User Generated Content
XX min read

What is UGC? The Ins and Outs of User-Generated Content

Published on
September 20, 2023
What is UGC? User-generated content is created by individuals rather than brands or companies. Learn how valuable they are for marketing and community building.

In the digital age, where everyone is a potential content creator, user-generated content (UGC) has emerged as a significant force. This marketing strategy has untapped potential for increasing brand awareness and providing social proof. Unlike traditional marketing methods, consumer-generated content leverages the power of social media to create a more authentic and engaging user experience.

Websites featuring a collection of UGC see a 90 percent increase in their total time spent on-site. Not only that, but social media UGC also has a lower cost-per-click. Based on these numbers alone, it's no wonder why brands are putting their efforts on UGC. 

When you add successful UGC campaigns to the mix, it won't take much convincing as to why it should be part of your campaign. 

Key Takeaways

  • Content created by real users is often perceived as more authentic and trustworthy than brand-created content.
  • From social media posts and reviews to unboxing videos and podcasts, UGC comes in various forms suitable for different marketing goals.
  • UGC, like customer reviews and testimonials, can significantly influence consumer behavior and purchasing decisions.

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What is UGC?

User-generated content (UGC) refers to posts—text, videos, photos, reviews, etc.—created and shared by unpaid contributors. This content often comes from a community of users rather than from a brand or organization.

UGC differs from traditional content in several key aspects:

  • Source: Traditional content is often created by professionals or in-house teams. With UGC, the posts come from real people, usually fans or customers. 
  • Production quality: Since professionals or teams curate traditional posts, the resulting output is higher quality. Whereas UGCs would vary in quality. However, they provide more raw and authentic content. 
  • Intent: For traditional content, the aim is to sell or promote a new product or service. For UGC, users will share content based on their experiences and opinions. They even post to encourage social interaction. 
  • Control: When it comes to management, UGCs are community-driven, and brands don't have any control over what would be posted. 
  • Ownership: Brands and organizations have ownership of their produced content. However, for UGC, the rights to the posted content remain with the individual creator. Sometimes, brands can repurpose this content but with permission from the original creator. 
  • Cost: When it comes to the price, traditional content often involves significant costs for production and distribution. UGC is generally low-cost. Usually, the main expense would be in curating and moderating the content. 
  • Use case: Traditional content produced is used for formal marketing campaigns. UGC, on the other hand, is best for showcasing social proof, promoting community engagement, and boosting organic brand awareness. 

By understanding these differences, marketers can better strategize how to incorporate UGC into their broader marketing plans.

Types of User-Generated Content

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Here are examples of user-generated content to help you choose what kind best suits your desired audience. 

Social media posts

Social media platforms offer a versatile canvas for users to share a wide array of content. They can easily share content, from simple text-based posts to visually captivating images and videos. 

A single post can be shared across multiple platforms and quickly reach thousands, if not millions, of users. This viral nature of social media, such as TikTok, amplifies the reach of UGC. This feature made it a cost-effective way for brands to increase their visibility.

Another notable thing about social media channels is that they are naturally designed for interaction. Users can easily comment on, like, or even share posts, creating a ripple effect of engagement. For brands, a well-crafted piece of UGC can spark conversations and encourage user participation. In a way, they foster a sense of community around the brand.

Testimonials and reviews

Testimonials and online reviews are potent forms of social proof that can significantly influence consumer behavior. 

When a customer takes the time to write a testimonial or review, it often comes from a genuine experience with the product or service. This authenticity lends credibility and trust that is hard to achieve through traditional advertising methods.

Multiple studies have shown that reviews and testimonials can directly impact sales. Ninety percent of individuals place more trust in customer reviews about a company than in the company's statements. 

Why does this happen? It's because reviews and testimonials serve as a form of validation. 

While testimonials are often featured on a brand's website, reviews can be found on various platforms. They can be posted on social media, e-commerce sites, and dedicated review websites like Yelp or TripAdvisor. This multi-platform presence increases the reach of these endorsements, making them more effective in influencing a broader audience.

Reviews and testimonials also allow brands to engage with their customers. Responding to reviews, whether positive or negative, reflects that a brand values customer feedback. This engagement can improve customer loyalty and even turn customers into brand advocates.

Unboxing videos

Unboxing videos have carved out a unique niche in the landscape of UGC. They become part of the experience from the moment the package is opened to the exploration of its features. 

One of the most captivating aspects of unboxing videos is the element of surprise. Viewers get to share excitement and anticipation as the product is revealed. It stimulates emotional connection that can be both entertaining and informative.

Furthermore, unboxing videos often go beyond just opening the package. They comprehensively review the product's features, quality, and usability. This level of detail offers potential customers valuable insights into what they can expect, helping to inform their purchasing decisions.

Unboxing videos are often highly searchable, especially for newly launched or highly anticipated products. This makes them an excellent tool for improving a brand's online visibility. When these videos are shared on platforms like YouTube, they can attract a large audience and even go viral, further amplifying their reach.

Brands can leverage the content from unboxing videos in various ways. With permission, snippets can be used in video marketing materials. They can get key points to highlight in blog posts and social media updates. This repurposing extends the content's life and adds a layer of credibility to the brand's marketing efforts.

Forums and online community entries

Platforms like Reddit and Quora offer more in-depth avenues for UGC. One of the standout features of forums and online communities is the depth of discussion they allow. Users can ask specific questions, share detailed experiences, and offer nuanced advice. This level of detail is particularly useful for brands looking to understand the intricacies of consumer needs and preferences.

Many online communities have subject matter experts or highly experienced users who contribute to discussions. 

Unlike social media posts, which can quickly get buried in fast-moving feeds, forum threads and community discussions often have a longer lifespan. This longevity means that the content continues to be discoverable and can influence users over an extended period.

Even better, these platforms are gold mines for consumer insights. Brands can learn about common pain points, frequently asked questions, and even product improvement suggestions directly from the consumer base. This information can be invaluable for product development and marketing strategies.


While podcasts may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering UGC, their impact should not be underestimated.

Podcasts often provide a platform for detailed discussions beyond surface-level reviews or testimonials. Many are hosted by industry experts or thought leaders, lending an air of credibility and authority to the content. When such individuals discuss or review a product or service, their opinions can carry significant weight and influence among their listeners.

Podcast listeners are generally a dedicated bunch. They often subscribe to series and listen to episodes in their entirety. They offer a level of engagement that is hard to find in other forms of UGC. This dedicated listenership can be highly valuable for brands targeting a specific demographic or interest group.

Other UGC posts

This category includes other types of UGC, such as customer photos, blog entries, and even user-generated art or music. While these may need to fit more neatly into the other categories, they offer unique and creative ways for users to engage with brands.

Why UGC Matters for Brands

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Here's why UGC is indispensable for modern brands. 

Influences purchasing decisions

UGC serves as a form of social proof, a psychological phenomenon where people are more likely to engage with something if they see others doing the same. Reviews, testimonials, and posts from users can act as compelling endorsements, strongly influencing purchasing decisions. This word-of-mouth marketing is often more trusted than any advertisement a brand could produce.

Enhances brand awareness

When users share their experiences or reviews about a product or service, they inadvertently expose their followers to the brand, enhancing its reach. Brand awareness, while challenging to measure, is crucial for long-term success. 

Builds customer experience and trust

Unlike polished, professional advertisements, UGC often feels more authentic and relatable. This authenticity can significantly enhance the customer experience and build trust. People are more likely to believe the opinions of fellow consumers. They become brand advocates rather than relying solely on an organization's messaging.

Boosts engagement

UGC fosters a sense of community by encouraging active participation from users. This engagement goes beyond the passive consumption of brand-generated content, creating a stronger emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. 

When a brand engages with its audience by sharing UGC or responding to reviews, it increases user retention rates. Acknowledged consumers are more likely to remain loyal to the brand.

Provides insights and analytics

User-generated content is not just about marketing but also a source of consumer insights. Brands can analyze this content to understand what aspects of their products or services resonate with their audience. This data-driven approach can inform future marketing strategies and product development.

Allows for cost-effective marketing

Creating high-quality, professional content can be both time-consuming and expensive. UGC, on the other hand, is generally less costly to produce or curate. This makes it a cost-effective marketing strategy for brands looking to build their online presence without breaking the bank.

Social Media and UGC

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How impactful is social media for the use and curation of UGC? Let's explore them in detail. 

Popular social media platforms for UGC

UGC can be sourced and posted across a variety of social media platforms. Each of these offers unique types of content and serves different purposes:

  • Instagram: Known for its visually appealing interface, Instagram is ideal for sharing photos and Reels. Instagram posts can be particularly effective for branded hashtags and customer testimonials.
  • Facebook: Primarily used for sharing updates and connecting with friends and family, Facebook is also a hub for product reviews and recommendations. 
  • X (formerly Twitter): This platform is perfect for short, impactful messages and real-time updates. Twitter threads and tweets can serve as testimonials or quick reviews.
  • TikTok: Focusing on short-form video content, TikTok is for creative and viral UGC. Brands often run challenges or campaigns to engage users.
  • LinkedIn: Often overlooked, LinkedIn is a powerful platform for professional testimonials and B2B endorsements.
  • YouTube: As a video-sharing platform, YouTube is excellent for in-depth reviews, tutorials, and unboxing videos.
  • Pinterest: This platform is great for sharing visual ideas and inspirations and is often used for showcasing products in real-world settings.

The hashtag phenomenon

Hashtags have evolved from mere categorization tools to powerful mechanisms for brands and individuals to curate, share, and amplify their messages. In the context of UGC, a branded hashtag can serve as a rallying point. It can create a centralized location where users can discover and interact with content related to a particular brand or campaign. This makes hashtags an indispensable part of any UGC strategy.

Social media users as content creators

UGC has democratized content creation, empowering everyday social media users to contribute to brand narratives, share their experiences, and influence communities. With the help of templates and easy-to-use editing tools provided by social media channels, virtually anyone can become a UGC creator. This enriches the content on social networks and provides brands with many authentic voices. 

How Influencers Use UGC

Influencer marketing is a modern marketing strategy involving brands collaborating with individuals with significant social media following, credibility, or expertise in a particular niche. Influencers can authentically endorse products or services to their audience, amplifying brand awareness and driving conversions.

In influencer marketing, UGC becomes an even more potent tool. Influencers often use UGC to engage their followers by encouraging them to share their experiences with the brand's products or services. This two-way dialogue fosters a sense of community and acts as social proof.

GoPro, the action-camera company, has mastered the art of influencer marketing coupled with UGC. The brand runs its "Million Dollar Challenge," where it encourages users, including influencers, to share their videos captured on GoPro devices. 

The company then compiles these into a single video and awards the contributors a share of a million dollars. This strategy keeps the UGC pouring in year-round while actively involving influencers to boost visibility and engagement.

Implementing UGC in Marketing

UGC empowers consumers to participate actively in marketing campaigns, boosting engagement, credibility, and sales. How can you implement UGC in your marketing campaigns with positive results?

Content marketing

This marketing is about creating relevant content to attract and engage a target audience. UGC fits perfectly into this paradigm, providing authentic and relatable content that resonates with consumers. Whether it's customer testimonials, user reviews, or social media content featuring your products, UGC can enrich your marketing collaterals. 

SEO benefits

Search engine optimization (SEO) increases your online visibility, and UGC can significantly enhance your SEO efforts. User-generated reviews, comments, and social shares can serve as fresh, organic content that search engines love. 

Like reviews and testimonials, UGC can be rich in keywords, improving your site's SEO ranking. By effectively leveraging UGC, you can drive more organic traffic to your site, enhance search rankings, and boost conversions.

How To Curate and Use UGC

Brands that effectively curate and leverage UGC can enhance their marketing strategies, build stronger relationships with their audience, and drive conversions. 

Reposting and sharing

Reposting and sharing UGC can be a win-win for brands and content creators. It provides the brand with authentic content and exposes the creator to a broader audience. 

Always ask for permission from the original poster before reposting their content. This not only respects their work but also builds trust.

Choose posts that align with your brand's values and messaging. Ensure the content you share provides some form of value, whether entertainment, information, or inspiration.

Hosting giveaways and contests

Giveaways and contests are excellent ways to encourage the creation and sharing of UGC. They can generate excitement, boost engagement, and provide you with content for future marketing efforts. 

Provide clear and concise guidelines for entering the contest, what kind of content you want, and how winners will be selected. Offer attractive prizes your potential customers want to encourage participation. Use your social media handles, email newsletters, and website to promote the contest and attract more participants.

Sharing customer reviews on product pages

Customer reviews are a form of UGC that can significantly influence purchasing decisions. Featuring these reviews on your product pages can provide social proof and encourage trust among potential customers. Here are different ways to share these reviews:

  • On-site reviews: Integrate a section on your product pages where customers can easily read and write reviews.
  • Social media: Share standout reviews on your channels to reach a broader audience.
  • Email marketing: Include positive reviews in your email campaigns to add credibility and encourage conversions.

By understanding the nuances of curating and utilizing UGC, brands can create more engaging, authentic, and effective marketing campaigns.

Measuring UGC Impact 

The efficacy of UGC in your marketing strategies can be gauged in various ways. Understanding these metrics validates the role of UGC and provides actionable insights for future campaigns. One of the most direct metrics to look at is the conversion rate. It's vital for quantifying whether your UGC drives desired user actions.

A straightforward way to understand the impact of UGC on conversions is through A/B testing. You can directly measure which performs better by running parallel campaigns—one with UGC and one without. You can also leverage customer journey mapping to pinpoint the stages where UGC is most effective. Track how customers interact with the content at various touchpoints. Tweak and optimize as necessary. 

An increase in the number of new subscribers or followers often correlates with the effectiveness of a UGC campaign. A noticeable uptick in subscriptions usually indicates that the content creates a buzz with your audience.

Remember to measure other metrics, such as engagement rates, reach and impressions, and user impressions. 

Legal and Ethical Considerations of UGC

By now, you should already understand the significance of UGC for your marketing strategy. However, its integration comes with legal and ethical considerations that cannot be ignored. Ensure you fully comply with these guidelines to build trust with potential customers and safeguard your brand's reputation.

First and foremost is the issue of copyright infringement. Just because a user posts content online doesn't mean that brands can freely use it in their marketing strategies. Seek permission from the original creators, even if they are your customers.

Be wary of fake or manipulated content. While using fabricated reviews or testimonials to bolster your brand might be tempting, this practice is unethical and dangerous. Once discovered, inauthentic content can severely damage your brand's credibility and deter potential customers from engaging with you. In the age of information, authentic content is king, and its value cannot be overstated.

Given these concerns, brands must monitor the UGC they integrate into their marketing strategy. Always verify the authenticity of the content you plan to use. Several online tools can help identify fake reviews, photos, or videos.

Pro Tip: Before reposting or using any form of UGC, always ask for the content creator's permission. This not only respects their work but also builds trust and rapport.

Generate UGC With Ease

Image by Taras Shypka on Unsplash

UGC can bolster brand awareness, drive engagement, and improve conversion rates when used effectively. However, while the benefits are considerable, navigate the legal and ethical landscapes carefully. Ignoring issues like copyright infringement or disseminating inauthentic content can backfire, tarnishing your brand's reputation and causing potential legal ramifications.

If you haven't already, it's high time to start generating and curating UGC for your marketing campaigns. So, take the plunge. Encourage your customers to share their experiences, celebrate their contributions, and let their voices amplify your brand's message. You'll gain invaluable content and forge stronger, more meaningful relationships with your customer base.

Let Archive help you harness the power of UGC to elevate your marketing strategies to new heights.

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FAQs on What Is UGC

Are there potential risks for using UGC?

Yes, several risks are associated with using UGC in your marketing campaigns. One of the most prominent is the risk of copyright infringement. Using someone else's content without proper permission can lead to legal consequences and damage your brand's reputation. 

Another risk involves the authenticity of the content. Fake or manipulated content can negatively impact consumer trust in your brand.

Is UGC only relevant for B2C businesses?

Contrary to popular belief, UGC is not exclusive to B2C businesses. While B2C companies often leverage UGC for direct customer engagement, B2B businesses can also use it effectively. 

For example, testimonials from other companies, case studies, and user reviews can serve as valuable UGC for B2B companies. Such content can build trust and demonstrate a product or service's practical application and effectiveness.

Can UGC be used in email marketing?

Absolutely, UGC can be a powerful addition to your email marketing strategy. Incorporating user reviews, testimonials, or even user-generated photos can make your emails more engaging and relatable. Not only does this add social proof to your emails, but it also encourages more interaction from the recipients. 

Whether you're sending out a newsletter, promotional emails, or a product launch announcement, adding UGC can significantly enhance its impact.

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