In the last decade or so, the content marketing landscape has changed tremendously. After the advent of the smartphone and the rise of social media, brands have to generate compelling content to engage their customers. But, it is not enough to produce engaging content on social media. Brands have to ensure that the content is also authentic. The best way to do it by leveraging user-generated content (UGC). User-generated content lets your most passionate customers be your advocate and build a community around your products.

Nowadays, it has become very easy to create high-quality content since everyone has a smartphone with a powerful camera. Also the proliferation of visual platforms like Instagram, consumers are creating a huge amount of high-quality pictures and sharing them on social media. There are over 500 million users alone on Instagram and every day over 95 million posts are shared on the platform. Brands can take up this opportunity and use it to make authentic content and develop a personal relationship with their consumers.

Advantages of user-generated content

Improves the performance of marketing campaigns

Consumers these days are creating content in an unprecedented capacity and posting it on social media. Every time they get their hands on something new, the world knows about it through their social media feeds. The earned content of a brand usually always outperforms paid content and also brand generated content. When a user mentions a brand in their post, it just comes across as more authentic to other users which makes user-generated content so profitable. In fact, 90% of retailers who are using UGC  for promotions have seen remarkable results from their campaign.

(User-generated content for the brand Forloveandlemons)

Develop an authentic relationship with the consumer

Developing an authentic relationship with the consumer is an important part of marketing. Consumers gravitate towards a brand that is relatable for them. When a brand triggers a certain emotion or a sense of belonging, the consumer automatically supports that brand. Aerie is a sub-brand of American Eagle Outfitters which eradicated the concept of touching up pictures in photoshop for any of their campaigns. They also encouraged consumers to join the self-love movement with the hashtag #AerieReal. The concept resonated with so many young women and was a total hit. The brand reported an increase of 32% in revenue since the #AerieReal campaign. They also chose random girls from universities as their ambassadors.

This is just one example of how brands can encourage the audience to create content while building a relationship with them.

Connect different marketing experiences

Even if brands are able to create enough content for all their platforms on their own, it is important to create a personalized and integrated marketing strategy for the users. With earned content brands are uncovering a wealth of visual content that can be used on multiple platforms including social media, website, e-mails and even offline for example print. While photos and videos are the most common type of UGC, product reviews are also something that potential customers go through. Product reviews make up 29% of UGC that is created and shared. By using this UGC, brands create advocates for their products that showcase to diverse networks.

Why brands should implement user-generated content

User-generated content is an important part of any content marketing strategy. You can use it across any platform at any given time. The consumers are anyway creating this content; not using it would be a lost opportunity. Brands can reach a whole new market that they never even knew existed by using UGC.

Brands can no longer deny the power of consumer content. When used properly, earned content can transform a brand completely and can lead to deeper and more meaningful brand experiences. Brands should welcome the creative input of their most loyal customers and use the opportunity to reach a larger audience.