Why Fashion Brands Need User-Generated Content Right Now

Read how the major fashion brands use a 'secret' strategy to boost their Instagram engagement and sell more.

instagram fashion ugc marketing

Let’s get straight to the latest digital marketing news. Instagram launched Checkout, a native e-commerce feature that allows brands to tag products in their Instagram posts and sell them directly within the Instagram app.

The functionality is currently rolled out to selected brands and only US users can see the purchase option.

And what is very interesting in this list are all brands from the fashion industry: apparel and cosmetics. Here are some of the brands just to get insight.

  • Adidas @adidaswomen & @adidasoriginals
  • Balmain @balmain
  • Burberry @burberry
  • Dior @dior
  • H&M @hm
  • KKW @kkwbeauty
  • Kylie Cosmetics @kyliecosmetics
  • MAC Cosmetics @maccosmetics
  • Nike @niketraining & @nikewomen
  • NYX Cosmetics @nyxcosmetics
  • Revolve @revolve
  • Uniqlo @uniqlo
  • Zara @zara

This list is evidence that it’s the fashion brands who are the first to adopt the latest innovations in e-commerce, especially the trends around successful communication with their audiences. This means that social media, especially Instagram, has become their natural habitat for executing successful marketing tactics.

Why natural, you might say?

Well because it is a visual industry and social media is all about capturing attention through immersive formats such as photos, videos, or the latest stories format.

As a result, in the digital world, Instagram’s beautiful and powerful native app experience, both for brands and for the audience, become “the place” for them to have fun together and exchange their values,  appreciation, and love for each other.

But how did they become so successful in engaging the audience?

Well, they used a top-secret tactic and I am about to break it down in the following text.

What is UGC

I won’t make you wait anymore for the secret sauce I promised at the beginning of this post. So here it is; One, 3 letter word – UGC!

What the heck is UGC (you might wonder)?

For those of you who do not like buzz words (like me), UGC represents an abbreviation for user-generated content. It is a terminology that has endured especially with the engagement strategies that companies do with hashtag campaigns. Here is the UGC definition that one of my colleagues who wrote about UGC for the cannabis industry recently, loves to use:

User-generated content (UGC), alternatively known as user-created content (UCC), is any form of content, such as images, videos, text, and audio, that have been posted by users on online platforms such as social media and wikis.


Let me put it in a very, very simple context:

You know when a brand shouts on Instagram and asks people to share photos of their products or it can be just about anything using a specific branded hashtag. Later on, usually, the picture that has the most likes, or comments, will be re-posted on their Instagram profile. Seen it, right?

Well, this is the simplest explanation of UGC that I can think of, maybe it sounds lame and mainstream but you will be actually surprised how it affects loyalty and trust among fashion brands.

Continue reading to learn how they do this.

Why UGC for apparel marketing?

Instagram has invented a new form of word-of-mouth that gives power to the end consumers to become creators.

And they use hashtags, post photos, follow more, and similar. For example here are some cool insights about the #fashion people on Instagram:

instagram hashtags for fashion statistics

The result …Amazing, real, natural, beautiful content showcasing the actual use and love of the brand’s photos for their products.

The best marketing collateral ever, right?! Period. And the UGC statistics don’t lie.

According to surveys published by Facebook IQ, millennials and Generation Z make-up shoppers are highly using Instagram for beauty-related activities.

instagram statistics beauty industry

So if you are a fashion brand and you are still not on Instagram, Facebook or Youtube, you have to establish your presence, like now!

To drive business results you need customers right? So, one of the easiest and fastest ways to get these new customers is definitely with UGC.

What are the benefits of UGC?

You are probably asking yourself what are the benefits, once you implement your UGC marketing tactic, what you should be expecting?

So let me summarize what you’ll get from UGC:

  • higher conversion rates
  • better SEO, lower CPA, lower bounce rate more traffic
  • build trust, build loyalty
  • collect user feedback
  • more UGC

So let me break down each of these benefits in the following text:

Higher conversion rates

Based on the Gartner L2 report, UGC produces an astonishing 9.6% better conversion rates than regular brand photos.

Just imagine adding one line of code that will sync Instagram hashtag photos (for example) on your product pages that can have an effect to increase your sales.

Awesome right?

However, only 9 percent of the brands embed UGC on product pages, despite the fact that this can further improve conversion rates by up to 6.4 percent in categories such as apparel.

Better SEO <> more traffic

You can expect traffic more as more followers will be coming on board and following your bio link to your website as a result of your UGC efforts.

Also by adding UGC on your websites such as customer testimonials that already include keywords and keywords relevant for your business, you are actually improving the SEO of your website.

Plus, reviews posted on your website with a schema code can help you get reviews star snippets in Google search. That will definitely increase the click-through rates and therefore increase traffic to your website.

Also, you can have your bounce rate decreased by allowing people to browse through interesting content that your customers created. Resulting in them spending more time on your website.

Save time, get marketing content for free

If you are a major fashion brand with lots of products selling all around the world you have to deal with a lot of content.

To be able to source good quality content is both expensive and difficult.

So the question is:

Is there a way to make content on autopilot, cheap and easy?

A solution that can provide you the content you need at a scale. Also at a very low price.

A challenge worth persuading, right?!

Ok yes, you can go online now, and pay for a photo database but this supply is limited plus it’s generic.

In addition, your competitors may be using a similar database of free or paid photos risking looking the same as everyone else.

You need authenticity, truth, and beauty at scale, don’t you? Also at a low cost let’s not forget that.

Well, I have news for you.

Nowadays the most innovative fashion brands are already up and running with their campaigns all over the world with content created from their customers, fresh, maybe amateur but authentic and free.

They use it in their Facebook ads, video ads, everywhere and the best thing is their customers will always allow you to do this, and you only need to ask.

Ask for permission, give credit, and try to make your next campaign with the content created by your customers posted on social media. (see the examples below)

So let’s get started!

How to get started with UGC

As I mentioned, it sounds a little lame to ask people to tag photos with a hashtag, but there are many ways to stimulate this behavior and remain cool.

But if you are there and not seeing any results in terms of loyalty, engagement, or any social proof provided by your followers, you have to rethink your communications by asking yourself:

  • Are you open to sharing and posting your customers and fans’ pictures and comments on your social media accounts or on your website, honestly and transparently? If not, just close your business. You can not continue your future business without these foundations.
  • Are you a human? No seriously, do you sound like a human when talking to your followers or do you just share some high-level art graphic produced by your overpaid creative agency?
  • Have you ever paid for followers? Don’t!!!
  • Have you paid for an influencer? Yes, but are they aligned with your brand’s audience?
  • Are you giving something valuable? Or are you just selling? Give first and sell later.

Now stop for a minute and think about all of your marketing activities across all of your product portfolio, and across all of your segments.

And when you are ready, choose which UGC will best fit your brand on just choose any of the following:

Types of UGC for fashion brands

Ok, in general, this is what is considered to be a user-generated content:

  • Customer reviews, testimonials, feedback
  • Photos with your branded hashtag
  • Photos where your official account is tagged or mentioned
  • Re-post Instagram stories where customers talk about your brand
  • DM – Direct message you receive on your social media account
  • Customer voice on a phone
  • Customer interviews on a street
  • In short – Any feedback you receive on any channel by your customers is self-initiated or ‘motivated’ by you.

And for each of these UGC types, here are more details:


If you are selling fashion products chances are someone has left a review about you. If you pride in your products, and the service you offer and you focus on the overall customer experience you want to deliver, chances are this review is a 5 star.

This type of UGC is super powerful as it provides social proof and significantly increases your conversion rates by just helping potential customers speed up their purchasing decisions.

Think about it, put yourself in the shoes of your customers, you browse your Facebook feed, you see an ad, and you click to check it out, you get redirected to a landing page where you can buy the product.

Now my question for you is, after price what are the second criteria you look for before you make your choice? It’s a review, right?

The review is all about the quality associated with the product, and nowadays it’s not only about the product.

Increasingly we associate quality with the overall experience past customers of that brand have experienced, be it the actual product being the same as advertised, the speed of the delivery, the support they have received from the brand’s customer support team, etc.

Imagine, you create such an experience, that your customers will be leaving reviews on your website the moment they have made they bought something or the delivery has arrived if it’s fast and on time.

Photos with your branded hashtag & photos mentioning your account

This type of UGC appeared with the introduction of hashtags by Instagram. Fashion brands naturally were the first to adopt as they were experimenting with the ways they can increase engagement and further segment their audience based on the hashtags they would use for their posts.

Due to their nature, fashion brands are dependant on having a lot of content as they have large product portfolios and often run many campaigns simultaneously.

Activities such as these ones are aimed at bringing the brands closer to the customers and leveraging more personalization for each of their segments.

Hashtags have been proven great to this extent and fashion brands quickly jumped on the boat.

For example, by using branded hashtags, like #MyCalvins fashion brands were able to run multiple campaigns for different purposes encouraging their customers to post a picture and use the branded hashtag if they want to participate in the contest or show love for the brand they identify with.

hashtag campaign Calvin Klein

In addition, new potential followers would discover brands via the hashtags and often start following them. In this way, brands can grow their pool of followers and with that growing their revenues.  

There are so many examples out there that this represents the biggest category by far for generating UGC in the form of pictures which later on you can use as a digital asset for your campaigns.

The best part about all this content is that is authentic, beautiful and it converts.

Instagram Story where they talk about your brand

Now if you want to take this further, as you are a fashion brand, chances are your customers are tagging you, mentioning you i.e. sharing reviews about you and your digital experience via their Instagram Stories.

You can include real-time shootouts in your Instagram Story and create a Highlight and later you can feature this love on your website close to your CTA button for higher conversion rates – like this example below from Honeybook:

embed instagram story

What’s the cool thing about this example?

Can you notice?

The brand not only is featuring their customer’s stories/reviews in their Instagram Story Highlights they are also able to reuse this content to further increase their conversion rates on their website by embedding this content in real-time on their website.

Now you are asking yourself, how did they do it?

Well, it’s much more simple than you think, all you have to do is copy/paste one single line of code. Again we got you covered, you can do that with EmbedStories.

DM – Direct Messages

Instead of the old way of brands telling customers what they are missing aka “Let’s us tell you…” Glossier starts with the question “What do you think about….you know the best” approach.

DM – or direct messaging, do you have that with your brand?

How many DM do you receive per minute, who sends them, when, and from which country?

For your information, Glossier receives 5 DM per minute and they read and respond to each one of them. For them, DM is great because as Emily’s says that’s where your golden nuggets are.

Now please keep in mind what Glossier says, they respond to every DM which means they are human and not flying high, now that the brand has become so much valuable.

Otherwise, you miss the opportunity to receive a golden nugget from someone who initially sent you a DM that you thought is not worth replying to.

With modern tech tools, fashion brands are one of the first to appreciate the value of data. In this context, we talk about content marketing and how we communicate with our customers.

They realize that the power of UGC is enormous as it’s a growing list of beneficial use cases for various marketing activities. More about this in the section that follows.

Examples of UGC in fashion

In the examples below I am mixing very different brands in the fashion industry that I think to execute very progressive approaches in building a loyal fan base whilst growing the business.

1. Glossier: ALL in with user-generated content

Glossier is one of the cosmetics brands I truly love and respect.

A lot of people will jump and say ou you can place them in the cosmetic segment. Some will say that they are in the fashion industry, no one will be wrong but hey there is a more accurate answer.

In the words of one of the co-founders of Glossier, Emily Weiss, they are a tech/data company that works in the beauty, cosmetic and fashion segment.

Notice the emphasis on how they start defining themselves as a tech/data company first.

If you study their marketing activities, you will notice that they are one of the best examples of a brand having a deep connection with their customers.

They didn’t have retail stores to connect with their customers when they started so digital connection was the only way.

This is how they found the power of UGC, and they never looked back, just open their feed and you will notice. It’s full of questions, their vision is all about tech and how it can facilitate:

  • Distribution across channels –  so they can easily share their mission, vision, products
  • Discovery of great UGC –  so they can reuse it for various activities to reach their goals
  • Listening at scale – so they never miss anything and stay ahead

They are one of the first brands to understand that customers have a voice and listening to them makes your brand bond much stronger.

Like a multiplier, it feeds itself – the more you give room to your customers the more you include them in your brand story.

In the words of Emily, her UGC represents a testament to their brands’ mission to create products and experiences that will stand with the time and have value across the world.

They understand that their customers will drive their sales, they will speak their story, they will tell them what to build next and where to sell their products first.

Yes, I know I already mentioned them and I’ve added them to the top of this list because they ‘scream’ UGC in almost every marketing activity they’re doing. And people love it.

They are definitely a consumer-oriented company and their major success if for sure based on the huge brand loyalty that it mand to create with the use of user-generated content.

And they are all over the place with it.

From sharing customer testimonials in stories, emails, the website to reusing and re-posting customer photos in their marketing collateral, they manage to showcase the actual usage of their products and the love that their customers are spreading on social media.

  • They emphasize UGC on their homepage
glossier user-generated content
  • They use it in their emails
UGC emails by Glossier
  • They listen to their customers and execute.

They recently posted Instagram stories with the request from customers who wanted to have the Spotify playlist played in the Glossier’s Miami store.

And here is how they use this in their content activities:

Glossier instagram marketing

And the best! UGC pays off. It pays off in billions. As per the Wall Street Journal, Glossier current valuation sits at 1.2 billion.

2. LIKEtoKNOW.it: rules the hashtag game

LiketoKnow.it is an incredible concept. It is actually a mobile app that promotes real people who share their outfit styles and tag the clothes, and products they wear so other people can actually buy that look.

It is not a fashion brand per se, and it helps fashion bloggers or normal people get in the platform and make some money by promoting brands they wear.

One of the best ways this app spreads and also how people spread the word about their profiles is by using the hashtag #liketkit that is used in more than 4 million posts on Instagram.

Instagram hashtag campaign

You can see from the example above, users of the app post their posts along with branded hashtags in order to spread the word and engage with potential buyers to go ahead and buy the products that the influencer is promoting.

So note this …

Branded hashtags as a UGC strategy can help you reach a larger audience and spread the word about your brand or campaign on Instagram.

Additionally, the brand introduces hashtags specific to other niche industries that they feature in the platform, such as furniture and interior design. Also, a segment is very popular on Instagram and it is already resulting with the popularity of their branded hashtag #ltkhome which currently tags more than 200K posts.

The branded hashtag campaigns for LiketoKnow.it obviously works great for them. Worth’s trying it, right?

3. TIJN speeds up purchasing decisions with social proof

I was looking to buy new frames and stumble upon TIJN Instagram profile.

What caught my eye was their Reviews Story Highlight pinned on their Instagram profile page.

  • They include UGC in their Instagram highlights
instagram highlights by tijn

A UGC use case at it’s finest.

They target a new audience on Instagram and it is very normal that the new customers will visit their profile and the Highlights are probably the first they will check.

TIJN makes sure they see how satisfied their previous customers are.

They emphasize REAL people wearing glasses and their actual satisfaction with the product.

instagram stories examples

I think that the use of a UGC especially for eyewear is very suitable as you as a consumer will never have the idea of how the glasses will eventually look when YOU wear them.

But having real people wearing them can actually stimulate the purchasing decisions of the potential buyers, which I must admit was what I experienced.

  • They also embed UGC on their product pages

What is also great about their UGC strategy is that they capture the posts from Instagram tagging their brand and use these posts as feeds on their product pages.

embed Instagram hashtag

So if you are wondering if you should buy some of their frames but are not sure if they will fit your style, you can have a glimpse into the previous customers’ posts below the product info.

These are photos that are not manipulated by the brand but are actual posts by the people who shared their own pics with TIJN glasses on their Instagram accounts.

Very cool and convincing right?

5. Tools for UGC

There are a variety of tools that can help you to get the most out of your user-generated content. The ones you need to pay attention to are mostly related to the capabilities to integrate with the social media platforms in order to help you generate and save content posted by your users/customers, at scale.

Why did I mention ‘at scale’?

Well, because sometimes it is very hard to track and automatically save all does great videos and photos from your fans.

We at EmbedSocial build tools that can do exactly this and much more.

Here are some of the tools and functionalities we provide:

Capture and save UGC

You never want to miss the mentions or the posts that are tagged with your branded hashtag, right? Well, you have the EmbedFeed tool for this which is a social media aggregator and can help you to generate all posts mentioning your brand on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you want to try it for your branded hashtag, sign up for a free trial and see how it works right now.

Display UGC on your website or TV displays

Additionally, EmbedFeed provides embeddable codes that can be used on any type of website in order to display your user-generated content.

Most of the use-cases we experience are that brands want to display hashtag feeds from their branded campaigns on Instagram that contain posts from their users. Similar to the TJIN case.

Capture and display customer reviews

Reviews are one of the forgotten UGC formats, that I decided to emphasize and the end of this guide. The main reason is that people post reviews on specific platforms such as Google, Facebook and also they post a review on your website product pages once they use your products.

To capture and manage your customer reviews, try EmbedReviews a feature-rich platform that will help you to capture and also display testimonials about your products on your website. In addition, you can run testimonial ads that will retarget on FB anyone who visited your website. You can learn more about testimonial ads by following this link.

The #1 UGC platform and social media aggregator

Try EmbedSocial UGC platform and embed Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, or TikTok feeds on any website, like a PRO.

7 days free trial · Easy setup · Cancel any time

embed instagram widget

CEO of EmbedSocial 

Nikola Bojkov is the CEO of EmbedSocial, an entrepreneur who turns problems into products. With over a decade of hands-on experience with social media APIs, he guides EmbedSocial in its role as a technical partner for both SMEs and large agencies, maximizing the impact of their user-generated content. EmbedSocial has offices in Skopje, Tokyo and Lisbon with over 250,000 users.