Think back to the last time you logged into Instagram, watched a TikTok, or got lost in a Facebook reel. As you view a tantalizing chicken recipe, watch a hilarious prank, or see an inspiring weight loss journey, you’ve entered the world of user-generated content. 

As it turns out, that chicken recipe utilizes McCormick spices, the LOL-worthy prank involves Elmer’s Glue, and the weight loss journey is brought to you by Beachbody protein shakes. User-generated content (UGC) is branded content created by users and published on social media. UGC includes images, videos, reviews, testimonials, or even podcasts. 

As brands everywhere face fierce competition online, user-created content gives authenticity to companies beyond what’s possible with traditional marketing campaigns. 60% of marketers agree that authenticity and quality are essential elements of successful content. This article will dive deeper into UGC, the benefits for businesses, how customer insights can be pulled from it, and how to get started. 

User-Generated Content Benefits 

Boosts Authenticity

It’s no secret that Gen Z is stealing the crown of youth from Millenials, but with a spending power nearing $150 billion, they are on track to steal the attention of marketers too. The Gen Z crowd often has fickle spending behaviors. However, one thing is clear; they value authentic brands. UGC helps brands with their authenticity because people trust real people, not marketers, at the end of the day. 

Modern consumers want to see how people like them use products. For example, an advertisement for a protein powder pales compared to a Facebook reel showing a ripped guy hitting the gym and downing a shake. Fitness enthusiasts see that reel and think, “Could that be me?”

Builds Community

Beyond authenticity, UGC creates communities. Although there are many toxic effects of social media, it can, in many cases, bring people with common interests together in a positive way. For example, there are groups for just about every niche on social media, where strangers worldwide come together, converse, post pictures, share videos, offer advice, and connect. UGC builds that connection and creates communities around brands representing a consumer group’s values and identities. Just look at the stationary bike company, Peloton as an example. Very early on, Peloton focused its marketing efforts on building community through online groups and motivation among its users. Peloton customers feel that they are part of something bigger, which keeps them coming back, connecting with other riders on social media, and sharing their successes. Take a peek at these Peloton UGC examples below from TikTok. 


The best part of UGC for businesses? It’s free. Unlike influencer content, UGC is created by consumers organically and independently. Users often make content to share their experiences, build a connection with like-minded people, or win something. 88% of shoppers seek out photos and videos from others like them before purchasing. And there’s a 91% lift in conversion when visitors interact with user-generated imagery on a product page.

User-Generated Content & Customer Insights 

Constant analysis of UGC data is key to uncovering impactful ways to improve your business, products, marketing efforts, and much more. There are many ways to look at UGC for customer insights, the first being on a content level. UGC tells you a lot about what types of content drive engagement on social media. For example, do TikToks, Instagram posts, Facebook reels, or YouTube videos drive the most conversion? And what type of messaging is reigning supreme? Perhaps, conversions are highest for a spice company when customers view TikTok recipes. This information can help the spice company create similar content in the future. 

Using another angle, UGC data can help businesses understand how users interact with content and optimize its functionality based on their habits. For example, suppose a company notices many high-converting shoppers filter reviews to see only the one-star content. In that case, they can make their review filtering module more prominent or highlight a one-star versus five-star review, so users see the entire landscape of opinions before purchasing. 

Lastly, UGC acts almost like a free in-home usage test, showing researchers how products are used in real life. An in-home usage test is a specialized form of market research where brands provide their products to consumers to use in their homes. This testing aims to see how consumers react to products in their natural home environment instead of a lab or simulated set-up. 

Much like this type of market research, UGC can demonstrate how products are being used and for what. For example, while Elmer’s Glue is a schoolhouse staple, it can also be used to make glitter slime, sun catchers, ornaments, homemade toys, and much more. Just YouTube it to see all of the wonderful UGC ideas. Brands can then take the usage information and improve their product and marketing efforts to reflect customer behaviors.

Bottom Line

Now that we know what user-generated content is, its benefits, and the data potential, you may be wondering, “How do I get customers to create it?” While some brands get lucky with unsolicited UGC, it does require a bit of prompting in most cases. Here are a few ways to entice customers into publishing UGC: 

  • Motivate customers to create UGC during certain parts of the buying journey, i.e., with a promo sticker on the product, a call-to-action CTA at checkout, or a carousel of other UGC on shopping pages. 
  • Ask customers to create UGC in return for a prize or coupon code.
  • Encourage users to make content to be featured on your social media pages.

Just about any brand can benefit from UGC. UGC is a cost-effective way to achieve even the most ambitious marketing goals, from increased authenticity to community building. The data extracted from UGC is robust, paving the way for product, marketing, and user experience improvements.
Another great way to capture customer insights is with online customer communities. Our eBook Driving Customer Centricity with Online Communities explains all of the strategies used by insights experts at top brands to deliver on customer-centricity.