No doubt you’re on the hunt for a marketing strategy that will help your brand reach new heights in 2021. There are a lot of different techniques and approaches to choose from, ranging from tackling social media, incorporating video, maybe even tapping into traditional cold email outreach techniques. You need a marketing strategy that’s highly effective without requiring a lot of effort or money. The answer is a plan that capitalizes on user-generated content.

Across industries, brands of all sizes are incorporating user-generated content (UGC) into their marketing strategies and seeing big results. Imagine being able to cut back on your own content creation while still building trust with your target audience and driving sales. UGC is growing in popularity due to its effectiveness and reach among key demographics.

According to a Cloudinary UGC study, 78% of millennials and 70% of Gen X and Gen Z respondents said they rely on user-generated content when weighing a purchasing decision. It’s a no-brainer: seeing what other customers have to say about a product makes many consumers more inclined to buy. If you see the value in letting your most loyal customers authentically rep your brand, then it’s time to incorporate user-generated content into your marketing strategy.

What Is User-Generated Content?

First, you need to understand what exactly user-generated content is. For your current marketing strategy, you’re likely familiar with sharing content that you yourself have created. UGC is content that real consumers (usually your most loyal customers) have made about your products and services. It can include images, text, videos, and reviews. These users are not the same as influencers, not even micro-influencers. There are clear differences between the two:

User-Generated Content

“User-Generated Content is content from customers, users, and people. These people interact with your brand. The content can include video, images, social media posts, and reviews. Today’s marketing is not limited to social posts either. Therefore, user-generated content is any time a person makes content related to your brand.”

Influencer Marketing Content

“Influencer Content is a more specific segment of user content. It is still a person providing content and the content still relates to your brand. However, an influencer is different because they have an identifiable audience that they are sharing with. It is this audience that sets influencer content apart from the rest of the user-generated content on the internet.”

One popular way for customers to share UGC with their favorite brands is via social media platforms. Cultivate relationships with your customers who are already doing this organically. For example, Instagram app features like mentions and hashtags make finding UGC fast and easy. Then, you can take that content and repurpose it for your own marketing goals. It used to be difficult to share content created by others. Instagram now makes it easy for users to share each other’s posts. 

Sharing Insta Stories used to be even more difficult. You needed to be tagged in them in order to share them. However, you can now share Stories you’re not tagged in. With the legal permission of the owner using just a few simple steps. That little paper airplane icon sure comes in handy.

Marketing experts preach that the best marketing is customers who will promote your business to their families, friends, and colleagues. UGC is the result of customers loving your business so much that they are inspired to create content and share it with the world. Even if the content you’re creating for your brand is killer, it still doesn’t hold a candle to UGC. According to a 2019 Stackla survey, consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view user-generated content as authentic compared to the content brands create themselves. Stackla notes:

“ 92% of marketers believe most or all of the content they create resonates as authentic with consumers. 51% of consumers say less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.”

Thus, UGC becomes critical to your marketing efforts, and you can get big results without putting in a lot of effort when you make user-generated content part of your strategy.

Tips to Make UGC Part of Your Strategy

Now that you understand what user-generated content is and how it can grow your business, you need a plan for incorporating UGC into your marketing strategy. Your social media strategy is the easiest place to get started. Forget vanity metrics for a second: any boost UGC gives to your social performance is a bonus. The real goal with this digital marketing tactic is lead generation:

Social Media is a crucial way to reach your customers. However, instead of focusing on more likes, concentrate on the quality of the content you share. Through your social media posts ensure that:

  • You build a memorable and engaging brand across your social media platforms
  • Invest in quality content that is informative, creative, and entertaining. 
  • Develop a social media plan that reflects your brand voice and message and aligns with your business goals. 
  • Enhance your sales funnel through posts that convert your followers into leads. 
  • Execute promotional campaigns for your products that foster lead generation.  
  • Reach your target audience through social content syndication platforms like Medium, Quora, Scoop it, etc. for better brand recognition.”

On Instagram, you can search hashtags related to your business to begin curating your collection of UGC. If accounts have tagged or mentioned your brand, be sure to look through those posts in search of UGC that matches your marketing message. When you find an image or video that you want to reshare to your grid, make sure you get that legal permission from the original content creator to avoid any copyright issues.

To help you build your content library faster and more efficiently, you can approach your customers. Ask for the type of UGC you’re most likely to share. Establish a campaign to encourage customers to create content about your products and services. Create and promote a branded hashtag so all the UGC is in one place. Not sure where you’ll share all this UGC? Social media channels, your website, email campaigns: anywhere you currently share your own content is an opportunity to share UGC instead.

Why Your Business Needs Gen X, Gen Z & Millennial Consumers

There’s a good chance your business is already targeting Gen X, Gen Z, and millennial consumers since they account for such a large part of the market (bonus points if you’re going after all three). Disposable income isn’t the only thing these generations have to offer. Gen X, Gen Z, and millennials are most likely to create content about their experiences with products and services, according to the Cloudinary UGC study.

Cyclically, as noted by the same study, they are attracted to reviews that mirror their own:

“The younger Gen Z and Millennial generations reported being more drawn to reviews that include photos and videos. Fifty percent of Gen Z and 49 percent of Millennials found pictures and videos (47 percent of Millennials and 52 percent of Gen Z) to be helpful in making purchasing decisions. This could help explain why Gen Z respondents surveyed name visual platforms such as Instagram (88 percent) and YouTube (85 percent) as their favorites compared to older generations that prefer Facebook.”

Not only do these consumers support your business with sales, but they are also the most likely to help you grow it with authentic UGC and vice versa. What goes around comes around, as it were. Whether your goal is to reach new customers or establish deeper relationships with your current base, organic marketing strategies that rely on word of mouth rather than overt sales pitches are more likely to build lasting awareness and foster genuine engagement. Your business needs gen x, gen z, and millennial consumers because they are the users who are going to create the content that will skyrocket your business.

When used alongside your own branded content, incorporating UGC is a powerful marketing strategy for boosting credibility, building trust, and driving sales. Instead of working harder in 2021 to reach your target audience, you can capitalize on the word-of-mouth recommendations from your most loyal customers to work smarter. Prioritizing UGC in your marketing strategy is a powerful and budget-friendly approach to highlighting your brand’s authenticity.


Alex likes to write about anything related to technology, marketing and gadgets. He sometimes reviews the latest tech and also writes on other blogs.