In its simplest form, UGM is simple Word-of-Mouth (WOM) - your customer raves about you on Yelp! or Amazon reviews because they had a great experience and they want others to know about it. (Sure, they may be helping to improve their reputation on the particular platform where they've left the review, but it's not a direct tangible reward or it's an outcome for an accurate review, not necessarily a positive one.)
UGM differs from User-Generated Content (UGC) because whereas UGC shows your product in use (whether it's a video game or a grill), UGM is more about motivating others to make a purchase as well.
There are practical steps you can do to foster UGM - whether it's including your logo on a sticker with the product, or offering up a link in your email that generates a Tweet or Facebook post with some suggested wording or an image. It could be offering up Memes or animated GIFs that people enjoy sharing.
But, there's one thing you must do more than anything else to turn your customers into an extension of your marketing department. It's not easy, but it's something you must do, something that will set you apart in a big way from those who don't.
Be awesome. Sounds easy, right? It's not.
It's the day-in, day-out focus on surprising and delighting your customers, of anticipating their needs, of having the solutions they need before they even know they need them. It's a commitment to identifying and addressing problems quickly and having values that will support making the tough decisions. It's about being willing to admit when you made a mistake and being open about how you're going to work to avoid those mistakes in the future.
It's about avoiding cutting corners. Doing the right thing, every time. Following the rules not simply to avoid penalty, but because you want to be above reproach. Going above and beyond when the rules or laws are aren't sufficient to truly protect your customers, your employees, your company's future.
It's about empowering your employees to represent you well, and rewarding them when they do so. It's about creating a culture that cares - because when employees feel loved, they will be more loving.
It's about being personable.
When you truly are awesome, it will be impossible to keep your customers from telling the world.