User-Generated Content on Social Media: Building Trust and Credibility

Posted by Ritesh Vatwani - Oct 10, 2023 10 Min readSocial Media


Today, trust and credibility are crucial for potential customers in the consideration stage of their buyer’s journey. A key question businesses should be asking at this stage is how prospects decide what information is considered valuable or credible.

Well, 93% of marketing professionals believe user-generated content (UGC) holds more value than brand content. UGC is content customers make about a brand, shared on social media or other platforms through videos, reviews, product testimonials, and even tutorials.

There are multiple reasons why user-generated content has become so important over the years. Therefore, today’s businesses need to know how to leverage UGC effectively to earn their customers’ trust and build brand credibility. 

Building Trust Through UGC

The internet is full of user-generated content, which has a massive impact on guiding customers through the buyer’s journey. It offers businesses a chance to engage their customers and build trust. In fact, consumers are 2.4 times more likely to pay attention to UGC than other forms of content.

So, how exactly does user-generated content build trust in a brand?

Shared Experiences

UGC has gained popularity because it offers a glimpse into real-life experiences with products or services that resonate with people, especially a brand’s target audience. This allows potential customers to relate and empathize with other users depicted in media, ultimately strengthening the brand’s image.

The shared experiences between users make them feel like they are part of a larger community and brand beyond their interactions with a single product. 

Peer Influence and Social Proof

Peer influence and social proof play prominent roles in building consumer trust by tapping into the human need for belonging and acceptance. When we witness someone we know and admire using a product or service, it persuades us to try it.

A study reveals that 91% of consumers (young adults aged 18-34) trust personal recommendations and online reviews while purchasing goods/services. However, for a brand to leverage UGC effectively, the trustworthiness of the user-generated content needs to be considered when deciding whether to share it on social media channels.

The Psychology Behind It

Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to buy products recommended by people they know than products recommended by strangers. In fact, 92% of people turn to friends and acquaintances for product/service recommendations.

This is because we have an innate level of trust in the authenticity of our peers and friends. If a friend recommends a product or service, you might be more inclined to try it because you trust their opinion is honest. 

Case Studies

Apple – Shot on iPhone

Apple has always been ahead in winning over its consumers’ trust and maintaining its brand’s credibility. The #ShotOnAniPhone campaign showcased the camera’s features and modes, allowing users to share their photos and videos on social media using the hashtag. This demonstrated that even a layperson can be a pro with the camera’s professional-level capabilities, solidifying trust in the product.

Volkswagen- My VW Story

Another instance is Volkswagen’s Instagram campaign, which encouraged individuals to share pictures of their cars using the hashtags #MyVWStory and #vwlove. Volkswagen cleverly incorporated this hashtag into their Instagram profile, creating a space where anyone could easily access all user-generated photos. The remarkable outcome has resulted in a following of over nine million on Instagram.

Building Credibility with User-Generated Content

Evidently, UGC is essential to building trust in today’s social marketing landscape. Now, let’s look at why leveraging user-generated content can build a brand’s credibility. 

Establishing Authority Through UGC

To nurture credibility among your audience, utilizing user-generated content is a potent social media strategy. UGC enables you to showcase your brand’s expertise through actual customers, which can significantly enhance how your authority is perceived. Ultimately, every business aspires to establish itself as a trusted figure within its industry.

Influencers, content creators, and even just loyal customers are ready to promote your brand and become its ambassadors; their content establishes your credibility in the space and strengthens your exposure. Moreover, this type of content can also help boost your authority on search engines, helping you rank higher.

Utilizing User-Generated Video Content

When establishing credibility, user-generated videos like testimonials and tutorials are particularly valuable. When potential buyers research products, 80% switch between video and online search, making video a powerful marketing tool. And there’s nothing more powerful than leveraging video content by authentic customers.

User-generated content is inherently more trustworthy than branded content. Companies can build credibility with their audiences by showcasing real customers’ opinions and testimonials on their websites. This form of content also helps create a better understanding of the product/service for consumers, thereby simultaneously building authority in the field. 

Leveraging User-Generated Content To Drive Engagement

In addition to bolstering credibility, UGC can drive leads and sales by increasing your website or blog engagement. Suppose someone has already interacted with your brand by creating user-generated content (UGC), such as writing a review on Yelp or leaving a comment on Facebook. In that case, they are more likely to engage when they come across ads or posts related to your business or industry.

Transparency and Credibility Go Hand in Hand

When UGC is transparent, it fosters credibility because it demonstrates to consumers that you are willing to show them what goes on behind the scenes. To harness the power of transparency, encourage users to leave reviews after purchasing or completing a service. You can also collect feedback through surveys or questionnaires, providing opportunities for all reviews, including constructive feedback.

Strategies to Harness the Power of User-Generated Content

Encourage Participation

One effective approach to collecting content from your customers is encouraging them through forums for customer feedback, reviews, contests, etc. Or, like in the case of Apple’s #ShotOnAniPhone, you can organize a social media campaign that inspires participation.

Provide Incentives and Rewards

People appreciate being recognized for sharing their opinions about products and services. By offering incentives like discounts, coupons, or exclusive benefits in exchange for submitting their content, individuals are more incentivized to share their thoughts.

Leveraging User-Generated Content for Marketing

Boost your digital presence by integrating UGC into your website and social media platforms.

  • Build a gallery on your site showcasing images from campaigns, product launches, events, or any other visual content that represents your brand’s activities.
  • Promote user-generated video tutorials on your website.
  • Share posts from a hashtag campaign on your socials. 

By leveraging existing UGC, you can engage your target audience and foster a sense of community around your brand while saving costs on creating your own content. 

Final Thoughts

User-generated content (UGC) is pivotal in today’s social media marketing landscape, affecting the buyer’s journey at every stage.

UGC not only builds trust through shared experiences and peer influence but also establishes credibility by showcasing authentic customers’ voices and expertise.

In a world with abundant choice and multitudes of content, authenticity and credibility reign supreme. UGC emerges as a valuable asset in the marketer’s toolkit, enhancing brand trust and credibility in the eyes of consumers.

Posted by  Ritesh Vatwani - Oct 10, 202310 Min readSocial Media

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