What is user-generated content & why is it important?

A woman filming user-generated content using a phone on a phone stand. The phone is in focus.

In today’s world, where everyone can create and share content, brands need to pay more attention to all the internet surrounding them. ✨ Hint, hint. ✨
User-generated content (UGC) goes beyond being a cliché marketing term. It signifies a meaningful shift in brand-audience engagement and brings the genuine touch that modern consumers are looking for. For brands, tapping into UGC is not just an option—it’s a must to maintain relevance and make a strong connection with their audience. Big brands need to break the mold of always going for classic ways of appearing in the media. “Regular” people tend to produce some extraordinary stuff. Let’s talk about it.

  • Brand loyalty and awareness

UGC fosters a deeper connection with your brand by turning customers into advocates. Users sharing their genuine experiences boost brand visibility and loyalty, making your brand more relatable and memorable.

  • Authenticity and trust

It’s created by actual users, for real users, which inherently builds trust among consumers. People are more likely to believe and trust in the experiences shared by their peers rather than in traditional advertising.

  • Social proof

When potential customers see real people using and endorsing your products or services, it serves as powerful social proof, reinforcing the brand’s reliability and appeal.

  • Building community

UGC helps build and nurture a community around your brand. Users sharing content creates a sense of belonging and community among your audience. This communal engagement strengthens brand loyalty and encourages more users to contribute their own content, creating a virtuous cycle of engagement and connection.

What is User-generated content?

It’s digital gold created by your fans, not you. It’s any form of content – reviews, social media posts, photos, videos, or blogs – crafted by the people who love your brand.
Common types of UGC include customer reviews, social media posts, photos, videos, and blog posts relating to the brand or its products.

The evolution of UGC

UGC is like free advertising, but it’s better because it’s authentic. It helps brands widen their reach and build genuine connections. So, who’s behind all this unique content?

  • Customers: They share their real-life experiences with your brand.
  • Social media followers: Fans who love interacting with your brand online.
  • Brand advocates: Superfans who promote your brand because they’re genuinely excited about it.

Furthermore, when your employees start posting about your brand, it’s called employee-generated content (EGC). As long as it’s authentic and not coerced, it counts as a slice of UGC. Picture a store employee sharing their favorite new products on their personal Instagram – that’s EGC.
Remember, there’s a big difference between UGC and paid content. If someone is getting paid to create content that mimics genuine UGC, it’s not the real deal. Actual UGC is all about authenticity and unsolicited enthusiasm. On the other hand, if you scroll down, you can see a paid way to do great UGC.

Types of user-generated content

This type of content requires understanding the differences between organic and paid content. Both bring valuable assets to your marketing efforts. Organic content offers unfiltered customer experiences, while paid UGC provides crafted authenticity to fill content gaps and enhance your brand’s story.

Organic vs. paid UGC

Organic UGC is the gold standard of authenticity. These are the user experiences shared naturally, without any financial incentive. They provide an unvarnished, genuine perspective of your brand or product as experienced by your customers. This kind of content is free-flowing and natural, offering the most honest representation of user satisfaction and interaction.
Paid UGC, on the other hand, is quickly becoming a popular option, especially for newer brands that need user content but may not yet have a wealth of organic posts. Unlike traditional influencer marketing, paid UGC is created by individual content creators who give an equally genuine view with financial backing. This paid endorsement retains authenticity, closely mirroring organic UGC.

Common forms of UGC

A woman fixing the frame for filming on her phone

Reviews and testimonials

These are crucial UGC content examples that significantly influence consumer choices. Positive reviews, star ratings, and testimonials are “social proof” of product quality. Converting these into graphics for sharing on social media provides validation, builds trust, and enhances your brand reputation.

Photos and videos

Visuals are a powerful tool in UGC. User-shared photos depicting your product in use or after-use results can significantly impact and attract potential customers. Using branded hashtags can help consolidate these images for easier reference and resharing.
Videos – Product reviews, unboxing videos, and product hauls on platforms like YouTube and Instagram serve as compelling UGC. These can be entire videos revolving around your brand or casual mentions amid unrelated content. They offer visibility and engagement and promote authenticity.

Comments and social media posts

Mentions, shoutouts, or tags related to your brand on social media platforms are great examples of UGC content to watch out for. These could range from simple positive appreciation to detailed customer experiences. Reposting these across different platforms helps widen your reach and consumer base.

Blog posts and articles

If bloggers mention your brand or product in their posts or opinion pieces, it’s considered valuable UGC. These can be standalone reviews or a quick mention in a broader post. Sharing these posts or highlighting selective quotes from their content can provide proper credibility to your brand.


While it’s great to have freely-provided endorsements from unpaid consumers on social, you also can’t control what you get. The video quality may or may not be up to your brand standards for various reasons – though this can play in your favor, as it may add to the authenticity of the material. You’ll need to review each video thoroughly to ensure you’re not sharing something you wouldn’t want to.
In many cases, you’ll need to edit the video before posting it, for length, quality, or branding. You may need to use various tools to do so. Hopefully, you have the internal resources to handle this, but you need to prepare for it.
It is most effective for brands that create products that shine when brought to life with an enthusiastic customer, like fashion, beauty, and consumer electronics.

A man enrolling in a pizza eating challenge with a timer

Or this delicious eating challenge in your restaurant. Bon appetit! 👌

How to encourage user-generated content

Now, the fun part.

Asking and inviting

One of the simplest ways to gather UGC is by directly asking your audience. A clear and friendly invitation can go a long way in social media posts, email campaigns, or on your website. Encourage your customers to share their experiences, reviews, and photos with easy-to-follow instructions and perhaps a dedicated hashtag.


As previously stated, contests and challenges spark creativity and engagement. Set up fun, themed competitions where users can submit their photos, videos, or stories. For example, a photo contest showcasing how customers use your product or a video challenge where they share their favorite tips and tricks. Offer appealing prizes to incentivize participation and make the contest easy to enter.

Giveaways and shareable experiences

Giveaways are another great way to generate UGC. Encourage your audience to participate by sharing a post, tagging friends, or creating content related to your brand for a chance to win a prize. This increases engagement and spreads awareness of your brand to a broader audience.
Creating experiences worth sharing is vital. Host events, webinars, or live sessions so enjoyable and valuable that attendees naturally want to share their experiences online. This could be anything from a product launch event to a behind-the-scenes tour of your brand.
By employing these strategies, you can effectively encourage your audience to create and share, building a vibrant and engaged community around your brand.

Best practices for managing UGC

Choosing the right channels

You wouldn’t serve tea in a pint glass, would you? So, share your customer’s fabulous creations on the platforms they love and frequent the most. Instagram for stunning visuals, TikTok for snappy videos, or a blog for in-depth stories. Pick the right stage for the proper performance.

Setting clear goals

Having specific, measurable social media KPIs in place—such as engagement rates or conversion metrics—can help you assess the effectiveness of your collaborations and adjust your strategies as needed.

Seeking permission

Ensure all your collaborations are backed by clear contracts outlining terms of compensation, content usage rights, and any exclusivity clauses. Fair compensation respects the creator’s work and fosters a positive and professional relationship.

Clear expectations and guidelines

Beyond establishing goals and deliverables, discussing content guidelines, deadlines, and any specific campaign hashtags or mentions is essential. Regular check-ins can help keep the collaboration on track and address any issues promptly.

Moderation and showcasing positive content

While it’s important to maintain brand consistency, it’s crucial to allow creators the freedom to express their unique voice and style. This autonomy encourages authentic content that resonates with its audience and feels less like a traditional advertisement. Understanding and respecting the boundaries set by creators regarding how they wish to incorporate your brand into their content can lead to more genuine and effective partnerships. Pushing too hard for brand-centric content can dilute the authenticity of their message.

Learning from negative feedback

Constructive feedback is valuable for both parties. Keeping each other posted on what is working well and what could be improved can only help enrich the partnership and future content. Think of it as a friendly critique over afternoon tea – polite, constructive, and aimed at improving things for everyone. Embrace the feedback, learn from it, and use it to strengthen your future UGC campaigns. The internet is ever-changing, and staying on board is challenging. (Psst, you can read more about it here 🤭)

Examples of UGC

Best examples

Not to be bragging, but here’s an example from our agency for our client, Jameson, in Croatia.

A Case study for our project for Jameson

For more examples, remember the Barbie Movie from 2023.? And what did your Instagram stories look like then? It might be something like this:

The author of this article using the Barbie selfie platform for UGC

The campaign for the Barbie Movie used AI technology to promote UGC and drive buzz around its release date. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Mattel stay ahead of the curve regarding tech advances. Feel free to create your own Barbie world right here. ✨

a woman taking a selfie with an apron and the background is full of house plants.

Next up, we have Glossier, a famous skincare brand. They are really thriving, all thanks to their excellent consumer-based practices:

Direct feedback from users

  1. Into The Gloss blog (ITG): Engages readers for product ideas, leading to the creation of the Milky Jelly Cleanser.
  2. Facebook group: 21K members share beauty tips and ask questions.
  3. Slack: Exclusive group with 100 top customers exchanging 1,100 messages weekly.
  4. Reddit: 28K subscribers with significant growth.

Rep program

Recognizes community leaders with perks like affiliate links, exclusive access, and discounts. Reps have unique landing pages, offering 10% discounts to shoppers.

User-generated content (UGC)

  1. Instagram: UGC makes up 33% of posts.
  2. TikTok: UGC constitutes 42% of posts.
  3. Instagram stories: Utilised for Q&As, top posts, gift ideas, and sharing reviews.
  4. Newsletter: Features UGC and encourages hashtag participation.
View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Glossier (@glossier)

Community engagement

Glossier’s social team actively monitors and responds to tagged posts and comments, fostering continuous engagement. Glossier has effectively built a strong, engaged, and loyal customer base by implementing a community-led digital strategy. With beautiful glowing skin, probably! 🧖‍♀️

Worst examples

Just kidding! We will not be shaming anyone. Every failure is an opportunity to learn. Here’s what to avoid:

  • Mismatched audience – If a creator’s followers aren’t your target market, that’s a big nope. Check their audience to make sure your message hits the right people.
  • Inconsistent posting – A professional creator posts regularly. If they’re sporadic, they might mess up your campaign schedule.
  • Off-brand content—Avoid creators who dabble in controversial topics or content that doesn’t align with your brand. Do a thorough content review first.
  • Fake engagement –Watch out for unusually high engagement rates without real interaction. It could mean bought followers or engagement pods, which hurt your brand’s authenticity.
  • Being secretive about past partnerships – Transparency is critical. Creators should openly disclose past brand deals to avoid any shady business.
  • Bad reputation – Steer clear of creators with a history of public drama or bad behavior. Their bad rep can rub off on your brand.
  • Challenges and Legal Considerations of UGC

Common challenges

  • Ensuring that the content meets your brand’s standards can be tricky. Not all user-generated content will be high-quality or on-brand, so you need a strategy to filter and moderate submissions effectively.
  • Handling a large volume of UGC can be overwhelming. Implementing systems to manage and curate this content efficiently is essential to keep things running smoothly.
  • Keeping the community engaged over time requires continuous effort. Regularly interacting with users, encouraging participation, and showcasing UGC can help maintain interest and enthusiasm.

Legal aspects

Yes, of course. There are possible consequences. It is business, after all. Ensure you have the right to use and distribute the content. Always seek explicit permission from users to avoid any intellectual property issues. Please respect their privacy and handle personal data responsibly, adhering to relevant privacy laws and guidelines. It’s a few Google searches away; it is better to be safe than sorry.

Final thoughts

Selecting the right UGC collaborator goes beyond metrics to understanding the nuances of partnership, from the authenticity of engagement to the alignment of brand and creator values. The success of these collaborations hinges on mutual respect, clear communication, and a shared vision for what the content can achieve.