With the rising growth of smartphone apps on both Android and iOS platforms, it’s become harder for users to pick out the cream of the crop. No matter who your target audience is or what category your application belongs to on the app store, user-generated content (UGC for short) can help it truly stand out.
According to Medium, 84% of consumers trust peer recommendation more than any other form of marketing, with 88% of them who trust online reviews and testimonials of other customers just as much as they trust their social circles. There are clear benefits and marketing value to be had with UGC with your app, regardless of its main functionality or business model.
In order to make the most of it however, it’s necessary to find the right approach vector to your audience and incentivize them to submit their creations. With that said, let’s dive into what it takes to bring a user-generated content model of your app to the next level in order to grow your userbase and revenue.
What is User-Generated Content?
Before we get any further, it’s worth noting what user-generated content stands for, as well as how you can utilize it to your advantage. As the name suggests, user-generated content is “content generated by users”, using whatever platform, application, and tools you’ve provided the audience with. UGC can be anything from small quotes and testimonials to videos, audio interviews and/or product demonstrations made by the users themselves.
This type of content is considered highly useful in terms of building your brand’s credibility in terms of pro-consumer behavior, making it a logical addition to any smartphone app. In order to make the most out of UGC, certain guidelines, rules, and steps of submission should be implemented in order to standardize the UGC and make it easier for your marketing team to retrofit them into the digital app marketing content.
Whichever kind of UGC you choose to encourage within your follower base, you can rest assured that it will act as high-performing social proof and attract even more leads to your brand over time. More subsequent leads lead to even more UGC for your marketing strategy, creating a social proof snowball which will help you grow in popularity, public awareness and revenue in terms of app and ad monetization.
Advantages of Featuring User-Generated Content
Now that we have a clearer understanding of how UGC works and what it stands for in practice, let’s take a look at several advantages it entails. According to Disruptor Daily, 64% of millennials feel that companies should enable their consumers to share their opinions in some capacity, with 24% of US-based customers who claim that UGC is extremely influential in determining whether or not to use a product.
Nathan Mitchel, Content Marketing Specialist at Grab My Essay spoke on the matter recently: “I’d suggest user-generated photos and comments over highly-curated stock content any day of the week. This is especially noteworthy for brands who deal with customer-centric products and services in which UGC can add a lot of mutual trust to content marketing.” In no particular order, the benefits UGC can bring to your brand include but are not limited to:
- High audience engagement
- Faster content marketing turnaround times
- Ability to retrofit content for multi-channel marketing
- Cyclical content creation (UGC > new leads > more UGC > more leads)
- High return on investment (ROI) compared to traditional digital marketing
Taking User-Generated Content of Your App to the Next Level
Define your UGC Guidelines
The first order of business in terms of integrating UGC of your app into your marketing strategy is to define what user-generated content actually means for you. Do you want users to submit screenshots of their everyday moments using your app? Do you prefer written testimonials and quotes instead? Define your UGC guidelines, as well as submission steps for users to follow in order to submit their content for your review.
It’s good practice to integrate professional writing platforms such as Evernote or Trust My Paper into the guidelines as well to make it easier for less tech-savvy users to participate. Elements such as file type, size, text length, etc. should also be defined for a standardized UGC strategy. Create a detailed guideline of your UGC expectations and your marketing department will have a much easier time using the content for further advertisement efforts.
Create a Community Section
Once your UGC basics are set in stone, you can create a community section in-app, on your website or social media pages. These community sections are multipurpose and serve to invite even more people to use your app and submit their UGC.
A dedicated community section will also allow your users to interact with one another, which is an especially useful strategy if your app revolves around messaging, gaming or content-sharing in general. Most importantly, it will allow you to chat with dedicated followers and UGC creators in order to make your user-generated content even better in the future.
Curate your UGC Selection
When it comes to UGC highlights and real-world marketing applications, it’s always important to have high standards for your brand and app. Don’t settle for blurry images, misspelled testimonials and poor or outright wrong info about your app in a review. According to Social Media Today, 52% of marketing professionals agree that user-generated content humanizes a brand, with 45% who agree that it is especially effective through social media.
Tools such as Studicus and Grammarly can be used to clear up any writing mistakes and editing choices made by users who didn’t follow your guidelines. Make sure to curate your UGC selection and only apply the best pieces to your marketing strategy in order to attract a relevant audience to your brand.
Implement Emotional Triggers through CTA
In order to engage your existing followers and attract new users to your app, calls to action should be implemented. CTAs are a traditional marketing technique that aims to entice a certain “action” with whoever reads them. Simple CTAs such as “Click here” or “Share your content with us” can help your app tremendously.
Calls to action can be placed alongside UGC in order to deliver a certain marketing message or as a direct call for users to submit more user-generated content. CTAs are highly driven by emotional triggers since they address the viewer personally and ask them to act. Use this tactic in a creative and app-centric way in order to drive your engagement rates higher over time.
Integrate with Native Ads
Given the fact that user-generated content aims to humanize your app and make it more approachable to a casual audience, native ads can serve as a complementary marketing anchor. You can integrate your native ad content into user-generated content which is to be published on your website or social media pages. This will effectively promote not only your app but also any service or product attached to the native ad you integrated into the UGC.
However, you should keep the fact that native ads are “native”, aka “non-intrusive” in mind. Marketing an unrelated product through your app or UGC will result in an immersion-breaking experience for your target audience. Only promote products and services which complement your app’s main functionality and audience preferences in order to maintain a certain standard of quality.
Cross-Platform UGC Publishing
Just because your Android or iOS app serves as a primary motivator for user-generated content doesn’t mean that you are limited by it. You can publish your UGC on multiple channels such as your LinkedIn profile, social media pages, blog, eCommerce store and a plethora of other communication funnels.
Written UGC is especially flexible for multi-channel cross-platform marketing since it doesn’t require any form of multimedia support from the user’s device or browser. You can use writing tools such as Hemingway and WoWGrade to retrofit existing user-generated content for different platforms. This approach to UGC implementation into existing marketing efforts will allow you to attract a wide range of users to your app and grow the user base further on a global scale.
Engage your Community
One of the best reasons to integrate a user-generated content strategy in the first place is to engage with your community. You can discuss popular trends, industry news or even UGC pieces with your community through comments and replies. Make sure that each of your UGCs is coupled with a call to action which will entice users into commenting or sharing.
Community interactions can extend even further by introducing quizzes, competitions and other forms of UGC-centric events. Don’t make your user-generated content strategy one-sided or limited to submission and subsequent publishing. Take it a step further and adopt a pro-consumer practice by communicating and chatting with your users and followers through the app itself, social media pages and your website respectively.
Highlight the Standout Content
Once your user-generated content tactic becomes a standard, users will submit new materials on a regular basis. Even if you don’t plan on using certain UGC pieces for several months, you should still acknowledge the best content periodically. It’s good practice to include some form of UGC section in your app natively as well as on your website.
This section should be used for “community highlights”, or the best content pieces submitted in the last few weeks or a month. You can go a step further and reward the best creators with discount coupons and small rewards as tokens of appreciation for their creativity. After all, the content they submit will be used to attract even more leads down the line – a small reward will still result in high ROI for your business compared to traditional marketing.
Copyright your UGC
As an aside, you should make sure that your user-generated content becomes your property once it is submitted. You can ensure that no copyright infringement is possible by introducing legalities to your community guidelines, terms, and conditions, as well as the final submission screen.
Make sure that your users are aware that once they send you their UGC, you are in effect able to use it for further marketing campaigns and app advertisements. Think in advance and ensure that you are safe from a legal standpoint before you publish UGC under your brand banner. Once that’s done, both you and your app users will have a much easier time managing user-generated content and how it is implemented for further lead generation.
Taking your user-generated content to the next level is all about out-of-the-box thinking. Give your users enough freedom to express their creativity while also adhering to your community content standards and brand guidelines.
Once your UGC strategy is well-developed, you will be able to focus on it completely without turning to a highly curated in-house production of content marketing materials. Create a pro-consumer brand reputation through user-generated content and reap the benefits of what it can do for your app today.
This post was written for Messapps Blog by Melanie Sovann, born in 1990 in the greater LA area, who is a seasoned writer and blogger, passionate about a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from technology to sociology. She is currently an avid contributor at , the blog that has amassed a sizable following over the years.