User-Generated Content for Businesses: How To Get Started


As a small business owner, you're well aware that standing out in a crowded market is no easy feat. To engage with your customers and build a loyal fan base, you need innovative strategies. Fortunately, there's a powerful tool available to help you achieve this: user-generated content (UGC).

UGC is content created and shared by your customers, voluntarily promoting your business. It encompasses a wide range of formats, from product reviews and social media posts to blog articles and videos. 

Due to its authenticity, trustworthiness and ability to resonate with your audience, it’s among the top ways to boost your brand’s digital presence nowadays. When potential customers witness others enjoying your products or services, they're more inclined to trust your brand and make a purchase.

A great example of UGC's effectiveness in engaging and delighting audiences is the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest. Running from 2006 to 2016, the contest invited Doritos fans to create and submit their own 30-second commercials for a chance to win a staggering $1 million and have their ad aired during the Super Bowl. 

The response was immense, with thousands of entries pouring in and generating millions of views. The contest not only boosted brand awareness, engagement and sales for Doritos, but also showcased the creativity and humor of the brand's devoted fans.

In this article, we'll delve into the world of UGC, exploring how to encourage customers to contribute, best practices for selecting and showcasing UGC and ways to curate and leverage it to elevate your digital marketing efforts. Let's dive in!

User-Generated Content by the Numbers

UGC is growing in importance for businesses across the board. Research indicates that UGC can boost conversion rates by an impressive 161% and enhance customer retention by 18%. Moreover, UGC serves as a potent instrument for building trust with your audience, with 93% of consumers finding it helpful in guiding their purchasing decisions.

But how can you encourage your followers to create branded content for you?

How to Source UGC?

One of the fantastic aspects of UGC is its diverse range of formats. With options such as product reviews, social media posts, photos and videos, there's no shortage of ways for customers to create content about your brand.

To encourage UGC, you can provide incentives such as discounts, giveaways, or shout-outs for those who share their experiences with your product or service. Ensure a smooth customer experience by giving clear instructions on how they can share their content with you. This might involve using specific hashtags on social media, submitting reviews via your website or third-party platforms, or even sending emails with their stories.

To help you manage and organize all the UGC you receive, consider using platforms like Yotpo, TINT or Olapic. These tools can help you collect, curate and display UGC in a way that resonates with your audience and strengthens your brand image.

Curating Content

When curating user-generated content, it's crucial to recognize that not all UGC is created equal.

You must ensure that the content you choose is not only relevant to your brand and audience, but that it’s also authentic and high-quality. Evaluate UGC by considering factors such as engagement levels, social proof and overall content tone.

Being mindful of potential risks or negative associations linked to certain types of content is also essential. For example, you may need to filter out spam or inappropriate content. Numerous moderation tools can assist you in this process, including, which boasts advanced features like profanity filters and AI-powered image recognition, guaranteeing the curated UGC meets the highest quality standards.

How to Take Advantage of UGC

Once you've collected and curated your UGC, there are numerous ways to put it to good use. Consider incorporating UGC into your social media posts, email marketing and website design. Remember to credit the original creator when sharing their work. By showcasing UGC on your platforms, you encourage sharing and linking back to your content, which can enhance your SEO and organic reach.

Platforms like Later and Hootsuite can help you manage your UGC campaigns by scheduling and automating your posts. It's also vital to track and measure your UGC campaigns' impact to ensure their effectiveness. Utilize analytics tools such as Google Analytics and Sprout Social to monitor engagement, reach and conversions.

The Challenges of UGC

Authentic Voice

While UGC helps brands showcase their personality, it also risks losing control over their brand image and message. Businesses must ensure that the UGC they share aligns with their values, goals and tone of voice, avoiding content that contradicts or undermines their own.

Finding the Right Medium

This type of content spans various formats and platforms, including text, images, videos, audio, blogs and social media. Brands need to select the most suitable and effective medium for their message and audience, optimizing content for each channel.

Culture Clashes

Brands can use UCG to gain exposure to different cultures, languages, norms and customer expectations. However, when they do this, businesses must be respectful and sensitive to these differences, avoiding offense or alienation. 

Compliance with laws and regulations in different regions where they operate or target is also essential.

Increase in Value

With more businesses and users vying for attention and influence, UGC contributes to online noise and clutter. Brands must differentiate themselves by creating and curating high-quality, relevant and engaging UGC that adds value to their audience.

Checking All the Details

UGC may contain errors, inaccuracies, misinformation, or plagiarism that can harm a brand's credibility and reputation. Brands must verify the source, quality and authenticity of UGC they share, providing proper credit and attribution to the original creators. Monitoring and moderating received and displayed UGC, removing any inappropriate or harmful content, is also crucial.

Ethical Challenges

UGC can raise ethical issues such as privacy, consent, ownership, responsibility, accountability and transparency. Businesses must respect users' rights and interests while adhering to ethical standards and best practices for collecting, using and sharing content. Brands also need to disclose any sponsored or paid UGC, avoiding deceptive or manipulative practices.

The Power of UGC

User-Generated Content is a potent tool for elevating your digital marketing efforts. By sourcing, curating and leveraging UGC, you can boost conversions, build trust with your audience and outshine the competition.

Don't forget to offer clear guidelines and incentives for customers to share their content, filter and select the most relevant and authentic UGC, and effectively incorporate it into your marketing campaigns. With the right approach, UGC can be a game-changer for your small business.

Interested in integrating UGC to your social media strategy, but not sure where to start? Learn about our Organic Social Media Management services here!