Millennial Report: The Benefits of User-Generated Content

Everyone loves Super Bowl commercials, right? We all remember the iconic Pepsi ads over the years. It’s easy to appreciate the creativity that went into those commercials. 

But if I’m being honest, I don’t typically find big-business marketing campaigns compelling. They often feel overly prescribed and inauthentic to me. And I’m not alone. Studies show young people “prefer seeing actual customers in promotional materials. As many as 82% trust a brand more if they use real customers in advertising, while only 26% of respondents trust a company more if they feature paid spokespeople.” 

Unlike traditional marketing tactics, user-generated content (UGC) often seems more trustworthy and relatable than multi-million dollar ads. Audiences see themselves reflected in user-generated marketing and feel connected to the people behind the posts. Plus, UGC usually showcases a broader range of perspectives and diversity than we might see from traditional media sources. 

In the world of marketing, user-generated content has become an immensely valuable asset. Let’s explore what UGC is and why it’s essential for ecommerce retailers.

What is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content is any promotional material created by consumers rather than brands. UGC provides social proof and authenticity to brand messaging, ultimately helping to build community and consumer trust. This content can come in many forms, including reviews, photos, videos, blogs, social media posts, and more.

Though they may seem similar, UGC is different than influencer marketing. Influencer marketing typically involves partnering with a social media influencer with a large following to create sponsored content promoting a brand’s product or service. The influencer is compensated for their work, and the brand benefits from exposure to the influencer’s audience. On the other hand, UGC is content created by consumers or fans of a brand, often shared on social media platforms. UGC is typically unpaid and feels more authentic to consumers because it’s created by people who use and love the brand. While both influencer marketing and UGC can effectively promote products or services, influencer marketing tends to be more controlled by the brand, while UGC is more spontaneous and unpredictable. 

These examples showcase how retailers use UGC in their marketing strategies:

ASOS #AsSeenOn

ASOS’ #AsSeenOnMe campaign encouraged social media users to share photos and content displaying ASOS products. ASOS featured this content on their Instagram page and website. Along with their content, users posted the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe, which was used over 1 million times by 2021. 

Starbucks’s #WhiteCupContest

Starbucks launched their White Cup Contest inspired by customer doodles on their mostly-white paper cups. They encouraged customers to draw on their products, then post a photo of their finished cup to social media with the tag #WhiteCupContest. After generating millions of posts, the winner was chosen and had their design printed on a limited edition Starbucks reusable plastic cup. 

Why is UGC Important for eCommerce Retailers?

UGC has become a critical element of ecommerce marketing strategies. Here’s why: 

  • Builds trust and credibility. Consumers are more likely to trust the opinions and recommendations of their peers than they are to trust traditional marketing messages. When a customer sees a positive review or photo from real people, they’re more likely to make a purchase.
  • Provides social proof. Social proof is the idea that people generally follow the actions of others. UGC provides social proof by showcasing how others have used and enjoyed a product, helping convince potential customers that it’s worth buying.
  • Increases engagement and reach. The more eyes on your brand, the better, right? UGC acts like word-of-mouth recommendations, getting brands in front of people who may have never heard of them. Friends and family who see UGC from trusted loved ones are likelier to visit those retailers’ websites.
  • Helps to generate content. By encouraging customers to share experiences with their products, retailers can collect a wealth of free content that they can use for marketing campaigns. This helps to save time and resources that would otherwise be spent creating content in-house.

Ways to Incorporate UGC Into Your Marketing Strategy

Curate a unique hashtag 

By curating a unique hashtag and promoting user-generated content, ecommerce retailers can increase engagement and brand awareness on social media. Start by choosing a hashtag that’s easy to remember and relevant to your brand or products. Then, encourage followers to use the hashtag when sharing photos or videos of themselves with the merchandise. 

Create a product challenge

Design a challenge that’s fun, creative, and easy to participate in. The challenge should be related to your brand or products and encourage users to share photos or videos of themselves with your merchandise. Consider offering prizes or discounts to users who participate in the challenge.

Retweet comments

Retweeting customer comments for user-generated content is a great way for ecommerce retailers to showcase positive feedback and build brand trust. By sharing customer comments on social media, retailers demonstrate that real customers value their products and services. This can be particularly effective for attracting new customers who are more likely to trust the opinions of their peers.

Share tutorial videos

Looking for a way to showcase your products in action? Try sharing user-generated tutorial videos. Instructional videos are often highly shareable and help to increase brand awareness. Additionally, tutorial videos can help to reduce customer inquiries and returns by providing customers with clear instructions on how to use and care for products.User-generated content has become incredibly valuable for ecommerce retailers marketing to Millennial and Gen Z consumers.

For more tips on marketing to a young customer base, keep up with Sophelle’s monthly Millennial Report!