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The Power of User-Generated Content: How to Inspire Customers to Film Videos

User-generated content

Any brand’s marketing efforts are now overpowered with video content as video consumption makes up a third of all online activity. Customers love it – 54% of people expect more video content from brands. And so do marketers – videos posted across social media get 12 times more engagement than any other form of content. 

To meet customer preferences and engagement KPIs, videos are an essential tool for marketers.

Yet, not every brand can afford to dedicate entire video production teams as creating video content typically requires some time and investment.

Will Smith thinking

Creative skills, recording equipment, filming space, editing tools are all a part of successful video marketing. Yet, there is one powerful “loophole” that can help to:

  • Enrich video marketing efforts,
  • Lower down video creation costs,
  • Build trust from potential consumers,
  • Expand brands’ outreach, and
  • Increase customer’s brand affinity.

And that is user-generated content (UGC). Amplified with the power of social proof and word-of-mouth, user-generated content is the best way to “outsource” video content efforts to your audience. 

Amplified with the power of social proof and word-of-mouth, user-generated content is the best way to “outsource” video content efforts to your audience. 

What Is User-Generated Content 

User-generated content implies exactly what it says — content, written, filmed, or otherwise, created by your audience rather than the brand itself. 

Although not directly made by a brand, user-generated content can be leveraged by companies aiming to diversify their content and get many perks in between.

Why is User-Generated Content Important For Your Brand

Whatever type of content you share across the web, it becomes a part of the endless stream of information people consume. Here’s just a quick depiction of what happens throughout the Internet in just one minute:

Internet in 60 seconds

Image Source

Brands are facing increasing competition with every type of marketing they undertake. Considering limited resources and budgets, you can only invest in the type of content that brings more tangible results. 

Incorporating user-generated content into your marketing strategy is the best way to establish trust with prospects and connections with existing customers.

Yet, UGC benefits are far wider than that, as user-generated content can help brands to:

  • Build brand awareness and desire 

According to Shopify, ads featuring user-generated content drive four times as many clicks as the ones that don’t. People look up to other people to get ideas – be it a tourist destination, new pumps, a new local workout spot, and so on. So, sharing compelling user-generated content is a powerful way to spark brand desire. 

The best example is the global infatuation with Vera Wang’s wedding dresses – every celebrity (and not only) has to have a VW wedding dress just because others do and, most importantly, showcase it.

Vera Wang dresses

Source: Vera Wang’s Instagram account

  • Establish loyalty and trust with prospects 

To build long-term connections, trust is the underpinning factor. And user-generated content essentially comes down to one word –  trust. 

88% of consumers trust reviews as much as they trust their friends’ recommendations. Sharing user-generated content allows brands to foster a sense of familiarity even in people who never engaged with the brand/product. 

88% of consumers trust reviews as much as they trust their friends’ recommendations.

  • Boost social media engagement rates 

Videos generated by users normally get larger viewership and shares as they look like a less “forced” marketing tactic.

After all, UGC embraces the power of social proof and is created by independent people who have no “agenda” to advertise the brand apart from the fact that they love it and want to share their affection with the world.

IG Stories_reviews Buffer

  • Ensure a continuous flow of genuine authentic content 

Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to see UGC as authentic compared to the content shared by brands. That gives companies a substantial credibility boost, as the authenticity trend is on the rise.

Dove is great at embracing this trend. Its 2004 “Real Beauty” campaign won the hearts of many people as they were encouraged to share photos of their friends and describe why they represent “the real beauty”.

  • Accelerate purchasing decisions

80 percent of consumers admit that user-generated content has a big impact on their purchasing decisions. The traditional word-of-mouth is now replaced with the authentic and genuine feel of the content generated by other people who want to share why they choose one brand or company over the others. 

The traditional word-of-mouth is now replaced with the authentic and genuine feel of the content generated by other people.

Whether it’s a product, a service, or maybe an experience, modern folks want to get a feel of what they are paying for.

The Independent reported that 30 percent of millennials would not visit a restaurant unless its Instagram location tag is not filled with images/videos from other customers.

Restaurant hashtag

Why Video Is The Best Format For User-Generated Content 

User-generated content includes testimonials, reviews, videos, love/appreciation messages, funny pics, and so on. Yet, with the rise of video and the general departure from still visuals, video is the format you should encourage your customers to create and share.

Apart from the overall trend towards ever-increasing video content consumption, videos can provide brands with the following perks:

  • Videos tend to “humanize” the brand, as in, put a happy, satisfied customer’s face to it. 
  • They also help brands to show the product in action – be it the newest arrival for a fashion brand or a long-expected feature within a SaaS tool.
  • Videos are easy to edit and repurpose. Instead of a single asset, your brand can potentially get a few as videos can be turned into images, separate text quotes, as long as you have imagination and a handy tool.

Make and repurpose your videos easily

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Here is an adorable example of a brand Strava employing all of the perks we mentioned above. They launched their #SOLOdarity campaign during the COVID-19 quarantine featuring their app users to cheer up and unite the community.


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We’re working out alone, but we’re in it together. Thank you to everyone who participated in the #SOLOdarity challenge for joining us in staying active and being a good citizen – you’ve lifted us all up. We asked our community of athletes from around the world to show us how they honored that commitment and kept connected with their teammates, family and training partners. Here is what they shared with us.

A post shared by Strava (@strava) on

How to Encourage Customers to Film and Share UGC Videos 

If your brand already has a little exposure and a few dedicated customers, it’s not a mission impossible to inspire user-generated content. We’ll walk you through the main points to consider when thinking about how to incentivize your fans to create user-generated content.

  • Be specific about what you ask for and what you give in exchange

UGC creators expect brands to share their content. So, you can be very direct about what kind of content you’re most likely to share. To make it a win-win, don’t be like the 84% of brands that don’t offer clear guidelines on what kind of user-generated content they want fans to create. 

You can be very direct about what kind of content you’re most likely to share.

If you haven’t yet worked out all the details, consider how UGC aligns with your existing marketing goals by setting up the following points:

  • Concept 
  • Goals
  • Channels
  • Hashtags 
  • Format
  • Time frame
  • Incentives (discounts, special offers, gifts, unique content, etc.)

Once you have a simple, clear guideline, share it across the channels where your fans interact with your brand: social account bios, social media posts, your site, or even the product package. 

GoPro’s recent Awards campaign, presenting a $1M challenge follows all the rules. Look what they got from their users in return:

  • Be realistic and don’t ask for too much 

You cannot expect even your biggest brand adorers to invest too much time and effort into the video. To guide people in the right direction, create a sample video or a template people can use to get started and unleash their creativity.

Your requirements should rise as you increase the value of extra motivators – the larger the perks you offer in return, the higher the expectations.

Yet, don’t discourage simple smartphone recordings as with user-generated content lower video quality can even do you favor and make the review appear more credible. 

  • Approach your most loyal customers to the initial flow of content 

To encourage people to start sharing experiences, you have to “push” the first movers yourself. Your most dedicated customers are a perfect match – they know and love your brand, so they are more likely to go the extra mile and do you a favor, especially if you offer unique perks in return.

MakeMeWhole campaign

  • Track existing brand mentions and show that you care

You might already have user-generated videos piled up somewhere across the web. Use special tools like Tint, or do a manual search to uncover any existing brand mentions.

When you spot a worthy comment, image, or a video, react to them with likes, reposts, shout-outs, etc. This is crucial as you can build long-standing relationships with the people who made the initial mention and ask them for more. 

  • Beware of the legal nuances – ask for permission to use the user-generated content piece 

Once you find a piece of user-generated video you’d like to share, contact the content creator, and ask for permission to use their art. And always mention that you will provide them with proper credit.

Ask for UGC permission

Example of how Whole Foods asks for permission to share UGC

When you ask permission, you show the original creator that you value their content and get them excited about sharing more UGC in the future while keeping yourself clear of any copyright infringements. 

  • Introduce more activities to boost engagement and excitement about your brand

From dedicated contests on social media to “wow”-effect social campaigns, your job is to create experiences that will naturally encourage customers and followers to create user-generated content. 

Starbucks’s White Cup Contest was a great example of an extra incentive: the brand encouraged people to draw doodles on the Starbucks cup and share the art with a special hashtag. The winner’s design was featured as a limited edition of Starbucks’s reusable plastic cup. Now, this is an experience worth sharing!

Starbucks white cup challenge

  • Add final touches to the videos you receive

Although user-generated videos are expected to look a bit raw, when reposting them from your brand’s official account, do a little bit of editing. It’s not about tweaking the original content, but more about your branding. 

When sharing a series of user-generated videos (product reviews, contest entries, etc.), add your logo as a thumbnail for each video.’s layouts can help you go the extra mile and create a special recognizable design for these videos. You can also add intro and outro, apply filters and special effects, and so on to keep the consistency of your brand experience for the larger audiences.

Glossier’s Instagram is a great example as they regularly repost Stories from customers while keeping their brand’s personality intact.


 Source: Glossier

Using tools like to cut, resize, repurpose videos is perfectly fine. However, make sure that you aren’t taking away what makes user-generated videos so valuable – unlike brand campaigns, they have to feel “real”, informal, and even a bit rough around the edges.

Over to you

Can you name any UGC campaigns you took part in or wish you were a part of? How do you encourage customers to make videos about your product or brand? Share your memories and ideas in the comments so that we exchange ideas and get to work!

We’ll keep you in the loop!

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