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B2B and UGC and Three Success Stories

by Dan Kimball  |  
March 2, 2015

For brand marketers, user-generated content (UGC) has been all the rage for the past couple of years. From Doritos' famous annual million-dollar "Crash the Super Bowl" to Sephora's Beauty Board, to the inordinate number of hashtag-infused "media walls," brands have piled on in growing numbers.

UGC-enabled marketing is no longer a trend; it's a core part of any modern marketer's toolkit. And, by all measures, it's only growing.

However, there's an interesting gap between the UGC from B2C and the UGC from B2B marketers: Some 70% of B2C companies say they will make use of UGC in their 2015 marketing strategies, compared with 48% of B2B who say so, according to the 2015 Benchmark, Budgets, and Trends report from MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute.

But a closer look into UGC benefits, how they apply to B2B, and a few key examples from major brands should put to rest any question about the validity of B2B UGC.

The Benefits of UGC

The reasons behind the growth in UGC popularity are many. Based on work over the past year with some major brands, I've boiled down the main benefits of UGC to the following five:

  1. Quantity: An exponentially higher amount of content can be (and is being) produced by consumers than a single marketing team could ever produce itself.
  2. Authenticity: Although only a small percentage of UGC content is of high quality, the content that is good is REALLY good and connects with consumers in a completely different—and more authentic—way than anything company-produced.
  3. Diversity: From photos on Instagram to videos on YouTube to customer reviews on Twitter, the variety of UGC formats and styles available will push your brand to new heights.
  4. Performance: When harnessed for strategic marketing purposes with clear objectives, UGC can far outperform professional content, as measured by engagement and conversion rates. But when UGC is used merely as a quick-hit novelty... well, the ROI will be just that—a novelty.
  5. Versatility: A great piece of UGC has legs. When smart companies find a compelling photo or video or tweet, they squeeze as much value out of it as possible—on the website, in social channels, in-store, on billboards, in commercials. You get the point.

Why UGC Works for B2B

The large majority of hype and overall activity around UGC marketing has been centered on household consumer brands, such as Bud Light, Coca-Cola, and Disney, but B2B marketers are the ones really pushing UGC to new heights.

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Dan Kimball is chief marketing officer of marketing technology company Thismoment; its digital storytelling platform enables content curation and digital experience creation and sharing.

LinkedIn: Dan Kimball

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  • by Lena Prickett Mon Mar 2, 2015 via web

    Such a great topic Dan - and a very thorough overview of why B2B marketers should sit up and pay attention. I love that Intuit example!

    A customer of SnapApp, Atmel, recently did an awesome UGC video contest inviting innovative engineers to build something amazing using Atmel microcontrollers. Definitely touched on the Authenticity point! More info here:

  • by Andrew Siegel Tue Mar 10, 2015 via web

    Interesting article. Has anyone seen an application of UGC in the healthcare industry?

  • by Lena Prickett Tue Mar 10, 2015 via web

    @Andrew, here's an interesting take on UGC in the healthcare industry from Kuno Creative:

  • by Heather Adams Thu Mar 12, 2015 via web

    Thank you for sharing this. We currently have a few projects for B2B content in the works at netFactor that focus on user generated content. Check out the completed content soon at @visitortrack This overview really validates the direction that we are moving. We are using our advocate marketing platform @influitive to help us gather the user feedback.

  • by Mary Galoski Parsons Thu Mar 12, 2015 via web

    So many great points, Dan. I've also found that UGC can provide competitive differentiation.

  • by Alyssa Fri Mar 13, 2015 via web

    Great article, will be using these tips moving forward!

  • by Katie Fri Mar 13, 2015 via web

    I like the Salesforce success story, that creating exclusivity around their product discussions encouraged users to help one another.

  • by Jen Fri Mar 13, 2015 via web

    Passion is the one thing you cannot buy from your customers, but is the single most powerful testament to what your business is doing right. More companies should consider advocacy as a crucial element to their marketing strategy.

  • by Michael Fri Mar 13, 2015 via web

    Love the 5 benefits. That's a really helpful framework to keep in mind around UGC. I think we're just starting to tap in to this for the reasons you describe, especially the efficiency and effectiveness that UGC can offer.

  • by Joe Cannata Fri Mar 13, 2015 via web

    This summarized the value of UGC in such an easy way for me to present to our executives

  • by Margaux Novak Tue Mar 17, 2015 via web

    Great top 5 list-- I definitely see the power of authentic story-telling in my day-to-day as a marketer being one of the biggest drivers of repeat business AND in being able to close new deals.

  • by Nilesh Wed Mar 18, 2015 via web

    Well said Dan. UGC in B2B, though rare, is out of the box. And with customer advocacy platforms like Influitive, it's becoming easier to generate content from users.

  • by Ray Wed Mar 18, 2015 via web

    UGC can certainly be gold for a B2B company as you point out Dan. Finding ways to encourage its generation (without compromising authenticity), then to curate and promote it effectively can be a challenge. But it's possible with advocacy programs like @Nilesh and @Heather say (e.g., Influitive). And you are spot-on about using UGC outside of Marketing for other business purposes such recruiting top passionate talent, mobilizing employees to talk about what makes them excited about their jobs and company products, and finding those occasional gems that knock the socks off company execs and give everyone in the company a big morale boost.

    I agree with you that there is a lot of room for "clever campaign ideas" that creative marketing people will be rolling out this year. I can't wait to hear about them too!

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