The Ultimate Guide to User Generated Content

What is User Generated Content?

Consumers are valuing connections with brands more than ever, making authentic content imperative for today’s brands to successfully market their products and services. 

User Generated Content (UGC) is any piece of content – including images, blogs, video, and chat forums – created by a brand customer and shared on a digital platform. All UGC types share a common thread – they are proven to be highly influential in the purchasing decisions of potential buyers. These brand advocates are now viewed as being more effective in driving sales than professional marketers – and that’s huge.

UGC relays authentic experiences about a brand’s products or services from previous customers, which boosts brand credibility. An average of 60 million images are posted on Instagram each day, making UGC opportunity one of the most scalable ways for brands to market products, recognize fans, and drive sales.

User Generated Content saves brands time and resources when producing successful, authentic campaigns.

Why Should Brands Use UGC?

Online reviews were a revolution in brand success and customer trust when they were first introduced. Now, they’ve become a staple that paved the way for the next paramount tool for the success of any brand: User Generated Content (UGC) 

A few statistics on User Generated Content:

  • 86% of millennials say that UGC is a good indicator of the quality of a brand
  • 93% of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a purchasing decision.
  • 70% of consumers trust online peer reviews and recommendations more than professional content and copy.
  • 86% of businesses are utilizing UGC as part of their marketing strategy, as of December 2015.
  • 48% of marketing professionals believe that content created by customers can help humanize their marketing

Customers who have positive experiences with brands are motivated to share those experiences via UGC. 

Consumers now influence their family and peers more than ever, and those referrals are one of the least expensive and more effective ways of quickly expanding a customer base.  

User Generated Content has become the go-to approach for authentic, authoritative marketing. It creates key opportunities for brands to connect with current and future customers. 

User Generated Content not only encourages an authentic relationship between a brand and customer, it also promotes future engagement and the strengthening of brand loyalty + customer trust, which ultimately drives sales. 

The brand also has a unique opportunity here to gain valuable insight into how their brand is viewed and shared amongst a sea of customers and social media influencers. 

Another big pro of User Generated Content is that the content is created for your brand by a passionate customer. Take advantage of UGC and use it across any channel as a way to showcase your customers while promoting your brand’s product/service. This not only saves your brand time – it also encourages repeat UGC behavior by current and future customers.

When customers realize a brand is watching and listening to positive content to repurpose – they will create, share, and aim to catch the brand’s attention with hopes of their content being featured in some capacity.  

User Generated Content vs. Branded Content

Today’s consumers are digitally savy, and more informed and skeptical than ever about traditional advertising methods. Adblockers are becoming more prevalent, and consumers are able to easily identify ads from non-ads.

There is a true craving for authenticity amongst consumers. “Click bait”, retouched, and over processed campaigns have been called out, and the shift to appreciation of UGC is at an all time high.

User Generated Content is 5x more likely to influence a conversion than professional content. This is because UGC is perceived as being meaningfully more authentic and trustworthy in the eye of the consumer.

In response to this shift, brands have begun placing even more of an emphasis on SEO, their social presence, and User Generated Content in order to successfully influence customers to connect with the brand and become a repeat customer. 



Millennials and User Generated Content

Millennials will soon have the greatest purchasing power of any generation in history, and guess what? They don’t respond to traditional advertising the way older generations do. To reach this group, brands need to learn to re-purpose the content this generation instinctively trusts and engages with: User Generated Content. 

Ninety-percent of millennials agree that brand authenticity is important, proving that younger consumers are more attracted to brands that are real and relatable rather than perfect and over packaged. They trust UGC 50% more than other media. Good luck using stock photography or radio ads with this group!

Authenticity is key when it comes to millennial buyers, so it shouldn’t be a shock that 84% of Millennials agree that even User Generated Content from people they do not know – including social media influencers – has an effect on what they choose to purchase. A whopping 86% think that UGC is a good indicator or a brand’s quality. 


These consumers not only consider User Generated to be the most authentic, they are in fact the largest group of UGC contributors – creating and interacting with UGC regularly by spending an average of 5 hours per day engaging with User Generated Content. 

How to Acquire User Generated Content From Customers

When a company engages with their customers on a public platform, they humanize the brand.

To begin collecting UGC from your customers, encourage them to share their photos. Let them know that you’re excited to see their captures, and hear about their experiences.

It makes a huge difference when brands recognize a customer on social media. Most consumers will assume that brands will not see their posts – surprise them by commenting, liking, messaging, or even sharing their photo. This will show customers that they’re heard and valued.

Giveaways on social media are a great way to encourage UGC. Everyone likes a little reward! Consider running a photo contest to boost User Generated Content for your brand. 

Where Can UGC Be Repurposed By Brands?

Today’s consumers are constantly connected digitally. In fact, Americans check their phones over 8 billion times per day! This presents an urgent opportunity for brands to adopt a multi-channel presence to digitally position themselves in the right place, with the right User Generated Content.

Consider using UGC in emails to your customer base, in ad campaigns (especially on Facebook and Instagram), in marketing collateral, and on your brand’s website. 

You should, of course, ask for permission before using your customer’s photos, but most will be flattered by the opportunity and will surely share the news amongst their peers! This sort of interaction with customers will strengthen their bond and brand loyalty.

Trend has a service specifically tailored to this. Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to learn more on how we can help to ramon@trend.io

UGC and Your Brand

Benefits of a User Generated Content Campaign

There are a variety of benefits that come along with choosing to include User Generated Content in your brand’s next campaign. 

Whether your brand is needing input on new product names, packaging designs, recipe ideas, or product launches, your current customer base could be the best place to start. 

Consider running a User Generated Content campaign by asking your customers to submit or post their ideas, stories, experiences, etc. By engaging customers, a brand gives their fans a sense of ownership and attachment. 

The User Generated Content that will result will be authentic, and peer-driven – a solid recipe for relatable content. The photos, videos and testimonials produced in a User Generated Campaign are powerful and can be used for a brand’s future marketing strategies.

Partnering With Social Media Influencers For High Quality UCG

Seeing is believing, especially when the ones showing you are people you trust with opinions you value. Social media influencers are creating and sharing a large amount of User Generated Content for brands, destinations and restaurants – and their followers are listening.

Let’s debug one big misconception: You don’t have to set a huge budget to begin acquiring quality User Generated Content from Instagram influencers. In fact, there are Influencer Marketplace platforms such as Trend.io that are making it super easy and affordable to collaborate with professional content creators. 

Trend’s influencer marketplace is making a splash with our unique User Generated Content platform. Our entire influencer community is hand-picked based on the quality of their photography, engagement rates, and size of their following. 

Brands on Trend are able to sort through applications to select which accounts will best suit their content style and have a following that will engage with their particular brand.

Tapping into opportunities with Instagram influencers can dramatically increase your photography files of creative material to use in campaigns, on social media, your website, or in emails.

Rather than paying instagram influencers to post, the Trend.io influencer marketplace allows brands exchange product for premium content. Influencers create and share authentic content based on the brand’s guidelines after using the product.

Finding a reliable platform for User Generated Content can be tricky. However, Trend’s Influencer Marketplace has been proven to save time and resources for brands in reaching their authentic UGC goals. 

If you would like some case studies on how exactly Trend is doing this for it’s clients email ramon@trend.io