Why User-Generated Content is Winning Marketing

It’s no surprise that the advertising and marketing industries have been moving away from traditional media and towards influencer and user-generated strategies. I’ve said it a million times, today’s consumers don’t want to hear an advertiser tell them how great their brand is, but they are likely to trust a peer recommendation. When you put marketing in the hands of your market, it humanizes your brand.

Why is user-generated content so effective? Here are a few reasons:

Recommendations you can trust

Most people’s social followings are made up of people they’ve made connections with in real life. The recommendations they make are more valuable, because they are people you’ve worked with, went to school with, and grew up with. Plus, they probably aren’t being compensated, adding to their credibility. In fact, 92 percent of social media users trust user-generated content more than traditional advertising.


Considering your social following is made up of people you probably went to school with, grew up with, or work with, you’re likely to have a lot in common with them demographically and psychographically. This means that brands mentioned by these people on social media are likely to resonate with a large percentage of their followers.

It fits into their routine

User-generated content through social is great because it fits into behavior your market is already participating in. A perfect example of this is Taco Bell’s Snapchat Cinco De Mayo filter earlier this month:

This filter allowed millennial Snapchatters to transform into tacos! It sounds ridiculous, but the subtle branding and the ridiculousness of the filter is what garnered 224 MILLION views in a single day. That’s the most popular Snapchat campaign ever. The reason these Snapchat campaigns are so effective is that millennials are already snapping silly photos and videos to their friends all day long, so this approach fits seamlessly into their day-to-day lives. According to Offerpop, social media users are twice as likely to share something because they want a friend to see it. With statistics like that, it seems ridiculous for brands not to engage in user-generated content.

“Little Influencers” have the most influence

According to a study conducted by Nicho, 59% of consumers search social media before making a purchase, and 86% of consumers admitted user-generated content directly influences purchase decisions. As a millennial, I search Instagram before I decide on a restaurant 100% of the time. When I want to buy makeup, I put a lot of time into searching Instagram hashtags to see how other women wear it. If I want a real review of any product, social media is the most trustworthy resource. If the product is hashtagged a lot, it’s probably pretty cool.

Society, especially millennials live a huge portion of their life online. When Mark Zuckerberg came up with Facebook, his most important objective was to keep the network “cool”. He tried for a long time to keep it ad-free, until eventually advertisers came up with a way to fit into the network in a more subtle way. Your Facebook profile, your Instagram feed, the Snaps you send, tell your followers who you are. The social sphere holds a huge amount of marketing power. As advertisers, our new objective is to find a way to fit into these social communities in a subtle, authentic, and “cool” way.