Marketers: Look to Teachers for User-Generated Content

Content marketing is a mature and irreplaceable part of the marketing mix. Marketers appreciate its effectiveness for establishing thought leadership, promoting brand awareness, and keeping products top of the customers’ mind.

Marketers needing to keep the pipeline filled with quality content are always looking for new sources, and user-generated content can be an option.

User-generated content, also known as UGC, is content about your brand that’s created by someone who’s not an official representative of your business. UGC can come in the form of product reviews, social media posts, TikTok videos, Pinterest boards, podcasts, and any number of other types.

Why Look to Teachers for UCG?

A unique advantage education marketers have in leveraging UGC is teachers. Few professions are as collaborative and likely to share ideas as teachers, and social channels and online communities offer an ideal venue. Add the fact that a growing percentage of teachers are in the digital native generations of Millennials and Gen Z and it’s clear why teachers are high-volume content creators.

Unsurprisingly, a lion’s share of content generated by teachers is curriculum focused. The success of content platforms like Teachers Pay Teachers demonstrates the value of, and appetite for, teacher-created instruction materials. Our own online community, WeAreTeachers, gives millions of teachers a platform for finding and sharing classroom ideas, teaching strategies, and actionable tips.

What’s the Value of Teacher UCG for Marketers?

One of the reasons content marketing works is that it is more educational than promotional. Many consumers, particularly younger generations, can be suspicious of explicit marketing vehicles. To counter that, methods of social proof are gaining traction with marketers.

A study by UCG technology company bazaarvoice found that about 64 percent of Millennial consumers want more platforms that will provide them an opportunity to share their views about the brands they used.

Social proof is evidence that other people have purchased and found value in a product or service. It can come from multiple authorities, like experts, celebrities/influencers, via certifications, or through the wisdom of the crowd in product popularity.

User social proof comes from current users who recommend your products and services based on their own first-hand experiences with your brand, for example a rave on social media or a positive review on a website. One quality that UCG offers that brand-generated marketing cannot is authenticity.

Teachers are bombarded with marketing. Separating the signal from the noise in what actually delivers results for students could be a full-time job. That’s why the authentic opinions and recommendations of their peers carry so much weight with teachers.

Reviews on your website, testimonial comments, and survey responses are just some of the user social proof that can be highly persuasive to an educator audience. So, can this content be freely used in your marketing materials? That brings up an important point: who owns user-generated content?

Staying Legal with UGC

As a rule, user-generated content is owned by the individual who uploads it online within the terms of their use of the platform or site. As explains, social platform members and website users have “given each platform a license to use [their content] as spelled out in their terms and conditions. These licenses are slightly different from each other, but all of them grant the social media platform the right to use your copyrighted work in whatever way they see fit.”

Other applications are less straightforward. Giveaways, for example, often depend on the user’s location and how the entry was collected. A word to the wise: Take your legal advisor for a coffee and get a clear understanding of the rules before integrating UCG in your marketing.   

At the very least, SproutSocial advises, “make it a habit to reach out, ask permission and receive users’ consent before sharing their content… After all, building that trust is how you encourage the type of two-way relationship that benefits both brand and consumer.”

UCG Marketing Methods to Try Today

Here are some ways marketers are using UCG to raise brand awareness on social platforms:

Creating a hashtag or a simple picture contest on a platform like Instagram. For example, Lululemon’s “#thesweatlife” campaign encouraged customers to share photos of themselves in action while sporting the brand’s gear. What photos would you like to see teachers post with your custom hashtag?

Launching a video request. GoPro is well-known for kicking-off the UCG movement by encouraging users of their sport cameras to upload YouTube videos of their adventures. 40 million videos later, the channel has five million subscribers who tune in to watch videos of the camera in action. Are there classroom activities students do with your product you’d like to see in a video?

Crowdsource Pinterest boards. Canadian jewelry brand Mejuri has a dedicated Pinterest board for their community with 48,000 followers. They incorporate UGC on almost every single one of their own boards. Can you think of themed Pinterest boards where you can feature teacher pins?   

Given that authenticity is a primary benefit of UGC, brands should also consider TikTok videos. TikTok is all about authenticity and first-hand POV. If a creator mentions your product in a positive way, reach out in the comments and ask permission to share their video, being sure to credit them properly. You may also be able to identify teachers who would be willing to test drive your product in this way.

Add Users to your Content Generation Team

MDR and the creative minds at WeAreTeachers can help you develop a content generation program that will engage teachers in building social proof for your brand. A quick visit to might give you some ideas we can help you adapt. Check it out!