user-generated content

User-Generated Content: Turn Viewers Into Brand Advocates

User-generated content, or UGC for short, isn’t just a buzzword. In today’s video marketing ecosystem, it’s a force to be reckoned with. It’s the photos and videos consumers post, the tweets they send, and the reviews they pen—all revolving around brands they engage with. If harnessed correctly, it can turn casual viewers into brand cheerleaders. But how? Let’s dive in.

Understanding User-Generated Content

First off, let’s paint a picture of what UGC looks like. Think of GoPro’s Instagram feed. It’s a cascade of videos and photos, most of which are created not by GoPro, but by their users. These are videos of everyday adventures, turning users into brand storytellers.

UGC comes in many shapes—blog posts, reviews, testimonials, and social media shares. And the numbers support its power. According to a Stackla report, a whopping 83% of consumers claim UGC holds more influence over their buying decisions than email campaigns and even search engine results.

The Power of UGC: Why It Matters

One of the foremost strengths of UGC is authenticity. Consumers today are savvy. They can see through glossy ads and prefer content that feels real, raw, and genuine. When 84% of millennials claim they don’t trust traditional advertising (as per Sam Crocker,, it’s easy to see the appeal of UGC.

Moreover, UGC is not only trusted but also cost-effective. Instead of spending thousands on ad campaigns, brands can tap into content that their users willingly create.

Empowering Your Audience

Alright, so user-generated content is powerful, but how do we tap into it?

  1. Building a Brand Community: First and foremost, cultivate a community. Take a cue from brands like Lego. Their platform, LEGO Ideas, lets fans submit designs. The best ones? They get turned into real sets! It’s a perfect fusion of community and UGC.
  2. Incentivize Sharing: Consider hosting contests or giveaways where users share content related to your brand. Not only does this create a flurry of brand-related content, but it also boosts visibility.
  3. Harnessing Social Media: Ever seen those trending hashtags on platforms like Instagram or Twitter? They’re UGC goldmines. Create catchy, brand-centric hashtags that your audience can rally behind.
  4. Make Sharing Easy: It sounds simple, but it’s often overlooked. Ensure your website or app is integrated with social media for easy sharing. If users find it difficult to share, they won’t.

Curating and Leveraging User-Generated Content

So, you’ve got a pile of UGC. What next?

Set Clear Guidelines

Especially if you’re incentivizing UGC, make the rules clear. What content are you looking for? What’s off-limits?

Quality Over Quantity

A hundred photos won’t matter if they’re all blurry. Focus on showcasing high-quality user-generated content that aligns with your brand’s ethos.

Rights and Permissions

This is crucial. Before you repurpose UGC, especially on platforms other than where it was originally posted, ensure you have the rights to do so. Direct messaging or tools like TINT can help streamline this process.

Integrate Across Channels

Don’t restrict user-generated content to one platform. Feature it on your website, in newsletters, on social media—the works. For instance, the cosmetic brand Glossier often showcases user testimonials and photos on its product pages, blending e-commerce with UGC seamlessly.

Managing UGC Challenges

As with all things, UGC isn’t without its challenges.

Negative Content

It’s an open platform, and sometimes, negative content will emerge. It’s vital to approach this constructively. As Jay Baer, a marketing consultant, rightly puts it, “Haters are not your problem, ignoring them is.

Ensuring Authenticity

While UGC is authentic by nature, brands must be cautious. Avoid overly modifying user content. It defeats the purpose. Let the content speak for itself.

UGC in Action: Success Stories

Finally, no discussion on UGC would be complete without highlighting those who do it best:

  • Airbnb: Their Instagram feed is a masterclass in UGC. Real stories from hosts and travelers make for an authentic, engaging feed.
  • Coca-Cola: Remember their #ShareACoke campaign? By personalizing bottles, they created a UGC frenzy with everyone eager to share their personalized Coke online.


In an age of digital saturation, UGC stands out like a beacon of authenticity. As Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute, once said, “Content marketing is all about telling a compelling story.” And who better to tell a brand’s story than its users?

By harnessing user-generated content, we’re not just marketing; we’re co-creating narratives with our most ardent supporters. So, whether you’re a startup or a global conglomerate, it’s high time to let your audience take center stage. After all, in the theater of brand advocacy, UGC is the star performer.

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