If you are working in sales and marketing, you are using social proof all the time to convince leads to become buyers. You might, for example, show successful case studies or quotes from your satisfied customers on the website, Powerpoint slides, and other marketing materials.
Social proof drives sales.
While the marketing team often writes case studies and quotes and gets them approved by clients, social media has shown the true colours of social proof. Immediately after asking a question on your favourite social media channel, you’ll receive comments and product recommendations from friends and peers.
It’s called UGC – user-generated content.
Companies, from brick-and-mortar to multinationals, organise user-generated content campaigns to fuel the reach and ignite even more discussions. By engaging their customers in sharing product feedback and experiences, they seek to multiply the discussions on our social media feeds.
In this blog post, we’ll let 7 brands show you the meaning of UGC – and how to use it in your brand’s favour.
Table of contents:
What is user-generated content (UGC)?
Types of user-generated content
Why is user-generated content important?
Best UGC examples and practices from 7 brands
User-generated content tools
How to embed UGC on any website
"UGC meaning" is something people search for quite often on Google. I believe Wikipedia defines what is user-generated content just nicely:
"User-generated content (UGC), alternatively known as user-created content (UCC), is any form of content, such as images, videos, text, testimonials, and audio, that has been posted by users on online platforms such as social media, discussion forums and wikis. It is a product consumers create to disseminate information about online products or the firms that market them."
I’d only add that most of the UGC is public but it’s important to remember that people share a massive volume of UGC in their private discussions. As a marketer, your goal is to maximize the number of brand mentions, private and public, by making your content shareable and the branded hashtag visible everywhere.
Below you’ll find 7 UGC examples showing how brands encourage their customers to use their hashtag.
UGC comes in many formats, and you can find brand-new apps for people to express themselves daily. The most common user-generated content types are:
- Videos and Reels
- Reviews and testimonials
- Other text content like tweets, blog posts, and comments on social media
- Audio files on WhatsApp, Messenger, and other social media platforms
- Discussion forum content, including the likes of Quora and Reddit
The most popular UGC type is undeniably an Instagram image, followed by TikTok videos and Instagram Reels.
There are multiple reasons why you see UGC in digital marketing plans. The key benefits of UGC are:
- Build brand awareness, engagement, and reach.
- Drive traffic to your website.
- Increase sales through social proof.
- Create a fan community.
- Get feedback and insights.
Build brand awareness, engagement, and reach
UGC content helps your brand build awareness and reach – after engaging customers and stakeholders in sharing your content, your brand will be seen by their families, friends, and other networks.
For example, Romantik Hotels wasks their customers to mention #romantikhotels and #exploreromantik when sharing images and videos.
Drive traffic to your website
Especially if you ask customers to mention your Instagram account or tag you in their images and Reels, people who see the post can effortlessly find your profile and website. Most social media channels, excluding Instagram, also support links in the caption text.
For many businesses, Google Reviews are an essential traffic source, and it’s easy to add a Google Reviews widget to your website, too. Positive reviews visible in Google’s search results make it so much more likely for you to get a visit online and offline.
Increase sales through social proof
When you see reviews and recommendations from others, you are much more likely to purchase the product and service.
First, you will trust the peer recommendations more than shiny marketing materials.
Secondly, UGC marketing shows real-life scenarios for the product and service, helping other customers see how the product would fit into their home and how to use it. I recently bought a home office desk and was only convinced of the size after seeing the desk in someone else’s living room!
See how Worktop Express shows "Our Customers' Creations" on their homepage. After clicking any of the images on the website, the website visitor finds the matching product. And oh yeah, people do click those images and videos A LOT!
Create a fan community
When people mention your brand or branded hashtag, they will quickly see their friends commenting and asking questions. If others have tried your product and service, they are encouraged to share their experience the next time they use it.
Multiply that all over social media, and you’ve got a community of customers talking about you. If you do things right and keep up the high quality, user-generated content becomes a marketing vehicle that never stops moving.
#GoProAwards is one of the many never-stopping UGC campaign vehicles set in motion. GoPro asks customers and influencers to upload images and videos showing their active lifestyles. The best ones are featured on their website and social media.
Get feedback and insights
Gathering feedback and insights for product development is an underestimated use case for user-generated content. If planned well, you can ask the community for advice and deliver some requests in replies. For inspiration, search for #buildinpublic on X (formerly Twitter) to see how entrepreneurs like Andrew Gazdecki use this technique in their favour.
Next, I’ll show you some of the best UGC examples and what UGC is in education, e-commerce, travel, etc.
UGC in education: Harvard University
User-generated content is a must in education, and schools display social media feeds on websites and digital screens at the campus.
Havard University is one of the hundreds of schools showing hashtag entries in commencement events and alumni pages. With the Flockler platform, they can run multiple hashtag campaigns simultaneously and at a very affordable cost.
UGC in e-commerce: Sohome
Webshops love to use social proof marketing and show UGC on their homepages and product pages. UGC convinces the next visitor to spend more time on the page and directs them to the product page straight after seeing your product in a real-life context.
Sohome, an online furniture retailer, shows one of my favourite UGC examples. On the homepage, you’ll find the 'Shop the look' element with curated UGC content. If you click one of the posts, a popup shows the full image and the related product. Great job, Sohome!
UGC in travel: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
Travel plans often start from Instagram’s search bar. There you’ll find authentic tips from other travellers and influencers. Here’s where I’m planning to travel next 👇
Increasing the amount of user-created content is one of the key reasons why Hapag-Lloyd Cruises showcases the best UGC on its homepage. The Instagram grid encourages others to share their photos and videos, making it more likely for website visitors to convert to customers.
UGC in music: Festival Republic
If you go to a gig, you will see a lot of phones capturing the moment – people all around you take images and videos to share with friends.
Bands, artists, and music festivals also love to show that shared UGC content. Festival Republic, a company organising many of the UK’s most popular festivals, shows UGC on digital screens. A custom design Slideshow for each event makes sure music fans don’t forget to use the branded hashtag.
UGC in fundraising: United Nations Foundation
Nonprofits and charities might still call you or say hello in the street and ask for donations but, more and more, online visibility and reach are the key to the long-term success of a fundraising campaign. Various UGC hashtag campaigns over the year make sure the charity is top of mind for current and new supporters.
United Nations Foundation and their #EqualEverywhere campaign is a fantastic example of how charities use social media to increase donations. The campaign asks people to join the fight for an equal future and share the branded hashtag.
UGC in city marketing: Sheffield City
Every city should have a branded hashtag – an engaging phrase for locals, businesses, and visitors to mention when using the city's public and private services.
And once you get content, you should make it visible like Sheffield City. On their website dedicated to local services, you will find social media posts from music to exhibitions, restaurants to comedy and everything in between.
UGC in sports: Rose Bowl
UGC and social media feeds in sports marketing could not be left on the sidelines in my blog post. Sports fans are enthusiastic - and the momentum for the branded hashtag builds up long before the event takes place.
The Rose Bowl Game, an annual American college football match since 1902, is one of the events showing UGC on big screens. Families and friends post selfies showing their support for the team, and the same content reaches an international audience via social media channels.
Social proof platform: Flockler
Flockler helps you gather user-generated content and embed Instagram feeds and other social media channels on any website and digital service.
Effortlessly, you can collect UGC from multiple social media channels, moderate it, and then display it on any digital platform. For more inspiration, see how to embed UGC on any website further down.
Social listening tool: Hootsuite
With Hootsuite, it’s easy to track brand mentions, reply to comments, and manage your customer community across multiple channels. One tool allows you to schedule your social media posts to be published on FB, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), etc.
Influencer marketing platform: Grin
Grin is one of the most popular influencer marketing platforms to find UGC creators. If you want to establish a professional relationship with influencers and are ready to pay for the user-generated content, Grin can help you manage the process from discovery to rewards.
Have you ever embedded UGC on your website? If not, here’s a quick guide, and you’ll have your first posts on the website in less than five minutes.
Start by signing up for Flockler’s 14-day free trial. No credit card is needed, and there’s no commitment. You’ll get the full product and our fantastic support for free.
The first screen will ask you to choose one of the channels. Don’t stress too much here because you can come back anytime and add more content sources.
Since Instagram is the most popular UGC type, I’ll pick that to show you an example.
First, I’ll connect my Instagram Business account (by using my Facebook account).
Next, I’ll pick 'Images and videos', and then hashtag mentions
Next, I’ll decide to show content from everyone, gather all UGC content types (images, videos, and Reels), and show them all automatically. I can always hide content later if needed.
Now that I’ve collected content, it’s time to pick a layout for my website. With Flockler, you are allowed to create unlimited Walls, Grids, Carousels, and Slideshows.
And after choosing the layout, I’ll customize colours and elements, and in a few minutes, my layout will be ready to use.
The final step is to add Flockler’s embed code to any website and digital service. Below is the list of the most common website builders and step-by-step instructions.
If you have another website builder in use and need help embedding UGC, don’t hesitate to contact us.