I love buying from a brand that I feel speaks to me through their amazing photos, videos, and copy.

But, something that always puts me on edge and stops me from clicking the Place Order button is seeing staged or highly-edited photos *everywhere*.

It makes me wonder: Is the experience you’re selling to me real?

Look, I get it. You want to keep a consistent vibe on your Instagram feed and only show photos that are worthy to show in magazines. However, as a customer, I want to look at your brand through your followers’ eyes before I want in.

That’s where user-generated content comes in — to make your brand look relatable, attainable, and approachable.

What is user-generated content?

This is content that your fans & followers create to talk about your brand. It shows me how they use & experience your brand without a #ad or #sponsored in sight.


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A post shared by Marisha Wallace (@marishawallace)

User-generated content is next-level social proof beyond simple reviews.

It shows me how your product/service is enjoyed to people from all backgrounds, works in multiple scenarios, and gives me an unbiased opinion about it.

How to encourage your fans to create more organic (real) content about you

  1. Create a branded hashtag challenge
  2. Run a photo contest with a reward
  3. Ask a question about their opinions or experiences, or something fun & completely unrelated
  4. Re-post the UGC of your community
  5. Check tagged photos on social media where people talk about their experience with you

Best practices

  1. Always request permission. It gets the creator excited that you’ll be sharing their content with the whole community
  2. Give clear credit to the original owner / creator. Tag them directly in the post. Show whether you’re using their visuals, their words, or both.
  3. Use a branded hashtag. This doesn’t limit you to seasonal contests, but brings in a steady supply of user-generated content you can share all year long.


Image credit: HackerNoon

Design Mentor @ ADPList | Senior Product Designer @ Andela | DesignLab & UX Academy Ambassador | 3x UI/UX Certified

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