User-Generated Content: The key to marketing success?

What is User Generated Content?

User-generated content (also known as UGC) is original, brand-specific content created by customers and published on social media or other channels. It comes in many forms, including images, videos, reviews, and testimonials.

When consumers post about a brand on social media, they can influence their followers’ buying decisions. 85 percent of people say UGC is more influential than content made by brands directly, according to Adweek.

It’s worth noting that user-generated content and sponsored posts are completely separate. Sponsored content means there’s been a transaction between the creator and the brand and usually need to be clearly disclosed. You may have seen those Instagram posts with a hashtag stating the creator is a partner (#Ad) or just plain ‘Paid partnership’ at the top. Those are typically sponsored monetarily or by brands sending them products to show off on their platforms. Whereas, UGC is free promotion that can help brands expand their reach.

What about if employees create content about the brand they work for? This is called employee-generated content (EGC). It’s a subset of UGC as long as the posts are authentic and not solicited by the brand.

For example, a store worker showing off their company’s new products on a personal social media account would be considered EGC.

However, if someone is paid to create sponsored content (called a UGC creator) designed to look like authentic UGC but is promotional, this is not user-generated content.

Benefits of UGC

Hootsuite sums up the benefits as: “UGC gives customers a unique opportunity to participate in a brand’s growth instead of being a spectator. This influences brand loyalty and affinity in a big way because people thrive off being part of something greater than themselves, and creating UGC allows them to be part of a brand’s community.”

Helps to build trust

There is a lot of skepticism among online consumers about who or what is trustworthy. This is partly due to the rise of social media and the sheer quantity of content available. Unlike marketers or brands, social media users are viewed as authentic and trustworthy, because in most cases they don’t have an interest in the company’s success. A good way to think about it is that user-generated content is a digital form of word-of-mouth advertising — it creates a connection and tells a story through personal recommendations and experiences.

Higher conversion rates

It’s all fine and well building trust and engagement with consumers, but the end goal is converting them to use the company. User-generated content improves conversion rates on product pages and via email marketing. Power Reviews have reported that audience members who interact with UGC are 100.6% more likely to convert. Social proof is an effective tool for closing business and UGC is a simple way to feature it.

Increased ROI

User-generated content shouldn’t cost a thing! You don’t pay the creators, but you can reward them with engagement from your brand and repost it with permission. If you ask your customers for the content, they’ll create it to feel like they belong to a community and to be promoted further by the brand if you chose to interact with it. UGC lets brands reap the benefits of great content without investing significant time and money on in-house content creation.

How businesses can you integrate UGC

Here are some examples for a range of businesses:

Event management agency

At your next event, integrate photo opportunities into the event set up, including a hashtag specific to the event that attendees can tag when they post. Having a photo wall or booth encourages guests to snap a selfie to post to social media and promote your client or your agency depending on the visible branding.


In your rooms, print out a QR code on a card and encourage guests to upload their videos and pictures of their stay to be entered into a competition to win a free night’s stay or a meal in the hotel’s restaurant. Again, have a competition-specific hashtag to easily identify which posts have originated from the competition so you can track performance.

Travel agency

Encourage individuals who have used your services before to post a review online about their experience. Send out a prompt after they have used your services while the experience is still fresh in their minds and repost any content they produce.

We are digital marketing experts and we can help you with UGC and any other marketing solution you require. Get in touch today to find out how we can help.