Whatever your marketing budget, or whether or not you have a content marketing team, all businesses have a great mine of content at their disposal, if only they know how to tap into it.

That’s the general public.

Every day, fans are creating this content for free. They are tweeting about your brand either positively or negatively, so why not incorporate it into your marketing strategy?

What is user-generated content?

Often shortened to UGC, this is any content created by online users that references your company in some way. It can be employed strategically to garner more brand awareness through greater reach than your company’s following alone.

Sorry, what was that?

In essence, if someone mentions your company in a tweet or a social media post, that is user-generated content. It’s any content about your brand that you didn’t create in-house.

This could be as little as:

  • a comment on your post;
  • a review on your review site;
  • people sharing images of your product;
  • bloggers drafting articles about you on their own site.

Very clever brands have taken this concept on board to create a wealth of quality posts and other content for their social media channels and website.

Starbucks created a campaign asking users to doodle their designs on a Starbucks paper cup and post a photo with the hashtag #whitecupcontest. One design was to be specially picked to be printed as a limited edition cup. This increased the company’s reach and grew their following considerably. It also gave rise to a wealth of shareable content.

How UGC could work for you:

If you sold paints for interiors, and you created a campaign to get people to show off their recently decorated room by sending photos to a Facebook page, then you would have got your audience to create some amazing, authentic images for you.

In the same way, a competition for recipes using your unique brand of jam would be an example of getting your audience to do the hard work of writing social media posts that you can then share from your account.

This could be more successful than your own content team’s effort, because people are more interested in real world examples of every day folk using your product. Plus, if your friend’s recipe is featured, you will feel proud of them and want to share it with your friends.

Would you feel the same way about sharing a blog post by a faceless staff writer?

This is also a great example of “social proofing”, as in evidence that other customers feel your product is worth using.


Let’s go back to that example of the jam recipes. Let’s say, instead of manufacturing jam, you owned a recipe site. Now, you might write some of those recipes yourself, but that’s a lot of time for you to spend in the kitchen creating all those new recipes.

Why not enlist the help of your foodie community to help you get more recipes on the website? They could send in video demos from their own kitchen, and you would brand it with your company logo.

By getting your community to help you out with your service, you are crowdsourcing, and participants would have the kudos of being featured on a well-known website, showing off their culinary prowess.

Go Pro is eternally quoted as the best in class for user-generated content. GoPro created a campaign asking for owners of GoPro cameras to submit their videos. The best videos get displayed on their website. GoPro did this to create a library of interesting and engaging content that had the potential to reach more users beyond fans of GoPro. It also cost the company virtually nothing compared to getting professionally developed films.