User-Generated Content: What + How To Use It To Engage Your Audience?

What is User-Generated Content + How can you engage your audience by using it?

User-generated content (UGC) is created and shared by unpaid contributors or users on online platforms. This could include blog posts, comments, forum posts, social media posts, reviews, videos, images, audio files, and more. However, UGC content is not created by the owners or operators of the platform, but by the users themselves.

The internet changed a lot with Web 2.0 platforms. These platforms have tools that let users create and share content, creating a lot of new things. Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Yelp, Reddit, and more are examples of places where regular people share their thoughts, pictures, videos, and other things.

User Generated Content

The value of user-generated content

The most important thing about UGC is that people share their thoughts about the product they like. This article will explore why user-generated content is great for brands. There are many benefits to using user-generated content as part of your online strategy

The value of UGC

It’s Authentic 

The content that directly comes from the users is authentic. It is their honest reviews, opinions, recommendations, and advice that help user generators build trust and credibility. Their real-life experiences make them connected because it’s not like ads made by companies.

It’s Effective 

Some surveys show that people trust UGC a lot. They depend on things like online reviews, product ratings, and recommendations from others. People listen to and trust other people more than ads. They trust what the audience says about stuff, like products, places, or even things to do. This makes people believe it more and want to try it.

Keeps Up with Trends 

UGC often talks about real-world events, what people care about, and current topics. People quickly share information, opinions, and memes. If you think User-Generated content (UGC) is limited to a few Instagram-worthy product shots, then it is not right. 

Keeping up with the trends

UGC rises from social media shout-outs to product reviews and beyond. There are many types of user-generated content, from social media posts to product reviews.

Types of User-Generated Content

Social Media

There is no doubt that social media is one of the most prominent for user-generated content. It is a platform where your customers showcase brands in various attractive ways. On social media, user-generated content could be :

  • Photos: Instagram and Pinterest are prominent when it comes to user-generated photos. Customers share snapshots of themselves enjoying your product or presenting your offers in creative ways.
  • Videos: From YouTube to TikTok, videos are important for user-generated content. Customers create product reviews or unboxing PRs.
  • Stories: Instagram and Snapchat stories are the platforms where people share behind-the-scenes content. Customers share glimpses of new products or take you through a day in their lives with your brand.

Now, let’s look at some examples of brands’ success stories that increase user-generated social media campaigns:

Starbucks’ Red Cup Contest: 

Turning a plain red holiday cup into a canvas for creativity, Starbucks asked customers to share their unique designs using the hashtag #RedCupArt on Instagram or Twitter. Winning entries became the stars of Starbucks’ website and social media.

Starbucks' Red Cup Contest

Reviews and Testimonials

Customer reviews and testimonials are one of the most important steps to make your content more engaging. Encourage users to give feedback on your website, social media pages, and online marketplaces. You can even gather testimonials and feature them prominently on your website or in promotional materials.

Forum Posts and Discussions

Engage with your audience by creating forums, discussion boards, or online communities. This helps create a feeling of togetherness and gives you useful information about what your audience likes and prefers most.

Examples of user-generated content from forums and discussion boards may include:

  • Questions and answers about your products/services
  • Suggestions and feedback for making things better
  • Chats and arguments about topics connected to your brand/industry
  • Guides or tutorials made by users

5 Tips to Help you Add UGC to your Content Strategy

Including User-Generated content (UGC) isn’t just hitting the reshare button. It is about listening to the requirements of your customers. Here are some tips to help you engage your audience by using it:

Run Contest/Quizzes on Social Media

Creating fun contests or quizzes on social media is a great way to get your fans to create awesome user-generated content.

Let me share an example from Dove. They wanted to spread the message of ‘Real Beauty,’ so they asked their Facebook fans to tell them why their friend was a real beauty. 

Real Beauty by Dove

Fans just had to type in their friends’ names and list two things that make them beautiful. Guess what? People went crazy, sharing beautiful stories about their friends.

Use the Power of Hashtags

The Red Bull campaign #PutACanOnIt is a fine example of how hashtags can create great response from social media fans. Here’s the story: They saw a photo on Twitter where someone held their Red Bull can in front of a Mini Cooper, making it look like the Mini was carrying a Red Bull. Smart move—they added #PutACanOnIt to it.

RedBull's #PutACanOnIt campaign

This idea became trending, and Over 10,000 #PutACanOnIt pictures were uploaded on Twitter and Instagram in just a few months. This shows how a smart hashtag, along with a creative promotion, can bring in a ton of awesome content. 

Offer Rewards

When people make things for you on social media, it’s important to thank them. You don’t always give them money or discounts. You can just put their stuff in your emails or share it on social media. This can be a memorable moment for your fans. 

This is how Yo! Sushi encourages its fans.

YO! Sushi

Use Customer Pictures and Posts in More Ways

Find and use content created by UGC in more ways than just sharing on social media. Instead of just reposting or retweeting customer content, ask for permission to use it in different ways for your marketing efforts. 

You can even extract text from other people’s posts and images by using an online image to text converter to turn photos of text into editable and shareable content.

Check Music Copyright

When you add pictures or videos made by customers to your content, don’t forget about the music. Make sure the songs are okay to use. Before you share that cool customer review or a video of someone dancing with your product, check if the music is allowed for business use. It’s not just about following the rules (even though you should), but it’s also about giving credit to the people who made the music. 

User-Generated Content Examples

Coca-Cola: Share a Coke Campaign

GoPro started a contest, encouraging users to submit their top GoPro videos for a chance to win a one-million-dollar prize. With a great response of more than 25,000 submissions, the winning videos were shared on GoPro’s social media platforms. Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke Campaign. 

Coca-Cola: Share a Coke Campaign

It transformed its traditional logo by featuring some of the most popular names in the nation, printed on Coca-Cola labels. The campaign achieved great success, posting over 500,000 photos on Instagram alone and also increasing sales for the brand.

Parachute: #MyParachuteHome

Parachute is a brand that sells things for homes. They don’t use fake or perfect pictures; instead, they ask customers to share photos of their homes using #MyParachuteHome. These pictures are different from the professional ones you usually see.


Parachute doesn’t just put these pictures on social media. They use them in regular ads, like the cards inside the packages customers get and on the internet. This idea has worked well. More people click on their ads (35% more), and it costs them less money (60% less). By using pictures from real customers, Parachute makes a better connection with people and saves money on advertising.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is not just a famous singer; she’s really good at making her fans a big part of her brand. For the “TS The Eras Tour,” Taylor Nation asked fans to share pictures of what they wore to the tour using #TSTheErasTour


Fans went all out, showing off their Taylor Swift-inspired outfits with glitter and friendship bracelets. But Taylor Nation didn’t stop there. They shared their favorite fan pictures. Fans became the stars, and this happened in every city on the tour. 

Wrapping Up

Many people spend a lot of time on social media. This gives you chances to connect with them and convince them to create content about your brand. If you can make people excited about your brand, organize fun social media contests or quizzes, and use popular hashtags, your fans will help tell others about your products.

As mentioned earlier, it’s not always simple, and there’s no perfect way to make it work, but I hope these ideas help you think about how to make content that people want to share and talk about, building a stronger connection with your brand.

Further Reading


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