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To help bring our readers’ attention to trends in user-generated content, we asked marketing leaders and social media managers to discuss what trends they were seeing in user-generated content to obtain their best insights. They had many thoughts to share! From the rise of the micro-influencer to increased user confidence in brands, there are several UGC trends that marketers may leverage to help push their business forward.

What is User Generated Content?

Hootsuite defines user-generated content as any content—text, videos, images, reviews, etc.—created by people, rather than brands.

Below are eight trends in user-generated content:

  • The Rise of The Micro-influencer
  • Personal Connections To Brands
  • Easy Content Creation and Sharing
  • Short Video Format
  • Positive Customer Reviews
  • Rapid Quality Improvement
  • Adoption by Major Brands
  • Increased User Confidence in Brands

The Rise of The Micro-Influencer

John Ross from Test Prep Insight explains, “One trend I’ve seen in 2022 is the rise of the micro-influencer. Many brands recognize that micro-influencers offer better ROI than macro-influencers, whose audiences are typically more diffused. I’ve seen micro-influencers with followings as small as 5,000 subs getting attention from brands. The ROIs offered by micro-influencers are typically much higher because (1) their prices are lower than massively popular influencers, (2) their fan bases tend to be rabid and active, and (3) they’re usually niche specific. Brands recognize this and comb YouTube and Instagram for niche-specific followings as low as 5,000. This is especially true as some followers start to view macro-influencers as quasi-brands in themselves when they get too big. They’re seen as “selling out” with the constant, shameless plugs. This is in contrast with micro-influencers, who are real and raw.”

Personal Connections To Brands

Ilija Sekulov from Mailbutler shared his thoughts, “UGC is becoming increasingly popular due to its ability to reach directly to consumers and provide them with information that is not otherwise accessible. UGC allows companies to connect with customers personally and develop stronger relationships with them. UGC is also gaining popularity because it provides companies with a way to engage with their target audience. Companies can create content relevant to their target market and post it online. Users will then interact with this content and share it with others. As a result, the company gains exposure to a wider range of people. Lastly, UGC helps companies build brand recognition. By posting content online, companies can establish themselves as experts. They can gain credibility and trust from their customers.”

Ease of Content Creation and Sharing

Muskan Rai with Web Hosting Advices explained, “One trend within user-generated content (UGC) is that people increasingly create, share, and consume videos. One example is the fast rise of YouTube since its launch in 2005. Ten years later, it has over one billion users and is the second biggest search engine globally. UGC videos on YouTube have the potential to go viral, which means they can get millions of views overnight. While some videos may be intentionally created with virality in mind, others are just a lucky break.”

Short Video Format UGC

Rich Rudzinski with Drivey shared, “One of the biggest UGC trends in the last couple of years has been short videos. With the rise of TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels, most brands have wanted to take advantage of this medium. Most of their UGC has become short video format, either for their sites or platforms such as Instagram which prioritizes short videos above static images.”

Positive Customer Reviews

Drew Sherman with Carvaygo explained, Utilizing positive customer reviews is a great way to form user-generated content. For example, you can take a quote from a pleased customer, include a picture of the customer to show that the review is authentic, and make this into a social media post. Providing feedback surveys to your customers can help you obtain this kind of content.”

Rapid Quality Improvement

John Jacob with Hoist stated, “Quality is rapidly improving. With the accessibility of specialized YouTube thumbnail creators, Twitch editors, and other forms of outsourced talents, it’s hard to tell the difference between UGC and professionally-made content. It’s increasingly common to see users on TikTok create higher quality content than businesses with large budgets–so it’s important for everyone to maintain quality in your content if you want it to become popular.”

Adoption by Major Brands

Nick Cotter with newfoundr details, “One of the biggest trends in UGC has been its adoption by major brands who are willing to invest in user-generated content as a viable marketing strategy. Starbucks has, in particular, done an excellent job of this with their “Red Cup Art” campaign. This campaign allowed customers to design their own Starbucks red cups and then share images of their cups on social media. The campaign was wildly successful. It increased user engagement while driving traffic to their website and stores. It also provided a powerful way for Starbucks to connect with customers through art and in doing so, creating a stronger emotional bond between people and the Starbucks brand.”

Increased User Confidence in Brands

Agata Szczepanek with MyPerfectResume also shares, “You were right if you ever said that people would increase their confidence level in user-generated content. That’s the trend happening within user-generated content right now. User-generated content now has the power to increase (as well as decrease) customers’ trust in the brand. People are more likely to follow a brand, engage with its content, and even purchase if someone shares positive information about the company’s products or services. However, this is nothing shocking. Who would you rather trust – a dehumanized corporation or a friend of a friend who posted on social media? Yeah, me too. We Millennials hate traditional advertising.”

Special thanks to Terkel for assistance in compiling this article. Check out additional insights on Influencers from our work in this field here!

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