How User-Generated Content Drives Brand Engagement

“Don’t forget to tag us.” Have you seen these requests by brands on social media?

Brands want to stay connected with their customers. They love when customers share unedited, real content about their products. Brands even share user-generated content on their feed and stories. 

User-generated content hooks viewers with unfiltered takes on the customer experience. Brands use these real stories to build an engaging narrative that’s relatable.

Let’s explore what user-generated content is and how you can use it to drive more engagement for your brand — without getting into copyright issues.

What is User-Generated Content? 

User-generated content (UGC) is the unpaid or unsponsored content that users post about your product. They share their thoughts — positive or negative — across multiple platforms about your product or service. 

User-generated content is unique as it promotes your brand with social proof. Potential customers see users advocate for the brand which builds trust and motivates them to make purchases. 

Below GoPro shares Tim Howell’s post with their fans. Tim uses GoPro to record his adventures which seamlessly promotes the brand.


User-generated content comes in many forms such as:

  • Facebook posts or comments 
  • YouTube/TikTok videos
  • Podcast episodes
  • Reviews 
  • Tweets 

Why is User-Generated Content So Powerful?

Based on the social presentation theory, humans try to control how other people perceive them. When passive consumers receive positive social feedback by sharing about your product, they are more likely to become loyal customers. 

Jessalynn Jones, a content marketing manager at Animalz says:

“User-generated content provides a shared experience to customers. They consider themselves a part of a community and a specific brand identity. Audiences are drawn to what is commonly called ‘signals of trust’ in the marketing world.”

UGC leverages social psychology in marketing. Brands encourage UGC by offering incentives to people who post under their campaign hashtags.

Why Do Brands Need User-Generated Content?

User-generated content works because it appeals to people’s emotions.  According to Stakla’s survey, customers trust UGC 9.8 times more than influencer content. Below are the reasons why you need user-generated content:

1. Showcases trust

Products often turn out to be different from what marketers showcase on social media. In Red Bull’s marketing campaign, they preached that the drink can improve concentration and reaction speed with the famous tagline, “Red Bull – Gives You Wings”

The claim turned out to be false and cost the brand $13 million in a class action case. Customers have seen way too many marketing and advertising scams in recent decades that’s why they don’t trust marketing campaigns.

But UGC is free from any paid agenda. It doesn’t seem salesy as customers generally don’t make any profit from sharing information about the brand. That’s why user-generated content builds trust.

2. Establishes brand authority

UGC acts as social proof that customers enjoy your product. Brands also build authority by taking a stand on various political topics and joining popular trends. Nike joined the Black Lives Matter campaign with the tagline, ‘for once, just don’t do it’

It took a stand against racism in America and the campaign raised the sales to 31%. The campaign got a lot of positive responses in the form of social media posts. It made Nike — already a market leader — gather even more online traction.

3. Increases sales

Unpaid posts gather more traction as people trust their family and friends. When their friends say a product is good, they’re more tempted to purchase it. 

Nosco surveyed 2000 adults to determine how content influences their purchase decisions. The survey found that 56% of millennials who travel decided to eat at a restaurant after seeing a post by a friend or family. 

How to Drive More Engagement With User-Generated Content

Even though UGC is free of cost, you must create a strategy to drive engagement. Resharing and repurposing are the most common ways to increase engagement. Below are more ways to do it.

1. Set clear goals

User-generated content may be spontaneous but you can capitalize on it with a pre-set strategy. Here are some goals for user-generated content: 

  • More post engagement 
  • Increased conversions 
  • Build brand awareness
  • Save time on content creation 

Brands like Rare Beauty share user-generated content right after a product launch. The UGC is aimed at boosting sales. Influencers buy newly-launched products and their reviews kick-start marketing campaigns and sales. 

2. Be selective about content and channels 

Not every tagged photo belongs on your feed. Consider what appeals to your target audience.

Suppose your target audience is B2B buyers and you receive a tagged post on TikTok. Gartner did research and found out that 70% of B2B buyers hang out on Facebook, while 13% on TikTok. So, even if you get tagged on TikTok, you may want to repurpose the video on Facebook. 

Use analytics from your social media accounts to see which platform contributes the most to engagement and conversions. Then, conduct experiments to increase marketing efforts for that platform.  

3. Focus on community building 

Use UGC to build a community. Customers really appreciate brands mentioning them in stories or posts. Sharing user-generated content on your feed builds a sense of community from your audience’s perspective. They feel a part of your brand identity.

Find a story behind a post or a tweet and share it on your social media platforms. You make better connections when you lead with real-life stories instead of scripted videos. 

Customers also like to see the humans behind big brands. Ask your CEO or founder to interact with followers. These interactions bridge the gap between the brand and customers and make your brand more credible.

Things to Consider With User-Generated Content 

You can’t just share someone else’s post on your feed. It’s unethical and can get you into copyright issues. Follow the tips below:

Ask for permission and credit the original creator 

It’s never a good idea to share someone else’s work without credit. Influencers call out brands for such actions. Instead, reach out to the creator and ask for permission to share their content on your page. 

Use UGC right management tools to easily ask for creators’ consent before sharing their content. Here some popular tools:

Set content guidelines 

Openly share content guidelines before running a UGC campaign. Creators refer to these guidelines to understand the content brands want. 

Share hashtags or contest rules, so creators can use them in their posts. It also helps you find your user-generated content in the ocean of social media posts. 

Below is an example of KFC sharing their popular hashtag, “#NationalFriedChickenDay”. 

Explore User-Generated Content for Your Brand

User-generated content works because it’s authentic. So, customers trust it more than branded content. Authenticity can’t be bought, but it can be encouraged. That’s why brands must also encourage users to share product reviews on social media.

About the Author

Pooja Uniyal is a SaaS and marketing writer specializing in long-form content. Follow @PoojaUniyall.