2. Trends Assessment
User Generated Content
People have been creating user generated content (UGC) for years. As time has passed,
the mediums have evolved but the purpose is the same – provide information about a product or
brand. Originally UGC was called “word of mouth”, now UGC includes images, videos, reviews,
testimonials, live streams, and more. Companies utilize content created by consumers and
influences because it builds trust between the customer and brand and shows transparency and
authenticity. UGC can be captured for free or with an influencer approach for a fee or in
exchange of products. UGC appeals to both organizations and consumers, as consumers feel like
they have something in common with the creator and organizations can add creations to their
current marketing efforts which can lower cost and alleviate the amount of in-house content
creation (Gutierrez, 2021).
UGC appeals to people of all ages too, young viewers like to watch toy unboxing
creators. It can be used by any industry from food and beverage to construction, to clothing, for
profits, and nonprofits alike to share information about a brand or specific product. Alternatively,
it can be used to highlight internal factors, such as employees, social responsibilities, company
culture, and the company’s DEI approach. UGC software is expected to grow over 20% the next
few years and continue to take over social media platforms new and old (User Generated
User Generated Content and its Impact on the Business World
User generated content grows engagement, brand awareness, and conversion and
ultimately impacts digital marketing analytics. Consumers will comment, like, share, ask
questions, and purchase products once they see posts because they trust the content more than
brand initiated content.
3. Trends Assessment
Clothing companies utilize user generated content to highlight the products and realistic
pairing ideas. The clothes are being worn by real people with real (and unique) bodies. They
aren’t being photoshopped or propped – the content creators are not only highlighting a pair of
pants but also accessories and shoes. It’s a full advertisement from head to toe. Outfits of the day
or #OOTD posts are curated and shared via social media, the brand tagged, and various hashtags
attached to reach larger audiences. Target utilizes user generated content on their website and
mobile app. Once you click on the product and scroll through the paid marketing campaign
photos (with models) you’ll see user generated content from the everyday Joe or Jane. UGC
creators include the hashtag “#TargetStyle” and tag @Target in their posts.
The trend provided free advertising across social media platforms and their website, it
allowed consumers to see how that specific product looked on a certain body type or complexion
and offered pairing ideas (ultimately highlighting other products). Target would be more
successful (as well as other stores) if they tagged products in the photos or allowed consumers to
tag products (accompanying jewelry, shoes, bags, etc.). Another benefit would be to list the
products below the photo with a link to the specific product. This would enable consumers to
recreate the outfit quickly.
Lush, a cosmetic brand, encourages consumers to share their experiences with their
products (face masks, bath bombs, makeup, and more) on social media. When searching through
their social media, bright and colorful swirls of bathwater and friends sharing a mint green
facemask together are front and center. The product posts highlight products and how to use
them and what products go well together. Sharing the content on social media provides extra
4. Trends Assessment
brand awareness, increased engagement, and highlights new products. Creators simply have to
@lushcomsmetics and #lushcosmetics to share their content. Lush is a brand that focuses on
being cruelty-free, environmentally friendly, and all natural. Having natural fresh faces of
different genders, ethnicities, races, ages, etc. aligns with the message they’re trying to send.
That type of publicity pushes the eco-friendly narrative even farther. Similar to Target above, I
think it would be best to allow content creator’s posts to link to the product on the website so that
they can go right to the product.
Nonprofits should encourage recipients to share their stories and create a movement with
#MyStory or #1in3 type of elements for social service programs. Utilizing social media, which is
typically free, frees up funds for nonprofits and reaches individuals in need without monthly
subscriptions, fancy magazines, or going into a brick and mortar. Talking about services that are
available and how they overcame the issues with the help of the nonprofit are helpful for future
help seekers as well as potential partners or funders – because they get to see the impact.
User generated content can be utilized to promote customization for different products in
the food and beverage industry. WaWa hosts #hoagiefest in the summer with discounts on deli
sandwiches. If they created a hashtag (#mywawamyway) and promoted the different options that
people could select when building a sandwich, they could host a contest for the end of the
summer. The winner of the contest could get their sandwich (with their choice of ingredients and
toppings) put on the menu temporarily and a few months of free subs. This type of publicity Is
simply and fun, it encourages users to purchase a sub, share a photo with a unique name and
5. Trends Assessment
User Generated Content – Moving Forward
User generated content continues to grow, and it includes blogs, videos, social media
posts, photos, reviews, articles, and every other medium that someone creates on their own.
Organizations and brands utilize the content because it is much cheaper than launching their own
marketing efforts. Sarah Kukan a marketing and communications professional with over 12 years
of experience who operates her own marketing firm and is currently the Director of Marketing
for both a local up and coming brewery and Advanced Sports Medicine, states that “user
generated content helps give brands authentic relatable content. Being authentic to prospective
consumers is a big win because it aligns with actual customers”.
User generated content takes on a human approach and can be used for brand
partnerships. For example, there is a woman on TikTok that show people what else they can do
with painters’ tape; it would be in the best interest of a well-known painter’s tape manufacturer
to partner with her and send her a few free rolls to make her videos. It encourages viewers to find
new ways to use the tape or mimic what she is doing and most likely will use the same brand that
she uses. Many brands put out a call to action about participating in contests, from new slogans
to creating a mascot, brands push self-expression while leveraging consumers pride and desire to
win a prize. Reeling consumers into the brand with user generated content can foster loyalty.
User generated content can impact digital analytics and increase data because it can bring
visitors to your website, provide brand awareness, and encourage both micro and macro
conversions. A recent study states that consumers are 72% more likely to purchase from a
company after viewing user generated content (State of Social & User-Generated Content, 2023).
Most digital analytics tools can capture information posted by creators through hashtags, tagging,
and mentions which are also known as social listening. Marketers can capture various data from
6. Trends Assessment
the content, for example which platform is strongest, demographics, target audience, and more
(Kalwani, 2022). It is considered nontraditional value because it isn’t considered typical
marketing, but it is believed to be important because brands are going to customers and
communicating with them their way (Kaushik, 2012).
Kukan predicts that user generated content will grow as more technology advances and
more tools come out to help people make content for brands”. Forbes Magazine recently
published a piece that they are seeing more and more users in the gaming industry providing
content and that the popular video game producers are looking to bring player’s ideas to life
while building parts of their game infrastructure (Manuel, 2023).
User generated content does come with some pitfalls and brands should be aware of them
prior implementation. When Kukan works with clients she brings awareness to the negative
aspects of user generated content, “it’s important to remember that you cannot control what is
posted. However, don’t ignore negative content, stay transparent and authentic and spin it into a
post that acknowledges your shortfalls and learn how to improve the experience in the future”.
There are also legal concerns, brands need to give credit where credit is due and ask creators for
permission if their content is going to be used in marketing efforts.
Although artificial intelligence (AI) is setting the marketing world on fire, it’s important
for marketers to continue using authentically created user generated content to maintain their
competitive edge. Marketers must be mindful of their brand’s message when looking into AI as it
can come across wrong (Dornbusch, 2023). AI can be used to analyze data and assist with
content creation by the internal team. Brands should look at up and coming platforms and
consider partnering with creators for future campaigns. It is also key to evaluate their digital
8. Trends Assessment
Dornbusch, A. (2023, May 23). Will Ai-generated content overtake user-generated content?.
Gutierrez, E. (2021, March 25). The history and future of user generated content in advertising -
future of marketing. TINT. https://futureofmarketing.tintup.com/the-history-and-future-of-
Kalwani, V. (2022, December 13). How user-generated content impacts customer engagement.
Kaushik, A. (2012). Web analytics 2.0. Wiley.
Manuel, K. (2023, January 20). Council post: The dawn of the user-generated content era: Four
trends you should know. Forbes.
State of Social & User-generated content. TINT. (2023, March 1). https://www.tintup.com/state-
User generated content (UGC) software market 2023 research report which shows huge growth
rate, revenue, progress insight and forecast to 2028. Digital Journal. (2023, February 21).