User-Generated Content: Your Ultimate Guide for 2024

Picture this: an ever-expanding crowd of passionate brand advocates, equipped with their creativity and unwavering loyalty, producing content that spreads like wildfire.

December 22, 2023

UGC is basically the digital form of word-of-mouth marketing, where your consumers become the key factor in your brand's visibility.

Authenticity prevails, and peer recommendations carry more weight than any clever advertising campaign.

In this article, we'll explain what UGC is, uncover its many benefits and reveal tips on how to encourage its creation. We'll also discover how to integrate UGC into your marketing strategy, drawing inspiration from real-life success stories.

What is User-Generated Content ?

User-generated content refers to any form of content created and shared by consumers, rather than by the brand itself.

Today, trust in traditional advertising is declining faster than the battery life of a smartphone.

UGC thus appears as a refreshing breath of air in a crowded room full of polished marketing campaigns.

It's the voice of the people, by the people and for the people.

It's the authentic, unfiltered and often unpredictable expression of consumer's love for your brand.

Example of an user-generated content

What are different formats of User Generated Content?

User-generated content can take different forms :

  • reviews and testimonials
  • photo content
  • video content
  • interactions on social media

Glowing Testimonials and reviews

Imagine scrolling through a Google search for the best coffee shops around and coming across a glowing review that reads, "The warm ambience and rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee made my mornings at XYZ Coffee truly delightful !"

Testimonials like these give insight into the customer experience, and help others make their own informed decision, while feeding their curiosity about your brand.

Whether on Google, Facebook or other specialized platforms, reviews are valuable gems, providing invaluable social proof.

Read this article to find out how to ask for consumer reviews.

example of a 5 stars review

Captivating photos

Across social media, customers showcase their experiences through captivating photos.

Think of an Instagram feed where users proudly share their adventures with your brand. A shot of a peaceful beach vacation, tagged with #WanderWithBrandX, instantly transports people to the other side of the world.

These photos taken by users not only showcase the beauty of your products or services, but also inspire others to trust you.

Example of user generated photo

Dynamic videos

Imagine coming across a captivating YouTube video entitled "Unboxing the Magical Gizmo: My first impressions!"

As the video unfolds, the user shows his enthusiasm by unveiling your latest gadget, sharing his experience and providing valuable information.

These user-generated videos not only serve as authentic testimonials, they also pique the curiosity of potential consumers, who eagerly seek out authentic voices before making purchasing decisions.

Whether unboxing videos, tutorials or brand testimonials, these video ignite the imagination and engage people on a deeper level.

Example of video UGC

Speaking of videos, check out these 10 examples of inspiring UGC videos.

Spirited interactions

Ok now think of an animated Instagram post announcing the launch of a new product, along with a flood of comments from excited customers expressing their anticipation.

Users tag their friends, share their excitement and start conversations about your brand's offerings.

Consumers express their thoughts, opinions and emotions through comments, likes, shares and reactions.

This lively interaction fosters a sense of community, as customers become brand ambassadors and effortlessly spread the word to their networks.

These lively exchanges and interactions can take place on social media posts, but also on YouTube videos, blog posts, and beyond.

Lots of comments and engagements on GoPro's user-generated content

But why should you care about UGC, you ask? 

That's what we'll explore next. 

13 statistics on User-Generated Content

To get things off to a good start, here are some super interesting statistics on UGC :

We'll come back to the concrete benefits in more detail shortly afterwards.

13 statisitcs about user-generated content

What are the benefits of User-Generated Content?

Here are the six benefits of using UGC for your brand : 

  • Build authenticity and trust
  • Amplify reach,
  • Empower the community
  • Reduce content creation costs
  • Catapult conversion rates

Build authenticity and trust

Nowadays, all ads are very (too?) branded and polished. Yet the ultimate guarantee of trust is authenticity.

One study tells us that 80% of consumers prefer to see photos of real customers rather than stock photos (The State of Social & User-Generated Content 2023, TINT).

UGC offers brands the opportunity to showcase genuine voices and real experiences. When potential customers see other consumers sharing their authentic stories and recommendations, a sense of trust grows.

The unfiltered nature of user-generated content nurtures an authentic connection, paving the way for lasting customer relationships.

A Janet Machuka's tweet about the authenticity of UGC

Amplify reach

When people actively participate in creating and sharing UGC, they unknowingly become brand ambassadors.

Their enthusiasm spreads across social media, extending your brand's reach organically.

Take a user-generated photo shared on Instagram, accompanied by a branded hashtag.

Spreading like wildfire, it not only reaches the original customer's followers, but also attracts the attention of their extended networks, amplifying brand awareness exponentially.

And being present on social media is becoming increasingly important, as the TINT study proves.

More than 3/4 of respondents agree that they have used social media to research or learn about brands or products.

Graph illustrating the proportion of Internet users who have already searched for a brand or product on social networks

Empower the community

UGC acts as a vector for building a community, bringing people together around a shared passion.

When brands actively encourage and showcase user-generated content, they empower their customers, making them feel valued and heard.

A sense of belonging and collaboration grows when users contribute to your narrative and marketing content creation.

Thanks to UGC, brands can nurture a loyal community that becomes an integral part of the brand's narrative.

Check this article to know how the 9 steps to build a strong brand community.

Reduce content creation costs

Creating captivating content can be both time-consuming and costly. However, UGC reduces these difficulties by drawing on people's innate creativity.

Instead of relying solely on in-house content creation, brands can tap into their user-generated content pool to find a treasure trove of authentic, engaging and diverse content.

This not only cuts costs, but also infuses marketing campaigns with fresh perspectives and a vibrant mosaic of customer experiences.

Catapult conversion rates

Suppose a customer browses an online store and is considering making a purchase.

Suddenly, he or she comes across a UGC-rich product page, featuring positive reviews, customer photos and videos of real people enjoying the product.

This social proof acts as a powerful influencer, appeasing doubts and validating their decision.

This is like a secret weapon, able of skyrocketing conversion rates.

When potential buyers come across authentic user-generated content on your website, such as positive reviews, user-generated photos and videos, they are more likely to be prompted to make a purchase.

One study tells us that 79% of Internet users acknowledge that they look at ratings and reviews before making an online purchase (The State of Social & User-Generated Content 2023, TINT).

Graph illustrating the proportion of Internet users who check reviews and testimonials before making a purchase

UGC serves as a powerful persuasion tool, instilling trust, answering doubts and inspiring action.

By strategically integrating these content throughout the customer journey, brands can witness a significant rise in conversion rates, transforming the curious into satisfied consumers.

UGC's benefits - authenticity, social proof, extended reach, community engagement, cost-effective content creation and increased conversion rates - can help brands forge stronger bonds, build trust and take their marketing strategy to new heights.

5 Tips to encourage User-Generated Content creation

Now that we understand the immense value of user-generated content, let's explore effective strategies for inspiring your customers to become active creators. 

By employing these tried-and-true techniques, you can unleash a wave of UGC that will breathe life into your brand and foster meaningful engagement.

Here are 5 tips to get your customers to create UGC : 

  • Create Brand Experience Worth Sharing
  • Reward UGC Champions
  • Spark Conversations and Contests
  • Seamless Sharing and Branded Hashtags
  • Show love by showcasing UGC

1. Create Brand Experience Worth Sharing

The first step in eliciting UGC from your customers is to craft a brand experience that leaves an indelible impression. 

Infuse every touchpoint, from interactions in-store or online to post-purchase follow-ups, with a sense of enchantment and delight. 

By going above and beyond, you'll inspire customers to share their extraordinary experiences with your brand, transforming them into natural ambassadors who eagerly contribute to UGC.

2. Reward UGC Champions

To ignite the flames of UGC creation, consider incentivizing your customers' efforts. 

Offer rewards, exclusive discounts, or even recognition to those who share their experiences through UGC. 

By acknowledging and rewarding their contributions, you foster a sense of appreciation, motivating others to follow suit. 

This approach not only encourages UGC creation but also strengthens customer loyalty, creating a win-win scenario for both your brand and your UGC champions.

3. Spark Conversations and Contests

Stimulate user participation by initiating conversations and hosting UGC contests. 

Pose thought-provoking questions, launch engaging social media campaigns, or challenge customers to showcase their creativity through UGC. 

By providing a platform for customers to actively engage and express themselves, you create a sense of belonging and foster a community centered around your brand. 

This interactive approach encourages customers to share their experiences and perspectives, fueling a steady flow of UGC.

Example of Uber sparking conversation on Twitter

4. Seamless Sharing and Branded Hashtags

Make it effortless for customers to share their UGC by implementing user-friendly sharing mechanisms.

 Incorporate social sharing buttons, encourage the use of branded hashtags, and provide clear instructions on how to submit UGC. 

By removing barriers and simplifying the process, you empower customers to effortlessly contribute their content. 

This frictionless experience ensures a steady stream of UGC, as customers readily share their moments with your brand.

5. Show love by showcasing UGC

Demonstrate your appreciation for UGC by actively showcasing it across your marketing channels. 

Feature customer reviews, highlight user-generated photos and videos, and share UGC on your website, social media platforms, and email newsletters. 

By giving customers a spotlight, you not only reinforce their connection to your brand but also inspire others to contribute their own UGC. 

This amplification of customer voices creates a virtuous cycle, nurturing a UGC-rich environment.

A jewelry brand showcasing ugc creators in their Instagram story

From crafting irresistible brand experiences to leveraging incentives, sparking conversations, simplifying sharing, and amplifying customer voices, these strategies will ignite the flames of UGC creation and breathe life into your marketing efforts. 

Become an Expert in harvesting UGC

23 pages of 100% concrete advice, made with the experts of Iconosquare, to help you collect and make the most of your UGC

Download our guide

5 tips to leverage UGC in the right places

To maximize the impact of user-generated content and harness its potential, it is crucial for brands to strategically place and leverage UGC across various channels. 

1. Showcase UGC on on Social Media

Social media platforms are the breeding grounds for UGC, making them the perfect stage to showcase and amplify customer-generated content. 

Identify the platforms where your target audience is most active and engage with them. 

Feature UGC prominently on your brand's social media profiles, leveraging hashtags, mentions, and sharing features to spread the reach of UGC organically. 

By harnessing the power of social media, you can exponentially amplify the impact of UGC and foster a sense of community around your brand.

2. Integrate on Websites and Landing Pages

Integrate UGC seamlessly into your brand's website and landing pages to enhance trust, captivate visitors, and more. 

A study teach us that customer photos on product pages increase conversions by 24% (according to Shopify).

So create dedicated sections or widgets to display customer reviews, testimonials, and user-generated visuals. 

Embed user-generated videos or showcase compelling UGC within product pages to provide a multi-dimensional view of your offerings. 

By leveraging UGC as visual and textual endorsements, you can instill confidence and inspire action in potential customers as they explore your digital domain.

3. Display in Email Marketing

Enhance the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns by incorporating UGC as persuasive elements. 

Include snippets of positive customer reviews or testimonials within your email content. 

Feature user-generated photos or videos to provide visual impact and evoke emotions. 

By integrating UGC within your email marketing strategy, you create personalized and relatable content that resonates with recipients, building trust and encouraging them to take desired actions.

4. Boost your ad campaigns

Infuse your advertising campaigns with the power of UGC to reinforce authenticity and social proof. 

Create video ads that showcase real customers sharing their experiences with your brand. 

By integrating UGC into your ad campaigns, you tap into the credibility and relatability of genuine customer voices, ultimately driving engagement and conversions.

5. Amplifying UGC offline

Extend the reach of UGC beyond the digital landscape by integrating it into your events and offline experiences. 

Encourage attendees to share their event experiences through UGC, whether it's live tweeting, photo sharing, or video testimonials. 

Display UGC on screens or interactive displays during live events to immerse participants in the collective experience. 

By bridging the gap between online and offline, you create a cohesive and immersive brand narrative that fosters engagement and creates lasting memories.

A brand showcasing ugc during offline event

Understanding the Potential Challenges of UGC

While user-generated content can be a powerful asset in your marketing arsenal, it's important to acknowledge and navigate the potential drawbacks associated with its usage. 

By being aware of these challenges, you can proactively address them and ensure that UGC contributes positively to your brand's marketing efforts. 

Quality Control

One challenge of UGC is maintaining quality control while honoring the authentic nature of user-generated content. 

As these content are created by individuals with varying levels of expertise, it's crucial to strike a balance between preserving authenticity and aligning with your brand's quality standards. 

Some UGC may not meet your desired aesthetic or messaging guidelines, requiring careful curation or moderation to ensure consistency and brand integrity. 

By implementing clear guidelines and providing feedback to creators, you can maintain a high level of quality control without stifling the genuine essence of user-generated content.

Negative or Inappropriate Content

When leveraging UGC, there is always a possibility of encountering negative or inappropriate content. 

While UGC offers authenticity, it also opens the door for negative reviews, offensive remarks, or irrelevant content. 

It's crucial to have a robust moderation system in place to identify and manage such content swiftly and effectively.

 Implement filters, review processes, or community guidelines to minimize the risks associated with negative or inappropriate UGC. 

By proactively monitoring and managing user-generated content, you can mitigate potential reputational risks and maintain a positive brand image.

GIF saying your language is offensive

Learn in this article 12 tips to answer to negative reviews.

Intellectual Property and Rights Management

The usage of UGC raises important considerations around intellectual property and rights management. 

It is essential to obtain permission from UGC creators and respect their intellectual property rights before using their content. 

Surprisingly, a mere 23% of marketers always request rights to other people's content, leaving room for improvement in this regard.

Failing to do so can result in legal issues and damage to your brand's reputation. 

Implement clear policies and procedures for obtaining rights and permissions from UGC creators, ensuring compliance with copyright laws and guidelines.

By actively seeking permission and acknowledging the contributions of UGC creators, you foster a culture of respect and fairness. 

This not only safeguards your brand from potential legal issues but also strengthens relationships with your valued customers. 

Lack of Control Over Messaging

As UGC is created by your customers or users, there is a loss of control over the messaging and narrative surrounding your brand. 

While this authenticity can be a strength, it also means that the messaging may not always align perfectly with your marketing objectives. 

It's important to strike a balance between influencing the conversation around your brand and allowing the genuine voices of your customers to shine through. 

By establishing guidelines and providing clear brand messaging frameworks, you can guide the UGC narrative without stifling the organic and authentic contributions of your community.

By being aware of these potential drawbacks and proactively addressing them, you can navigate the challenges associated with user-generated content effectively. 

10 examples of User generated Content campaigns

Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor effectively leverages the potential of user-generated content to enhance its platform. On the website, you will discover a plethora of reviews encompassing restaurants, attractions, and accommodations. 

It is made possible by the active participation of millions of users who willingly share their experiences. These users evaluate, comment, and even have the option to share photos if they desire.

User Generated Content on Tripadvisor

Lego

Lego's Kronkiwongi project has emerged as a remarkable initiative that showcases the brand's commitment to fostering creativity and engaging its audience. 

By encouraging participants to unleash their imagination and construct unique creations using Lego bricks, the Kronkiwongi project has ignited a wave of enthusiasm and interactive involvement. 

As a testament to its impact, all of these UGCs have helped Lego reach an audience of over 27,000,000 people. The brand also saw a staggering 61% increase in engagement, reinforcing its position as a leader in inspiring play and innovation.

Example of Lego's UGC on Instagram

GoPro

GoPro cameras have become an essential companion, documenting our adventures in sports, nature, and everyday experiences. 

In order to celebrate the remarkable moments captured with GoPro, the brand has established an Instagram page where users can proudly share their finest content. 

This initiative has proven to be a tremendous asset for the brand, granting it exceptional visibility, fostering brand loyalty and amplifying its reach.

An example of a Go Pro's UGC

Transavia

In March 2018, Transavia, the airline company, unveiled a captivating campaign called #VeryBadPic

This unique initiative invited customers to share their "failed" vacation photos, with an enticing prize at stake: a round trip for two to their preferred city. The campaign has gained significant traction and amassed an impressive collection of over 1600 photos shared on Instagram. 

The success of #VeryBadPic highlights the brand's ability to engage customers, spark creativity, and generate buzz through an unconventional approach, solidifying Transavia's position as an innovative player in the airline industry.

Example of Transavia's UGC on Instagram

Blissim

Blissim is a beauty brand, dedicated to all beauties. 

They offer a selection of confidential or must-have brands, always adapted to the desires and needs of each individual.

Their website receives 2 million visits per month and the brand has a strong community of 230,000 monthly subscribers and 305,000 followers on its Instagram account.

An example of a Blissim's UGC

Read our case study to understand how Blissim manages to generate over 1,500 UGC per month?

Aerie

The #AerieReal UGC campaign from women's fashion brand Aerie is straightforward yet compelling.

There's long-standing controversy surrounding the prevalent practice of digital retouching in advertising imagery.

This issue has been particularly criticized for its negative influence on young women, as it affects their self-perception and contributes to distorted body image standards.

They've even decided to make it the guiding principle of their UGC campaign.

For every social media user who posts an unretouched photo of herself in a swimsuit using the hashtag #AerieReal, the company will donate one dollar to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

Example of Aerie's UGC on Instagram

Starbucks

Every year in December, Starbucks unveils its annual #RedCupContest, aimed at highlighting its holiday drinks and the signature red cups.

The contest invited coffee lovers to post photos of their Christmas drinks for a chance to win a substantial Starbucks gift card.

The campaign was a success. The number of Instagram posts with red cups exceeded 35,000.

The #RedCupContest UGC campaign not only offers an incentive in the form of a prize to stimulate online engagement, but also serves as a promotional tool for their seasonal offers.

It also indirectly stimulates sales, since the purchase of a red cup is a prerequisite for participation.

Example of Starbucks's UGC on Instagram

Coca-Cola

Launched in 2011, the UGC "Share a Coke" campaign featured the most common first names printed on Coca-Cola bottles and cans.

Classic advertising and in-store signage encouraged consumers to spot the drink bearing their name, take a photo and post it on social media with the hashtag #ShareaCoke.

The campaign resulted in a diverse range of user-generated content, from well-composed Instagram posts to informal selfies. This approach not only enriched Coca-Cola's social media content, but also facilitated customer engagement with the brand in creative ways.

Example of Coca-Cola's ads for its UGC campaign

Apple

In 2014, Apple launched the #ShotoniPhone campaign to showcase the camera capabilities of its new iPhone.

Users from pro photographers to casual smartphone owners participated by posting high-quality photos on various social media channels.

The campaign was effective in changing perceptions, as evidenced by the creation of over 28 million posts on Instagram alone.

Example of Apple's UGC on Instagram

Asos

Launched in 2014, "As Seen on Me" section of the ASOS website (since closed) invites customers to share photos of themselves wearing ASOS clothing on social media, using the hashtag #AsSeenOnMe.

It allows customers to post their new purchases and offers potential buyers a glimpse of what they could own.

Real-life images of customers wearing the brand serve as compelling social proof.

And this UGC campaign has paid off. The number of active customers jumped by 25%, and the average shopping basket value increased by a modest 2%.

Example of Asos' UGC on Instagram

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