The Ultimate Guide to User-Generated Content (UGC) for Brands

It’s no surprise that very few consumers make buying decisions based on ads these days. Ads have a bad reputation for being untrustworthy and portraying products and services as way better than they actually are.

These days, people want to know the truth and they don’t want to hear it from you.

That’s where user-generated content (UGC) shines.

What Is User-Generated Content (UGC)?

UGC, by definition, is any content created by non-representatives of a brand on social media and other online platforms. Basically, it’s the online version of word-of-mouth.

UGC can come in many different forms—a status update on Twitter, an unboxing video on TikTok, an OOTD on Instagram, a review on Google, a testimonial submitted to your website, a podcast mention. Most of the time, it’s organic content that your customers share on social media about your brand because they like it, but occasionally, it’s content that you can ask for from your audience.

Why Is UGC So Effective?

Audiences consider a brand’s opinion of their products and services biased, so they aren’t going to take your word for it. They’d rather look to fellow consumers with similar needs to share insights about their purchases before buying anything.

UGC allows them to do just that. Product reviews, Instagram photos, and unboxing videos by fellow consumers provide potential buyers with social proof that real people wear or use these products and services in circumstances that are relatable to them.

People trust other people and UGC allows potential buyers to see that your brand can be trusted.

UGC is especially effective in the final stages of the buyer’s journey. Adding UGC images to product pages and abandoned cart emails help to give consumers the extra confidence they need to finalise their purchase.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of UGC is its cost-effectiveness. Compared to hiring an influencer or investing in a large-scale brand campaign, UGC is way cheaper and easier to manage. All you need to do is to ask your customers to share posts of themselves enjoying your product and offer a small reward in exchange.

How Can You Collect UGC?

The most common way of collecting UGC is to give consumers a small incentive for reviewing your product/service, or to run a hashtag campaign on social media.

The effect this will have on your brand depends on how you collect and use the UGC created by your customers.

You don’t just want pretty pictures of your product on Instagram, you want content that shows off what your product and service can do, the ways it can be used, how it meets the needs of consumers, in order to convince potential buyers to make that purchase decision.

GoPro is the expert at UGC, they’ve been collecting and featuring UGC on their YouTube channel for years. It’s just part of their product design and effectively shows off the different ways their cameras can be used and the stunning results thereafter.

For the rest of us, hashtag campaigns are probably the way to go. Lululemon, an activewear brand, ran #thesweatlife which encouraged customers to share photos of themselves in the brand’s gear working out. Not only does this encourage more Internet users to get active, it unleashes a treasure trove of UGC images Lululemon can use to improve its brand awareness and make sales.

An Important Tip!

That said, it’s important to note that running your own branded hashtag campaigns does not give you the legal right to take photos created by consumers under your hashtag and to use them without permission. Re-sharing content without explicit permission will annoy loyal customers who believe in you.

Always remember to ask the original poster for their consent and credit them. Not only does this make it easy for consumers to verify that the content was truly created by someone that’s not working for your brand, it also keeps content creators excited about creating content about your brand.


Want to start a UGC campaign for your brand but not sure what’s the best way to go about doing so? Check out Storybox Collective’s branding strategy services here!

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