How user-generated content can support local marketing

Breton Towler
March 29, 2024

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How user-generated content can support local marketing
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User-generated content (UGC) is an unexploited resource for many local businesses. While your own marketing ideas and internally produced content drives your strategy, your audience involvement can also serve to your benefit.

Unfortunately, you can’t solely depend on UGC as part of  your local SEO content marketing strategy, because it relies on the actions of others. However, you can encourage written reviews, photos, and videos from your customers and work in ways to ensure those reviews are positive. This can help grow your business by positively influencing other customers purchasing decisions and showcasing authentic content.

Let’s look at why giving your customers a voice is so important and how doing so can generate credibility and enhance your business reputation.

What is user-generated content?

UGC refers to any original, brand-specific, promotional content created by unpaid contributors and customers. For your local business, this usually means customers who’ve enjoyed a great service or benefitted from your great products.

Think of it as word-of-mouth marketing — your brand is so good they shout about it to others. Only in this case, the “content creator” is promoting your business on the internet, opening you up to global online traffic and viral potential.

Don’t confuse UGC with influencer marketing. UGC is organic and not created based on any payment, sponsorship, or other formal arrangements between the business and the content creator.

User-generated content examples

UGC comes in more forms than you might realise. This could be customer reviews of a pet-friendly hotel[BT1]  or a customer sharing a picture on social media of a cappuccino they got from a local coffee shop.

Every type of UGC is an opportunity to build awareness and trust among your target audience. Let’s investigate the different ways users can play a crucial role by creating and sharing their content related to your business.


Positive user-generated reviews on platforms like Google and Yelp, on your website, or even discussion boards provide confidence to other consumers who have yet to interact with your business. In fact, 95% of customers read online reviews before buying a product

Shared positive experiences create a persuasive narrative — remember, people follow people. Think of ways to harness this influential UGC by encouraging customers to post reviews of your products and services. Discounts on future purchases or simply following up with customers via email can work wonders. Product review videos will also fall under this form of UGC.

Social media posts and interactions

Users create content on a wealth of social media platforms, so it’s important for local businesses to take advantage of this dynamic space for UGC. This could be through mentioning or tagging your brand on Instagram, contests and giveaways, or encouraging them to create content around a branded hashtag.

Social media users love sharing bespoke, personalised experiences tailored to them. Who can forget Coca-Cola’s incredibly successful #ShareaCoke personalised bottle campaign, which achieved 998 million impressions on Twitter (now X)? Of course, they’ll need to be able to find you in the first place, so make this process easy by adding links to your social accounts from your Google Business Profile (GBP).

Photos and videos

These social media posts are often accompanied by visual content, namely images and videos. Customers can post selfies holding your products with a store backdrop to raise your brand awareness. Alternatively, videos such as unboxings (when users record themselves unboxing new products), brand tributes, and product demonstrations can create excitement around your business. This also promotes your products through authentic and relatable content, all with no expense spared.

Primark is renowned for using photo and video UGC as part of its social media strategy. Customers share images or footage of their Primark finds and hauls and how they’ve styled them into different outfits. Primark then use these contributions as creative visual content on their social media channels.

Questions and answers

The Q&A area of your GBP is another place for users to have their say. Anyone with a Google account can ask and answer a question about your business, which can lead to inaccurate information. That’s why you must be the first to answer to avoid incorrect or misleading information being published. 

Compile a list of the most common questions your local business receives, focusing on who, what, when, where, and why. You (as the business profile owner) can then submit concise, honest, and unbiased answers that earn your customers’ loyalty and trust.

Bear in mind this section is meant to be community-orientated and information-based, so your goal should be to provide more information about your business. Think of helpful information like your holiday opening hours or where your EV charging station is specifically located in the multi-storey car park. 

Neither you or your customers should use this feature to promote or sell products and services relating to your business.

Your local business could also be discussed in podcast conversations and personal blogs. It’s wise to encourage a variety of UGC, so it resonates with different segments of your target audience.

How can user-generated content support local marketing?

While the Share a Coke campaign highlights the global impact UGC can have, it will likely have a more modest but nonetheless effective influence on a local company’s advertising reach.

As long as you provide the right conditions for content generation, there’s every chance customers will engage by posting and creating content about your brand. In turn, your small business will reap the rewards. but what are the benefits of UGC for smaller firms?

Improves your Google Business listing

If your GBP contains UGC, it acts as a trust signal to customers and Google. Photos, reviews, and questions and answers generated by users will help you rank higher in local search and consequently boost your conversion rate.

Boosts engagement

Information from real customers is as compelling as it gets, particularly when building credibility with potential consumers. Whether through local social media campaigns or asking customers for reviews and testimonials, UGC allows you to interact directly with your audience (and vice-versa).

There’s also evidence this type of content drives a big lift in engagement. Social media campaigns incorporating UGC see a 50% rise in engagement, highlighting its memorability over brand-produced content.

Feed your customers’ desire for self-expression by offering them as much creative freedom as possible. This is more likely to spark valuable engagement, as well as showcase the “human” side of your local business.

Fosters community

UGC gives customers unique opportunities to feel a part of your online community. Instead of watching your brand grow from the sidelines, they can help you build it.

By opening conversations and content opportunities between your brand and its consumers, you’ll help stimulate interaction, resulting in an engaged community.

There’s something magical about UGC and how it triggers brand loyalty and affinity. It emits a buzz around your local business and can even inspire a movement.

Provides fresh and relevant content

If your content tank is firing blanks, your user base is the perfect place to source fresh, unique, and authentic ideas that are crying out to be shared. From thinking of a new product name to contest-driven content, don’t be afraid to rely on your customers to deliver the goods.

A good example of this is when Manchester City Council ran a contest in 2020 asking people to choose names for its gritters. It got more than 2,000 replies. Basil Salty, anyone?

How businesses can leverage influencers and user-generated content

Valuable UGC is everywhere. Before you start implementing processes to acquire fresh UGC, some might be already out there for you to collect. Check external review sites and do a Google search of your brand to see if it’s mentioned anywhere else — blog posts, product review sites, etc.

If your GBP page is unclaimed, there could already be reviews you can reply to. Finally, search for any social media mentions using your brand name, location, or hashtags, and look at how to use them to gain traction.

Once you’ve found existing content from your customers, you need to learn some actionable tactics to pull in more UGC for your local business. Some of these methods include:

  • encouraging customers to share photos and videos of your products and services on social media
  • hosting a contest or giveaway that entices users to submit UGC
  • creating a branded hashtag that customers can use
  • starting a dialogue on social media to encourage customer debate. An open-ended question usually works well for stimulating comments
  • asking for reviews and testimonials.

Best practices for managing user-generated content

UGC should be the cornerstone of any local SEO content strategy, but it still needs clearly defined goals. Consider what you want your UGC to accomplish. Do you want to promote a new product or enhance your brand’s authenticity and credibility? Consider your target audience and the platforms you use to ensure your UGC endeavours are maximised. 

Your local business needs to be meticulously prepared to capitalise on UGC content. Showing you care about your customers’ efforts, opinions, and content by reacting to them promptly will drive brand loyalty. However, only share UGC on your distribution channels if it aligns with your brand values. 

Don’t be discouraged by negative UGCs, such as bad reviews, either. They can make your brand more authentic. Turn these opinions into opportunities by responding to them calmly, honestly, and openly. For companies with storefronts at multiple locations, there are local SEO tools to assist with handling masses of UGC and other forms of communication time-efficiently. 

Ensure you seek approval from the creator should you wish to repost or share any UGC. You can’t just take someone’s content that mentions your business. You’ll probably have seen other business accounts on social media commenting on an image that features their company. They usually thank the contributor and ask if they can repost it, crediting the user in the subsequent share. This is the best practice to follow.

Closing thoughts

Successful UGC campaigns and strategies are all built on using the necessary methods and incentives to encourage target customers to create content that matters. It is the most steadfast variety of content that increases your brand’s authenticity in customers' minds.

This can boost your brand awareness, improve your local SEO rankings, and foster customer loyalty and confidence while allowing your audience to shine.

Discover how Mirador Local can help develop and deepen the relationship between your local business and target audience by checking out our free demo.