How User-Generated Content Spells Success for Independent Retailers

Small retailers have an advantage over larger brands thanks to the current culture of mass individualism in retail. But unfortunately, not many small brand owners are seizing this opportunity.

In the past, companies created brands in order to build a distinct identity and stand out from competitors in a crowded landscape. It was essential that brands became household names.

What is User-Generated Buzz?

In today’s digital world, companies can no longer just dictate to consumers what their brand stands for.  Consumers are informing each other about brands.  A brand is no longer what a company tells the consumer it is—but what consumers tell each other it is.


To take it a step further, consumers no longer want the brands that everyone else has. They want to be the trendsetters, trailblazers, and nonconformists.

This trend leaves big brands vulnerable to independent retailers. To seize on this strategic opportunity, small businesses need to leverage and encourage the voice of their loyal customers and fans.

Here are three ways that user-generated content benefits independent retailers:

1)  Creates Brand Awareness

One of the biggest challenges for independent retailers is name recognition. Luckily, social channels are designed to make brand amplification easy. To encourage customers to post more about your brand, ensure that you have an “evergreen” hashtag.

An evergreen hashtag is a long-term tag that signifies your brand across all channels. 


More often than not, your customers will have already created one for you (typically in the form of your company name or slogan.) Hashtags make it easy for customers to discover and interact with your brand, and encourage them to join the conversation.

Once you’ve established an evergreen hashtag, create and promote user-generated content like photo contests to incentivize participation. Photo contests are a powerful way to give your fans a reason to submit great content and share it with their own social communities.

2)  Capitalizes on Mass-Individualism

Everyone wants his or her 15 minutes of fame. Consumers love being recognized for how they use your products post-purchase. Highlight the innovative ways people are using your products by reposting their photos on your owned media (with their permission, of course.)

When it comes to incorporating user-generated content onto your owned media, the post-purchase inspiration factor is invaluable.

3)  Builds Greater Brand Loyalty

With their niche markets and targeted audiences, indie retailers are in a prime position to develop deeper relationships with customers. By focusing on social listening (through brand mentions and hashtags), your brand can extend loyalty beyond upselling.


Pay close attention to branded content and make an effort to “like” and “comment” on customer submissions. This often converts customers into brand advocates, creating a peer-to-peer megaphone of online brand endorsement.

Small, independent retailers looking to capitalize on the changing social media marketing landscape should leverage their customers’ voices through user-generated content. It is a strong competitive advantage over established big brand stores.

Rather than shy away from new technologies, indie retailers should embrace them as a powerful means to surpass the competition.

Are you an independent retailer? How do you use user-generated content to market your business? Comment below…

  • Arlene Taffe

    Very factual content Juliet.