing room since large fractions of your budget do not drain if the campaign fails to provide the desired results.

2. Adds Authenticity To Your Work. 

It is unbelievably challenging to build a brand that looks authentic to the users. The internet has given rise to so many copy-cats and phony-brands; that proving your originality is a must-do for any company. 

Using user-generated content showcases your brand as one-with-the-users. This positive light on your brand will help new users buy your products without hesitation.

3.Helps Build A Following. 

The number-one reason most brands develop creative content is to build a following. Content drives users to your page; the easiest way to relate to your user is with the help of the user themself. 

Here is one simple way this works: featured users often share their content with their friends and family. For each of these organic engagements, it creates a domino effect of many more interactions. 

The two things that help build a community are a common influence and the shared fulfillment of needs. And UGC is a powerful way to spark those emotions.

4.People Trust Users. 

We have all heard that word-of-mouth marketing is one of the oldest tricks in the book. It is the same reason most of us still read the reviews before we buy an online product. This behavior stems from the experience of a fellow human being. 

As much as you can drive users to your doorstep with fantastic content, the final push for purchase towards an end-user can only be done through trust. User-generated content usually showcases your product in a good light. 

Suppose we look at the same example of the iPhone above. The stunning photos, with real names, were the best proof a potential buyer needs to push the product in their favor. 

Final Thoughts, 

The final questions are: how do you get users to participate in a UGC strategy? 

One, incentivize your ask. If you are giving the users a discount, reward, or a gift in return for the content, they see a reason to post. Second, instigate or motivate the need for UGC into the purchasing journey. 

For example, a car dealer often asks users to post a photo of them picking up the new ride online. Lastly, create events, spaces, or experiences that encourage people to come out and talk about your brand. The simplest example is a store that has unusual art that people click photos with. 

The deeper you search, the better the ideas. If you are selling online — you are sure to run into UGC, either by choice or unintentionally. 

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By Daniel Garcia

Daniel is a business editor who writes about various topics such as technology, health and finance. He works along with the colourful folks that build a nation through tech startups. He is also a professional football player and video games enthusiast.