User Generated Content(UGC): What it is, Why and How of UGC


What Is UGC?

User-Generated content, or UGC for short, is any original media created and curated by people about a brand or organization and then put on the internet. UGC includes pictures, videos and text posts uploaded to online blogs, review sites, social media, forums and articles. Basically, UGC is anything not made by a brand. With traditional UGC, the brand does not own the intellectual property; the rights belong to the person who took the video or photo.

UGC is reactive content that is traditionally unpaid, unsponsored, and unprompted. With 83% of phones having a camera and 4.3 billion uses, according to Photofocus, almost anyone can snap a photo or shoot a video and become a UGC content producer.

UGC is cost-effective to produce, can come from someone with or without influence, and is authentic in make and intent. Photos and videos in this category tend to be impromptu, less manufactured, and more trusted.

UGC gives other people an authentic snapshot of their customer experience with products or services. We have all had the experience of booking a vacation different from what we thought we were buying. Unfortunately, the photos that hotel brands take can sometimes be misleading. What looks like a large hotel room in the brand’s photos turns out to be a 150-square-foot cracker box of a room.

Woman in floatie in the middle of the pool next to a blow up kid swimming pool.)

Simply put, UGC’s trust, authenticity, and credibility cannot be replicated by advertising. By leveraging UGC insight from actual customers instead of traditional advertising methods, businesses can hone their offerings while gaining greater trust among consumers.

Authentic content created by users demonstrates a brand’s reliability and emotionally connects businesses and customers through real stories shared online. Such powerful interactions have immense potential and significantly impact purchasing decisions.

Clay figure of a m a n surrounded by content types.

Types of User-Generated Content

User-generated content is native media that brands can repurpose for social pages, websites, digital ads, or insight. It can be sourced or outsourced. Brands that source UGC rely on content found in the digital wild via hashtags, reviews, and consumer posts. Brands that who outsource UGC hire niche influencers to create it or involve their community through giveaways and contests. Although the space is still developing, UGC’s best practices can help guide brands and creators through this process.

User Generated content comes in an endless variety of formats. However, some of the more popular forms are:

  • Video content
  • Image content
  • Reviews and testimonials
  • Blog posts
  • Social media content
    • YouTube shorts
    • Instagram photos
    • TikTok Videos
    • Facebook reels


Notepad with great content written in blue with a pen and a cup of coffee.

2023’s Obsession with UGC

User-generated content is not a new phenomenon. For example, in 1857, Oxford English Dictionary was compiled using the public’s contributions.

However, its birthplace was established in 1999 when Darcy DiNucci coined Web. 2.0. According to Web Design Museum, “Darcy DiNucci published an article entitled “Fragmented Future” in The Print magazine, in which the term Web 2.0 was first introduced. The term refers to the development phase of the Web in which the content of websites is created and shared primarily by the users themselves. Typical Web 2.0 examples include social networking sites, web forums, internet encyclopedias, or photo/video sharing portals. In 2004, Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty held the first Web 2.0 conference, during which the term Web 2.0 was brought to the attention of a wider public.”

With the rise of social media and the invention of the smartphone, UGC has exploded.

An Asian man and woman sitting on a couch with a microphone, camera and iPad recording them.

The Most Popular Form of UGC

With the onset of short-form videos such as YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels and TikTok, video has become the most popular form of media today.

According to Statista, in 2022, online video had an audience reach of 92.8%.

Statista Stats


Why Is User-Generated Content so Important?

Conversion. Conversion. Conversion. Did I say conversion? UGC converts. It is a proven and effective marketing strategy that leverages social proof, allowing brands to scale organically. UGC elevates brand engagement and credibility because consumers are more likely to interact with it. By blending into the everyday user’s social feed, UGC (paradoxically) makes brands stand out. People trust people—not advertisements—and UGC is straight from the consumer’s mouth. As a result, it has a higher click-through rate than highly curated digital ads, which can feel out of reach for the consumer.

According to the Future of Marketing, “Brands are using UGC in their ads and content campaigns because ads based on user-generated content get four times the click-through rate and a 50% drop in cost-per-click compared to non-UGC ads.”

User-Generated Content Examples

UGC can take various forms, but all share one common feature: the customer’s voice. Consumers can express their brand experience through posts that endorse a product or service authentically. Examples include blog posts, unboxing videos, demonstrations, and lifestyle vlogs.

Person’s hand holding one of nine cubes with marketing terms written on them.

How to Use Hashtags in User-Generated Content

Create a specific campaign hashtag and ask fans of your brand to share their UGC with you. For example, Warby Parker created its #warbyhometryon campaign as an innovative way for the consumers to try on their glasses before they purchase them. The idea behind the initiative was simple: customers pick five pairs of frames they want to try on, and Warby Parker sends them out with no shipping costs. When the customer receives the frames, customers have five days to decide which pair they like best. Then, the brand supplies a no-cost postage-paid envelope for customers to return their frames to the company. Finally, Warby Parker asks their customers to post photos and videos of themselves trying on different looks and to use #warbyhometryon.

#Warbyhometryon is an example of how Warby Parker has made shopping for glasses easy, convenient, fun and successful. Just look at these numbers:

  • Instagram has 23,873 posts tagged with #warbyhometryon.
  • TikTok has 2.4M views of #warbyhometryon.

Celebrity makeup artist @Katie Jane Hughes shows us her five favorite holiday makeup looks and frames. Shop her #warbyhometryon via link in bio!

♬ original sound – Warby Parker

How to use UGC in Advertisements.

Buffalo Wild Wings knew their fans missed live sporting events during the pandemic. So they encouraged their fans to send in videos of how they turned their kitchens, living rooms and other places of their home into courts, arenas and fields. The brand found the best at-home UGC videos and cut them into a highlight reel. The Drum published Buffalo Wild Wings: Sports Live On by The Martin Agency in 2020. In the article, they interviewed Seth Freeman, Chief Marketing Officer, who said, “We’re a brand that connects people over their shared love of sports. And even though sports aren’t on TV, they’re still playing out in living rooms across the globe. So it was only fitting that we acknowledge them. And in doing so, hopefully, make fans feel a little more connected.”

How to Use UGC to Collect Reviews and Testimonials

Sites like Amazon or Yelp love User Generated Content. Savvy brand managers leverage customer relationships to increase their UGC testimonials and reviews. These review sites are highly visible and using UGC from customers and users can increase trust – as long as authenticity remains paramount.

AirBnB’s “ReGram” campaign is an excellent example of a brand leveraging UGC for reviews. – As the third-largest online accommodation seller worldwide, AirBnB understands its customers’ power and has built an entire community around them. In 2016, AirBnB scoured Instagram and found breathtaking images shot by their customers. They then contacted each customer and asked if they could ReGram their image with credit. What happened? Five of AirBnB’s top 10 posts were ReGrams.

Brands of all shapes and sizes can take a lesson from AirBnB: Sometimes, the best content doesn’t come from the brand but from its customers.


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A post shared by Airbnb (@airbnb)

How to Hire Influencers for E-Commerce Photos and Videos

Every eCommerce brand understands the power of great photography. Great photography can increase sales and reduce returns. While the primary purpose of USG is to have other people post and share their UGC photos and videos, some brands recognize the talent it takes to create such assets.

Think about this. To be a successful social media influencer, your photographs must be outstanding. Creators have two photography options: hire a professional photographer to take their photos or learn how to shoot amazing images. Creators who know how to take great photos are perfect contractors to hire for your brand’s photography and video.

Social media influencers and content creators often have access to the most up-to-date equipment and photo editing software available. This enables them to create high-quality, high-resolution images and gives their work an extra aesthetic edge. Furthermore, these professionals are often familiar with the latest trends in photography, which can be extremely helpful for brands trying to keep up with changing styles and looks from season to season.

The nature of their business, influencer marketing, requires creators to possess higher levels of creativity than most. This creativity enables them to transform a bland product into visually stunning pieces at a fraction of the cost professional photographer’s garner.

Digital graphic of influencer marketing icons.What Is UGC Influencer Marketing?

User generated content made by creators is a form of influencer marketing.

Brands and agencies are increasingly paying talented UGC creators to craft content, such as videos and images about their products. These professionals get paid for every video or photo project they work on, with rates starting at around $200. Brands benefit from this arrangement too – not only do they own all rights to repost it wherever needed; but also have access to raw footage that can be used in various ways down the road. What sets UGC aside is its exclusion from social media feeds – instead brands take charge of releasing curated marketing material made by these creative experts.

Glewee Is Your User-Generated Content Platform

Glewee simplifies the UGC process for brands and creators. We formalize UGC with agreements that clear brand and creator expectations in advance, streamlining workflow and publication. With a network that houses creators in every category, Glewee enables brands to commission UGC and creators to book deals in seconds. Learn how to use Glewee’s user generated content platform here.

UGC Campaigns for Brands

Glewee allows brands to curate a collection of content for use across the web so you can tell your brand story through the voice of its consumer advocates. Gone are the days of scouring hashtags for user content, and here comes a way to obtain UGC with ease and confidence.

UGC Campaigns for Creators

Because this type of marketing is based on content and not influence, UGC Campaigns provide a unique opportunity for smaller creators to work with a bigger brand. In addition, it’s a low barrier to entry for Brand collaboration as Creator involvement starts and stops with making content.

Glewee Introduces UGC Campaigns

Glewee expands its all-in-one influencer marketing platform with campaigns for user-generated content (UGC). This new feature optimizes the UGC process for brands and creators. As a social media leader, Glewee has the tools and guidance for launching successful UGC campaigns.

Are You Looking for the Perfect Content to Showcase Your Products?

Look no further than Glewee’s UGC Platform. We provide brands and agencies with fantastic photography and video created by social media content creators. So you can skip the expensive professional photographer and instantly get creative, good-quality user-generated content.

What makes us unique is our end-to-end UGC creation solution which helps you quickly identify qualified creators with ease, build campaigns with maximum impact, produce on-brand-ready content, and, best of all, brands and agencies retain the rights to their UGC photos and videos and can use them however they want. All of this comes in a streamlined process facilitated by Glewee’s automated tools — making it easier for everyone involved.

Start creating unique user-generated content today with Glewee! Fill out the form below to chat with our team to find out which tier of Glewee’s platform will work best for your brand or agency.

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