Why User-Generated Content (UGC) matters so much and how to kickstart it.

Word of mouth has always been a powerful area usually left behind by e-commerce merchants, and the critical tactic to leverage word of mouth in the digital era is called User Generated Content (UGC).

In simple words, user-generated content is any comment, photo, video, review, or blog post created by one of your customers or followers.

  • Nielsen reports that 92% of consumers trust advice from friends and family more than other forms of advertisement.
  • 90% of shoppers in the US say that their purchase decision was highly influenced by UGC.
  • Email marketing conversion rates increase by 73% when UGC is presented.
  • Users spend 90% more time browsing websites that integrate UGC galleries.
  • Word-of mouth generates 2X more sales than paid ads.
  • 86% of millennials trust UGC as a good indicator of the quality of a brand or service.

Word of mouth marketing means your brand is being recommended in the most trustworthy context possible. And first time browsers are much more likely to take that crucial extra step of handing over their payment details.


Neglect user-generated content at your own risk.

  • UGC is genuine marketing made by current users of your product.
  • It builds brand trust with potential customers.
  • You can leverage more sales without increasing in ad-spend.
  • Engaged users buy more often and it is more likely that they recommend the product to friends.
  • UGC creates a mirror for customers to visualize themselves using the product before buying it.

How to encourage users to post?

The key is to incorporate a consistent and systematic approach to asking.

  • Build upon a single hashtag, that way you can search for user-generated content even if they haven’t tagged you.
  • Promote your hashtag early on, after the initial purchase by including it in your packaging and following up with a dedicated email.
  • Include your hashtag in the bio of all your social profiles. This creates curiosity and prompts users to use the hashtag.
  • Consider offering a coupon or special offer for those that complete your UGC request.

A good tactic to boost customer activation is to incentivize your customers to post a picture/video on a specific platform. In exchange, offer them a discount towards a future purchase or a free product.

For example, if you purchase a pair of Allbirds, they might include a note saying “post a picture of your Allbirds on Instagram, tag us, and we’ll send you a code for $25 off your next pair.” Keep in mind that you must create a thorough strategy to avoid wasting resources.

“Most Brands know they need UGC, they send out a ton of free product, receive content back, but they don’t have a clear idea of how they’ll use it to drive sales,”

Angela Meadows – Pilothouse

Sample: Allbirds

Allbirds created the hashtag #weareallbirds and feature it across all social media platforms and in their bio. The hashtag humanizes the brand, creates a sense of community, and delivers trust to those that haven’t seen the product personally yet.

Sample: Olly

Olly is a nutrition company that creates multivitamins, wellness boosts, protein powders, and bars — Their motto across all products and messaging is the word FUN. To bring the concept to life, Olly invited customers to share their personal Instagram images with the tag #happyinsideout.

The images are mixed with their proprietary content to be used in their social media channels.

Sample: Calvin Klein

One of the most famous hashtags of all time is #mycalvins. It started back in 2014 with Justin Bieber and model Lara Stone promoting the brand in a YouTube video that accumulated over 9.6 million views. The hashtag was later boosted by the brand by paying over 600 influencers to promote it.

Nowadays, not only the famous are posting, the hashtag has welcomed users of all sorts who are posting pictures of themselves in their CK sports bras and underwear sets. The amount of user-generated content has been so massive that CK has even created a micro-website dedicate to feature the best content.

“The #MYCALVINS campaign leverages influencers’ and existing consumer behavior to express themselves and maximizes the cultural ‘selfie’ and viral image-sharing phenomenon,”

Calvin Klein

According to stats, the company’s Facebook has added over 2 million followers, Instagram 1.8 million, and Twitter 1 million in the year following the February 2014 launch alone. Today, Instagram reports 745,000 images on the platform tagged #mycalvins, and CK has shifted their advertising approach by defining it as a “digital-first, socially amplified model”.


  • User-generated content is here to stay and bigger than ever.
  • It is well worth the effort to incentivize and productize the use of UGC to build brand trust, social proof, and buzz.
  • Users are more likely to purchase when others have reviewed the product first.
  • UGC in conjunction with word-of-mouth referral campaigns can potentially lead to ~ 15% of revenues for an e-commerce company.

To learn more check out how the biggest and brightest DTC companies have done it.