User-generated content Vs Brand promoted content. Which is a better content marketing strategy?

Brand Promoted Content

As the term describes itself, brand promoted content refers to the content type that is being promoted by the brand itself communicating its products/services, features, policies and everything that is related to a particular brand. In simple terms, it refers to all the advertising and promotional activities carried out by a brand in the form of ads, images and videos in the form of social media posts, reviews, articles, blogs etc. with the intent of wider reach, visibility and sales resulting in maximizing revenue and return on investment.

Being highly traditional in nature, brand promoted content has somewhat lost its grip among its audience, in this increasingly saturated market. Today, users are bombarded with ads and information all the time, to such an extent that many of them resorted to solutions such as ad blockers. 

According to an infographic published by GlobalWebIndex, states that 47% of internet users globally use an adblocker today. Although, it is a well-known fact that brand promoted content in the form of paid ads (like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads and LinkedIn Ads) gives you a wider reach, increased brand awareness and a higher rate of return compared to organic but the constant rise of global internet users using ad-blockers year after year is a question on the validity of brand promoted content as direct ads in marketing. 

Moving forward, I would like to clear it out that being fed up with unproductive organic promotions, brands moved to paid promotions, now with people turning a blind eye towards ads and rise in use of ad-blockers, what’s left? The answer is user-generated content, commonly known as UGC. 

What is User-Generated Content?
user generated content

The term user-generated content is self-explanatory itself, but before we get into its detail let me just ask you one simple question.

What is the essential ingredient in the secret sauce for promoting your brand?

It’s your customers!

In simple words, user-generated content (UGC) is any form of content on the web that has been created by the users of a brand on their own. It can be anything from images, videos, comments, reviews, blogs, social media posts to podcasts. UGC has become an essential part of the content marketing strategy in the present era where customers are ready to acclaim your products or services online. They are the ones who trust your brand and spread the buzz around your product. And what better it can be to market your brand’s offerings by bringing in your customers to become your brand advocates, tapping into the power of peer recommendations. After all, customer reviews and word-of-mouth are more valuable and impactful to your target audience rather than marketing content by brands.

According to BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust the people they know. After all, customer reviews and peer recommendations are more valuable and impactful to your target audience rather than marketing content by brands.

Examples of User-Generated Content

Content is king, and if you want to create good user-generated content, you need to have a good idea about what your audience likes. Let’s take a look at some of the epic user-generated content campaigns that we can take inspiration from.


Starbucks is a brand that is consistently generating and promoting user-made content, since years now. Starbucks’s #redcupcontest is a perfect example of how to bring onboard your customers to promote your brand. 

Every year during December, Starbucks launches the #redcupcontest, asking their fans to participate in the contest by submitting cool and creative photos of their coffees in order to get a chance to win a Starbucks gift card- and their fans have been showing their love for the brand by it actively participating in it every time.

Till date, this campaign has accumulated over 37,000 posts of red cups and still counting.

This is a great example of UGC where you can run a photo contest, offer a reward in return for participation and make your customers promote and spread the buzz around your products/services using a specific hashtag.


Leading global automobile manufacturer, BMW regularly shares the social media posts of proud BMW owners and their rides using the hashtag #BMWrepost.

Well, this is a win-win situation for both the brand and the owner. The car owner gets the opportunity to show off their rides, being featured by the brand itself, while on the other hand, BMW gets free promotion and a chance to showcase their satisfied and loyal customer base. 


Lay’s the popular American chips brand, brought back their “Smiles” campaign this year following the overwhelming response they received last year on its debut, where Lay’s said that they will donate $1 million in total toward Operation Smile, which helps provide surgeries to children born with cleft conditions.

This year with the launch of its selfie-focused “Smiles” campaign, Lay’s is bringing into spotlight 32 “Everyday Smilers”- people with inspiring stories who are working towards improving and uplifting their communities, by featuring the faces of those  “Everyday Smilers” across a variety of flavours and varieties – including Traditional, Wavy, Lightly Salted, Poppables, and Kettle Cooked.

With such a strong cause behind it, this particular campaign led to 700 selfies posted per day across an eight-week run. The #SmileWithLays campaign hashtag was featured on more than 30,000 tweets and more than 17,000 Instagram posts and counting.

Such an amazing example of user-generated content and cause-driven marketing is rare to be seen.

Why Consider User-Generated Content?

Getting your users to feature your brand’s offerings in their content comes with its own set of perks. User-generated content acts as social evidence to promote your brand’s message, helping you increase your social followers, strengthen relationships with clients, impart trust and credibility in the target audience, boost SEO, ultimately increasing conversions.

                                          Boosts Social Media

social media | rank me online

Social media and user-generated content go hand-in-hand. Customers who are satisfied with your brand’s offerings end up tagging the brand along with their friends and relatives which leads to more exposure, outreach and growth in your social following. Social media posts that integrate user-generated content drive substantially more engagement than standard posts.

Meanwhile, knowing the importance of UGC various brands have been tapping into the potential of user-generated content to boost their social media. Some brands are using hashtag-based user-generated content, other brands are posting users’ content that they were tagged in. In fact, some brands are only populating their feed with UGC only.

Uplifts Your SEO

UGC’s benefits are not limited to social media only. As we have already mentioned above that reviews are an integral part of user-generated content. Consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust the people they know. According to Kissmetrics, 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content. Likewise, positive customer reviews can improve your SEO rankings, giving you visibility, more traffic and increased conversions.

                                                          Authenticity and Trust Factor

User-generated content in the form of testimonials, reviews, social media posts can help you earn the trust of your target audience. According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92% of consumers find organic, user-generated content more trustworthy and authentic than traditional advertising. This is because brands never pay for user-generated content, there is nothing sort of “paid” in it. It is unprejudiced and created by users because they favour the offerings of a brand.

As a result, UGC is recognized as more genuine, trustworthy and honest which promotes future engagement and strengthens brand loyalty, which ultimately drives sales. 

Increased Brand Exposure

User-generated content features your brand which helps in increasing your brand exposure. 

The more exposure for your brand, the better brand awareness and reach on the platform. UGC also adds to the diversity of content on your feed.

                                                     Valuable Audience Insights

Analyzing the data from customer opinions and feedback in the form of user-generated content your brand gets the opportunity to drive valuable insights into what’s working for your brand and what’s not!

Millennials and User Generated Content
millennials and user generated content! How millennials react to user-generated content

Millennials are turning out to be the ones with the greatest purchasing power of any generation in history, and the fact is they don’t respond to traditional advertising the way older generations do. Brands need to re-purpose the content this generation instinctively trusts and shift to UGC as a part of their marketing strategy, in order to draw the attention of the millennials.

There is a true craving for authenticity among the millennials. These young group of consumers are attracted to brands that are real and relatable rather than those which are perfect and over-done. A whopping 84 per cent of the millennials admitted that user-generated content, even from the people they do not know has effected their buying decision. Whereas, 86 per cent of them thinks that UGC is a good indicator of a brand’s quality. And upon that, you might be surprised knowing that these young lots are not only the ones favouring UGC, but they are also, in fact, the largest group of UGC creators and contributors- creating as well as interacting with UGC on a regular basis.

Social Media Influencers and User-generated Content 

Social media influencers are regular people like us with vibrant social media presence who have sufficient knowledge and expertise about a specific topic that they can speak with authority and drive real engagement and conversion. Influencers are considered to connect on a deeper level with their audience. Posts by the influencers are viewed as authentic and credible; since they are considered experts in their respective niches. And anything that is been shown or said by the influencers are valued by their audience.

Meanwhile, these influencers are also creating and sharing a huge amount of user-generated content for brands and alike, and as a matter of fact, their followers are listening. 89% of the marketers say ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels. You can well imagine how valuable user-generated content is, in influencer marketing.

Let’s have a look at few epic examples where a brand capitalized from user-generated content with influencer marketing-


GoPro a well-known tech company manufacturing action cameras, mobile apps and video editing software teamed up with Loki, a wolfdog to promote an Instagram meetup with prizes. This allowed GoPro to reach a huge audience and that particular post from Loki’s Instagram account ended up with 89,000 plus likes. Well, that’s a huge number for Loki and for GoPro, this partnership was definitely a fruitful one.


Spotify was looking to promote its Discovery Weekly feature and reached out to micro-influencers to post images and mention their playlists online.

The campaign had been a great success and hit 29,540 likes and comments with engagement at 2.37% and they paid just 20 cents per engagement.

Now, if you want to capitalize from user-generated content in the form of influencer marketing and in search of relevant influencers related to your brand, niche or industry, you must give Rank Me Online’s AI-powered influencer discovery tool a try. And the most important thing about Rank Me Online is that its AI algorithm solely focuses on influencer’s engagement metrics rather than the number of followers.

Here is how you can find relevant influencers for your brand


Himangshu Kalita

A digital marketing enthusiast, who enjoys writing quite a lot and when he is not writing you will find him wandering off to the mountains or keeping himself up with something new to cook.