The ultimate guide to visual user-generated content

date Apr 4 2023

author Jon Strutt

Brands need more content.

Talk about obvious, right?

Content fatigue is increasing across many channels, but this demand hasn't received a complementary increase in budget or resources. So a lot of marketing teams are feeling the pinch, including yours, potentially.

And across all the content demands, tons of it is visual. Marketers report needing more (and planning to create more) visual content in the future, especially video content.

However, it's a tall order - video content takes a lot of resources to create, and stuffing that into your already-fit-to-burst content pipeline, well, that's asking for trouble.

But, there is one way you can ease the pressure on your pipeline, and that's with visual user-generated content (UGC). What is visual UGC? It may very well may be the answer to all of your content-related problems... or at the very least, a good way to supplement your existing content production.

Let's get into it, and you can be the judge!

What is visual UGC?

User-generated content (UGC) is... content created by users. No surprises there.

And visual UGC is, well, UGC of a highly visual nature. Photos, videos, paintings, sketches, illustrations; if it’s visual, it’s visual UGC.

When your customers upload a picture to their Instagram feed or post stories of them enjoying your hotel…

Or when they post a TikTok of them raving about and applying your makeup…

Or even when they share an unboxing video on YouTube…

That’s all visual UGC. And it’s absolutely amazing for your brand.

I’m confident, dear reader, that you understand why people posting good things about your product or service is, well, good. But in case you’re hungry for more reasons why UGC rules, we have a list of 29 UGC stats you can delve into here. I went ahead and cherry-picked some real stellar ones:

  • 53% of consumers actually want clear instructions on what sort of visual UGC brands want them to create. That’s right, your customers are happy to create content for you - you just need to tell them!
  • Consumers are 2.4 more likely to say that UGC is most authentic compared to branded content.
  • 53% of Millennials say UGC influenced their purchasing decisions.

We’ve compiled a lot more stats on our stat page - I can strongly recommend giving it a read.

Luhta-influencer-campaign-16Luhta Sportswear Company uses Boksi to power both influencer campaigns and their content production. Read how they do it here.

UGC vs branded content - which is better?

Before we get into some potentially controversial discussions, I should clarify what I mean by branded content. Let’s see what everyone’s favourite online encyclopedia has to say:

“In contrast to content marketing (in which content is presented first and foremost as a marketing ploy for a brand) and product placement (where advertisers pay to have references to their brands incorporated into outside creative works), branded content is designed to build awareness for a brand by associating it with content that shares its values.

So awareness and emotional connections are the name of the game here. While blog posts like this one are to help the reader (you) learn something new or solve a problem, branded content like the pictures you post on your Instagram are meant to instil emotion and build awareness. Their primary purpose is to say “this is what our brand is all about”.

Branded content is great for establishing your brand values and helping your brand rise above the competition. After all, when we form emotional connections to brands, it takes more effort to break up.

But is branded content better than UGC? Let’s take a look at some stats:

  • Consumers are 2.4x more likely to say that UGC is most authentic compared to branded content. And I’m sure that you know that authentic content = absolute win.
  • 51% of consumers believe that less than half of brands create authentic content. Yep, this one hurts. But they might have a point.
  • 44% of consumers say ads with real-life situations resonate with them the most. We can sniff out a studio shot a mile away by now. We crave those realistic situations, even in ads.
  • 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. Ask yourself, what would make you more willing to purchase something - a staged studio shot, or a real picture of someone enjoying the product?
  • 48% of Gen Z’ers and 35% of Millennials always seek out UGC content in reviews. Reviews are huge conversion tools when someone is ready to buy, and when there is UGC, that’s even better.

These stats came from our UGC stats post. If you haven't already opened it in another tab, well, no need to scroll all the way up, well, here's a handy link for you.

However, one isn’t strictly better than the other. They both serve different purposes and fit better into certain situations. And honestly, you’re better off using both in your content strategy.

Read how Aller Media found that user-generated content outperformed in-house creative through A/B testing social ads.
Aller Media found that UGC outperformed in-house creative in social ads. Read the full story here.

Why UGC is absolutely amazing

We love to hear what other people think about brands. Are they really as great as they appear to be? 

That’s why UGC plays a huge role in your marketing, from awareness and brand recall all the way to conversion. Even if you aren’t using it, UGC will affect what your potential customers think about you. So using it wherever possible can give your brand a huge boost.

Why? Well one reason is because we are more likely to trust the opinions of our friends and family over anything else. 92% of consumers trust online content from friends and family above all other forms of brand messages.

And when you see your friend post about their new makeup or hair products, then you’re going to take that to heart, far more than 100 messages from a brand. They could both be saying the exact same thing, but it’s far more powerful to hear it from someone you know.

UGC stands out thanks to its authenticity. We marketers always try our best to make authentic content, but it’s difficult when there are multiple people (or departments) who need to review or sign off on content.

Compare that to a customer who really enjoys the unboxing experience enough to post something to their Instagram. No debate, no email threads or Slack DMs back and forth on how it could be better - just choosing the best photo or video and posting it.

That’s authenticity, right there. And that's what's so powerful about UGC.

LUMENE sourced amazing content straight from creators - read the full story here.

How to encourage your fans to post UGC

Your customers may be posting about your brand already. If so, great! You can start reaching out to them and asking if you can reshare or repurpose their content.

However, if they aren’t, I have some great tips to help you.

Just ask!

Just 16% of brands give instructions to their customers on what content they want, but 53% of customers want examples. And 42% want to see videos or images to get inspired!

(Pro tip: Our content briefing tool allows you to create a moodboard that gives your fans the inspiration they need.)

So getting UGC can really be as simple as asking your customers to create specific types of content. However, if that doesn't work, you can also try:

  • Creating hashtag challenges. Create a branded hashtag and a competition for your followers to post something to.
  • Commenting on fan-made content. Relationships are always give and take. Your users are more likely to post when they see that you actively engage with the content they post about you.
  • Reshare fan-made content. Always ask for permission to reshare their content on your own feeds, and make sure to tag and give credit appropriately. But everyone loves when their favourite brand reshares content they think is great!

Collab with influencers

What better way to get authentic content than from influencers?

Influencers will happily collab with your brand and create content you can reshare on your own channels, with the added benefit of it resonating with their own network.

And did you know that 62% of Millennials have purchased at least one item on their smartphone thanks to a brand post and/or influencer content on social media?

Influencers thrive on authenticity and realness - just what you’re looking for in your content. And partnering with influencers is easier than ever, despite the fact that just 16% of marketers believe it’s easy to find influencers.

With Boksi, you have a network of 16,000+ influencers and creators at your disposal, from niches and industries of all types. You’re sure to find the right influencers who will produce some amazing content for you.

Source UGC directly from creators and fans

Now, I know I said you can just ask them. But you can go a step further and actually give your fans a detailed brief for what you need. You can also tap into a creator network and get custom UGC for your brand.

This gives you the perfect mix of control over the content without stifling creativity, and you can source UGC for multiple needs.

For example, waterdrop needed video content to use in social ads, but they wanted to use authentic content from real creators.

They used Boksi to source videos from a diverse creator network, and found a ton of content to use.

This option is honestly one of the better options if you don't have a strong UGC process in place. Briefing creators is easy, and depending on the platform you choose, managing the process, including contracts and payments, is a cinch. And best of all, you can use the content wherever and however you please with full usage rights.

LUMENE is a well-known cosmetics brand who uses both fans and UGC creators to keep their social media channels full of amazing, fresh content that instantly tells fans what their brand values are. Since they're from a variety of creators, LUMENE can proudly share content that shows off a wide variety of people and backdrops.

Read the full case study (and more) on our cases page.

LUMENE sourced authentic, diverse, on-brand content for global usage. Click here to read the story.

Where can you use UGC?

Alright, so you want to encourage your users to post more content about your brand, or you want to work with UGC creators to produce authentic content that resonates with your audience.

That’s great!

… so what do you do with it once you have it?

It’s a common question we get. And really, the sky's the limit for your content! However, when you’re briefing creators for your content projects, it’s best to have an idea of where you want to use it first. So let’s cover the most common use cases for visual UGC.


Visual UGC is perfect for using on Instagram. You can source both photo and video content to use organically on your own channel, or then you can use it in social advertisements.

And one of the biggest struggles facing social media teams is creating more and more content - working with UGC creators is the easiest way to source more content in an effective way.

So what should you post? Well, UGC works best when it strikes an emotional chord with your audience. You can skip the purely product-focused images and share photos that better convey your brand values.

However, there's still room for products in your content! In that case, it's best to brief the creators on how you want your product displayed, and the best use cases for it.


And if you need Reels content, well, creators can make that for you too. Outsourcing video production to creators saves you time and money, while also making the content more believable and providing you with a variety of different backgrounds and settings.

We have a blog post that covers the best content to use on Instagram - read it here.


TikTok can be a challenging place for brands to venture into. It’s a social media channel that is beloved by a younger audience, and the content that goes viral there is different from any other channel.

People use TikTok for three reasons: for entertainment, inspiration, or education. And if you’ve used TikTok for any period of time, you’ll know that your typical TikTok is casual and unpolished. However, that doesn’t mean it’s unprofessional!

TikTok creators can be the best option for starting your brand on TikTok. Best of all, you can use content organically, or then in advertisements.

Or, actually, better than that, you can post content on your own channels, and then double down on it with Spark Ads. This is a great ad format that boosts existing organic content, drastically increasing the amount of impressions and reach of your content.

@tise Are you an outfit repeater too? 💖 Song and video credits: @longlivenewro ♬ original sound - Tise


You can also use UGC on your eCommerce site to help encourage people to buy. Simba Dickie Group does this by including videos of families using their products, or product videos from creators to encourage the sale.

And instead of stock or studio photos, you can use photos of real people on your website to better convey your brand values and message.

Best of all, when you’re creating a content project, you can set the specifications yourself in your brief - you’re not limited to specific formats. So if you need it, creators can create it!


Yes - you can even use creator content in print magazines or advertisements!

When you purchase content from creators through platforms like Boksi, you’re purchasing full usage rights for the content, meaning you can use it anywhere and anyhow you like.

To be honest, these are just a few examples of where you can use UGC. It’s up to your imagination - if you need content, you probably can get it from creators. At Boksi, we have a network of over 16,000 creators who are ready to help you get the content you need.

UGC - worth it?

So what do you think - is UGC worth it for your brand?

Naturally, if your customers aren't producing content about your brand, then using it is pretty difficult. However, with the rise of UGC creators, it's easier than ever to get high-quality visual UGC for your brand.

And when your team doesn't need to create visual content for your social media channels, for example, that frees them up to work on other projects.

The creator economy is booming, with an estimated $104.2 billion market size and 50 million people who consider themselves creators. More and more brands are working with creators to produce visual content that's high-quality, on-brand, and authentic.

So if you're considering using visual UGC in your marketing mix, or your team is desperately looking for a lifeline as they try to stay on top of the increasing demands for content, working with creators may be the best option for you.

Take a look at our content creation platform, for both photos and videos!

Jon Strutt

About author

Jon Strutt

Jon is Boksi's Content Marketing Manager. When he's not writing blog posts or guides, he's thinking of the next way to punnify 'Boksi'.