Handling the User-Generated Content

24 July 2023
Reading: 1 min

Nowadays, people are fed up with the abundance of advertising. After all, brands are literally everywhere (read on to learn why). People also know that any brand is sales-driven and feel repulsed by salesy ads. But people are also into communication, they like to gain new insights, delivered in a friendly manner. They also want products, not intrusive ads. What if there was a way to present a product in a way that sounds relatable but trustworthy at the same time? Meet the User-Generated Content marketing.

In this article, we will explore the specifics of UGC, talk about its advantages, and figure out the best ways to control the workflow of UGC. Because controlling it without damaging the authenticity is not an easy task. Onto the new insights, marketers!

Specifics of User-Generated Content

When as a brand you keep your hands off generating content yourself and end up publishing it nonetheless — congratulations, you have a UGC workflow up and running. User-generated content can originate from multiple sources:

  • Customers: people may record themselves unboxing the goods and post it online. They have their own incentive for doing so, like becoming another social media influencer. In this case, you can help each other out. Or sometimes they genuinely like or dislike something about the product abd want to share their opinion with the world.
  • Brand advocates: consider them to be your premium customers that will vote for you and produce content without any extra incentives. Of course, this kind of loyalty has to be earned over multiple success sales first.
  • Employees: strictly put, they generate neither branded nor user-based content, sitting in-between. Nonetheless, their voice can highlight your internal line of work — a thing that casual shoppers are unable to achieve automatically.
  • UGC creators: even if the users are paid for making content, it is still user-generated. And while this “demi-organic” is generated somewhat forcefully, it does make an impact.

Nevertheless, it’s better to settle for purely organic UGC. That does not imply you should refrain from paying out your UGC creators. It’s just money is best accompanied by genuine interest, so that the desire to create comes from within and is not incentivized externally.

Another thing is the freedom of creativity. Since UGC is all about reaching out to the audience using the voice of their peers, it’s best to give as little prescriptions as possible. Otherwise, you might end up with a piece branded content done unprofessionally.

Advantages of UGC

Handling the User-Generated Content

Since we are trying to avoid casual branded content, it is good to understand the strengths of user-generated content, over the branded content in particular.

  • UGC costs 50% less than traditional ads: treat UGC as a modern word-of-mouth marketing. Historically, word-of-mouth is among the least expensive marketing strategies, because you don’t have to engage anyone — people work for you because they choose to.
  • UGC ads enjoy 400% higher click-through rate than traditional ads: people interact with 4,000–10,000 ads daily: brand labels, billboards, print ads, TV commercials, social media ads, product placements. Customers start going ad-blind and feel mistrust toward all advertisers. But they still do trust their peers, so UGC is the way to stand out among in this avalanche of advertisements.
  • UGC saves time: besides lowering advertising costs, digital word-of-mouth saves time, since you can delegate the task of advertising and manage your resources more efficiently.
  • UGC is an easy way to create a sense of community: marketing is a ruthless battleground, where you cannot win alone. And to foster loyal allies, all you have to do is to let go a bit of the reins and delegate the ad creation to those, who knock on your door, begging for a chance to make an impact.
  • UGC sways 90% of the people into purchasing: this is especially true for younger generations of 30 y.o. and younger. The second and the third place of the pedestal belong to SEO (87%) and Promo-emails (79%) respectively.

In fact, here you can scroll through 40+ facts about UGC and its respective advantages. UGC marketing does require patience to bear a fruit, but the reward is worth it.

Examples of UGC

Handling the User-Generated Content

As mentioned in the specifics, UGC can be generated by several types of people. Let’s take a look at what kind of content you can expect from each group, excluding brand loyalists. We decided to combine it with casual customers, because functionally they are not all that different.

Customer-generated content:

  • Customers share reviews and ratings for products
  • Customers create unboxing videos and post them on social media with specific hashtags
  • Customers take photos of products and share them alongside their reviews
  • Customers engage in conversations and support each other in online communities

Employee-generated content:

  • Employees share photos and videos showcasing the company culture using a designated hashtag
  • Employees share company content on their personal social profiles
  • New hires announce their positions at the company or share positive experiences on platforms like LinkedIn

Creator-generated content:

  • Influencers on Instagram share product photos with exclusive discount codes
  • Small creators make short videos featuring products, which can be used for ads on multiple platforms
  • Social media subscribers participate in contests by submitting and sharing their own content
  • YouTube creators provide reviews of products, whether received for free or purchased

How to plan UGC

Handling the User-Generated Content

Prior to making a content plan, you need to know your goals first. Good UGC has a certain set of characteristics, specifically:

  • Valuable: generic info will do no good, because casual users look for expert opinion from their peers before making a purchase. Which is why the content has to deliver something valuable, like a tutorial, review, or head-on comparison.
  • Authentic: modern people can sense fake demeanor and salesy attitude from miles away. Good UGC does not try to sell, it simply communicates the info and facts. When you stop caring for selling, your content will become relatable.
  • Positive: emotions are the staple of marketing, and UGC is no exception. After all, people go to TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram exactly for them. So when the facts are intertwined with a good pun, sincere compliment, or cool story, you’ve got yourself a lead magnet.

With these goals in mind, you can start developing a UGC plan. This won’t be an easy task, because a plan has certain deadlines and requirements, while content creation requires as little restrictions as possible. Nonetheless, you need a roadmap, certain set of KPIs, and quality check for the work to be done.

Roadmap to profit

  1. Start off with a hashtag. You don’t always have to ask the customers for content, sometimes it is already made. All you have to do is to just search for it online. And hashtag is your gateway to this horn of plenty. They say, “As you name the boat, so shall it float” for a reason. Non-existing hashtag equals non-existing user content.
  2. Figure out the best content formats. Depending on your product, your audience will favor different communication channels. Some of them might be into short videos, like gen-Z, but others might favor motionless pictures for their simplicity and seriousness.
  3. Provide clear goal. Specify what you want to achieve, i.e., brand exposure, more sales, reconnaissance of UGC. Refrain from telling how to achieve the goal, though, for you want to achieve authenticity.
  4. Specify publication frequency. For better continuity and stability, it is best to set some deadlines that are to be met. This way you will keep the creators in check and retain your audience at the same time.
  5. Establish key performance indicators. It is difficult to assess one’s work with no indicators. Make sure to introduce some KPIs, before assigning the task to a content creator.

KPI, quality control, and optimization

  1. KPI examples: engagement rate, reach, conversions, brand sentiment — are all good metrics. Provided your transition between funnel stages is perfected, the content creator remains the only one accountable for your advertising success or fail.
  2. Respect the creators: being a brand is not an excuse for borrowing the creations of the others, without attributing them. So make sure, to ask the permission first, hashtag the creators in your posts, and provide monetary incentives to take advantage of their natural desire to work for you and make it even stronger.
  3. Remember the essence of UGC: never forget that a good piece of UGC is valuable, authentic, and positive. Monitor the KPIs through the lens of these values, and you should be a success.
  4. Keep the restrictions in mind: the last thing you want is to violate the law or offend somebody with a seemingly innocent piece of content. When starting to work with UGC, double check every cultural reference. And remember, to err is human, so even if the creator makes a mistake, don’t rush to terminate a contract with them.
  5. Maintain brand continuity: make sure the content generated is aligned with your brand values and quality standards. A good piece of content that’s not actually related to the brand will more likely alienate the audience.
  6. Incentivize content creation: various giveaways, influence marketing, and of course, basic product quality. A good product is an ad in itself, so we haven’t mentioned it deliberately up until now.
  7. Monitor social media: sometimes the content is already created, and you only have to look for it. Hopefully, you have created a hashtag for your brand, haven’t you?
  8. Collect data and optimize: pretty straightforward — generating content is the first step. Next, you want to optimize your workflow, by polishing it to minimize the expenses and deliver the content right on time.


User-generated content offers cost-effective marketing, higher engagement, and increased trust. It comes from various sources, including customers, brand advocates, employees, and UGC creators. UGC advantages include lower costs, higher click-through rates, time-saving, and community-building. It influences purchasing decisions, especially among younger generations.

Planning UGC involves setting goals, valuable and authentic content, clear roadmaps, and KPIs. Quality control, brand continuity, and incentivizing content creation are vital. Monitoring social media, collecting data, and optimizing the workflow enhance success. UGC enables higher conversions, brand awareness, and audience connections.

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