April 4, 2017

It’s time to call for the death of the stock image. Marketers are learning that today’s consumers crave authenticity and no longer approve of stuffy stock images or overly produced photo shoots when shopping for products. Due to this trend, many organizations now turn to user generated content (UGC) photos and videos to bring authenticity to their marketing campaigns. UGC is a term used to describe any form of content created by users, consumers, or followers of an organization, such as photos, videos, testimonials, tweets, reviews, or blogs.

B2C brands and digital agencies have discovered that sourcing user generated images and videos from social media (specifically Instagram) can increase sales and brand awareness significantly compared to in-house generated content. In fact, according to Bazaarvoice, 84% of millennials report that UGC on company websites influence what they buy, and serves as a good indicator of brand quality. Here are a few benefits that user generated content campaigns provide:


  • Make your brand more approachable and trustworthy, increasing brand loyalty

  • Enable deeper, two-way conversations and engagement

  • Produce more authentic content in less time

  • Get a better understanding of your target audience and tap into their consumer opinions

  • See increased conversion rates and sales from UGC by placing it in the purchase path


Marketers need ten times as much content than needed five years ago to keep their audience engaged across all marketing channels. So it’s no surprise that user generated content has become such a major aspect of brand marketing initiative. Here are some of the major trends we see in UGC.



Internet users simply can not get enough video content. Millennials are watching and creating more video content on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube than ever before. In fact, UGC video content accounts for almost a third of Millennial media consumption (equating to an average of 5.4 hours of UGC video watching a day). UGC videos are 10X more popular than brand created video content, and can be repurposed by brands on their social media, television or video ads, and on the brand’s website.


Paid Ads

Adding UGC to your paid media campaigns not only builds credibility and trust but also helps your advertisements stand out from the competition. Recent improvements to the Facebook and Instagram ad platforms have created a massive opportunity for marketers interested in displaying user generated photos in social ads. There is also an opportunity for big brands to use UGC in television and video ads. When using UGC in ads, you’ll need to ensure that you have the proper legal agreements in place with the content owners to prevent future legal issue. Our friends at Cheap Caribbean saw great success when using UGC in paid social ads.



If you’re looking to generate UGC for future marketing campaigns or attempting to raise brand awareness, contests are an excellent idea. Ask your customers to post to your contest hashtag, submit content directly to your contesting page and offer an opportunity to win a prize like free product, a trip, a service, or simply receive recognition. Make sure that you follow the promotion guidelines and are legally acquiring rights to the photos if you plan to repurpose the content. Our friends at, Universal Pictures, built a successful contest to promote the launch of the “The Secret Life of Pets” movie.


Micro Influencers

Influencer marketing and UGC go hand-in-hand. Micro influencers are people who have a decent social media following (bloggers, Instagram power users, and active YouTubers), and are a cheaper (often free) version of brand or target market spokesperson. 82% of consumers said they were highly likely to follow a recommendation made by a micro-influencer when reviewing product/service options. Brands are starting to work with micro influencers in their respective markets to share branded UGC with their social audiences. Micro influencers are proving to have significant ROI when generating brand awareness. A recent study found that micro influencers (with less than 1,000 followers) see the most engagement relative to their following, with nearly 6X as many likes or comments as those with over 100,000 followers. People are more receptive to a “normal” person’s recommendation than a celebrity or known “professional” influencer.


Getting Started

There are a few ways to start collecting UGC. For example, you could hire a team to scour social media and manually acquire legal rights to photos and videos, but that can be expensive. We highly recommend using a UGC curation platform to source and legally request rights to user photos (safety first!) Be careful, though, not all UGC platforms are the same. Our all-in-one technology solution is the only platform to source legal licensing for both video and photo user generated content, deploy interactive galleries across multiple channels, and monetize visual content in creative ways.


Contact us today to learn how UGC can enhance your marketing efforts.


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