What is User-Generated Content? UGC Meaning in 2024

User-generated content (UGC) is any form of genuine content - videos, photos, reviews, etc., created and posted by a brand's customers and loyal fans.

what is user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) has emerged as a game-changer for small businesses in recent years. After all, it allows entrepreneurs to build a strong connection with their audience, create a community around their brand, and deepen their customer engagement.

Just like Coca-Cola’s groundbreaking “Share-a-Coke” UGC campaign, which bumped the company’s sales by 2% in the U.S., you can use UGC to create an emotionally appealing campaign that will get your customers talking and sharing your brand’s awesomeness.

So, let’s demystify UGC, highlight its significance in today’s digital world, especially for small businesses looking to thrive, and check out a few inspirational examples.

Here’s what you’ll learn to convert your customers into brand advocates:

What is user-generated content (UGC)?

First things first: here’s UGC’s meaning and definition summarized:

User-generated content (aka UGC or consumer-generated content) is a marketing term that refers to a form of content created and published by brand customers and advocates on their social media channels or other online platforms.

Essentially, the content that your users create in support (or not) of your business, products, and services is considered UGC, and as such, you can leverage it to enhance your marketing strategy.

As you’ll see below, it can take different forms: UGC videos and photos, online reviews and testimonials, simple customer comments across your social media channels, blog posts, podcasts, and any other form of media that promotes your brand.

The benefits, as you can imagine, are multiple, ranging from increased brand trust and awareness to building a strong community that will promote your services.

Unlike traditional branded content, UGC is an inexpensive and powerful tool that provides the best social proof out there. Why? Because your loyal customers are eager to praise your brand without any kind of incentive. Here’s one such example:

UGC is extremely important for your brand!

So why is UGC a vital asset for modern business marketers?

To state it plainly: UGC campaigns are the golden ticket in the digital marketing world due to their super-efficient returns, as they cost little to nothing to carry out.

Don’t believe us? Let’s list some of the amazing benefits you get!

1. User-generated content humanizes your brand

There’s no better way to build trust in your brand than to humanize it and bring it closer to your customers—UGC does that extremely well!

Why? Well, consumers trust the raw and unsolicited authenticity that UGC brings to the table. Real human beings praising your brand does work wonders for your sales numbers. Here are some relevant UGC statistics that further support the point:

UGC statistics

2. UGC adds authenticity and credibility to your brand

Adding onto the previous point, UGC adds authenticity and credibility to your brand that successfully drives higher engagement, which is evident from the surge in comments, likes, and brand mentions by down-to-earth customers praising you on social media.

48% of marketers acknowledge that UGC takes authenticity to the next level as it creates relatable content that brand-created media cannot reproduce.

Example: A fashion brand notices an increase in social media engagement after customers share photos wearing their clothing.

3. UGC has a massive influence on your conversion rates

UGC significantly influences the consumer decision-making process, which ultimately tips over potential visitors to loyal customers and brand advocates. After all, positive customer reviews and images make potential consumers more comfortable with their buying choices.

UGC on product pages has led to a 29% increase in conversion rate while 79% of all customers (84% of millenials) say that UGC impacts their purchasing decisions.

Stackla

Example: An online retailer experiences an uptick in sales after incorporating customer reviews with photos on product pages.

4. UGC rebuilds your brand trust to offset negative perceptions

UGC helps in (re)building or strengthening the brand loyalty and trust consumers have in your products and services, especially if you have faced challenges or are new to the market.

Example: A food brand overcoming negative press by featuring positive customer experiences and testimonials on its website.

5. UGC empowers and educates your customers

By giving consumers a platform to share their experiences, UGC also serves as an educational tool for prospective customers. They can ask/share their knowledge, get and give recommendations to others, and get usage tips and tricks about certain products.

Example: A tech company uses customer FAQs and how-to videos on their social media to educate potential buyers about their products.

6. UGC is both time- and cost-effective to produce

Leveraging UGC saves time and resources when you create content, allowing your marketing strategy to focus on other strategic areas. After all, you don’t need to pay a team to spend time creating content from scratch, as you are effectively repurposing existing content.

Example: A small business boosts its content strategy via customers who share their experiences on TikTok, thus reducing the need for professionally created content.

7. UGC offers continued engagement on your social media platforms

Encouraging UGC helps in creating an active community around your brand, providing continuous feedback and insights for improvement. At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel like their voice matters, which is validation they can find on online forums.

Example: A gaming company creates a community forum where gamers share tips and tricks, fostering a sense of belonging and continuous product feedback.

8. UGC boosts your SEO efforts via customer reviews

Incorporating customer reviews can enhance your SEO strategy, improving online visibility and accessibility. That way, when people search for a product or service to solve a problem, Google shows them the best-reviewed solutions first.

Example: A local restaurant’s search ranking improves as more customers leave detailed Google reviews.

You can reap all these benefits if you create a comprehensive UGC strategy that fully utilizes the content you’ve obtained from everyday customers. Once you do that, you’ll gain much more than boosted sales—you’ll build a healthier brand in the long term.

Need inspiration? Check out these fantastic 20+ UGC marketing campaigns that skillfully leverage the power of UGC to gain a huge following and create brand buzz.

Embed user-generated content on your website automatically. Start a free trial today >

UGC Platform EmbedSocial Bundle

Collect social proof & user-generated content with the #1 UGC platform

Try EmbedSocial and automatically collect, monitor, and display UGC on any website.

All PRO features | Cancel any time.

Different types of UGC for different purposes

UGC comes in many different flavors, each of which has its own pros and cons when it comes to planning the perfect marketing strategy nowadays.

1. Social media photos and videos (Visual UGC)

Visual UGC is the most common type of user-generated content you will find online. For good reason, too, it’s the most engaging out of all of them!

Nowadays, influencers love sharing photos or videos on social media accounts to express their experience with a certain brand. For instance, check out this customer sharing a series of photos via Instagram stories of a brand gift they’ve received:

visual ugc

2. Customer reviews, testimonials, and ratings

Another great type of UGC includes customer reviews, testimonials, and ratings, which can be found anywhere from Google and Facebook to your product pages, social media platforms, and specialized aggregators like Tripadvisor, Yelp, G2, and Trustpilot.

Prospective buyers place great value on this type of UGC since consumers typically take time to write constructive feedback about a product or service they purchased.

Here’s one such Google example for a local Starbucks location:

google reviews ugc

Therefore, to take full advantage of praise such as this, you must establish a firm online reputation management process to manage, respond to, and showcase your best customer reviews. Imagine the benefits you’ll reap once you embed such a review on your website.

3. Recommendations in tweets, groups, or forums

People feel the need to give unprompted recommendations across social media for the products and services they purchase. For instance, Facebook groups, forums, or even X (formerly Twitter) are some destinations that users visit before making any purchasing decision.

Here is one such Tweet recommending an amazing product:

user generated content with tweet

4. Customer interviews and case studies 

This traditional approach is still in use nowadays in some industries, especially where serious buyers are considering making a significant (and pricey) purchase.

Long-format customer interviews and case studies are great at revealing the advantages and disadvantages of products and work wonders to prompt purchases.

Here’s how case studies work as inspirational UGC in the software industry: 

share kidmoto

5. Blog posts or product reviews by experts

This format is very particular for certain industries, such as travel, tech or gadgets, fashion, and food; but in general, it can be applied to any service or product. Why, because there are experts that consider your product in their blog posts, whether you like it or not.

For example, I was recently in the market for the best office chair, and finding an expert review on CNN for Steelcase products helped me make the right decision.

Expert UGC reviews

6. Employee-generated content (EGC)

Employee-generated content (EGC) stands out as a unique and valuable subcategory as it’s created by the company’s employees and then posted on social media or blogs.

This content proves valuable since it can offer an authentic view of the company’s culture and operations, offering a perspective that external UGC can’t capture.

It’s an effective way for businesses to humanize their brand and showcase their internal environment, values, and the people behind their products or services.

As an example, check out this friendly Ferrari post showcasing their two F1 drivers having fun during their winter break:

7. DIY and how-to content

Consumers trust content created by people they follow and respect. Beyond traditional tutorials, social media users now create innovative DIY and how-to content for products they’ve been using for a long time and often in unique ways that improve the product experience.

This form of UGC is particularly effective as it comes across as authentic, relatable, and user-centric, offering real-life insights into the features of certain products or services.

For instance, this YouTube video shows you just how to breathe new life into your PlayStation 3, which effectively brings a dead platform back to life:

Get inspired with some of the best consumer-generated content (UGC) examples

Creating UGC is not an easy task. Inspire with these user-generated content examples by brands that leverage UGC to boost their brand awareness and engagement to boost their conversions and grow their reach.

1. Steven Wommack creates engaging Instagram tutorials

Valuable user-generated content (UGC) doesn’t come more impactful than how-to tutorials created by Instagram influencers that explain how to use a certain feature best. For instance, @stevenwommack shows his hordes of loyal fans how to use Reels here:

2. CLUSE shows UGC photos on their website

The watch company CLUSE wants to inspire potential buyers to create the ultimate look using their products. The way they do that is by posting all the UGC they collect of everyday consumers wearing CLUSE items. The only thing they do is tag #CLUSE on Instagram.

ugc widget for cluse instagram photos

3. Cybertruck customers fuel a viral UGC movement

The launch of Tesla’s Cybertruck in 2023 ignited a massive organic UGC campaign, predominantly driven by new customers sharing their excitement through social media videos.

These genuine and enthusiastic customer videos include everything from unboxing to road tests, demonstrating the vehicle’s features and building trust and excitement about the brand.

The result: one of the best social media marketing campaigns out there that worked as a powerful testament to the product’s appeal and customer satisfaction.

For instance, entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian shared his experience with the Cybertruck on social media, and his posts significantly boosted the buzz around the vehicle, as they highlighted the vehicle’s appeal among tech-savvy and influential audiences.

4. Outdoor Voices creates successful Instagram hashtag campaigns

The athletic wear company Outdoor Voices is on a mission to get the world moving. To reach their goal, they invite their customers to get moving and show the world how they do it with the hashtag #DoingThings while wearing the brand’s clothing:

instagram stories ugc

5. GoPro

Do you know who does UGC really well? No one other than GoPro! Yes, that camera company. They do that by letting their customer base show the awesomeness of GoPro’s products. And if they choose to, they don’t have to spend a cent to grow their business.

The GoPro Million Dollar Challenge is a great example since it has generated a ton of free marketing content thanks to customers sharing all kinds of thrilling videos:

go pro instagram campaign

Learn all the best ways to collect UGC to grow your business just like GoPro.

Related article.

6. UGC as the driving force of Chat-GPT’s growth

Social media creators and thought leaders on professional platforms like LinkedIn and YouTube proved to be a driving force in the growth of today’s most popular AI language model. All they keep on doing is showing the public how to best use ChatGPT to reach one’s goals:

Here’s one such example offered by YouTuber Daragh Walsh:

7. Spotify Wrapped

As many of you might know, Spotify Wrapped is an innovative and widely celebrated user-generated content (UGC) campaign that has become a yearly tradition for Spotify users.

Essentially, this social media platform provides a personalized wrap-up of the yearly listening adventures of users, which helps the brand grow an attachment to its consumer base. After all, music is part of everyone’s journey, and Spotify shows us just how important that music is.

Users love sharing their #SpotifyWrapped across social media:

Read more:

20 User-Generated Content Examples and UGC Campaigns ↗

Get the most out of your UGC with a few proven best practices

Once you embrace UGC as a serious asset in your marketing toolset, you will have to follow a few standard tips and tricks to maximize your returns:

1. Make your brand shareable

So, first things first. If you expect your customers to start talking about you and sharing content about your products, you will need to consider what is unique about your brand and what you will do to facilitate the experience you want your customers to have.

It can be anything: packaging, some extra mile moment in your service, a delivery surprise, an unexpected birthday card, a community event, and so on.

2. Select the right social networks

Don’t jump straight to Instagram or put all your marketing efforts into your Facebook page. Think about where your audience interacts online and where your potential advocates could have the most significant influence.

As an example, if you represent an e-shopping clothing brand, you need a visual platform like Instagram. On the other hand, if you are a SaaS representative, perhaps LinkedIn should be your main platform of choice since it houses professional talent.

3. Request permission to share content

You should never share UGC unless you have the consent of the original content creator. If you do, you will most certainly lose the goodwill you’ve gained if and when a content creator complains.

The best way to do that is to first express your appreciation for the UGC in question and its author and promise them greater exposure once you reshare it on your social. Therefore, you must devise and implement a robust system to obtain permission as soon as possible.

4. Credit the creator of the content

When you share user-generated content on your social channels, make sure to tag the original content creator directly in the post. This will make it easier for fans and followers to verify that the content is authentic and created by a customer outside your company.

Here’s how National Geographic does it whenever they share content:

provide credit of UGC content in Instagram posts

5. Offer something in return

Social media contests (like those in the previous section) and giveaways are a great way to generate a substantial amount of UGC quickly. So next time you want your followers to provide you with user-generated content, consider what you can offer them in return.

6. Analyze and measure your content

No matter if you re-share it or not, UGC metrics are great for customer research. So, take a closer look at how buyers are using your brand and what language they use to describe it. You might discover they are using your products in ways you haven’t considered.

7. Re-use UGC across all marketing channels

Last but not least, user-generated content is very flexible, allowing you to use it anywhere you are present, including your website and all your social media platforms.

For instance, here’s one customer testimonial repurposed for Instagram:

Enhance your UGC effort via a robust UGC platform

Once you get into the UGC game, you’ll realize that you need a purpose-made UGC platform to streamline the process of collecting, managing, and displaying your content.

One of the biggest advantages of the best UGC platforms out there is allowing you to create interactive UGC widgets out of your best content and embed them on your website.

For instance, a top-ranking UGC platform like EmbedSocial will help you automatically collect all your content from the internet, collect it into simple yet beautiful widgets, and then embed those widgets across all your online portals, from websites to social media handles.

Publish comment on Instagram to request rights

However, when choosing a platform, you must also consider your actual needs. For instance, if you are an e-commerce brand, you will want to create shoppable UGC feeds and automatically get UGC rights.

The best part is that you don’t need any coding knowledge whatsoever since you only get a single line of code that you need to copy over in your website builder.

Most platforms also connect to all popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Google, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, etc. On top of that, they can pull all kinds of content, from stories and posts to product and service reviews.

Learn more about embeding UGC on your website right now!

How to embed UGC on your website ↗

There’s a lot more to come from UGC in the future!

According to market predictions, UGC will grow and have an even bigger impact on the marketing efforts of all kinds of businesses. Here’s why:

Increased integration of UGC in e-commerce

UGC will become even more integral to online shopping experiences. Brands will increasingly use e-commerce social platforms to embed real customer reviews, photos, and videos directly on product pages and throughout the purchasing journey.

Rise of video and live-stream UGC

Video-based UGC will dominate with the growing popularity of platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube. Brands will leverage customer-made videos and live streams for more dynamic and engaging content. This trend could also see the rise of VR/AR experiences in UGC, which is bound to offer immersive and interactive experiences.

Enhanced personalization through AI

This could mean showing users UGC that is most relevant to their interests and past behaviors, enhancing engagement and conversion rates.

UGC as a key component of sustainable and ethical marketing

UGC will be used to promote products and showcase a brand’s commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. Brands might encourage UGC that highlight eco-friendly usage of products, community involvement, or ethical practices.

Expanding role of UGC in B2B marketing

Collecting testimonials, case studies, and user-generated content from business clients will play a more significant role in building trust and brand reputation in the B2B sector. This could include more collaborative content creation between businesses and clients.

Niche-focused influencer partnerships

Brands will increasingly focus on partnering with UGC creators who have a strong following in specific niches or communities rather than relying on large-scale influencer campaigns with broader reach.

Conclusion

Instead of overselling your product with pricey marketing campaigns, let others show the world just how good it is. The best way to do that is by repurposing user-generated content.

So you should encourage shoppers, professional content creators, micro-influencers, and industry experts to communicate their opinions about your brand in their own words and style.

However, as an online business, you should also be open to criticism or attacks and have the will to turn every piece of negative feedback into a lesson learned.

In any case, relying on UGC platforms is your best move as they can help you aggregate all your UGC in one place and use it to enhance your marketing efforts.

Embed user-generated content on your website automatically. Start a free trial today >

UGC Platform EmbedSocial Bundle

Collect social proof & user-generated content with the #1 UGC platform

Try EmbedSocial and automatically collect, monitor, and display UGC on any website.

All PRO features | Cancel any time.

FAQs about the meaning of UGC

Why is UGC important for your social media channels?

UGC helps businesses authentically connect with their target audiences. Also, it provides valuable insight into what consumers are interested in and how they perceive your brand.

What is user-generated content marketing?

UGC marketing refers to brands’ marketing tactics to show existing customers’ experiences within their marketing communication activities or marketing materials.

What is a user-generated content platform?

UGC platforms are a SaaS software solution that provides functionalities to easily aggregate, store, and reuse content that customers share on social media or other online profiles. For example, EmbedSocial is a complete UGC platform that enables brands to automatically generate social media posts published by other people or reviews on Facebook and Google.

How to get user-generated content?

Since UGC is not something brands can ‘pay’ or ‘force’ to acquire, they must incentivize or encourage their customers to share their experiences. For example, you can ask people to write testimonials in return for swag. That said, the best way is to create ‘deliberate’ experiences that people won’t hesitate to talk about and share, such as exciting packaging, social initiatives, sponsorship of vulnerable communities, exceptional customer support, etc.

How can I encourage UGC?

You can encourage users to generate content for your brand in a few different ways. This includes hosting competitions and giveaways, using hashtags to encourage social media engagement, and featuring user-generated content on your website or blog.

Are there any risks associated with using UGC?

There are a few different risks associated with using user-generated content. This includes the potential for negative or fake reviews, copyright issues, and reliance on social media platforms. So make sure that you get full permission from the customers, especially if you use their images or other content in mass-marketing campaigns.


Co-Founder of EmbedSocial and Head of Growth. A previous owner of a Facebook Partner Company and a digital marketing agency. Marketing API geek and a Call of Duty fan.