Create a user-generated content (UGC) strategy to share content that connects and converts your audience.

Imi de Daranyi, Managing Director, Emplifi Business Consulting

Creating social media content your audience will love

As new generations continue to make up a greater proportion of the consumer base for brands, it’s more important than ever to understand how they consume social media content in a different way than those who came before them. Let’s look at how Millennials' and Gen Z’s digital consumption is changing, the implications for brands, and how some innovative brands have adapted to meet consumers on their own terms.  

Marketing is becoming less predictable all the time, and social isn’t exempt - Ogilvy’s Social Media Trends highlights that “what worked for social media's previous era no longer applies today.” The piece also presents the risks of not adapting, which include being outmaneuvered by agile digital- and social-first brands. So what’s driving this change? And what should brands do to adapt?

Young people view social media content differently   

Millennials and Gen Zers are digital and social natives, and because they account for a combined 54% of the world’s population, they deserve your attention. These two groups’ (plus the fast-emerging Gen Alpha) digital consumption behaviors are evolving fast, causing a number of challenges for businesses. GWI tells us that when visiting social platforms, these two audiences are driving a decline in the social platforms’ founding appeal – namely, keeping up with friends and family – in favor of discovery, inspiration, entertainment, and following influencers or creators.  

The same audiences are responsible for the surge in “social search,” where the default search journey starts not in a search engine, but in social. According to research from Hubspot, 34% of consumers are actively searching in social, and a staggering 53% find their questions are answered effectively when they do. Tiktok is capitalizing and placing contextual ads within search results. Social media is the No. 1 product discovery channel, and buying products via social media is up year on year.

What this tells us is these audiences are eager for social platforms to cater to a wider array of their day-to-day digital needs. In order to maintain appeal and fuel discovery, brands need to replicate the familiarity of social platforms in their own digital estate (think website, product pages, customer emails, etc.) as deeply as possible, replicating the experience around social media content. 

Currently, most brand website journeys are hampered by often hard-to-navigate, inconsistent experiences, bland product images, and a ton of text. All on their terms. Conversely, what the social platforms offer is an environment that’s familiar (so familiar that they’re like a home away from home), easy to navigate, packed to the roof with authentic, engaging, visually appealing human content. And that’s precisely why, every day, billions of users start, fill, and end their days on the platforms. 

Your social media content needs to hit the mark

Another important area where brands need to adapt is their social marketing content –  they often make the mistake of publishing high volumes of branded content; often promoted, that simply misses the mark. Our research indicates that, since the beginning of 2021, median monthly ad spend in Instagram has risen by 173%, while engagement has fallen by 60%. EConsultancy’s research corroborates this by telling us that 47% of consumers are frustrated by irrelevant social media content and offers.

So how can brands consistently deliver meaningful, customer-centric social media content? And, equally importantly, for their own properties? The content should not only be meaningful and relevant, but it should reduce content creation costs and increase performance expressed in terms of high-value engagement, including click-through rate (CTR), conversions, average order value (AOV), repeat visits,  and dwell time.  The answer is simple: user-generated content (UGC).  

Many iconic brands with high NPS scores seek that all-important engagement. For example, to capture attention and drive intent, Airbnb use beautiful customer-created content like this post in their Instagram feed to capture attention and derive intent. Nike asks customers to tag them on Instagram, or upload their photos of themselves wearing Nike apparel (e.g.,  Air Force 1 sneakers) to its product page. The products are then tagged within the UGC image to allow the shopper to investigate further and purchase. 

Sephora has long placed its customer community at the center of its shopper experience. Its Gallery showcases its (happy) customers wearing beauty products, making it easy for a would-be shopper to find another customer with similar skin/hair/lip tones, be inspired, and find the confidence to buy, within two clicks.    


The above examples are far from vanity projects. They’re outstanding examples of innovative brands delivering customer content that, time after time, performs better than their own and gives shoppers the content they crave, enhances the experience, and gives them the confidence to buy. There are others that repeat this kind of success in other owned channels, including email marketing. 

Nobody will argue that the idea of giving customers an optimized shopping experience through the journey and across all touchpoints is a bad idea. Especially when, by deploying UGC, brands reap rewards in the form of increased performance, conversion, AOV, and savings across content creation.

There’s so much potential for UGC for every brand, when it comes to using social media effectively to connect with customers across a broad spectrum of demographics and interests with social media content that resonates with them. If you’re interested in learning more about how UGC can solve some of your brand’s biggest content challenges, let’s figure out a time to talk about how Emplifi can help.

Emplifi resources you might find interesting

EMP115 UGC Guide 625x417

[Guide] How to Unlock the Power of UGC

Hero: Why your brand needs a UGC platform

Why your brand needs a UGC platform

Top image: 4 ways to use UGC beyond social media

4 ways to use UGC beyond social media

Emplifi: Why you need UGC in your marketing mix

[Infographic] Why you need UGC in your marketing mix

Emplifi - Tip Sheet: How to launch a successful UGC campaign

Tip sheet: How to launch a successful UGC campaign

Emplifi - 5 ways to use UGC to boost your bottom line

5 ways to use UGC to boost your bottom line

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