Everything You Need to Know About Using UGC on Social Media

Folks involved in social marketing are plenty familiar with the UGC acronym. For those just tuning in, it stands for user-generated content, and it's kind of a big deal.

Today we're going to explore why that is and how it can be integrated in not only your Instagram marketing strategy, but in your entire content game plan.

A cartoon by @j.a.k._. #TNYcartoons

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UGC: a generational thing.

Smart brands figured out a while ago that sourcing user content to repurpose on their channels is one heck of a way to bolster a marketing strategy. There are so many benefits to utilizing this type of social media content, which we're going to be listing below. But before we get to that, may we establish that here at Dash Hudson, we highly recommend this practice.

Brands that have included a UGC platform within both their social media strategy and e-commerce activity are already reaping its rewards. If you're not on board that procession yet, miss out no more. Find answers below on the three most important UGC questions: the what, the why, and the how.

1. What?

First things first, let's establish what user-generated media is. It might seem obvious to most people who spend their days within the annals of media analysis and content strategizing, but not so much for the rest of them. UGC is branded content that was posted to a social media channel and produced by someone outside of your company. Instagram is quite conducive to its production due to that platform's visual nature and the ability to tag brand accounts.

It is also known as organic content or earned content, and is highly valuable for brands, as it yields organic impressions. That reach is a very important metric to measure and monitor when examining the health of your Instagram activity. User-generated content is intricately affiliated to one of Instagram marketing's major KPIs. Like we said, it's a big deal.

Quality UGC (aka with canine) always ensures an influx of double-taps.


Making user-generated content one of your brand's social content pillars will give you a leg up over accounts that aren't employing any of their earned posts for the reasons that follow.

It Helps Build Trust

People are ultra responsive to images that were not professionally produced, that feel organic, and that depict a lifestyle. This type of content humanizes a company, making it seem more trustworthy. Leveraging the power of brand advocacy will result in loyalty, as it helps make users feel connected to a brand. Aka the holy grail of any consumer-facing business.

It's Relatable

Here's a not-so-secret secret: success on social (defined by engagement) is often reached by accounts that display a healthy balance of inspirational and aspirational content. Social media took off because it tapped into human nature's voyeuristic inclinations, with users feeling compelled by snippets of real people's lives. It was transparency with a fabricated twist, but the photos appeared to be depicting authentic scenarios that seemed relatable.

While the majority of users are now wise to their deceptive genuineness, the authentic feeling they emanate still resonates with audiences way more than straightforward advertisements because there's a realness to them. UGC makes branded images feel like a friend giving a recommendation, which is how this generation goes about making purchase decisions.

It Will Boost Engagement and Create a Community

The above points will have a ripple effect on your social efforts, which will manifest in the form of double-taps, shares, and comments. By publishing user images, you are telling fans that they are valued and embracing them in your community.

It Lends Credibility

Nothing screams popular like a brand that incessantly gets tagged by fans. The more users are creating (presumably positive) content about a company, the more equity it gains, and the cooler it seems.

It Increases Awareness

The more people are talking about your brand, the broader your reach. Simple mathematics.

It Fills a Content Void

Keeping up with the rapid pace of social content distribution can be exhausting, and running low on images can happen. When that's the case, look no further than your fan content: sift through, pick the best images, and repost with appropriate credit (photo tag and caption mention).

It Helps Sales Conversions

UGC is not limited to social. It can be used on virtually any touchpoint, and is highly effective when it comes to e-commerce conversions. The permise: monkey see, monkey do. Fan content is influential because it provides a real life context for your products and inspires consumers to purchase so that they, too, can experience what their peer's post portrays.

A way to facilitate these e-comm conversion rates is to use Spirit On-Site UGC galleries. They enable the embedding of user content directly onto your website for fans to shop from... And they work wonders.

Footwear megabrand Nine West peppers its feed with high quality UGC to help tell its story.


If you've never dabbled in UGC or if your brand doesn't really get tagged much, you're missing out on some serious exposure. We have all of the solutions to help you remedy to that.

Create a Community

We've gone over this several times, but it's important so we're going to be redundant for a sec: community is social media's oxygen. When you have a loyal community of users around you who are your brand's cheerleaders, user-generated content will ensue.

Look at brands like Glossier and Everlane: both rose to cult status by embracing their tribe. Fans gleefully and organically created content about them on social, thus spreading the good word and providing an endless stock of images for them to choose from.

Create a Custom Hashtag

Say what you will about hashtags, if executed properly, they really do serve their purpose. If you're looking to collect social fan content for some regrams, coming up with a custom hashtag can do the trick. Brands like Away and Into the Gloss really prove the theory.

But buyer beware: a custom hashtag needs to come with a heavy emphasis on community, where your brand already has a relationship with its followers. If that isn't the case, you risk not collecting much more than EFs (embarrassed feelings) of rejection.

Forget occasions. Rings for every damn day. 📸: @tinahu

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Mejuri's influencer gifting ensures the brand name is spread across their desired circles while helping achieve greater brand equity.

Start a Gifting Program

Consider this a form of UGC advertising, if you will. If your marketing budget allows for it, influencer gifting programs are not only an amazing growth hack ―especially for fledgling companies― but they're also a really effective way to ensure you have a pool of user-generated content to choose from at all times. Going wide with micro influencers has proven to be a strong tactic for a lot of successful brands.

For example, companies like Mejuri and Lively have robust influencer platforms, allowing them to aim for omnipresence by way of brand advocates.

Use Influencer Marketing

Tapping influential Instagrammers to post about a certain brand has obviously become a very common practice. It ensures that you get a slew of (semi) organic name drops and quality content that is yours for the retaking. A small price to pay for effective quality content and targeted exposure.

If your business is protective of its brand image and has been hesitant to post creative assets that weren't produced in-house, this is your chance to partake in the hoopla. By handpicking influencers of your choosing in accordance to your brand image and values, you can be guaranteed to see results you'll be proud of and want to put on display.

Use Dash Hudson

Confession: Dash Hudson users have a leg up because our Instagram marketing platform allows brands to sort through their most influential earned posts by surfacing the best UGC they've been featured in. With our latest AI-powered platform, Vision, brands are able to take the power of UGC to a whole other level thanks to our sophisticated search tool and performance predictor. Get in touch today to join the fam jam.

For example, a vertical like Food52 that receives boundless user-generated content on a daily basis —they had 8 major UGC trend segments in the last month alone— could use Vision to both sort through user image compositions and select the posts that are expected to perform the best on their own account once repurposed.👇
source-user-generated-content-ugc-marketing-social-media-analytics, AI, computer vision technology, UGC

All in all, there's no losing when it comes to user-generated content on social. Once your brand is in a place where it has a lot of voices advocating for it, the benefits are endless.

To sum it up, your community can help spread the good word about your business while increasing its exposure. In turn, repurposing those photos and videos helps to create connections with your consumers while diversifying your content mix, inspiring your fans, and saving you when you're running low on content.

There really is no losing here.🏆

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