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What Is UGC, aka User-Generated Content?

What Is UGC? User-Generated Content Explainer

The term UGC has popped up a lot in recent years. As brands have continually refined their content strategies, this type of organic content has become a valuable piece of connecting with consumers on social media. So what does UGC stand for? And why are brands so passionate about it? Let’s break it down:

What Is UGC?

UGC stands for “user-generated content” and it describes any content that a social media user shares. In the world of social media marketing, we usually use the term UGC when referring to organically-shared user content that features a brand’s product. An example of this would be a social media user sharing their outfit for a concert and tagging the store where they purchased their clothes.

Why Is It Valuable For Brands?

UGC is so valuable for brands because it feels more “authentic” to customers than overly-curated picture-perfect branded content. Glossy imagery is great for magazines and billboards, but on social media, customers want “real”. UGC is a great solve for this, as it literally is real content from real brand fans. Brands that incorporate user-generated content showcase that they value building a community, celebrating their customers and fans.

What Are UGC Creators?

UGC creators have popped up in recent years, and you might wonder how they differ from influencers. They are skilled at creating stylish brand-friendly photos and videos. Many of them work with brands to develop content in a similar way to influencers. Unlike influencers, their content often focuses more on the product than the creator. Their photos and videos are often faceless or focus solely on the products being marketed.

They also often only develop content for brands to use on brand-owned channels, rather than for posting on the creator’s feeds. Some brands have begun employing UGC creators in-house to develop this consumer-friendly content. Other brands work with UGC marketplaces to secure this type of content.

In short, a UGC creator’s main value comes from their creative content, rather than the size of their following or their unique POV. Of course, plenty of UGC creators work as influencers, and vice versa.

How Can My Brand Utilize User-Generated Content?

As with any type of content you did not create, your brand must obtain permission from the creator to share their content. Many brands will comment on the post they would like to feature, or DM the creator, asking for permission and detailing how and where the content will be used. (If you need a refresher on usage rights, we have a breakdown here.) Even if the creator does not work as a full-time influencer, they may request compensation.

Once you receive permission from the creator, you can re-share to brand accounts. However, if you plan on using in any paid media, including social ads, commercials, billboards, print media, and so on, you must detail all of that upfront with the creator.


Interested in planning your next social media campaign? The Digital Dept. is ready to help. Let’s talk!