User Generated Content Marketing: Integrating Customer Photos Into Your eCommerce Store

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User Generated Content Marketing: Integrating Customer Photos Into Your eCommerce Store

Read on as we take a look at all things User Generated Content marketing, including benefits, best practices, examples and inspiration by industry.

For unsuspecting marketers, the rise of User Generated Content marketing may seem like a sudden takeover. However, for eCommerce brands it’s been a long time coming.

Content marketing doesn’t have to represent a black hole of ROI for digital shop owners anymore. In fact, today’s movers and shakers in eCommerce are using UGC to build their followings, convert more customers and keep them coming back to their stores time and time again. Many leaders in eCommerce are leveraging a User Generated Content strategy. 

It doesn’t matter if you have dozens, hundreds or thousands of shoppers in your funnel. Simply put, there’s no better time than now to take advantage of UGC. Email marketing strategies include UGC in can even help you improve your email marketing strategy.

HypeGrand - User Generated Content Marketing

UGC Defined

User Generated Content encompasses various forms of media, including text, images, videos, and audio, produced and shared by individuals rather than professional entities. It thrives within online platforms and social networks, reflecting the diverse perspectives and creativity of its creators. UGC fosters an interactive digital landscape, enriching communities and enabling authentic engagement.

Why User Generated Content Marketing is Turning Heads

The current explosion of UGC can be attributed to the perfect storm of eager buyers and social shopping.

eCommerce is predicted to account for 20.8% of all retail markets in 2024. Unsurprisingly, the biggest winners in the world of eCommerce remain fashion and apparel brands, beauty and specialty accessories.

And there’s no doubt that a bulk of those shoppers regularly purchases via mobile and social media.

Think about it. It’s obvious that the public at large is glued to their smartphones. Mobile web usage has surpassed that of desktops. This means that people are spending a lot of time on their phones planning what to buy. And if you make it easier for them, they may just do it then and there. We’re on a the cusp of a big change – can’t you feel the eCommerce potential in the air?

Now, User Generated Content. How does it come into play?

Rather than smacking social buyers with ads and sales messages, UGC allows brands to sell subtly.

This post from Fitbit is a prime example of how a user submitted photo can be used just as effective as a product page:

FitBit - User Generated Content Marketing

No flashy “buy now” messages.

No begging or desperate pleas for clicks, either.

Meanwhile, Instagram drives a higher average price per sale ($65) than any other major social network according to Shopify. In other words, social feeds can be used to consistently push products to followers.

What are the benefits?

The biggest benefits of UGC can be boiled down into three points. In short, User Generated Content marketing…

  • Represents a form of advertising that costs little more than time (think: curating content via hashtags versus spending on paid ads)
  • Serves as a strong form of social proof, letting potential buyers know that you already have satisfied customers
  • Comes off as more natural and organic versus in-your-face ads and promo posts

As a result, the integration of UGC has become the cornerstone of major eCommerce brands’ marketing strategies. This can be easily done through UGC platforms such as Flowbox.

User Generated Content Marketing: Understanding Best Practices

If you’ve been on the fence about User Generated Content marketing or aren’t exactly sure where to start, don’t sweat it.

With so many brands hopping on board, it’s essential for eCommerce brands to understand the opportunities afforded to them because of UGC. It’s certainly not too late to get started.

Of course, you’ll need to sort the best practices for your particular industry.

Thankfully, we’ve got you covered. We regularly conduct case studies to demonstrate how User Generated Content has benefitted our clients and what it can do for you.

More likes. More clicks. More conversions.

No matter how big or small, consider how your brand can marry UGC and eCommerce to drive sales. Below we’ve outlined some awesome ideas and inspiration for brands both big and small.

Think of Your Social Feed as a Shop Window…

folliefollie - User Generated Content Marketing

For starters, it’s time to rethink what “content” means in the realm of eCommerce.

Sure, blog posts, infographics and other traditional forms of content are crucial to any given brand.

But what about customer photos? Reviews? Positive customer interactions?

These are the types of content that are paramount to UGC campaigns.

For example, most eCommerce brands could benefit from a mentality shift when it comes to their social content. Rather than think of your social feed as a place where “anything goes,” why not start treating it as a sort of shop window?

That’s exactly what brands such as Henry London are doing. Their Instagram feed is a literal collage of products, most of which are published from satisfied customers:

User Generated Content marketing

Such brands get plenty of love in the form of “Likes,” comments and regrams, too. From bold imagery to photos “in the wild,” User Generated Content marketing goes hand in hand with the best practices of social media. At the same time, brands have the opportunity to sell rather than simply post content for the sake of it.

Now, promoting products via social can be a major mental hurdle for brands.

“I don’t want to sound like a pushy salesperson.”

“I’m just trying to grow my followers, not make sales.”

Totally understandable.

Here’s some food for thought, though. Social media, and marketing on Instagram especially, represents a prime place to convert followers into customers. Meanwhile, over half of all social users follow brands to learn about new products or services.

The takeaway here? Your followers are more than likely hungry for product-centric content than you think. Are you giving them what they want?

This is exactly what UGC marketing is so valuable – eCommerce shops can tactfully sell to their followers without sacrificing their brand identity or coming off as pushy.

As sales through UGC become the norm, those who get on the ground floor with tools such as shopable social feeds arguably have the most to gain.

Your Customers As Your Best Content

Want to generate more content without doing all the legwork yourself?

Want to give your products and ads a more personal touch?

UGC marketing can make both happen with ease.

Check out how United Colors of Benetton used their collection of UGC to show off their bright and eclectic products through images created by their customers on social media. This kind of content engages customers by providing real-life styling advice within their eCommerce:

A Flowbox UGC Flow on United Colors of Benetton's Website

Your followers and customers are arguably your best billboards as eCommerce conversion rates with UGC tend to increase. At the same time, asking those followers to create content is pretty straightforward.

Through branded hashtags and contests, social followers can share content on your behalf in an instant. Here’s another awesome lookbook example from CLUSE:

User Generated Content marketing

Sometimes social followers need that extra push, though. That’s why Instagram captions for eCommerce make all the difference when encouraging social UGC. Check out this well-crafted giveaway caption from Top Vintage:

The next step is perfecting how to create a hashtag for your brand. Asking for and encouraging UGC doesn’t have to be complicated. Captions and social posts which ask questions, request the use of a branded hashtag or encourage some action on behalf of your followers is a plus.

User Generated Content marketing is a win-win for followers and brands alike. eCommerce stores gain more opportunities to display their products in real-world setting while their followers are more engaged with their social feeds.

If nothing else, UGC can add some much-needed flavour to an otherwise stale or overly-promotional social presence.

How UGC Seals the Deal

If you’re worried less about social engagement and more worried about sales, you aren’t alone.

But bear in mind that the benefits of UGC go far beyond “Likes” and your follower count. There’s perhaps no better way to build trust with potential customers than through User Generated Content marketing.

How so? Well, ask yourself: do you always trust the loudest brand in the room? Or the brand that’s constantly being praised by its customers?

No-brainer, right?

From sealing the deal with skeptics to providing new buyers with peace of mind, UGC is the ultimate trust-builder. There’s a reason why eCommerce brands on Amazon stress so much about customer product ratings and product reviews.

Fitbit 2

Allowing feedback on-site in addition to customer photos adds yet another layer of trust and social proof for brands. Not only do reviews serve a good UX, but they also show that you already have a base of satisfied buyers.

Besides, nearly 90% of buyers put more stock into user reviews than anything else you could possibly say.

That’s why brands such as Ulta go to such great lengths to provide comprehensive, in-depth reviews for their customers. For example, let’s start with the star rating of a product…

Ulta 1

…and then a detailed overview of feedback aggregated from buyers…

Ulta 2

…and finally, individual customer reviews:

Ulta 3

Customer photos and feedback combined with product pages tick all the boxes that drive fickle traffic to smash the “buy” button. These subtle integrations could be the difference between your next sale and bounced traffic.

UGC Marketing Ideas and Inspiration by Industry

The beauty of User Generated Content marketing is that it can be leveraged across all industries. At the same time, the diverse wealth of UGC provides endless opportunities for new campaigns.

Fashion and clothing brands obviously have the most straightforward options to leverage UGC. Asking for and boosting customer photos is common practice these days. That being said, in the face of fierce competition it pays to inject personality into your UGC and captions. Here’s a good example from Chubbies, who regularly use humorous captions and memes to amuse their base:

Chubbies Insta

Meanwhile, many clothing brands also use “professional” UGC to their advantage. Here’s another example from Chubbies, this time from their Facebook page:

Chubbies FB

Fashion brands are tasked with finding a balance between product photos, hired models and UGC. The more options brands have, the better in terms of keeping their social feeds fresh.

But what about brands beyond the world of fashion?

Fear not. As a rule of thumb, just about any physical product or service is worthy of a UGC campaign. Here’s a rule of thumb: if your customers can take a picture while using your product or service,  you can sow the seeds of an effective campaign.

For example, check out how home brands like Nest encourage user’s to submit videos from the fans and followers through their hashtag on Facebook:

Nest FB

… and photos on Instagram:

Nest Insta

eCommerce brands that specialise in novelty gifts and subscription boxes likewise have content strategies rooted in UGC. Lootcrate is a prime example of a company that’s killing it right now with Instagram marketing. They absolutely love showing off follower photos displaying their nerdy gifts and freebies:

Lootcrate 1

Barkbox is another example of a niche brand doing UGC right. They clearly know their audience who are more than willing to share photos of their pets which tend to get shared around like crazy:


Finally, just because your company lacks a physical product doesn’t mean that User Generated Content marketing is beyond your reach. For those selling digital products or working in the SaaS space, screenshots are just another form of customer photo, after all.

Photo-editing service Canva does a great job by integrating UGC into their social feeds. Their content both shows off the creativity of their followers and the power of their product:

Canva Insta

Similarly, Adobe is often praised for their creative User Generated campaigns, providing that you don’t necessarily need photos of flesh-and-blood people to stop followers in their tracks:


Again, there are few “hard and fast” rules when it comes to UGC marketing. Even if your product is your website itself, content such as retweets and positive feedback can be leveraged as well.

Remember: UGC spans across all industries. If you have customers and followers, you have the foundation for a campaign.

You Don’t Have to Miss the Boat on UGC

When you realise just how prevalent and useful UGC is in modern marketing, it’s all admittedly a bit overwhelming.

That said, it’s all the more reason to embrace UGC marketing campaigns sooner rather than later. Besides, data tells us that such campaigns aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

User Generated Content currently dominates the realm of social media. Brands are living and dying by their reviews and reputations. eCommerce shops are scrambling to find ways to keep customers on the page and make sure they return after they’ve made their latest purchase.

All the while, User Generated Content marketing represents the ideal solution for brands looking to create more content and a more dedicated base of customers. Considering that User Generated campaigns are on the rise, it’s certainly not too late to hop on board. As visual commerce is here to stay and the number of new online brands increases, eCommerce stores that are able to leverage their customers’ photos and feedback are best poised for more dedicated customers and followers.

If you’re still skeptical about UGC or simply haven’t gotten started yourself, what’s holding you up? Don’t know where to start? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Where does UGC come from?

UGC originates from consumers or your audience, including their posts, comments, reviews, and other contributions.

What is a UGC content strategy?

A UGC content strategy involves encouraging and leveraging consumer-generated content to enhance brand engagement and authenticity.

What is an example of UGC strategy?

An example of a UGC strategy is running a social media contest where followers share photos or videos featuring your product.

How to promote UGC?

Promote UGC by creating dedicated hashtags, featuring user content on your website or social media, and incentivizing participation through rewards or recognition.

What is UGC and why is it important?

UGC is important because it fosters community engagement, builds trust, and provides authentic perspectives on products or services, which can significantly influence purchasing decisions.