Let’s be honest, it’s been a rough year for businesses large and small, and the dust hasn’t exactly settled. With all the stress and unknowns, brands need all the help they can get, especially keeping up with engaging, quality content for their social media feeds and marketing campaigns. Fortunately, it’s now not only acceptable but also highly recommended for brands to ask their customers for help. It’s called user generated content (UGC), and it’s a game-changer for businesses looking to increase brand exposure, boost customer loyalty, and expand their social following.

User generated content is any content created by customers that brands can leverage for marketing purposes. And the results are powerful. Ninety percent of consumers say UGC has a greater influence over their purchasing decisions than promotional emails or search engine results. This is as powerful as word-of-mouth marketing, as it’s 3rd party evangelism of your brand. This is photos, videos, written words, collages, and art that consumers create about and for your brand as a reflection of what they like and how they use your products and/ or services.

And it takes minimal effort on your part. Most customers are more than happy to share their passion, creativity, and talent on behalf of companies and products they love. And the best part, it’s virtually free.

Many brands aren’t using UGC to its full potential because they don’t know where to start. Here is a guide that will have you reaping the UGC rewards in no time, and with way less effort than you think.

The Benefits of User-generated Content

One of the main benefits of integrating UGC into your marketing strategy is the increased and richer engagement you inspire from your followers. People often associate their identities with brands they love. By asking customers to create and share content, you are providing them fun opportunities to express their creativity and personality.

The popular social media publishing platform, Buffer increased their Instagram following by 400% with their UGC campaign.

Plus, UGC inspires more active engagement from and between fans. Research revealed that UGC received 73% more positive comments on social networks than traditional ads.

UGC also generates increased credibility and trust, which makes sense. Real experiences from real customers hold more weight than words coming from businesses trying to make a buck. While often making a buck and serving customer needs are congruent, it seems more appetizing to take someone’s word outside of the brand.

Another huge UGC perk is its capacity to foster community and connection around your brand. We all want to feel like we belong to something we believe in and are making a contribution in some way. And let’s be honest, we also like to self-promote when our contributions make us proud. (aka selfies, tags, and shares, which means more followers for you.)

Fabletics created a fabulous UGC campaign that gave its fans the opportunity to do all of the above- show off their passions and strength, build a community, and promote a brand they love.


5 Ways to Get User-Generated Content

1. Post Customer Reviews 

Ninety-three percent of shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so take advantage of your good ones.

Search your brand on popular review sites like Amazon or Yelp or sift through your social media feeds to see if past comments include any customer love. Just copy/paste into quote image, and voila, you’ve got UGC.

Here is a good example of a professional remodeling company curating their customer reviews from around the web to show clients the positive feedback they get across many platforms. You should link out to all reviews so prospects can see these positive customer reviews on their native sites, giving further trust and social proof.
Customer reviews provide social proof

2. Create a Contest for Content

Social media contests are a great way to collect a substantial amount of UGC quickly. You can offer a giveaway in return for content, although the majority of consumers enter just for the chance to be featured by their favorite brand.

Include a catchy branded hashtag to inspire and track ongoing UGC, just make sure you keep sharing your favorite contributions and credit the creators. Remember, the more you share your customers’ content, the more motivated they will be to create it.

Below you can see a VERY POPULAR photo contest that was run by Goslings in partnership with Contest Factory to share as many videos as possible of how easy it is to make your Dark ‘N Stormy Cocktail. Thousands of entries had the  brand very happy with the promotion and UGC created for continual use.

UGC contest generate a lot of marketing content

3. Mine Your Social Media Platforms for User-Generated Content

Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are goldmines for finding creative user-generated content. Just hashify your business or use the advanced search tool to dig up any buzz about your brand and then embed them directly into your content. Below you will find an Instagram matrix based off of a contest #greatcanadiancookin asking folks to share their home meal creations using the retail products from http://www.WilliamsFoodEquipment.com.  This campaign increased followers by 48% in the first year of the pandemic.

UGC contest using hashtags

And don’t forget about Pinterest! People love creating boards with themed photos, and you might be surprised how often your products pop up.

4. Recycle & Repurpose Previous Content

There are countless ways to repurpose user-generated content across your platforms- a shout out on Twitter can become an Instagram testimonial or a Facebook photo can become a Pinterest post. You might have even posted UGC in the past and forgotten, so sift through your content and make sure you don’t let any gems go to waste.

5. Share your Instagram Feed on Your Website

Sharing your content from social on your brand website has never been easier. Whether you are on Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, WordPress, or Magento, you have a lot of options of using an API or pre-built application to share your Instagram feed right on your website. This keeps your social media top of mind and increases the places in which your customers will go to learn more about you.

Be sure to share your social media posts from customers so that you get the user generated content impact of 3rd party recommendation that is so important when leveraging user generated content.

Before you launch your UGC Campaign…

86% of marketers claim they’ve attempted to incorporate user-generated content into their campaigns, but only 27% say they had a strategy for doing so.

Before you start calling for UGC content, know what your desired end goal is to maximize the quality and impact of your campaign. If you need to boost brand awareness, a hashtag campaign or contest is optimal for creating a buzz around your biz. If you need more social proof to help move a product, soliciting customer reviews might be a more targeted approach.

You also want to give your audience clear instructions on the rules of the game. People actually prefer structure to help ignite their creativity.

And don’t forget to tag and credit your source. Fans love having their efforts acknowledged, especially by the creators of brands they love. And there is a good chance they will want to share your post of their post with their following…the love just keeps on coming.


User-generated content can work miracles for your marketing strategy- increasing size of and engagement from your audience; building trust and credibility around your product and services; promoting your products and boosting sales; and creating a larger, more connected community around your brand. And all you need to do is decide what you want… and then ask for little help from your fans.




Spread the love: