If you are a social media user, you’ve probably heard of “UGC”. Otherwise known as user generated content, UGC is any kind of content that has been posted by users. In recent years, brands have been utilizing UGC in their advertising and on their social media to help encourage a positive relationship with their followers. Not only that, but it helps them by creating a more human image for their brand by showing regular people and by filling up their content voids. It’s a win win for all involved if the UGC is acquired correctly and used properly. But have no fear, we are here to tell you all of the do’s and don’ts of finding and receiving some quality UGC for yourself. 

How do you farm for UGC?

Aside from your own mentions or tags, finding good UGC is a lot like going thrifting. You have to be prepared to hunt. For example, on Instagram: hashtags, location “geo tags”, and even the explore page are all great places to scavenge. The best thing to do to avoid being overwhelmed is to have something specific that you are searching for. Then, break it down into other things to search for. For example, let’s say you’re a Cactus Lover Club on Instagram and you’re looking for more cacti to fill up your page. Obviously, you’d start with “#cactus” and scroll through there. After that, you can venture into other tags like “#cacti”, “#houseplants”, “#plantmom”, “#desertflora”- who knows.

It’s the same as real life. When you go into a thrift store looking for high waisted jeans, you look for a sign that says something along the lines of “high waisted jeans”, “jeans”, or just “pants”. Understandably, finding UGC can be difficult just because of the sheer amount of content there is out in the world wide web. However, using methods like this one can help make the daunting task a little more manageable. 

Why post UGC in the first place?

As mentioned before, UGC helps foster a good relationship with fans and consumers, and is a great way to fill up content voids. It is nice for fans and consumers to receive exposure, and it shows them that you are paying attention. Along with that, a lot of people appreciate the authenticity of seeing real users promote a product. Everyday, unpaid, people promoting a product gives much more of an authentic impression. It’s almost the same feel as a friend telling you about something they liked, or a positive Amazon review (ideally with pictures of the product too). Not only that, but just interacting with fans and consumers on their UGC is a generally fun and good thing to practice. 

Not only is using UGC a more authentic representation of your brand, the act of farming UGC is tremendously powerful from an outreach perspective. In order to use UGC, you must get permission (more on that below). One method on Instagram is to get permission via the comment. Each time you comment on someone’s content your name and logo go with it, and you are expanding the reach of your company or brand. Even if someone does not let you use their UGC, he/she and their followers might take a peek at your page. 

Credit is NOT permission. 

Jot that down, make it bold, underline it, and slap a neon yellow highlight on that friends. There seems to be a trend lately where people believe that just giving someone credit when they repost UGC is enough to use it. ”If it’s on the internet then its free for everyone to use.” —Right? WRONG! There’s a little thing called copyright. Whoever creates and posts content (UGC) has legal ownership (copyright) to it. But that also means they can license the use of said content. In order to properly repost another person’s UGC to your page, you need to get explicit licensed permission. This can be achieved through something like a comment request, linking to a photo release. The person who posted the UGC must agree a release, like this onefor you to have the legal right to use their content.

Check out three examples of what we’ve done for clients below:

While it seems time consuming, asking permission for UGC is well worth it. It not only shows that you respect whoever posted the content, but helps you avoid potential lawsuits and copyright violations that can be very messy to deal with.

Need help navigating UGC? We can launch a stellar UGC program for your brand and grow your community, authentically!