Part 1: What is User-Generated Content ⏤ The Series
A six-part series: learn how to build a strategy around the gift that keeps on giving.
Welcome to the user-generated content learning series. Over the next three weeks, I will be sharing my biggest secrets to building a community online that can turn into a profitable business.
March 23, 2019, I started the brand @BlackWifeLife on Instagram. Less than two years later, I had a community of 100,000+ following. Along the way, I opened up a lifestyle blog with 10+ independent contributing writers. I landed major media partnerships like Lifetime Networks, Married at First Sight, popular dating app BLK_Dating, and everyone’s favorite greeting card, Minted, to name a few.
Most of all, I love what I’ve created + curated. I’ve turned my passion for Black women, Black Love, family, and marriage into an up-and-coming household brand.
And it all began with this one post.
My first shares on Instagram were quote + celebrity-based. It wasn’t until I shared the above picture that I found the exact purpose of my future community.
A few months later, I stumbled across @inspire_me_home_decor’s Instagram page and noticed a similar vibe. The owner shared images of others’ beautifully decorated homes and credited the original owner of the photo.
But then I noticed something different. She was also sharing content that was from her personal collection. Now I am intrigued—time to dig and learn the back story.
Farah Merhi founded this widely popular home decor insta page in 2012 to share pictures of luxurious home decor. Others enjoyed the picture choices that were shared and decided to follow. Farah then began to share with her audience her experience and expertise with home decor and design.
Inspire Me!’s digital platform is a go-to source for decor expertise for design enthusiasts ranging from homemakers and self-proclaimed DIYers to designers and young professionals. Farah turned an Instagram inspo-board into a home decor line.
That was it.
I was going to find a way to connect my brand @BlackWifeLife to something beyond re-sharing images.
Over the next three weeks, you will be guided through the following topics:
What is User-Generated Content? [this post]
You don’t want to miss out on this learning series.
Let’s start by understanding what user-generated content is.
User-generated content (UGC) is any content—text, videos, images, reviews, etc. —created by people rather than brands. This phrase is often used a lot by businesses that hire individuals [influencers] to help market their goods and services. 55% of consumers say they trust UGC over any other form of marketing content on social media.
You don’t have to own a business to take advantage of a user-generated content strategy. It’s a great alternate strategy for growing an audience and building engagement.
Still don’t get it? Check out this quick case study video I created on 7 different UGC accounts that have evolved into profitable businesses with growing audiences.
Finally got it? Good!
Every great social media strategy includes someone else's content. Even some of the biggest brands re-posted something before (feed or stories) created by someone else.
If you think you can grow your Instagram following without the help of others...good for you. But that road will be hard and long; however, it can be doable.
Using someone else's content not only helps you recognize others for their hard work but it relieves you from creating everything from scratch.
Depending on the type of Instagram community you are trying to build, you might not re-post as much UGC as your brand grows, but use it to help you get off the ground and switch it up later.
When I first started, @BlackWifeLife was 99% dedicated to UGC. I didn’t even let my friends know about my social media venture until I hit almost 50,000 followers. Up until that point, I only shared 2-3 images of my husband and me.
Now that I have fully embraced my social entrepreneurship journey, I show up weekly on the IG stories a few times a month on the feed and host virtual events.
My community began as a platform to recognize others, and it remains as such. However, I’ve been able to use the audience to build trust, friendships, and partnerships.
The user-generated content strategy was MY way into the social media influencing world. It was a way for me to connect with something I am extremely passionate about.
This strategy isn’t for everyone, but it’s a different way to build a business and platform that doesn’t demand your entire life to be shared.
Everything sounds nice. But is this strategy the right one for you? Check out part two of this learning series to understand if this can be a pathway to influence or for your next business venture.
Some say build the product, and the audience will come. My method has been building the audience, and the product will follow.
Stick around. You don’t want to miss this series.