User-Generated Content: What You Need to Know


  • User-generated content (UGC) is content created by people who interact with a brand and not the brand itself.
  • A staggering 92% of consumers trust user-generated content more than traditional advertising.
  • UCG is much cheaper (often free) than other marketing campaigns
  • 50% of consumers want a brand to tell them what to include in user-generated content

With the explosion of social media and social media elements incorporated into review platforms, brands are no longer the clear driver of digital marketing campaigns. Consumers are sharing their brand experiences and, in turn, shaping brand culture. However, businesses have an opportunity to get their hands on the steering wheel and direct how users create content and conversations around their brand.

What is user-generated content?

Aptly named user-generated content (also known as UGC or consumer-generated content), is content produced by users (not associated with your brand) for other users. UGC could be reviews, tagged videos, social media updates, videos, a podcast, or virtually anything that someone produces that hopefully speaks positively of your product or service. 

Why you need a user-generated content (UGC) strategy  

Unfortunately for brands, marketing and advertising are not inherently trusted by potential customers. A staggering 92% of consumers trust user-generated content more than traditional advertising.

Utilizing UGC isn’t anything new. But with the increased ease of access and interaction between customers and potential users, it’s now a critical component to any content marketing strategy. A user-generated content strategy repurposes the content created by your customers and uses it to tell your brand story or bolster your marketing efforts with an authentic third-party source. 

A recent survey found that a tremendous 70 percent of consumers trust images taken from “people like them” over images by a brand. Having a proper user-generated content strategy can help incorporate UGC into each step of the customer journey and create a more “authentic” buying experience. 

Still Unsure about User Generated Content?

If handled properly, your UGC campaign can be the most cost-effective way of increasing your brand’s outreach, customer trust, and ultimately sales. 

If you’re still weighing the pros and cons of UGC, remind yourself that user-generated content is much cheaper to implement (often completely free) than other content marketing strategies. Think of it as a low-risk, high-reward investment of raising your business’ online presence as well as several other benefits. With UGC you can:

  • Supplement your marketing content with crowdsourced content.
  • Leverage customers’ social networks to expand your brand’s reach.
  •  Build stronger relationships with customers by involving them in your marketing and getting to know them better.

Start Getting User-Generated Content

The most important aspects of a UGC campaign are relevance, authenticity, and quality. A blurry low-quality picture can be just as off putting as one taken at a professional photoshoot. Luckily, UGC campaigns are versatile and can incorporate contests, hashtags, reviews, and brand influencers to keep content fresh, relevant, and interesting.

Here are some tips to help make your user-generated content campaign a success: 

1. Take Inventory of Existing User-Generated Content

Before you begin brainstorming sessions and spitting out contest ideas for user-generated content strategies, check what content your audience has already made. If you’re not tracking things, you may find that they’re already sharing photos and sentiments about your business. A quick search by location (if you have a brick-and-mortar location), brand name, popular products, or hashtags can net you some content; it just won’t be focused on a specific campaign.

2. Tell Your Users What to Do

More than 50% of consumers want a brand to tell them what to include when making and sharing content. You should never be afraid to explain what you want out of your UGC marketing. 

If you want to spread the word about a new product or menu item, ask your customers and audience to do so, and be sure to give them relevant hashtags (for easy analytics tracking), if applicable. These small details serve as a “call to create” that can lead to higher success rates and more brand building.

3. Reward Submissions (But Don’t Buy Them!)

Unless you already have a huge follower count, consider using rewards or incentives to jumpstart your user-generated content campaign. People generally want their efforts to be rewarded, even if it’s something small like branded swag, a feature on your social media, discounts, or free product samples. Incentives increase engagement and make people more willing to participate. 

4. Acquire the Rights to User Content

The easiest way to secure the rights to user-generated content is by directly commenting on their post or sending a direct message asking for permission. Having usage and ownership rights written in the fine print of an opt-in form or terms of use agreement is another method that doesn’t require direct follow up.

Make sure to secure the legal rights to the content before you repost images, videos, or any other sharable content your customers make.

5. Engagement, Engagement, Engagement!

Devising and launching a UGC strategy is only the start. Next, pay attention to your campaigns and engage with the people who are submitting relevant content. Simple things like liking the post, thanking them for participating, and starting a dialogue can only help grow your social following and brand trust.

Final Thoughts

User-generated content should be a constant in your overall marketing strategy. It is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your brand, engage with your customers, and build brand trust. People want to share everything on social media, so give your audience a chance to contribute to engaging content and watch in awe at what they create.

Or let RMG handle your user-generated content campaign as we make a multichannel content strategy for your brand.


Author avatar
Michael Gomez
Michael was an in-house and freelance content writer before joining the team at Redefine Marketing Group. He is now the Content Manager at RMG, where he focuses primarily on content creation but helps with SEO and Social Media. Michael graduated from CSU Channel Islands with a degree in English.
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