user generated content | pages in a book

Is 2021 the Year of User Generated Content?

User generated content (UGC) is not a new concept in marketing, but 2021 might be the time we all finally embrace it. Many of the reasons are related to – you guessed it – the pandemic.


I recently read that UGC is more trusted than brand-led campaigns. So, there’s one reason to use it. Add in the pandemic, and you have major human behavior changes that marketers must address.


Guess what? UGC can help you address those changes, because it encourages connection and community (a trend I recently wrote about). People want to belong, be heard and participate.


For all of us who are crunched for time, UGC is also a godsend. It’s content you don’t have to create. Even better, you can use it in so many ways – on social media and your website, in blog posts and emails and even on print pieces.


3 ideas for user generated content


UGC isn’t always quick or easy to gather, nor is it always helpful for your business.


I ran a contest once, and I won’t do it again. It was more work than I thought, and it didn’t generate the results I wanted.


Case studies? They’re not user generated content. You have to do most of the work to create them.


Anyway, you get my point. Here are my three favorite UGC ideas:




“Ugh, a survey? Really?” First, do not underestimate how much people love to share their opinions. Second, surveys are a great way to better understand your clients’ motivations, challenges and thoughts.


Use them to your advantage!


To encourage responses, keep the survey short and offer incentives. It could be a reward (“one person at random will get a $10 Starbucks gift card”) or an appeal for help (“your response will help us understand the impact remote learning has on your student”).


We are currently designing a short survey for a client. The goal is to gather insights around what motivates entrepreneurs to start a business. We’ll work with our client to provide insights on the data, and then we’ll publish the findings in a blog post, via email and on LinkedIn.




The opinions of friends, family and strangers influence decision-making. A whopping 88% of people say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 39% read reviews on a regular basis.


Reviews and testimonials are classic UGC, so put them to work for you. Publish them on your website, on social and in newsletters.


Make sure that asking for reviews and testimonials is baked into your client-relationship process. If your projects have an end date, set up debrief meetings and ask for the testimonial then. If your projects are on-going, ask three to six months into the relationship.


Social takeover


Yup, this means handing off control of one of your social networks to someone else. It could be an employee, influencer, partner, client or vendor. You could do it for a day or three, or for an entire week.


You just need to put together guidelines around promotions, topics, frequency, hashtags, types of content (live video?), responding to comments, etc. Then let them put together ideas. Of course, have them run it by you first so there are no surprises.


Image by Hush Naidoo via Unsplash 

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