The importance of user-generated content for promotions

By Pallavi Shukla & Priya Chetty on March 27, 2020

User-generated content originates in social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, where the consumers become the content creators (Cvijikj & Michahelles, 2011). Marketing is a dynamic concept and comprises of measures through which firms convey their business offerings. It has undergone several changes since the evolution of information technology and the use of digital mediums. One such notable change is the inclusion of social media marketing that gave rise to customer empowerment. Social media marketing allows consumers to directly influence marketing outcomes by contributing to their own content. This is known as user-generated content.

User-generated content is created through mediums such as sound recordings, video recordings, physical objects, graphic designs, computer codes. The users of the social mediums express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a business or its offering. User-generated content acts as a tool for product promotion that is designed to stimulate word-of-mouth activity over the wide network of the internet. Such content thus gives power to consumers for real-time content creation. Such content can make their voice heard in the community. It provides the content creator with a chance to reach a wider audience, which can even lead to monetization (Yang, Ren, & Adomavicius, 2019).

Types of user-generated content

There are various types of user-generated content comprising photos, user experience reviews, video recordings, blogs, forum discussions, and podcast content (Islam & Chitran, 2019). However, the topology of user-generated content can be majorly understood on the basis of the directionality of knowledge flow as a result of the content process. The below figure shows different types of user-generated content based on the direction of the flow of knowledge.

Types of User-generated content based on Flow of Information
Types of user-generated content based on the flow of information

The above figure shows that user-generated content such as review of products create a consumer to consumer flow and is informative in nature. Such user-generated content provides other users with insights on the usage of products. On the other hand, other content can be pioneering by spreading information to raise awareness. However, when the direction of the flow of information of user-generated content is the consumer to business, it can be used to co-communicate a value offering of the business. Moreover, this content is also co-created with businesses. In this process, the content plays a pivotal role in the product or service design process (O’Hern & Kahle, 2013).

User-generated content leads to heightened consumer trust

User-generated content spreads word-of-mouth using the internet and also enhances peer recommendation of products. Such content is viewed as more trustworthy than advertisements as they allow knowledge integration through information exchange. User-generated contents are also more memorable than traditional modes of advertisement such as television and newspaper. It is also more influential to the consumers to act upon (Urrutia, 2019). Consumer trust is based on freedom of bias that user-generated content provides as users do not have an agenda to sell the product. Such contents highlight the positive and negative parameters of product usage. Consumers thus trust both negative and positive feedbacks (Sethna, Hazari, & Bergiel, 2017).

User contents can help gather valuable audience insight

User-generated contents offer a large amount of data that can be analyzed to generate key insights. Analyzing their information such as reviews and comments helps businesses to gather intelligence on consumer perceptions of a product, service or event. It also helps to understand their audience better. Moreover, it provides methods to know what the audience finds engaging. This can help businesses to devise data-driven content marketing strategies to help generate leads and thereby increase sales (Tolmie et al., 2017).

User contents influence online purchase intention

Social media has empowered consumers to seek product information through customers’ past experiences and feedback. Apart from information, user-generated content also provides tips and tricks for using products. This facilitates consumers in their buying decision process. Consumers tend to purchase a product after they have gathered all the information about it. Social platforms such as Instagram help consumers to compare different products before purchasing. Numerous photos, reviews, and videos available as user-generated content shape the purchase intention of potential buyers (Bahtar & Muda, 2016; Racherla & Friske, 2012).

User-generated contents help to create stronger brand engagement, loyalty, and affinity

As the consumers view user-generated content as a more trustworthy source of information, it can impact the purchase decisions of the consumer. An enhanced trust provides businesses with the opportunity to engage with customers. It further motivates customers for conversions that can positively affect brand affinity and increase loyalty. In addition, the generated content also allows customers to co-create products with brands that further empower customers as part of the product and simultaneously fosters a community feeling. This brand community strengthens positive associations with the brand and enhances the perception of product quality. This results in brand loyalty (Bonhomme, Christodoulides, & Jevons, 2010; Christodoulides, Jevons, & Bonhomme, 2012).

How Netflix used social buzz to promote its series Stranger Things?

One of the case examples of successful user-generated content can be detailed by the Stranger Things campaign by Netflix. It is the world’s leading streaming entertainment service company. It has over 167 million customers with paid membership that enjoy its services in over 190 countries. Netflix broadcasts, TV series, feature films, and documentaries across a wide variety of languages and genres. One such series that was promoted using straightforward hashtags to enhance user engagement was the second season of Stranger Things. Fans of the series posted different content using #strangerthings2 and the company managed to gain a community of 125,000 new Instagram followers in just a period of two weeks. The company recognized the power of the generated content to reinforce its reputation and use fans’ excitement on social media to promote the release of their show. The company also re-purposed some of the user-generated content buzzes from the show for the marketing campaigns. This led the series to become most-Tweeted about streaming series during the period, and reach a much wider audience to spread the effective word of mouth (Agarwal, 2020; Davis, n.d.).


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Priya is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Project Guru, a research and analytics firm based in Gurgaon. She is responsible for the human resource planning and operations functions. Her expertise in analytics has been used in a number of service-based industries like education and financial services.

Her foundational educational is from St. Xaviers High School (Mumbai). She also holds MBA degree in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, Delhi (2008).

Some of the notable projects she has worked on include:

  • Using systems thinking to improve sustainability in operations: A study carried out in Malaysia in partnership with Universiti Kuala Lumpur.
  • Assessing customer satisfaction with in-house doctors of Jiva Ayurveda (a project executed for the company)
  • Predicting the potential impact of green hydrogen microgirds (A project executed for the Government of South Africa)

She is a key contributor to the in-house research platform Knowledge Tank.

She currently holds over 300 citations from her contributions to the platform.

She has also been a guest speaker at various institutes such as JIMS (Delhi), BPIT (Delhi), and SVU (Tirupati).


I have been working with Project Guru for over a period of 2 years. In these years I have developed a knack for writing various research and knowledge article. The areas that particularly interest me are management, human resource, employment, education, economy, and culture.