User-Generated Content Examples

user generated content

We’re in an era of authenticity in marketing, where real stories feed business objectives. 

In an increasingly saturated business landscape, trust perseveres as a key determining factor for consumers. Web users conduct research before buying anything. They compare your website with reviews and your brand’s social platforms to make informed decisions. According to PWC, only 27% of customers trust the brands they buy from. So, who do they trust? Other consumers — and that’s where UGC comes in, serving as social proof and validating brands’ claims in prospective customers’ eyes.

Learn about UGC as we reveal the secrets of two successful examples and show you how to turn your customers into brand ambassadors.

What Is User-Generated Content (UGC)?

UGC is any form of promotional content that’s created and shared by users rather than brands.

UGC diagram

You can use UGC across various channels, including social media, websites, email marketing, and in-store displays. Reposting your customers’ experiences humanizes your brand’s image and instills trust in their eyes, and displaying UGC on product pages incentivizes buyers.

What sets UGC apart from conventional ads is its ability to foster genuine connections and evoke visceral responses. Unlike corporate messaging, UGC carries an air of authenticity and relatability that resonates with audiences. It speaks directly to people, reflecting their experiences, aspirations, and emotions in a way traditional marketing can’t replicate.

UGC is a powerful tool for sparking conversations. It cultivates a sense of belonging and camaraderie, transforming passive observers into engaged advocates who champion your values and find meaning in being part of your community.

The rise of UGC 

Content marketing has turned traditional advertising on its head. Thanks to digital disruption, ordinary people can reach vast audiences and make millions of dollars producing blogs and videos from their homes. As it turns out, there’s a substantial public demand for content created by consumers for consumers. 

Plus, with so much access to information, people have become mindful of traditional advertising techniques and more wary of inauthentic media campaigns. They don’t trust the polished images projected by brands as much as a recommendation from another human being. User-generated content is the new word of mouth — with the bonus of global reach.

Benefits of UGC

Let’s look at the benefits of UGC in more detail:

  • Social proofWhen consumers see a real person endorse a product or service, it verifies your brand story’s credibility.
  • Unlimited free ads: UGC is often free and is always more affordable than a full-scale ad campaign. 
  • Conversion influence: In 2023, around 50% of consumers said UGC videos help them discover new things to buy. Plus, according to a cumulative analysis, 90% of consumers are more likely to buy something if they see a video of someone positively endorsing a brand without sponsorship
  • Community building: In the past, companies tried to garner loyal customers. Thanks to social media, you can go a step further and build a community that’s connected to each other and your brand. People have a strong drive to feel included and live with a sense of purpose. Brands can tap into this through storytelling and creating spaces where customers rally together. UGC thrives on platforms such as Reddit and TikTok because people use them to form and find communities.
  • Appeal to Millennial and Gen Z audiences: Younger generations seek immersion in their content, and Deloitte Insights suggests that UGC (and video games) most effectively fulfill this need. 
  • Drive engagement: UGC is a nifty tool for driving engagement on your social media pages. 
  • SEO: Brand mentions, reviews, and an active social media presence are some of the biggest drivers of organic SEO. 
  • Voice of the customer: Gathering UGC gives you access to indispensable customer data to refine and improve your brand.  

Barriers to UGC Success

Weak branding and lack of clarity regarding values are the main barriers to UGC’s success because consumers can’t form an emotional connection if certain elements are lacking. For the brands we’ve helped, the solution was targeted content production. Focusing on storytelling that showcases consistent brand values, personality, and voice sets the stage for community-building and UGC. 

A strong brand identity is underpinned by engaging content that’s tailored to each distribution channel. Website copy, blog posts, and videos help prospects decide whether to connect with your company. Considering that 7 in 10 consumers are more likely to buy from brands that share their values, purpose is another essential element of a strong brand identity.

Use these values to inform content ideation and spark the emotional connection that inspires customers to become UGC contributors. 

User-Generated Content Examples

These user-generated content examples demonstrate UGC’s potential to shape the digital landscape. Below, we outline how industry leaders SHEIN and HelloFresh leverage UGC to drive growth, increase engagement, and create opportunities for their audiences to interact meaningfully with each other. 


This case study explores how fast-fashion retailer SHEIN strategically uses UGC.

Social proof and community building

Social proof is at the heart of SHEIN’s UGC strategy, with real-life recommendations validating the brand in consumers’ eyes. Users post reviews with photos that are prominently displayed under each item’s product description.

This feature has turned the platform into an active community hub where shoppers share styling tips, outfit inspirations, and feedback on product quality. 

SHEIN case study

Rewarding engagement

SHEIN’s innovative approach to UGC extends beyond traditional product reviews, encouraging users to show off pictures of their SHEIN hauls alongside reviews, including detailed sizing information.

SHEIN rewards

To incentivize users to contribute, SHEIN rewards them with points, giving discounts on future purchases for sharing their experiences. 

Consumers as collaborators and Gen Z appeal

One of SHEIN’s strengths lies in the company’s ability to tap into the preferences and aspirations of Gen Z consumers. These buyers prioritize self-expression, authenticity, and social connection in their shopping experiences. Prominently displaying honest, uncensored reviews with photos on each product shows a commitment to transparency and gives customers a platform. 

By positioning consumers as collaborators, SHEIN empowers them to play an active role in the brand’s success. This approach resonates strongly with the target market, driving engagement and brand affinity. 

SHEIN vs. PrettyLittleThing

A study comparing PrettyLittleThing and SHEIN supports the idea that consumers — especially younger generations — trust UGC more than branded content. All 12 participants preferred having the option to compare themselves to real people on SHEIN’s website rather than only models on PrettyLittleThing. For this reason, they all said they’d prefer to shop with SHEIN. 

One expressed a clear lack of trust in PrettyLittleThing’s branded imagery. 


Prioritizing social proof, community building, and consumer empowerment has helped SHEIN captivate Gen Z consumers and establish itself as a leader in the fast-fashion industry. 


Through a carefully curated blend of branded and user-generated content, HelloFresh has established a thriving community and transmitted its brand message across multiple digital channels. The meal-kit delivery service uses UGC to manage customer expectations, foster community engagement, and drive business growth. 

By prominently showcasing real-life experiences and testimonials from satisfied customers, HelloFresh creates authentic and relatable narratives that resonate with its target audience.

Influencer marketing

HelloFresh relies on influencer marketing to amplify its UGC campaigns. Partnering with food bloggers, home chefs, and lifestyle influencers enables the brand to expand its reach, piggybacking on the creators’ reputations. 

In sponsored ads, YouTubers and TikTokers make DIY content, where they cook HelloFresh recipes. They also ask viewers to send pictures and videos of their HelloFresh cooking triumphs and disasters and offer discounts for using their branded codes.

DIY content

Social media

Another core element of HelloFresh’s UGC strategy is social media engagement. The company asks customers to share photos of their meal creations using the hashtag #HelloFreshPics. 

Winners are chosen randomly to be featured on the website homepage, with their Instagram username and photo caption prominently displayed.  

HelloFresh's customers

Consistently curating and reposting UGC amplifies HelloFresh’s customers’ voices while inspiring others to try its products. Consumers are excited by the opportunity to be featured on the brand’s homepage, driving engagement and brand mentions for the company. 

Email marketing

HelloFresh integrates UGC into email marketing campaigns. The company gets results from email newsletters featuring customer testimonials, reviews, and photos. 

Content marketing 

Crucially, HelloFresh’s content strategy underpins its UGC initiatives. Its team focuses on creating visually appealing content that showcases the produce and educates its audience. High-quality yet relatable blog posts, recipe cards, and cooking tutorials include call-to-actions recommending HelloFresh customers share their culinary creations.

Even the brand’s in-house ads are intentionally shot to look realistic and relatable instead of highly stylized. 

HelloFreshs content strategy

In a 2021 interview, Carrie Crow at HelloFresh explained, “We want to make sure that what we’re representing is what the customer is going to be able to do. Maybe it’s slightly more aspirational, but we want it to be a realistic interpretation of what they’re going to make for themselves.” 

UGC is authentic and relatable  

For decades, advertisers exclusively displayed products in their most polished, picture-perfect state. You might fear putting your brand image into your customers’ hands in case you lose control of the narrative. But remember, when you have consistent and clear brand messaging that aligns with reality, consumers know what to expect. As SHEIN and HelloFresh have proven, UGC’s DIY, less-than-perfect aesthetic isn’t off-putting to prospects — in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Brands should consider customers’ emotions, desires, and pain points to spark interest and establish meaningful connections. Here’s a summary of how the companies in our case studies did it:

  • SHEIN realized people were asking, “Sure, that dress looks awesome on the model, but how will it fit me?” The brand displays reviews with pictures of real people so customers have authentic reference points to gauge how clothes will fit them.  
  • HelloFresh understands that meal kit customers often think, “The food looks beautiful on the recipe card, but if mine looks nothing like it, I’m going to feel disappointed.” UGC and relatable branded content helps them manage expectations. Instead of being disheartened when dishes don’t look perfect, customers feel a sense of achievement because they’ve made something that looks like the UGC photos they’ve seen.

Getting Your Audience to Produce UGC

Incorporating UGC on top of written and branded content is an affordable and effective way to establish trust and increase conversions. Per PWC’s 2023 Consumer Insights Survey, 63% of consumers reject middlemen and prefer to purchase directly from brands, and this trend is predicted to increase. With more eyes on your website and social media pages, optimizing these touchpoints is essential. 

Use the following strategies to encourage your customers to produce user-generated content:

  • Interactive elements: Polls, quizzes, challenges, and contests drive participation and bring a sense of ownership to your brand’s community. Making them active participants empowers them to contribute their unique perspectives.
  • User-generated hashtags: Create branded hashtags that resonate with your audience and encourage them to share their stories, photos, and experiences with your brand. By curating and amplifying user-generated content with these hashtags, you increase brand visibility and make your customers feel a sense of belonging.
  • Cocreation: Cocreate content with your audience that reflects their interests, preferences, and aspirations. Ask them about their ideas for product development or UGC campaigns. As you can see from our case studies, involving your audience in the creative process strengthens their emotional connection to your brand and drives engagement.
  • Incentivized participation: Offer rewards, incentives, and exclusive perks to motivate audience members to contribute to UGC. Whether it’s discounts, freebies, or a prominent feature on your website or social pages, incentivizing participation sparks action and enhances the perceived value of making a contribution.
  • Authenticity: Embrace imperfection and celebrate diversity by showcasing real-life stories. Authenticity resonates with today’s consumers, who value transparency and genuineness more than image alone.
  • Community building: Foster a vibrant online community where your audience feels connected, supported, and valued. Start conversations, reply to comments on social media, and celebrate the contributions of your most engaged followers. This creates a supportive environment and inspires brand advocacy.
  • Emerging technologies: Champion innovative tools and platforms that enable new forms of UGC, such as augmented reality, virtual reality, live-streaming, and interactive storytelling. 

How to Measure UGC Success 

To measure UGC’s success, focus on: 

  • Sentiment analysis: Natural language processing gauges the emotional tone of user-generated content and how it aligns with brand messaging. 
  • Engagement metrics: Track likes, comments, shares, and other forms of interaction to measure audience engagement levels.
  • User demographics: Use analytics tools to understand the demographic characteristics of people creating your UGC so you can target them in the future.
  • Influence mapping: Identify key influencers to find partners who are able to make a sizable impact within your community.
Measure UGC Success
  • Trend analysis: Monitor trends and patterns in UGC to anticipate shifts in consumer preferences.

Common challenges and solutions in UGC management

These are common difficulties brands run into when deploying and overseeing a UGC strategy, along with solutions:

  • Authenticity: Implement robust curation processes to ensure only genuine and relevant UGC gets showcased.
  • Verification: Establish verification procedures to authenticate user-generated content and maintain credibility.
  • Integration: Develop integration methods to incorporate UGC into marketing campaigns across channels.
  • Negative feedback: Embrace transparency and respond constructively to negative UGC, turning criticism into opportunities for improvement.
  • Legal considerations: Adhere to copyright and privacy regulations when using UGC to safeguard your brand and the people creating content on its behalf.
  • Community management: Curate a supportive and engaged community around UGC, setting rules and using strict moderation to encourage collaboration and positive interactions.

UGC Drives Authentic Engagement and Growth

To grow, brands must engage audiences across more channels than ever. That means fostering communities and forging emotional connections instead of relying on conventional advertising methods. But it isn’t easy. Your target market needs to hear, see, and recognize your brand’s voice and values for them to resonate. 

Let Crowd Content craft website content, blog posts, podcast scripts, and e-books reflecting your values and amplifying your brand voice. With a solid foundation of content speaking directly to your target audience, UGC can flourish. 

Rick Leach

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Rick Leach, the Vice President of Content Operations at Crowd Content, is a seasoned professional in orchestrating large-scale content initiatives. At the helm of a dynamic team of content managers, QA specialists, and production assistants, he oversees the team’s production of high-quality content for businesses around the globe. Rick's expertise extends beyond operations management to providing strategic insights on scaling and producing outstanding content, making him a respected voice in the content creation industry.

Rick's journey in the content industry is preceded by more than five years as an Advertising Sales Manager at The Tampa Tribune, where he refined his skills in media sales and advertising. And his entrepreneurial spirit is evident in his successful 17-year venture as the proprietor of an e-commerce business.

On a personal front, Rick's life is as fulfilling as his professional endeavors. A proud U.S. Navy veteran, he enjoys a blissful family life, married with four children and a grandchild. Originally from New England but now residing on the Gulf Coast of Florida, Rick is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots.

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