How To Get More User-Generated Content From Customers

How To Get More User-Generated Content From Customers

For most brands, user-generated content (UGC) emerges as a coveted prize, elusive yet rewarding. The challenge lies in its acquisition – it’s not simply about asking; it requires a blend of attraction tactics.

Striking the right chord between the conventional and the unusual is key to a treasure trove of authentic customer-created content.

As brands strive to navigate this terrain, the question remains: how do we effectively encourage our audience to willingly and creatively contribute content? The answer lies in a multifaceted approach, harmonizing tried-and-true methods with innovative strategies to inspire participation and transform customers into content creators.

This approach must not just fill a content calendar; it must build a community around your brand, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement among your audience.

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What is user-generated content? Why is it difficult for brands to get?

User-generated content (UGC) is any form of content—be it text, videos, images, reviews, or social media posts—that is created by unpaid contributors, typically end-users or customers, rather than the brand itself. It’s a powerful, authentic, and increasingly popular form of content that brands leverage to build community, trust, and engagement.

However, obtaining UGC can be challenging for brands. This difficulty stems primarily from the need for a significant level of customer engagement and enthusiasm. Users must feel motivated and excited enough about a brand or product to create and share content on their own initiative.

Additionally, maintaining the quality and relevance of UGC is a delicate balance, as brands have limited control over user contributions. There’s also the aspect of legalities and permissions, ensuring that the content used aligns with brand values and complies with regulations.

Effectively, while UGC can be a goldmine of authenticity and engagement, encouraging consistent, high-quality contributions requires thoughtful strategies that resonate with and incentivize an audience.

Elevating your UGC attracting strategy with proven and unusual ideas

Elevating your strategy to attract more user-generated content (UGC) demands a blend of proven methods and innovative, unconventional tactics. This approach aligns with my “Unusual By Strategy” forte, where the objective is not just to follow the trodden path but to sprinkle in elements of creativity and novelty.

In today’s saturated digital landscape, conventional methods provide a stable foundation; they are time-tested and reliable. However, the inclusion of unusual, out-of-the-box ideas is what sets a brand apart, making it memorable and engaging in the eyes of its audience.

It’s about striking a balance: leveraging the trust and efficiency of traditional strategies while breaking the monotony with unexpected, captivating techniques that prompt users to interact and create content.

This approach isn’t just about attracting UGC; it’s about creating a unique brand narrative that resonates deeply and encourages a higher level of participation and brand advocacy.

8 ingenious ways to magnetize and showcase user-generated content

Leveraging my 40+ years’ experience as a Brand Content Strategist with a penchant for the unusual, I have crafted 8 distinct ideas below. These combine time-tested approaches proven effective in generating more user-generated content from customers with innovative twists.

This unique blend ensures that the methods work doubly hard, maximizing their potential to attract UGC while standing out in a crowded digital space. The goal is to stimulate customer engagement in novel ways, setting your brand apart in its quest for authentic, customer-created content.

How To Get More User-Generated Content From Customers (Infographic)

1. Creating a hashtag-led social media campaign

Harnessing the power of a hashtag-led social media campaign is a quintessential tactic for amplifying user-generated content. Consider, for example, a campaign where a boutique coffee shop chain encourages its customers to share their unique coffee experiences using a specially crafted hashtag like #MyCoffeeStory.

As customers post pictures of their favorite coffee moments, accompanied by this hashtag, it not only generates a wealth of authentic content but also fosters a sense of community among the brand’s audience. This strategy does more than just accumulate posts; it transforms customers into brand storytellers and amplifies the brand’s digital presence.

By curating and featuring these stories across various marketing channels, the coffee shop weaves these narratives into its larger content marketing strategy. This not only enhances its online visibility but also reinforces its brand identity as a business that values customer experiences and stories.

Such a campaign, rooted in the principles of content marketing, leverages the inherent human desire to share and connect, turning every tagged post into a testament of customer engagement and a vehicle for organic brand promotion.


  • Define a specific, brand-relevant hashtag: Create a hashtag that is easy to remember, specific to your brand, and relevant to your campaign theme. It should resonate with your target audience and encapsulate the essence of the user-generated content you are seeking.
  • Promote your hashtag across multiple channels: Integrate the hashtag in all your marketing materials—social media posts, emails, website banners, and even offline advertising. This cross-channel promotion ensures maximum visibility and encourages a wide range of customers to participate.
  • Monitor hashtag usage and interactions: Regularly check the hashtag to track how it’s being used. Engage with users who use the hashtag by liking, commenting, and sharing their content. This not only boosts engagement but also shows that you value their contributions.
  • Share best practices and guidelines: To ensure quality and relevancy, share guidelines on how to use the hashtag effectively. This can include tips on photo quality, content ideas, or how to incorporate the product/service in their UGC.
  • Analyze hashtag performance for insights: Use social media analytics tools to track the performance of your hashtag. Analyze metrics such as reach, engagement, and the type of content shared. This data will help you understand your audience better and refine future campaigns.
Unusual Idea


Consider the idea of a “Hidden Hashtag Adventure” for an unusual enhancement to a hashtag-led social media campaign. In this strategy, unique hashtags are cleverly hidden in unexpected places, transforming content generation into an interactive scavenger hunt. For a boutique coffee shop chain, this could mean placing special hashtags under coffee cup sleeves, beneath coasters, or subtly within foam art.

The thrill for customers lies in discovering these hashtags in their everyday coffee experiences. As they unveil and share these hidden gems on social media, it not only generates engaging content but also immerses them in an exciting, playful brand adventure. This approach gamifies the traditional hashtag campaign, turning simple coffee moments into opportunities for discovery and sharing, thereby deepening engagement and creating a buzz around the brand.

2. Leveraging customer reviews and testimonials

Harnessing the power of customer reviews and testimonials is a classic yet effective method for generating user-generated content. Imagine a specialty fitness apparel brand that actively solicits feedback from its customers post-purchase.

The brand could then feature these reviews on its social media platforms and website, not only showcasing real-life customer satisfaction but also building trust and authenticity in the process. By encouraging customers to share their experiences and how the products have impacted their fitness journey, the brand taps into a rich vein of authentic content.

This approach does more than gather testimonials; it turns customers into brand advocates and storytellers. Integrating these genuine voices into the brand’s broader content marketing strategy enhances its credibility and relatability.

The customer narratives become a part of the brand’s story, illustrating the real-world value and impact of the products. This tactic not only supports the brand’s content ecosystem but also deepens the emotional connection with its audience, proving to be invaluable in a landscape where authenticity reigns supreme.


  • Encourage reviews post-purchase: Implement an automated email system that encourages customers to leave a review after their purchase. This system should be simple, and direct, and provide an easy link or platform for them to express their opinions and experiences.
  • Showcase testimonials prominently: Feature select customer reviews and testimonials on high-traffic areas of your website, such as the homepage or product pages, ensuring they are visible to potential customers who are browsing your products or services.
  • Respond to reviews publicly: Engage with customer reviews by responding to them, whether they are positive or negative. This not only shows that you value customer feedback but also demonstrates a commitment to customer service and improving the user experience.
  • Create review-driven social media content: Regularly post customer reviews and testimonials on your social media channels. These posts can be in the form of quotes, video testimonials, or images with embedded customer feedback.
  • Incorporate reviews in marketing materials: Use powerful customer testimonials in your broader marketing materials, including newsletters, promotional emails, and digital advertising campaigns, to leverage the power of word-of-mouth and build trust with potential customers.
Unusual Idea


Introducing “Review Narratives,” an unusual enhancement where customer reviews and testimonials are transformed into compelling stories or mini-campaigns. Instead of simply posting reviews, this approach involves weaving them into narrative formats, perhaps as part of a customer’s fitness journey or transformation story. For a specialty fitness apparel brand, this could mean selecting a customer who has shared a particularly inspiring review and turning their experience into a featured story.

This narrative could be shared across various platforms, from social media to the brand’s blog, showcasing the customer’s journey with the brand’s products at the center. It adds a human, relatable element to the reviews, making them more engaging and impactful than standard testimonials, and effectively elevating the brand’s connection with its audience.

3. Conducting contests or giveaways for user content

Engaging audiences through contests or giveaways proves highly effective in generating user-generated content, particularly when these initiatives are seamlessly integrated into a broader content marketing strategy.

Picture a home décor brand launching a contest inviting customers to showcase how they’ve styled their homes with the brand’s products. Participants could share their photos on social media using a specific hashtag, entering a draw to win a home makeover consultation.

This approach not only encourages customers to actively create content featuring the brand’s products but also leverages the power of social proof as followers see real-life applications of the products. Such content, rich in authenticity, can then be repurposed on the brand’s own platforms, providing fresh material for marketing campaigns and enhancing the brand’s online presence.

It transforms customers into active brand ambassadors, their content a testament to the brand’s impact in real-world settings, thereby boosting the brand’s visibility and credibility in a natural, customer-centric manner.


  • Define contest rules clearly: Set specific guidelines for the contest or giveaway, detailing how participants can enter, what type of content they should create, and any thematic or branding requirements, ensuring clarity and fairness in the process.
  • Select a relevant prize: Choose a prize that resonates with your target audience and encourages participation, such as a popular product, exclusive services, or unique experiences related to your brand.
  • Promote the contest across platforms: Utilize various marketing channels, including email, social media, and your website, to promote the contest or giveaway, reaching a wider audience and maximizing participation.
  • Implement a judging criteria: Establish clear criteria for selecting winners, whether it’s based on creativity, relevance, engagement, or a combination of factors, to maintain transparency and encourage quality submissions.
  • Announce winners publicly: Share the winning entries across your platforms, celebrating the winners and showcasing their content, which not only recognizes their efforts but also encourages others to participate in future contests.
Unusual Idea


Introducing “Story-Driven Contests,” an innovative twist where instead of traditional contests, participants are encouraged to narrate a story around their submissions. In this approach, a home décor brand could launch a contest inviting customers to share not just images but stories about their favorite room transformation using the brand’s products.

This method turns each entry into a mini-narrative, enriching the emotional connection with the audience and enhancing engagement. As participants weave personal tales about their spaces, the brand gains a treasure trove of compelling, relatable content that resonates deeper than mere photos, offering a vivid showcase of the brand’s impact in real homes and lives.

4. Incentivizing user-generated content and ideas

Offering incentives for user-generated content is a proven strategy to boost engagement and gather authentic content. Imagine a local restaurant chain launching a campaign where customers are encouraged to post their unique recipe ideas using the restaurant’s signature sauces.

By offering a reward, such as featuring the winning recipes in their menu or giving away a year’s supply of their sauce to the top entries, the restaurant motivates its customers to participate actively. This approach not only generates a wealth of original content for the restaurant’s content marketing efforts but also deeply involves the customers in the brand story, making them feel valued and heard.

The user-generated recipes can be shared across the restaurant’s social media platforms, newsletters, and website, providing fresh, relatable content that resonates with other customers, and enhancing the brand’s community engagement and online presence.

Such a campaign transforms ordinary customers into brand advocates and co-creators of content, fostering a strong, interactive community around the brand.


  • Offer exclusive discounts for content contributions: Provide customers with unique discount codes or special offers in exchange for sharing their content, like photos or videos, using your products or services.
  • Implement a loyalty points system: Introduce a program where customers earn loyalty points for each piece of content they contribute, which can be redeemed for products, services, or exclusive benefits.
  • Organize a ‘Fan of the Month’ feature: Regularly feature a customer on your platforms who has contributed outstanding content, offering them recognition and perhaps a special gift or exclusive access to new products.
  • Invite to exclusive events or product launches: Offer contributors the opportunity to attend exclusive events or be the first to try new products, creating a sense of belonging and exclusivity.
  • Provide early access or insider information: Reward active content creators with early access to products or insider information about upcoming launches or company news, making them feel like valued insiders.
Unusual Idea


Introduce the concept of “Co-Creation Challenges.” This unique twist involves inviting customers to become part of the restaurant’s culinary development process. Customers can submit their own recipe ideas or variations using the restaurant’s signature ingredients. The most intriguing submissions could be featured as a special item on the menu for a limited period.

For the local restaurant chain, this could mean hosting a seasonal contest where customers submit their unique recipes incorporating the restaurant’s special sauces or ingredients. Winning recipes get featured on the menu each season, offering creators not just visibility but a sense of pride and co-ownership in the brand’s culinary journey.

5. Featuring user-generated content on your spaces

Emphasizing the value of customer voices, smart brands actively showcase user-generated content (UGC) across their digital and physical spaces. This approach not only validates the customer’s contribution but also enhances the brand’s authenticity.

Consider a lifestyle brand that sells eco-friendly products. By dedicating a section of their website and social media for customer photos and stories, they create a vibrant community hub.

Customers enthusiastically share how they use these products in their daily lives, providing real-world proof of the brand’s impact. This direct showcase not only deepens customer engagement but also serves as powerful, relatable content for prospective buyers.

It’s a strategic move in content marketing, turning customer experiences into compelling brand narratives, fostering a stronger emotional connection, and subtly encouraging other customers to contribute their own experiences, knowing they could be the next featured story.


  • Develop clear guidelines for submission: Create and communicate specific criteria for what types of user-generated content you are seeking. This can include the format, style, themes, or any particular aspect you want the content to focus on, ensuring consistency and relevance to your brand.
  • Implement an easy submission process: Ensure the process for users to submit their content is straightforward and user-friendly. This could be a simple form on your website or a direct messaging option on social media platforms, minimizing barriers for participation.
  • Regularly update featured content: Keep your spaces dynamic by regularly updating them with new user-generated content. This not only keeps your audience engaged but also encourages others to contribute, seeing that their content has a real chance of being showcased.
  • Offer constructive feedback or recognition: When featuring user-generated content, offer positive feedback or recognition to the contributors. This could be in the form of shoutouts, certificates, or even simple thank-you notes, making contributors feel valued and part of the brand’s community.
  • Integrate UGC across multiple channels: Don’t limit the showcasing of user-generated content to just one platform. Utilize it across various channels like social media, websites, newsletters, and even in physical stores or events, maximising the reach and impact of these personal customer stories.
Unusual Idea


Consider the concept of “Dynamic Story Integration.” This unusual enhancement involves weaving user-generated content (UGC) into a continuous, evolving brand story on your digital platforms. Instead of just posting UGC randomly, this approach strategically integrates these contributions into a larger, cohesive narrative that reflects your brand’s values and journey.

For a lifestyle brand selling eco-friendly products, this could mean creating an ongoing storyline on their social media or website, showcasing how each customer’s use of their products contributes to a larger environmental cause. By narratively linking individual pieces of UGC, the brand can foster a sense of community and shared purpose, enhancing customer engagement and brand loyalty.

6. Engaging with user-generated content with verve

Actively engaging with user-generated content (UGC) is a dynamic way to not only show appreciation for customer contributions but also to fuel further UGC creation. When a brand promptly and creatively responds to UGC, it sends a strong message of active listening and valuing customer input.

Imagine a gourmet pet food company that receives a customer’s photo of their pet enjoying a meal. Instead of a standard ‘thank you’, the company crafts a personalized response, perhaps humorously voicing the pet’s supposed thoughts or sharing the photo on their stories with a fun, engaging narrative.

This not only delights the original content creator but also encourages other customers to share their experiences, hoping for a similarly engaging response.

This strategy transforms UGC from simple content pieces into opportunities for meaningful interactions, thereby strengthening the brand’s relationship with its audience and subtly nudging others to contribute their own content for a chance at this unique interaction.


  • Personalized acknowledgement of UGC: Develop a system for crafting personalized responses to UGC, whether it’s through comments, reposts, or direct messages. Ensure each interaction reflects an understanding of the user’s content and context, making them feel seen and valued.
  • Interactive commenting strategy: Implement a strategy where your brand actively participates in the conversation on UGC posts. This could involve asking follow-up questions, sharing additional insights, or even adding light-hearted, brand-relevant humor to foster a sense of community.
  • Highlighting UGC creators: Periodically spotlight UGC contributors on your main channels. This could involve a brief feature of the user, their interests, and what inspired their content, giving a more human touch to the interaction and showcasing the people behind the UGC.
  • Live engagement with UGC: Utilize live streaming platforms to interact in real-time with UGC. Host Q&A sessions, product demonstrations, or discussions, and invite UGC creators to participate, giving them recognition and a platform to share their experiences.
  • User-centric response campaigns: Create campaigns where responses to UGC are curated into thematic series or narratives. For example, a series of responses that tells a story or conveys a message aligned with your brand values, turning individual interactions into a collective brand narrative.
Unusual Idea


Introducing “UGC Story Integration,” a creative twist where user-generated content becomes part of a larger, ongoing brand narrative. In this approach, each piece of UGC is not just acknowledged but woven into an evolving story that the brand tells through its social media or other content platforms. For a gourmet pet food company, this could mean integrating customer photos, videos, or reviews into a fun, serialized storyline featuring pets as characters in a whimsical tale.

Each UGC contribution becomes a new ‘episode’ in the narrative, encouraging more users to participate for a chance to have their pet featured in the next installment of the story. This strategy turns engagement into a collaborative storytelling adventure, deepening the connection between the brand and its audience.

7. Collaborating with influencers or brand advocates

Harnessing the power of influencers and brand advocates presents a dynamic way to generate user content, effectively blending authenticity with reach. Imagine a startup specializing in sustainable outdoor gear.

By partnering with well-known eco-conscious adventurers and environmental influencers, this brand can tap into a vast network of potential customers who trust and value these advocates’ opinions.

These influencers can initiate campaigns, share their experiences with the products in real settings, and encourage their followers to do the same, thus creating a ripple effect of user-generated content. This content not only garners attention but also brings credibility, as it’s a personal endorsement from individuals respected in their respective fields.

The brand’s role is to facilitate these collaborations, ensuring a mutual understanding of values and messaging, thereby turning influencers into genuine partners rather than just marketing tools, creating a fertile ground for authentic, relatable, and shareable user-generated content.


  • Identify compatible influencers: Research and select influencers whose values, audience, and content style align closely with your brand ethos to ensure genuine and effective collaborations.
  • Develop collaborative campaigns: Work jointly with influencers to create campaigns that integrate their unique style and your brand message, fostering original and engaging content.
  • Offer exclusive access: Provide influencers with early or exclusive access to new products, events, or information, encouraging them to share their unique experiences and perspectives.
  • Establish clear guidelines: Define clear collaboration guidelines while allowing creative freedom, ensuring content aligns with both your brand identity and the influencer’s authenticity.
  • Measure and analyze impact: Regularly track and analyze the performance of influencer collaborations to understand their impact on user-generated content and refine future strategies.
Unusual Idea


Introducing “Influencer Challenge Series,” a novel approach to influencer collaborations. This tactic involves initiating a series of challenges where influencers engage in activities that showcase your product’s unique features in real-life scenarios. For a startup specializing in sustainable outdoor gear, this could involve partnering with influencers known for their adventurous spirit and eco-conscious ethos.

They could undertake challenges like a zero-waste camping trip using your gear or a nature photography contest in harsh environments. This approach not only highlights your product’s durability and eco-friendliness but also generates exciting, authentic content that resonates with an audience passionate about sustainability and adventure.

8. Establishing a dedicated UGC Hub on your website

Establishing a dedicated User-Generated Content (UGC) Hub on your website serves as a central showcase for customer contributions, fostering a community feeling and encouraging more customer participation.

Imagine a travel equipment brand creating a UGC Hub titled “Adventurer’s Diaries,” where customers upload photos, videos, and stories using the brand’s gear in exotic locations. This not only creates a vibrant gallery of real-world product applications but also builds a narrative around the brand, transforming the website into a destination for inspiring travel content.

This strategy reinforces the brand’s position in the market, demonstrating its products’ role in creating memorable experiences. By featuring diverse customer experiences, the hub becomes a testament to the brand’s universal appeal, encouraging site visitors to envision themselves as part of this adventurous community.

The UGC Hub not only enhances the website’s content but also serves as an interactive catalog, making it a powerful tool in the brand’s content marketing arsenal.


  • Design an intuitive submission process: Streamline the process for users to submit their content. Ensure it’s user-friendly and accessible from all devices, minimizing barriers to participation.
  • Implement moderation and quality control: Establish clear guidelines and a review system to ensure that the content aligns with your brand’s values and maintains a high quality, reflecting well on your website.
  • Optimize for search and navigation: Make the UGC Hub easy to find and navigate. Use tags, categories, and a search function so visitors can easily explore content that interests them.
  • Regularly update content: Keep the UGC Hub dynamic and fresh by regularly updating it with new submissions. This encourages repeat visits and keeps the content relevant and engaging.
  • Promote the UGC hub: Actively promote your UGC Hub through your website, social media, and other marketing channels to drive traffic and encourage more user submissions.
Unusual Idea


Introducing the concept of “Interactive Storytelling Maps” as an unusual enhancement to establishing a dedicated UGC (User-Generated Content) Hub on a website. This innovative approach involves integrating user content with interactive maps, allowing customers to pin their stories, photos, or videos to specific locations. It’s not just a collection of content but an engaging, visual storytelling journey.

For a travel equipment brand, this can be transformative. Imagine a map on their UGC Hub where travelers pin their experiences using the brand’s gear in various destinations. Each pin opens up to reveal a story, review, or photo, creating a compelling, interactive world map of real-user adventures, significantly enhancing customer engagement and providing invaluable social proof for the brand’s products.

In summary

  1. Leveraging diverse strategies for user engagement: The blog post highlights a range of creative strategies to amplify user-generated content, from incentivizing and featuring customer stories to harnessing the power of social media campaigns and influencer collaborations. Each approach offers unique ways to engage users, build community, and enhance brand authenticity.

  2. Enhancing brand image through innovative user interaction: The importance of integrating innovative elements like Interactive Storytelling Maps in UGC hubs, or using thematic hashtags in campaigns, demonstrates the potential of UGC in transforming brand narratives. These enhancements not only foster a deeper connection with the audience but also position the brand as forward-thinking and user-centric.

  3. Strategic application across various industries: The application of these strategies across different sectors, from boutique coffee shops to fitness apparel and travel equipment brands, underscores the versatility of user-generated content. Tailoring these approaches to specific industry needs and customer profiles is key to maximizing their effectiveness and achieving sustainable engagement and growth.

Take your brand's content marketing from run-of-the-mill to remarkable

Shobha Ponnappa

"As a Content/Brand Specialist, and SEO/UX Writer, I can help transform your brand's online presence. I can lift it with innovative ideas to take it to an enviable position. Let's collaborate to create a captivating brand story, engage your audience, boost your online visibility, and increase your ROI. Take the next step towards your brand content success and contact me today."

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