Learning Center

Harnessing User-Generated Content

By: Holly Kindzierski, Copywriter | Mar 22, 2024 | 4 Minute Read

Personalization is a hot topic in the world of digital marketing in 2023. From inserting customer names into marketing emails to segmenting by location, buying habits, etc. we’re all looking for ways to tailor our customer experience. So, what better way to build loyalty and bring in more customers, than to use their own words, pictures and videos?

What is UGC?

User-generated content (UGC) refers to any type of content created and published by unpaid contributors or users, rather than by professional creators or publishers. This content is usually created and shared on social media platforms, blogs, forums, and other online communities.

UGC can be a powerful way for businesses and organizations to engage with their audience. It helps build brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, and provide valuable insights into customer preferences and behaviors.

What Makes UGC So Great

The key characteristic of user-generated content is that it is created by people who are not professional creators or publishers, but rather by ordinary individuals who have something to share or express. Because of this factor, UGC is a unique and useful means of promotion which provides the following:

  1. Authenticity: UGC is perceived as more authentic and trustworthy because it is created by real customers rather than the brand itself. People are more likely to trust recommendations and opinions from other people like themselves, rather than from a brand.

  2. Cost-effectiveness: UGC is often free or low-cost to obtain, making it a cost-effective marketing tactic. Rather than investing in expensive advertising or content creation, brands can leverage the content that their customers are already creating.

  3. Engagement: When customers see their content being featured or shared by a brand, it can create a sense of pride and affiliation!

  4. Reach: UGC can help increase a brand's reach. When customers share their content on social media or other platforms, it can be seen by their friends and followers, which can help to amplify the brand's message.

Overall, UGC can be a powerful tool for marketing because it helps to build trust, increase engagement, and expand reach!

Types of User-Generated Content

Two people sitting on a smartphone as thumbs up, heart, and smiley face icons float out of it.

UGC can take many different forms, such as text, images, videos, audio recordings, reviews, comments, and more. Anything that a customer puts out into the world based on your brand, is user-generated content which you can take advantage of within your marketing campaign!

Where to Mine for UGC

There are a variety of spots you can mine for UGC, from your own site if you’ve got a review widget, to dedicated review platforms to social media and beyond! Here are some examples of where you can start your UGC hunt:

  1. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube are goldmines for UGC. Encourage your followers to share photos, videos, and stories about your products or services using hashtags, contests, and challenges!

  2. Online Communities and Forums like Reddit and Quora are great places to find UGC related to specific topics. Search for discussions related to your industry or products and engage with users by answering questions and providing helpful information!

  3. Review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Reviews are of course ideal for collecting customer reviews, but also for interacting with reviewers. Monitor these sites to see what customers are saying about your company and use this feedback to improve your offerings!

Overall, it’s best to look for places where your audience is already active and engaged online and focus on building relationships with users to encourage them to share their experiences and feedback. And be sure to set up those social profiles early on to get the buzz going!

Putting UGC into Play

A potential buyer peers into a store window as another customer, surrounded by hearts, makes a purchase.

Once you've amassed a collection of compelling user-generated content, how can you utilize it effectively? There are numerous ways to repurpose UGC, such as incorporating it into ads, featuring it on your website, including it in email campaigns, and posting it on social media platforms.

User-generated reviews can be an effective tool for increasing sales, so it's important to showcase them to potential buyers. On a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter, UGC can help you create engaging content and expand your reach, particularly when paired with relevant hashtags. Instagram is a visual sharing mecca, providing an excellent platform to showcase UGC in the form of photos and videos. On the other hand, TikTok's culture values authentic and rough-around-the-edges videos, making it an ideal platform for engaging with customers.

Sharing UGC on your website, social media accounts, and in email marketing can help you harness its full potential, bolster your brand's credibility, and improve your overall marketing efforts. Just remember to obtain permission if you intend to use UGC in ads!

Which brings us to…

Best Practices for Using UGC

As with any marketing tactic, it’s important to follow best practices to maintain your positive reputation in the online marketplace. Here are some good rules to follow for UGC:

  1. Obtain permission for any content that is not public and openly shareable.

  2. Give credit by ensuring creators’ names/usernames remain visible in shared posts.

  3. Engage with creators by commenting, liking, or sharing their content. This helps to build relationships and foster a sense of community!

  4. Be transparent about how UGC will be used and shared. This can be done by providing clear guidelines and terms of use.

  5. Respect the privacy of creators by removing shared posts if they request you to do so.

These tips will help maintain a positive relationship with your community. But! It’s also essential to protect yourself. Make sure to monitor content regularly to make sure it aligns with your brand values and standards. This can be done through filters, community guidelines, or manual review.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, user-generated content can be a powerful tool for businesses and brands to engage with their audience and build authentic connections. By encouraging your audience to share their experiences and opinions, you can create a sense of community and trust around your brand. So go ahead and embrace UGC, have some fun with it, and watch your brand grow!


Looking for other ways to boost customer engagement, foster brand loyalty, and refresh your digital marketing strategy? Check out our guide on How to Promote Blogs in Emails or reach out to us directly at info@arcticleaf.io.

Arctic Leaf is a digital agency with over 10 years of e-commerce experience serving clients of all industries. Our entire team is Baymard UX certified and our amazing developers can build everything from simple Shopify themes to fully custom headless experiences.