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User-generated content (UGC) is any content—text, videos, images, reviews, etc.—created by people, rather than brands.

Sample of UGC . Starbucks invited its customers to decorate its coffee cups using the hashtag #WhiteCupContest. In return, the customers could win a $300 gift card and have their designs printed on a reusable cup.

What is user-generated content?

User-generated content (UGC) refers to original material used in campaigns, such as images, videos, reviews, and testimonials, created by actual product users instead of marketing teams. UGC harnesses real users’ POVs and experiences to engage and persuade prospects. Leveraging UGC builds brand awareness and fosters a vibrant community, attracting new customers through genuine endorsements of satisfied users.

As more intrusive marketing draws the ire of consumers. UGC is used by all the top brands, from Pepsico to Apple, Disney, and Warby Parker.

The value of the global UGC market in 2022 was $4.4 billion and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 29.4% from 2023 to 2030. 

Why is user-generated content important?

Consumers are constantly bombarded with advertising and marketing messages from brands. With so many competing messages, consumers often disengage from ads and other marketing materialsb. But they do engage with each other. According to the State of Social & User-Generated Content 2023, consumers rank authentic UGC as the most trustworthy content. 

UGC is essential for building trust, fostering engagement, enhancing authenticity, boosting conversion rates, cost-effective marketing, broadening reach, and leveraging social proof to influence potential customers positively. Incorporating UGC into marketing strategies can significantly contribute to a brand’s overall success and sustainability.

Increased brand engagement and loyalty

UGC fosters increased brand engagement and loyalty by encouraging active participation from customers. When users contribute content, they feel a sense of ownership and connection to the brand, leading to sustained loyalty and a thriving brand community.

McDonald’s “Raise Your Arches” campaign, launched in January 2023, cleverly capitalized on the iconic golden arches that symbolize the brand. The critical element of the campaign was having customers playfully raise their eyebrows, mirroring the shape of McDonald’s famous arches, without explicitly mentioning the brand.

This unique communication method gained significant traction, with over 1,000 Instagram posts and over 5 million TikTok views featuring customers “raising their arches” in solidarity with their love for McDonald’s. The campaign, spanning over 30 global markets, highlighted the universal appeal of the invitation to enjoy McDonald’s, conveyed without uttering a single word.

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