These days, authenticity is the name of the digital marketing game. And the best way to appear authentic? Let your real customers do the talking.

At least, that’s the key takeaway from the recent State of Social Media & User-Generated Content report by the community marketing platform TINT.

According to TINT’s research and survey of over 700 consumers and marketers, customers are increasingly aware of promotional content—and 75% of them claim they know when they’re being advertised to.

That awareness, and search for a trustworthy brand message, has ushered in the rise of authentic, customer-led, and often candiduser-generated content (UGC).

What is user-generated content?

UGC is a trending digital marketing strategy that speaks to audiences’ desire for more authentic, transparent, trustworthy content. In many cases, literally!

Look closely the next time you scroll social media. Do you see ads that look like they were produced by actual customers? Notice videos of people unboxing and trying on branded clothing, commenting on the taste of a food product, or talking about how a brand changed their life? These are different forms of UGC—and they’re taking over digital marketing.

Why is UGC becoming so popular?

Unlike traditional digital marketing content that’s produced by a business, about the business, UGC comes from your consumers’ point of view. Like a candid review, this unpaid buyer-to-buyer content gives potential customers a more authentic perspective on the product or service.

UGC gives the impression that the video or post was created by an unbiased third party, which makes this form of content feel more organic and relatable. While organic UGC may not always be fully aligned with a brand’s message and quality standards, it offers a unique way to build a strong connection with your audience.

TINT’s survey revealed that consumers consider authentic UGC, content that is candid and consumer-led, to be the most trustworthy form of content, and most closely aligned with real, unpaid reviews. Plus, this form of content offers a real-world perspective of your product or service that potential customers may not be able to get from your website.

If you want greater control over your UGC, staged content can be an effective alternative

While candid UGC is the ideal form of digital marketing content for creating a trustworthy connection with your audience, even staged UGC can play a significant role in your strategy.

Staged UGC is promotional content that’s carefully crafted, practiced, and rehearsed by your partner creator or influencer. Because they’re paid to create the content for your brand, you can strategically guide what they do and say to ensure it follows your business’ tone and message.

A successful staged UGC strategy leverages an influencer or creator who’s well-connected to your audience. You’ll want to work with a partner who understands your brand, knows their audience’s preferences, and can serve as a positive ambassador for your business.

Once you’ve developed your UGC, leverage the right platforms to maximize its impact

Social media is the most popular place to post your UGC. As social media platforms become more sophisticated and searchable, users are increasingly turning to these sites to find and vet businesses. In fact, over 75% of respondents in TINT’s UGC survey say they use social media to discover new products, brands, and experiences.

Today, Facebook is the leading social media platform for social commerce, with nearly one-third of global shoppers preferring the platform. Twenty-four percent of global shoppers prefer Instagram for online buying, making it the second most-popular platform for social commerce.

The best platform for your UGC depends on your audience and product. But knowing which platforms consumers prefer to shop from can help you drive a steady stream of interested potential customers from your strategic UCG straight to your website.

User-generated content, data-driven digital strategies

At MediaSpark, we develop multi-channel marketing strategies that convert browsers to buyers—without breaking your budget. We leverage a variety of media and content forms to help you connect with more of your ideal customers, wherever they shop, search, and buy. When you’re ready for strategic support, [Let’s Chat!]