If you’ve ever looked into how to better market your business online, either by search result or by social media, you have likely heard the term consumer-created (or user-generated, synonymously) content. This term is thrown around a lot in marketing conversations, and while it sounds complicated, it is one of the most important aspects of 21st century digital marketing (and really not complicated at all!).

What Is Consumer Created Content?

Consumer-created content refers to any type of content that is created and made available to the public by a user of a service. It is often generated without a commercial marketing intent. It could be anything from a blog post to a YouTube video, or even a comment left on a business’s Facebook page. Even selfies count as consumer-created content.

From a marketing-specific standpoint, this kind of content is best described as that created and made publicly available by individuals outside of your organization – think fans, customers, and online reviewers – and yes, even critics.

woman and her connections on social media

Consumer-created content can take place on online review sites, like Yelp and TripAdvisor, or on social media like YouTube or Instagram. In today’s challenging marketing climate, user-generated content is more effective than paid advertising, invasive sales promotions, and television commercials. Consumers don’t rely on what businesses say – they rely on what other customers say – to make their decisions. In fact, ninety percent of millennials and eighty percent of baby boomers (those older than fifty-five) say that authenticity is key in deciding what brands they will support (Social Media Today, 2017).

And brands can’t fake authenticity. Instead, they need consumers to develop authenticity for them. The power of consumer-created content is huge. Peer endorsements hold more sway than celebrity endorsements, and are ten times more likely to encourage in-store purchases. In this day and age, customers are less interested in advertisements and more interested in peer commentary.

What Are the Benefits of Consumer Created Content?

On the most basic level, consumer-created content fosters trust. A business can easily say that it is the best, but a customer saying it is the best is so much more powerful. Consumers look to their peers for information, so you need to make sure the most positive information is out there.

Consumer-created content allows businesses to outreach instantly to consumers. You can strengthen your customer relationships and allow them to connect to your business in a way that they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to.

people and conversation bubble icon

Furthermore, this type of content is perfectly designed for social media. Facebook, Pinterest, Yelp, and Instagram, along with hundreds of other social media and review sites, exist almost entirely based on user-generated content. Consumer-created content is already more shareable and easily broadcast than are campaigns disseminated through traditional media. You can use them on multi-channel initiatives and even to improve your own branded campaign.

Why Does Consumer Created Content Matter?

Most modern-day consumers value authenticity above all. They don’t trust manufacturer descriptions or business-generated content. This is where consumer-created content is so valuable. People already talk about your business in person, on social media, and on online review sites. If you are able to harness this conversation and use it to expand your business, you will find that your sales increase exponentially.

How Can You Use Consumer Created Content In Marketing Your Business?

Consumer-created content is more marketable and beneficial than any other kind of branded promotional content. It is cost-effective, because you don’t need to shoulder the burden of expenses related to campaign development, brand production, or expensive celebrity contracts. Instead, all you need to do is engage with your community of supporters and allow them to tell your story.