The Power of User-Generated Content

    Screen capture of user-generated content from Go Pro

    As marketers, we know the importance of content on social media. But what if we didn’t always have to produce it ourselves? With social media playing a large role in everyone’s daily life, businesses no longer need to always produce their own content for their social profiles. Rather, they can use content created by their customers to promote their products or services. This is called user-generated content, UGC for short.

    Have you ever shown off an outfit on your Instagram story? Have you ever posted an unboxing video to YouTube? What about posting a photo of your new car to Facebook? All of these examples would be considered user-generated content.

    What is user-generated content?

    User-generated content is defined as any brand-specific content created by a customer and published online to social media. The content can include text, images, videos, live streams, testimonials, product reviews, or podcasts.

    UGC is easily found and typically comes from customers, brand loyalists, and employees. Whether you ask your customers specifically, or they share content about your brand organically, all positive UGC can be good for your business. Examples of employee-generated content may include behind-the-scenes content, such as a video of employees talking about why they love working for a company or discussing a recent promotion.

    Why is user-generated content important?

    Buyers are very selective of brands when it comes to making purchase decisions. UGC can make a big impression on a buyer’s decision on whether to engage with your brand and buy your products or services. People tend to trust other people rather than a business itself. A person going out of their way to post about your brand and show off your products for free indicates that they really enjoy and appreciate what your product or service is, thus increasing your business’s authenticity. By showcasing user-generated content, your customers develop an extra layer of trust in your business, making it that much more likely for people to choose your brand over competitors.

    How can I use user-generated content for my business?

    There are a variety of ways you can use UGC to enhance your company’s marketing strategy. You can ask your followers for content directly in the form of photos or videos, challenges, or contests, or simply look into what people are posting about your brand organically.

    Take Melzingah Tap House of Beacon, NY for example.

    Melzingah Tap House is a restaurant and bar that specializes in craft beer, custom cocktails, and modern American local cuisine. Their marketing team integrates photos that their customers have taken of the food and drink they ordered into their social presence. This adds to the sense of community that Melzingah offers its customers. They market themselves as a “gathering place” rather than simply just another restaurant in the Hudson Valley, and using UGC supports this strategy.

    Another example of a brand using UGC to its advantage is GoPro.

    GoPro is a tech company that manufactures user-friendly action cameras. Every day, GoPro chooses one photo taken by one of their customers to use on their Instagram page as their “photo of the day.” This gives them new content each day to post that not only lets their customers show off, but allows GoPro to showcase the cool and fun ways their customers are using their products. Remember, ALWAYS make sure you have permission from your customer to use their photo on your social page or website and give them credit in the post through tagging!


    View this post on Instagram


    A post shared by GoPro (@gopro)

    Another thing to notice between both Melzingah Tap House and GoPro is that they both use what we call, “branded hashtags.” Melzingah uses #tapintobeacon and GoPro uses #GoProFamily. These allow users to see all of the content associated with the brand, solely by clicking on the hashtag. You don’t have to use branded hashtags strictly for UGC, but it helps to have a designated hashtag to use for your brand specifically on UGC that you post or share.

    A slightly different approach to using UGC is seen on Airbnb’s Instagram page.

    Airbnb is an online marketplace for vacation rentals and tourism activities. Almost every post on their Instagram page consists of photos from Airbnb users showcasing the beautiful places they have stayed at by using the Airbnb platform. The Airbnb example showcases their approach to UGC, which works great for Airbnb because they have constant engaging, consistent content that showcases exactly what their platform is for – finding amazing vacation rentals. For each post that they use UGC, they link to their website the same rental listing so that customers can easily access the rental if they so choose.


    View this post on Instagram


    A post shared by Airbnb (@airbnb)

    Other forms of user-generated content

    Not all UGC has to be in the form of social media posts. You can also use the same or similar content on your company’s website, such as on landing pages, checkout pages, etc. Don’t forget that UGC can be in the form of customer reviews and testimonials! Although text may be less engaging than visual content, reviews and testimonials are just as important in giving your customers that extra layer of trust when choosing you over your competitors.

    Remember that user-generated content is a great way to engage your customers with your business while also selling your products and services. Your customers are the true verdicts over whether your brand is worth considering, so it is important to implement UGC into your marketing strategy!

    Author Details

    James C.

    Junior Marketing Associate at Tipsy Social. SUNY New Platz senior studying communications and public relations. Long Island native.