User Generated Content Is the King of Building Brand Trust

Posted on Posted in Marketing Resources, Millennial Marketing

Millennials do not trust advertising, and rightfully so. No company is ever going to say that their product is inferior to another company’s, no matter how true that statement is. It goes against their best interest, and we as consumers understand this. That is why Millennials have turned to user-generated content (UGC) for their purchasing decisions.

In a 2015 study from Crowdtap and Ipson on the impact of social influence on consumerism, it was abundantly clear that millennials trust UGC more than traditional advertising mediums.

Graph of Media Trustworthiness

It is a no-brainer that people would take the opinions of their friends and family over an ad, but it is clearly visible that content published on social networks like Instagram and Facebook, from those outside a person’s most inner-circle, are more trusted than almost all forms of direct advertisement.

A quote from Crowdtap’s study confirms, “in today’s landscape, it’s peer-created content, or “consumer to consumer marketing,” that drives trust.”

Diving into another study, Global Trust In Advertising, by The Neilson Company, we find more data to support our hypothesis: Recommendations from a person’s social network are more trusted than any advertising avenue.

earned vs owned

An interesting takeaway is how effective brand sponsorships are. Even when people know that sponsorships are paid and biased, a majority of them still give sponsorships a considerable amount of trust when making a purchase. Just take a look at the breakdown of owned or paid advertising streams and note that brand sponsorships still stand out – second only to TV Ads when it comes to trust. Consumers care more about who talks about a product, and less whether someone is sponsored or not.

graph of brand trust in traditional ads

Millennials not only trust UGC (including personal recommendations, online reviews, and editorials) more than any other forms of advertising, but they do so more than any other generation.

percentage of ad trust by generation

Don’t waste your impressions.  UGC found to be 35% more memorable for Millennials, and social media left a deeper impression than almost all forms of traditional advertising. Amongst the constant bombardment of information, news articles, and photos of puppies and kittens, shoppers are more likely to remember UGC posted to their social media feeds more than ads they saw online or on TV.
Percent who find media type memorable


It is clear that user-generated content is the best way to build brand trust, but sometimes having a great product or service isn’t enough to generate a buzz. Many brands turn to influencer marketing as a way to build trust by using someone with a well-established following to endorse their company. The issue is that matching the wrong brand to an influencer or poorly planning an ad can cause distrust between a brand and consumers, or worse – distrust between an influencer and their followers.

If you want to avoid any pitfalls, then it’s best to keep it natural. UGC at its core is organic marketing. Consumers want to see others using your product so that they are assured that they are making a wise purchasing decision. They don’t want to be played a fool. That is why we created Lifestyle Marketing. By matching brands to influencers, and organically fitting products into their lives, we do not go out and shout “Hey! You should use this product because it is great!”. Instead, our influencers show their followers, “I use this product” and we let the consumers infer the rest.

If you are a brand and would like to know more about how our Lifestyle Marketing services build greater brand trust, you can contact us here.

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