How to Incorporate User Generated Content into Your Marketing Strategy

User-generated content (UGC) is becoming more important than ever. UGC is created by your audience, and when done well, it can amplify the conversation about your brand. Delegating some of the content-creation responsibilities to your audience may sound like a risky move, but it can really deliver a powerful punch.

Don’t Ignore the Power of User Generated Content

Incorporating UGC into content marketing strategies is a fast-growing trend that won’t slow down anytime soon. Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising report says consumers are more apt to trust recommendations from other people rather than brands. Eighty-three percent trust friends and family, and 66 percent trust consumer reviews found online—from people they don’t even know.

Research has shown that consumers trust customer content above any other content. Seventy percent of baby boomers are influenced by UGC, millennials even more so, at 84 percent. Without that trusted human voice, many millennials in particular aren’t even converting.

In addition, consumers are spending more time with content created by their peers. According to CrowdTap, 30 percent of millennials’ time spent on media is with content created by people just like them.

So, yeah, UGC is a pretty big deal.

How to Incorporate UGC Into Your Content Marketing Plan

Some straightforward ways to add UGC to your content strategy include embedding a social feed prominently on your website, hosting a UGC feed on your site as standalone content, or incorporating on-brand UGC into your social channels via reposts and shares. But in order for UGC to have a strong impact, it’s important to take a more strategic and thoughtful approach. Simply adding a social feed with your brand’s hashtag to your blog and calling it a day isn’t the most effective approach.

Let’s take a look at a few brands that really get it.

1440 Project by REI

REI is no stranger to powerful content marketing. Take a look at their 1440 Project, where the company asked customers to show how they get outside during the 1,440 minutes of the day. Using the hashtag #REI1440PROJECT, the company garnered more than a quarter-million posts during their campaign. Other brands even jumped on the bandwagon and submitted posts of their own.

Why it’s awesome

REI shares a passion for the outdoors with its customer base, which makes it easy to connect emotionally. But the concept of UGC went the extra mile through Camp Illustrated. User submissions inspired illustrations of the Instagram photos. And outdoor enthusiasts are still using the hashtag to this day.

Late-Night TV Show Hosts

When you think of content marketing, you might not think of TV. But several late-night broadcasts are capitalizing on the concept of UGC. It’s become so powerful that it’s turned into standalone segments on the shows (think of celebrities reading mean tweets on Jimmy Kimmel Live!).

Why it’s awesome

Remember when Kimmel had the genius idea to prank kids at Halloween? Parents all over the country submitted videos where they tell their children they’ve eaten all of their Halloween candy. The YouTube challenge has now become a good chunk of his YouTube content.

The other late-night Jimmy, host of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, also leverages YouTube and UGC for segments on his show. Several of his hashtags have gone viral, including #SuperBowlRaps, #AwwHellSnow, #StopItDad, #IfIWonPowerball and #MyFirstApartment. A recent late-night hashtag campaign, #BeforeFacebook was started by Chris Harwick on The Midnight Show. He inserts himself into conversations people are already having—allowing him to own it and turn it into content for his show.

Dads Doin’ Hair

Pantene took a page right out of the UGC playbook in their Super Bowl 50 Dad-Do campaign. They released a series of videos on YouTube and Super Bowl commercials that feature NFL stars styling their daughters’ hair with Pantene products. Since then, users have uploaded plenty of pictures and videos featuring styles by their own papas with the hashtag #DadDo. While the UGC isn’t hosted anywhere on Pantene’s sites, it has become a popular hashtag that has kept the conversation going long after the Super Bowl has ended.

Why it’s awesome

This campaign checked all the boxes: It was timely, relevant, relatable, it appealed to human emotion and was an effective use of celebrity endorsement—and surprisingly useful. Pantene showcased their products in a practical way and made hairstyling seem a lot less intimidating to dads. Plus, when done right, humor can be an incredibly effective marketing tool. Also, it was a really great moment for this Giants fan to see Jason Witten’s daughter choose colors that don’t support the Dallas Cowboys.

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There’s no denying that UGC is a powerful tool when used correctly. Take some tips from the UGC pros and, most important, have fun and get creative!

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