The Social Observer

The Social Media Marketing Blog by SNHU Students

UGC-The New Way for Alternative Small Businesses

What Was Once Strange and Unusual is Now a Viral Sensation due to UGC

UGC displaying a cat wearing a bat costumer.
Photo By Nika Benedictova

Have you noticed how the alternative, gothic, oddities & curiosities, and spooky aesthetics have become popular throughout social media? This is due to user-generated content (UGC) on social media platforms specifically Instagram and Tik Tok. Users have been displaying their spooky fashion aesthetics and home decor which have now gone viral. Originally, this content started around Halloween, but due to social media, this aesthetic has become popular year-round. Spiraling consumers to run to big box stores like Target, Home Goods, and TJ Max, but it does not stop there. Small businesses like Kill Star, Vixen, Etsy shop owners, Depop shop owners, and more have also leveraged user-generated content to their advantage. They have utilized UGC to target not only consumers who love Halloween but love to be different year-round.


User-Generated Content (UGC)

Tik Tok a great platform where user-generated content can be created.
Photo By Alexander Shatov

User-generated content or also known as UGC is content that is published and created outside of professional routines and practices. This is usually when users create content either to express themselves or can be brand related. Users will buy products and make reviews, or they will share their favorite products through a post or videos, and then post it to social media. User-generated content can help develop social interactions, online word-of-mouth, communities, and brand relationships. User-generated content has even been used within campaigns where businesses request users to post a photo or make a video utilizing a specific hashtag. Please check out another one of our blog posts to learn more about user-generated content and campaigns.

There is a multitude of ways user-generated content can be utilized. Some ways include hashtags, campaigns, posting user’s content to the brand’s page, sharing user content to a story, and more. Hashtags have also become a way for users to share their user-generated content to help build communities. The alternative, grunge, and goth community have utilized this feature to share product reviews and content. Although users utilize hashtags, small businesses have also utilized them to help promote their products and build communities surrounding them. The company Kill Star which I mention below has been seen using hashtags like #killstar, #killstarclothing, killstarco, and more. In turn, consumers have also used them to promote their purchases from the company. Hashtags are another great way to help promote content and encourage user-generated content.

  • #killstar 748K posts on Instagram
  • #killstarclothing 127K posts on Instagram
  • #killstarco 112K posts on Instagram

Alternative Small Businesses & User-Generated Content

The company above named Kill Star is an example of a small business that has leveraged UGC to help promote its products. In doing so, the company has grown significantly due to consumers and users creating content and publishing it through social media. The company took it one step further by reposting the user’s photo and giving them credit. This helps create brand relationships by displaying they acknowledge the consumer’s joy with the products. In addition, this also helps create a community surrounding the aesthetic, and other users will start to follow one another and share other products and brands.

Other small businesses have also utilized user-generated content such as small businesses on Etsy like ShopDoneByDonielle which creates crotched horror characters and sells patterns for consumers to make their own. The owner utilizes platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok to display consumers’ reactions when they receive her products as well as the crotched characters, they make themselves.

Due to User-generated content, ShopDoneByDonielle has made/gained

Another small business that has gained traction is Vixen by Micheline Pitt. This company has created a following due to its alternative style, size range, and community following. Consumers have created a Facebook group called The Vixen’s Salon where they display photos of themselves within the clothing demonstrating how they look on different body types. The company’s Instagram utilizes user-generated content as well to display its consumers wearing outfits by the brand. The company has gained over 176K followers on Instagram and the Facebook group has over 12.6K members.


Viral Sensation

Photo By George Pagan III

Social media has created a way for trends, products, campaigns, and even memes to go viral. When content goes viral it is shared repeatedly by users. The audience decides when content becomes viral and cannot be forced by brands, but there are ways brands can utilize user-generated content to help a trend or product become viral or gain traction. Small alternative businesses have learned this and started to adapt ways in which they have used user-generated content to help promote and boost their brand.

Although this style and aesthetic are nothing new. It has become the biggest trend. According to The Guardian, small business shops on Depop have seen a 20% influx of Gen Z consumers searching for goth clothing and accessories. In addition, one Depop shop owner states on Tik Tok alone the hashtag #goth has over 8.8bn views. In addition, the love for Wednesday Addams business attire searches has gone up as well by 90%. Clothing and Home Decor items that carry this same aesthetic have also increased.

In addition, hashtags like #alternative, #alternativefashion, #grunge, and more have seen an increase in users creating content and utilizing specific hashtags along with the hashtags from brands. These hashtags have also helped create a way for brands to connect with their users and boost engagement and popularity.


Final Thoughts

User-generated content has created and paved a new way for businesses to market their products, build relationships, create communities, and more. It has also provided brands with feedback on how to shape the brand and products to the consumer’s wants and needs. In addition, if done correctly this can be a great way to market your business at a low cost. Consumers and users like to feel important and share their thoughts with brands. They want to be heard and appreciated and feel like they belong. Social media has created a space for people to connect with others alike to share thoughts, ideas, art, aesthetics, and more. It has also become a place for everyone so why not take advantage of it and market your product even if it is strange and unusual.

Have you ever created user-generated content? I know I have. Leave a comment below on how you have created user-generated content, or if user-generated content has influenced your shopping patterns.


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Category: Advanced Tactics, Social Media Marketing 101