The rise of user-generated content

Vice President, Audience Engagement

Buzzword Breakdown: How the Pandemic Has Fueled the Growth of User-Generated Content

This is a first in a series of blogs that will dissect some of the marketing industry‘s most buzz-worthy words. Check back for more!

Why Your Marketing Strategy Should Include User-Generated Content

For marketers who specialize in storytelling and content, the surge in user-generated content (UGC) caused by the pandemic has been a bright light in an otherwise dark year.

Since marketers use more buzzwords than any of us can keep up with, let’s first start with a definition. UGC is content created organically by a brand’s audience that is then posted on various platforms like social media, blogs, online reviews, and podcasts.

UGC is considered not only a cost-effective and authentic digital marketing strategy, but also one that can position brands to make more meaningful connections than the traditional tactics. And it’s proving key in driving conversions and increasing sales. Comscore finds that social posts with UGC can result in 28% higher engagement than posts without. Further, a study by Stackla determined that 79% of people said UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

The Growth of User-Generated Content

Let’s get back to the UGC boom. This spike resulted in the pandemic-related limitations we’ve all experienced. Marketing agencies and media companies who are typically responsible for creating some of the flashiest content out there saw a major dip in production. While restrictions may be lifting, experts don’t anticipate a decrease in UGC; in fact, they expect the opposite.

According to eMarketer, “[t]his trend reflects a general climate of polarization in the US: Consumers are less trusting of the mainstream media and slick corporate marketing, turning instead to user-generated content and influencers to find their own truth.”

Some marketers might find this sentiment troublesome, but at FARM, we see it as an exciting opportunity. We know that in times of uncertainty and change, people seek the familiar. They want to connect to feel confident. Thanks to the technology at our disposal, this notion has translated to how we share information. Now, trust is a necessity and brands need to understand how much power lies in their consumers’ hands. They crave authentic, genuine experiences and dismiss (or sometimes permanently block) those that feel fabricated, disconnected, or forced. So why leave that up to chance?

Crafting Your UGC Strategy

To avoid the dreaded “unfollow,” brands need to craft and share meaningful stories that their audience connects with and feels compelled to act on—giving them permission to create and influence. Brands that don’t want to “play in that sandbox” are not only missing out but may be left behind.

When considering implementing a UGC strategy, be prepared for some give and take to avoid a negative experience for your audience. Every user-generated content strategy should include listening, responding to, and sharing user content (of course requesting their permission beforehand). But most importantly, brands need to ensure they understand their audiences’ needs and don’t fall short in providing value to keep them engaged.

To learn more best practices for telling your story through user-generated content, give us a shout!

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Jillian Cascarino
Vice President, Audience Engagement
As our vice president of audience engagement, Jillian puts her more than 20 years of experience connecting companies with their customers through targeted storytelling techniques to good use. Her expertise in customer engagement strategies and tactics extends to organic social media, content marketing, and public relations, as well as strategic planning and messaging, marketing persona development, and audience alignment. When she’s not working, Jillian’s baking sweet treats for family and friends, tending to her garden, or playing board games with her husband and son.

Our Take

Nobody likes to hear people squawk about marketing. So, we wrote it all down for you.

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