It is inevitable that social media has been a game changer for marketing professionals.

With over 3.5 billion people online and 2.5 billion social media accounts, brands have been faced with exciting opportunities and unique challenges.

In fact, research suggests that $20 billion spent on social media advertising is wasted annually due to irrelevant, impersonal and disengaging brand messages. So how can marketers capture their audience’s attention and create authentic brand experiences through social media marketing?

Personalisation in marketing and consumer engagement have become popular and thoroughly researched topics in recent times. As traditional methods of mass advertising fail to capture an audience’s attention, marketers look to other ways to engage their consumers, including various personalisation tactics that focus on real human connections and humanising brands to become more relevant and relatable. Such tactics include user-generated content (UGC) which fosters authentic and transparent relationships between a brand and their consumers.

User-generated content has become a crucial component in a brand’s social media marketing strategy, inspiring and encouraging consumers to share their personal stories and brand experiences with their friends, family, businesses and the world. Amongst the billions of content that are posted daily, consumers are contributing endorsements, genuine testimonials and honest product feedback. In fact, more and more customers are increasingly heading to social media to source such information as 86% of consumers believe that user-generated content is a valuable metric in determining the quality of a brand. Further to this point, a recent study by Salesforce revealed that 92% of consumers trust and have a greater appreciation for content produced by their peers in comparison to the messages manufactured by brands. Through UGC, marketers can improve their customer experience strategy and leverage the content to influence the customer journey and truly engage with their audience’s in a personalised and creative way that stands out amongst competitors.

In order to engage with audiences in a relevant, personalised and innovative way, brands need to have a comprehensive understanding of their consumers. Experts agree that user-generated content on social media can help marketers improve their brand strategy and develop an enhanced understanding of their audience by examining and analysing the type of content that their users are sharing via their personal accounts. Through this analysis, brands will be able to create their own marketing collateral that is strong and completely resonates with their intended audiences, thus increasing engagement and proving that user-generated content in digital marketing is essential.  

Furthermore, studies show that consumers respond to implicit messaging while over informative, irrelevant brand messages that are product focused and can be found in 2/3 of advertisements worldwide are filtered out. Cognitive science even suggests that consumers rarely think through their purchasing decisions and therefore instant judgements and existing brand associations are a fundamental part of the purchasing process.  By creating stories and experiences through UGC, marketers are adding appeal and emotional impact into their campaigns in order to increase the relevance and engagement factor for their audience.

In addition, a recent salesforce study revealed that 50% of consumers find UGC related campaigns more memorable and enjoyable than content produced by brands. Meanwhile, another study revealed advertisements that trigger an emotional engagement with a brand linked to market sales success, highlighting why many brands have incorporated UGC into their campaigns. For example, Coke implemented the ‘Share a Coke’ UGC campaign, which encouraged customers to purchase a beverage with their name on it and share the experience and user-generated content on Facebook and other social media platforms. This initiative increased engagement, allowed consumers to share brand experiences in an authentic and genuine way and also resulted in a 2% profit increase for their United States market. GoPro is another popular example, with thousands of user content currently available on Youtube. The brand then features this content within retail stores located in airports and surf shops to create an integrated and genuine brand feel at all points of the customer journey.  Therefore, the user-generated content has allowed brands to add to the customer experience through real-life content, excitement and authenticity and allows the consumer to be involved.

While UGC has multiple benefits for brands, the legalities pertaining to copyright and licensing are ambiguous and marketers need to be aware of these before launching campaigns. It is essential that permission is granted from the owner before content is used in campaigns and that both parties are aware of the intended use. Depending on the desired use of the content, marketers may also embed the UGC without the user’s permission, as it automatically credits the owner and links back to the original source. Hashtags can also be incorporated via social media to obtain UGC for campaigns as users are knowingly providing the content and understand that it may potentially be used.

Overall, user-generated content has become a widely accepted tactic within social media marketing to facilitate personalisation and increase consumer engagement. Through compelling personal stories and user experiences, the customer journey is easily influenced resulting in positive brand associations which can lead to sales. Customers are also increasingly looking to social media for recommendations and feedback in relation to products prior to making a purchase, and therefore user-generated content campaigns can provide an authenticity that manufactured brand messages can’t.

Our social media marketing agency, RGC Digital Marketing, can show you how to produce user-generated content that connects consumers to your brand. To find out more about our offerings, please contact Richard on (02) 8883 2988 or email