Consumers are getting pickier about the brands they buy from, while also paying more attention to those that value their experiences and actively engage with them online. They expect content that evokes emotion, doesn't feel like an advertisement, and showcases individuals they can relate to, which can be difficult for marketers to create at scale.
That's where user-generated content (UGC) comes in.
UGC, media created by your community rather than your brand team or a design agency, is authentic and cost-effective. Continue encouraging your customers to share their experiences, and it becomes a highly renewable content type. This is incredibly valuable to marketers swamped with content and social media requests each day. While the branded content you create has earned its place in shaping your company voice, consumers are likely to scroll past content that feels like an ad they've seen before.
In celebration of World Photo Day (August 19) this year, Emplifi asked six industry experts to share their opinions on UGC and its benefits to the brands that fully embrace it — on social media and beyond.
UGC is more memorable, but it also humanizes your brand at a time when community building is incredibly important to company success and awareness. And with the plethora of technology and social media platforms that exist today, there's no shortage of diverse types of UGC for your brand to harness.
Check out what thought leaders say when it comes to UGC's role in building connections between brands, creators, and consumers:
Fernando Angulo, Senior Market Research and Global Speaker at Semrush: "UGC has revolutionized marketing, bringing genuine connections and authenticity to the forefront. As a marketing enthusiast, I've witnessed firsthand how user-generated content humanizes brands and builds trust with audiences. Embracing UGC can be a game-changer for any business, inspiring real people to share their stories and experiences." (Follow Fernando on X)
Danielle Trevino, Social Media Marketing Strategist at Crayola: "Leveraging UGC is essential in the social media industry. It benefits both content creators and brands, offering exposure for creators and free authentic content for brands. UGC's unsolicited nature provides valuable insights into consumer opinions in their unique voices, enhancing brand-consumer connections." (Follow Danielle on X)
UGC's role in social media marketing
Amplifying customer voices and cultivating authenticity is a significant part of marketing on any digital channel, but social media is perhaps the most popular avenue for brands to do so today. While jumping on trends and taking advantage of new platform updates has the potential to generate quick buzz around your brand, consistently resharing UGC creatively is a tried-and-true way to retain an engaged community on social media.
Here's how marketing experts believe UGC can level up a brand's social media game:
Christina Garnett, Principal Marketing Manager for Offline Community & Advocacy at Hubspot: "UGC provides a powerful means to amplify the customer's voice and showcase authentic user experiences. People trust content from fellow customers more than brand-generated content. By featuring UGC, brands offer prospective customers a genuine glimpse into the customer experience. Sharing UGC not only eases the content creation burden for social media managers, but also delights content creators whose work is shared. It drives authentic brand awareness and humanizes the brand in the eyes of the audience." (Follow Christina on X)
Fab Giovanetti, Founder of Alt Marketing School: "UGC is the heart of social media marketing. It's the bridge that connects brands with consumers on a personal level, fostering trust, community, and engagement in a way that traditional content can't. Ever stared at your content calendar like it's an unsolvable puzzle? In my 15 years of marketing, I have experienced it more than I'd like to admit it. With UGC, it's like you've got thousands of creative directors pitching ideas. Plus, it makes your brand's social media feel less like a megaphone and more like a chat around the fire pit." (Follow Fab on X and learn more about Alt Marketing School)
Mindy Thomas, Head of Digital Content at The Riveter: "In an ever-evolving social media landscape, utilizing UGC and short-form video is a creative way to get your product or service in front of your target audience. In 30 seconds or less, you can educate, entertain, solve a problem, and so much more. It gives brands the ability to build authority in bite-sized increments without polarizing their audiences by continuously asking for the sale." (Follow Mindy on X)
Aastha Duggal, Freelance Social Media Manager: "UGC is really amazing if you know how to use it correctly. At the end of the day, people buy from people. If your content looks authentic and convincing, there's nothing stopping you from establishing credibility. And what's better than regular, everyday people like you and me?" (Follow Aastha on X)
As marketers, we're constantly asked to meet higher goals with fewer resources, including technology, team members, and creativity. UGC lightens the creative load on your team while providing a solution to some of the most common challenges marketers face, including:
Increasing content volume
Generating conversions from social
Building community organically
Check out how we can help your brand add social proof to its digital channels with Emplifi's UGC solution.