What is User-Generated Content (UGC)?

We have all probably heard the phrase ‘user-generated content’, or UGC, before. But, have never really understood the effectiveness or meaning with marketers and users around the IoT. UGC is any form of content created by users of a service that is made available to the public, which includes blog, wikis, videos, comments or e-commerce. This form of information that really started to take off in the mid-2000s started to provide a way for users to see the news, entertainment, advertisements, gossip, and research.

What makes UGC so effective?

When we look at what makes this form of marketing so effective, there are three big reasons why it has been able to produce such great results.

Consumers prefer the organic approach

Looking at organic results can produce much more conversions for a brand that seeing content that is saturated with comparative advertising tactics. When we mention the term organic, we are really talking about authenticity. In fact, 63% of consumers say that they would much rather buy from a company that delivers more authenticity from the brand than from their competitor.

For example, Burberry was able to generate over 1-million followers on Facebook from their “Art of the Trench” campaign in 2014. In addition, Burberry saw a 50% YoY increase in e-commerce sales by producing content that came from the “everyday person”. It’s all about influencing the consumer to choose your brand over the competitor, and it’s effective.

‘Customers are creating the audience for you’

UGC is cost-effective for any company. This allows the consumer to penetrate into a target market that they probably didn’t even know existed. In addition, it can also be a smart approach to producing an effective cause-related ad campaign. For example, in 2014 the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral and generated over $100 million for the ALS Foundation.If we were to look further, a company that has been using this tactic for years is Coca-Cola. Maybe you’ve heard of them? Coke produced the “Share a Coke” campaign to influence users to post their personalized Coke bottle on various social media channels. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that Coke saw a 2% increase in revenue in 2011.

Creating a greater emphasis on content

Back in January, Facebook decided to mix-up the news feed algorithm to generate more “family-friendly” content for brands, users felt it was too commercialized so a change was needed. We are beginning to see a shift in user’s behaviors and young people are leaving the Facebook platform and becoming more involved with networks like Snapchat and Instagram. In addition, Buzzsumo recently reported that social shares per post have declined 50% in 2017 compared to 2015. We can also gather that platforms that are considered “Dark Social Media” (WOM, email, Slack, chat forums, etc.) are seeing an increase in users.

Dark social media platforms are a problem for marketers because they cannot be measured or tracked. So we are left twiddling our thumbs wondering if our campaign was effective or not. There is also the growing epidemic of ad blindness and ad blocking.

To clarify, ad blindness refers to users not even noticing the ad and becoming more immune to it. Similarly, ad blocking allows users to never even getting a chance for the ad to appear. This presents a problem because it means we are not creating content that users want to engage with.

In addition, if you say, “Well, I don’t like looking at content because it feels like I am trying to be sold something.” True. But for this instance, we should be thinking more like marketers and less like consumers. The day for lazy marketing is rapidly starting to go away and it’s time to start becoming more creative and innovative.


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