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User-generated content: How to get your customers on board

User-generated content is more than just an underpinning of your advertising efforts. User ratings, comments and photos are far more influential than any other media forms.

The idea behind it is quite simple: users create content about a brand, a product, a company itself and distribute it via the social web — the result: more reach, better customer loyalty, new fans. consumer-generated content is, therefore, far too important to be left out by marketers.

Why user-generated content should not be ignored

The influence of user-generated content on the behavior of (potential) customers has already been the subject of numerous studies and investigations. According to Mavrck, this achieves 6.9 times more engagements than brand content on Facebook.

A study shows consumer confidence also shows that users pay user-generated content a lot more trust and also increases the willingness to buy when a positively connoted user-generated content was seen to a product.

The benefits of user-generated content are, therefore, obvious:

  • It is virtually free or at least cheaper than other material.
  • Customer loyalty is being consolidated.
  • He is authentic and creates trust.
  • Users identify more with a brand/company.
  • UGC achieves higher ranges and interactions.

What types of user-generated content are there?

The phenomenon is not new: Reviews, ratings or comments on social media platforms are commonplace. Such consumer-generated content is primarily used to provide companies with honest feedback from their customers.

Other users, in turn, help with such articles in their purchase decision. These contents are mostly very text-heavy and are therefore not suitable for targeted campaigns with user-generated content.

If you want to use a drive to encourage your customers to become active themselves, you should focus on photo and video contributions. Unboxing videos or photo contests are the best formats here.

How companies can use user-generated content for themselves

Not every product immediately offers enough user-generated content to make it usable for its advertising strategies. Emotional products, so-called high-involvement products, such as luxury goods or premium food, are significantly more affine for consumer-generated content so that companies can already draw on a real cornucopia of such material without much effort.

Low-involvement products, such as groceries and other everyday necessities, have a harder time. Here companies have to encourage their customers to generate their content actively.

For such a campaign to succeed, some points must be noted:

  1. Assessing risks beforehand: making users the mouthpiece of their brand can backfire on controversial topics. Think of # FragNestlé. Make sure that your customers have had mostly positive experiences with your brand or business.
  2. Prepare Crisis Strategies: User-generated content has the disadvantage that you can never accurately predict how users’ reactions will turn out. Even with less controversial topics, therefore, a crisis strategy is inevitable. The content has to be moderated: it needs a clear rule about netiquette and negative reactions have to be reacted quickly, but above all, transparently and politely.
  3. Encouraging appetite: A UGC campaign that lasts for several weeks or months runs the risk of quickly losing interest and eventually fizzling out. Nevertheless, to motivate as many users as possible to participate, the campaign should, therefore, be attractively announced in advance and arouse the anticipation of the users. Once they are fed, companies can enjoy a flood of content once the go-ahead has been given.
  4. Take the customers by the hand: To receive valuable user-generated content, do not leave your users alone, but by a kind of co-marketeer for them. For example, give them a hashtag or photo filter. Show them how they can create, distribute, and interact with content, or specifically choose brand ambassadors from your user group with whom to implement a campaign.
  5. Clear, simple rules: It is important to keep the threshold for participation as low as possible for your users. After all, your users want to have fun and share their experiences with your brand with as little effort as possible.
  6. Interacting and moderating: When you call your customers to produce content for you, you should value that “work”. Respond to the content of your users, comment or share it. Your users must realize that they are taken seriously and sincerely, so they do not lose their appetite. This does not just apply to UGC campaigns, but any content from your users. Regularly monitoring how users interact with your brand, such as using your hashtags, helps you connect with your users.
  7. Evaluate success: The success of a UGC campaign can be measured by various measures: CTR, retention, sales, new leads. Thorough monitoring is the basis for a successful evaluation. After such a campaign, you should also draw a substantive conclusion: How was the commitment of the users? What was the quality of the posts? How much was negative feedback there? With this knowledge, you can plan new UGC campaigns even better.


User-generated content is a powerful tool to strengthen your own marketing activities. Customers build a much stronger and more personal bond to a brand, representing the lifestyle behind a product. And while consumers recognize the advertising intent behind a UGC campaign, they are more confident in their content than pure branded content. But for such a drive to work, here are some of the key questions you should ask in advance:

  1. Which content should be produced? (Photos, videos, texts)
  2. Who should produce content? (all or selected users)
  3. Where should the contents appear? (social networks, company website, the separate homepage for the campaign, offline …)
  4. How long should the campaign run?
  5. What time and personnel resources are available?
  6. Which overall goal should be achieved?

And last but not least: Listen to your customers, take them seriously and give them a platform. So you can turn them into authentic ambassadors of your brand.

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