What is User-Generated Content? Importance, Use (& Examples)

by Patrice Kelly


Ever scrolled past a killer review or drool-worthy customer photo and thought, “Dang, that’s gold?”

Welcome to user-generated content!

Do you feel you’re behind the curve, missing the content marketing gold rush? Or like you’re drowning in an oscillating ocean of digital marketing?

Hey, you’re not alone. 

But what if you could harness the power of what customers are saying and sharing, and make it work for you?

Well, you’re in the right place.


Let’s begin!

What Is User-Generated Content?

User-generated content (or UGC) is brand-specific original, authentic, usually unpaid internet content created by consumers instead of brands. 

You can find it in a social media post, testimonial, review, image, video content, and blog post

So, what’s in it for you? Take a look.

Why is User-Generated Content Important?

In essence, user-generated content is more effective than branded content. It shifts the balance of digital marketing power from brands to consumers because it…

Boosts Social Proof

Ever spotted a customer’s photo of a product in action in an online store? 

There’s just something real and reassuring about seeing a real person vouching for a product.

Authentic reviews, testimonials, and user-shared images are the heartbeat of social proof. 

Imagine shopping for a new winter jacket. 

Would you trust a highly polished ad or the photo from Jane in Minnesota who’s shared how the jacket withstood a blizzard?

Real users sharing their experiences? That’s golden.

Enhances Engagement

Notice how a meme shared by a friend can capture your attention better than any high-budget ad? 

User-generated content is the internet’s version of word-of-mouth. It’s interactive, relatable, and engaging.

Why? Because it’s human. 

It’s a conversation. It’s not a brand talking at you, but people talking with you. You relate, you respond, you engage. It’s like talking to friends at a BBQ.

Builds Community & Brand Loyalty

What’s better than being part of a group that gets you? User-generated content is the campfire around which communities gather

Whether it’s a fan base discussing their favorite TV show or customers sharing how they styled a brand’s newest fashion line — it’s all about connection.

UGC is the glue that binds people together in a world driven by hashtags and virtual realities.

Provides Valuable Customer Insights

Wouldn’t you want to know what your customers are truly thinking? Well, UGC marketing is a bit like mind-reading.

It’s unfiltered feedback, a goldmine for businesses to refine, adjust, and perfect their offerings. 

And it’s all organic. 

No intrusive surveys, no hard prodding. Just pure, unadulterated customer vibes.

Use UGC to listen to your audience, and you have a unique opportunity to gather data and make informed business decisions.

Amplifies Content Reach & Variety

Ever felt that a brand’s feed is a bit too… curated?

Enter UGC, diverse voices, styles, and perspectives. Brands collaborating with their audience results in a content avalanche.

It’s an excellent way to expand your brand awareness and engage a wider audience. 

It goes beyond the usual, explores the unexpected, and breaks the monotony.

Improves SEO

Okay, think of the internet as a gigantic library. The more a book (your website) is borrowed and discussed, the more it’s recommended. UGC acts like recommendations.

Each review, comment, or shared post is a thumbs-up, signaling search engines that there’s something worthwhile here. 

UGC marketing generates fresh and relevant content for search engines, which helps boost your website’s visibility and brand awareness.

And so, your brand dances its way up search engine rankings. 

Fancy a front-row seat on Google’s stage?

Drives Sales & Conversions

You know when you’re on the fence about buying something, and a stranger’s rave review tips the scales? That’s UGC working its magic.

UGC influences a potential customer to make a purchase. It boosts credibility and trust, reassuring shoppers. It strengthens your product or service appeal through real-life experiences and endorsements. 

Every shared experience, review, or image is a gentle shove towards conversion.

After all, in a world where choices are plentiful, who doesn’t appreciate a little advice?


Okay now, let’s talk numbers. Traditional marketing can be expensive but UGC content is cost effective.


Instead of brands crafting every piece of content, the community chips in. 

Not only does this save on resources, but it also ensures a variety of content flavors. 

Doesn’t that sound like a win-win?

How to Encourage (& Get) User-Generated Content

In the vast ocean of the digital world, the voices of your users create ripples. 

But how do you get them to toss in their two cents?

Social Media Contests

Ever spotted those Instagram posts where users flaunt their culinary skills for a chance to win a year’s supply of gourmet ingredients? That’s the power of social media contests.

They allow a social media user to showcase their creativity while creating a treasure trove of UGC. 

And this isn’t just content for content’s sake. 

It’s potential content marketing gold, ready to be sprinkled across various channels in your UGC campaign.

Customer Reviews & Ratings

Think about the last time you bought something online. Did you check the reviews? Most of us do, right?

Encouraging customer reviews is like providing a digital soapbox. 

Happy customers? They’ll sing praises, convincing others to jump on board. 

Those less satisfied? Their feedback becomes invaluable advice for improvement.

And while you might expect only glowing reviews to be beneficial, even constructive criticism provides authenticity. It shows potential customers you’ve got nothing to hide.

Community Forums or Q&A Boards

Imagine a town square where users gather, discuss, and share experiences about a brand. 

That’s your community forum. A space where questions meet answers, and weaves a tapestry of user experiences.

By facilitating such platforms, brands don’t just collect UGC, they foster a sense of community. 

And when users spot a brand caring enough to respond and engage? That’s loyalty in the making.

User Surveys & Polls

“Why’d you choose our product?” Sounds simple, but the answers can be diverse. 

Surveys and polls peek into the user’s mind. They give a snapshot of likes, dislikes, desires, and more.

Users choosing options or typing feedback, create UGC that can shape future content marketing strategies.

And when users see brands acting on their feedback, it’s an affirmation that they’re heard.

That’s not just business; it’s a relationship.

How to Incorporate UGC into Your Content Marketing Plan

Picture a bustling marketplace where your brand and customers dance in harmony. That’s a marketing strategy enriched with user-generated content.

Let’s delve in, step by step.

Step 1: Identify Your UGC Campaign Goals

Before you begin, consider your marketing campaign goals. Is it brand awareness, increased sales, or enhanced customer loyalty?

For instance, if you’re launching a new product, UGC could spotlight real-life use cases.

Seeking feedback? Authentic reviews might be just the thing.

Step 2: Encourage UGC Content Creation

Kick-start your UGC movement by sparking conversations. 

Perhaps a branded hashtag challenge on TikTok or an Instagram photo contest?

Offer incentives, like giveaways or contests. Provide prompts or suggestions related to your brand or products to inspire users to share experiences.

Imagine your audience, phones in hand, eager to share their own stories with your product. 

You’re not just seeking content; you’re lighting a fire of community engagement.

Step 3: Collect & Organize UGC

Next, it’s essential to keep track of our data. 

Tools like TINT or Stackla can sift through social media channels, gathering every mention, tag, or share.

Organize UGC by themes or customer content types to showcase it later. Think of it as a playlist, with every UGC piece being a unique song.

Step 4: Ask for Permission

Before showcasing UGC, ensure you’ve got the green light from its creator.

It’s not just etiquette; it’s a legal necessity. A simple DM or comment like, “Love this! Mind if we share on our page?” can do the trick.

Give clear guidelines to users on how to grant permission for content use. And for those who consent, you can offer incentives or recognition.

Step 5: Showcase UGC Across All Platforms

From website banners to email newsletters, there’s no limit. Ever noticed how a customer testimonial can elevate a product page?

Or how user photos in a Facebook ad feel real? 

That’s UGC, working its charm, making your brand narrative richer and more relatable. 

So, feature UGC on your website, product pages, landing pages, and social media platforms.

Step 6: Integrate UGC in Advertising

Why limit yourself to one platform? Integrate UGC into Google ads, video content, or even offline billboards. 

Imagine showcasing a tweet from Joe in Texas raving about your winter jacket. 

It’s raw, genuine, and persuasive. It’s not just another ad; it’s an endorsement..

Step 7: Measure Performance

Analytic tools can monitor UGC’s impact on traffic, conversions, and engagement. 

Did the Instagram stories featuring customer testimonials boost sales? Was the user-generated tutorial video a hit?

Tracking and analyzing key metrics gives you valuable insights into its impact on your marketing goals. 

By measuring, you’re refining, and ensuring that every future step is more in sync with your audience.

Step 8: Engage with Users

Finally, master engagement

Thank users for their contributions, spark conversations, and create a feedback loop.

When Emily shares a DIY hack using your product, a simple “Brilliant idea, Emily!” can turn her into a loyal advocate. 

It’s more than marketing; it’s building relationships. Isn’t that the heart of every marketing campaign?

User-Generated Content Examples

Let’s journey through two shining user-generated content examples of brands that nailed UGC, and you might just pick up some inspiration for your own brand along the way.

Airbnb’s #AirbnbExperiences

Airbnb, the platform that turned everyone’s home into potential hotels, took UGC to another level with its #AirbnbExperiences campaign. Instead of showcasing homes, they showcased experiences.

Real travelers shared snapshots of unique adventures on social media channels. 

From learning pottery in a quaint Tuscan village to exploring hidden alleys in Tokyo, these were authentic adventures.

The genius? They weren’t ads. 

They were stories — genuine experiences shared by real people. 

In a world drowning in polished commercials, authenticity shines bright. 

And who doesn’t want a taste of genuine adventure on their next trip?

The GoPro Phenomenon

YouTube video

Remember the viral video of a firefighter saving a kitten? 

Or that time when a surfer rode a monstrous wave, making us feel the salty spritz of the ocean and the rush of adrenaline? 

That’s GoPro‘s genius UGC campaign.

Instead of pumping money into big ad campaigns, they simply let users do the talking through a UGC video. 


Because real beats staged any day. They’ve even built a community around it.

GoPro doesn’t just sell cameras. They sell stories. 

By showcasing customer content, they’ve blurred the lines between brand and user, giving everyone a moment in the spotlight!

Riding the Wave of User-Generated Content

Felt overwhelmed at the start, didn’t you? No worries. It’s okay to feel that way.

Now, you’ve already taken steps to understand user-generated content’s power.

Next step?

Start small. 

Ask one satisfied customer to share a photo or review of your product. 

Just one.

Highlight it. And watch this small ripple create waves!

Photo of author

Patrice Kelly

Patrice A. Kelly is a writer, editor, Renaissance Maven, and SmartBlogger Certified Content Marketer. Find her on Medium and LinkedIn.


Make 2-5K per month, even if you're a beginner. We're seeking writers of any skill level.
Photo of author

Written by Patrice Kelly

Patrice A. Kelly is a writer, editor, Renaissance Maven, and SmartBlogger Certified Content Marketer. Find her on Medium and LinkedIn.

Leave a Comment