Real Stories, Real Customers: Leveraging User Content for Growth

With 90% of customers choosing products based on recommendations, leveraging your existing customer base is a powerful way to attract new clients and grow your business. Encouraging customers to share their stories about your products or services helps to build a genuine image, which, in turn, draws in new leads.

Prospective customers long for authentic reviews and pictures when choosing where to buy. In fact, 69% of shoppers claim to use social media as a source of inspiration to make a purchase. The numbers speak for themselves.

Do you want to start utilising your customer base but aren’t sure where to begin? The following article explores effective tactics to generate quality user-driven content for your brand.

Build trust using customer reviews

In a market flooded with companies offering excellent products, we cannot help but ask: what distinguishes the successful ones from those that fail? Ultimately, it comes down to how much people know and, most importantly, trust your brand. One of the main sources influencing consumer trust and decision-making is customer reviews – they care about recommendations from real people, preferably with pictures. A whopping 60% of shoppers said they would rather purchase a product with 10 reviews and real user images than 200 reviews with no images.

Motivating customers to leave reviews not only generates organic content for your brand but also provides crucial insights into your products and overall service. It’s a channel for your customers to speak with you directly and tell you what they like about your product and what could be improved. You can incentivise reviewers by offering discounts or coupons, entering them into a lucrative draw, or offering points and loyalty rewards.

Generate user-led buzz through creative campaigns

A simple yet effective way to inspire customers to create engaging messages and visuals for your brand is to launch a creative campaign that promotes content sharing. Let’s take a leaf out of Coca-Cola’s book and look at its viral #ShareACoke marketing campaign. This iconic initiative encouraged people to personalise Coke bottles with their names or small messages and share photos of these bottles on social media using the branded hashtag. Coca-Cola featured the most creative and heartfelt submissions on its website, turning the campaign into a global phenomenon that boosted brand engagement and visibility across various social platforms. As a result, an additional 1.25 million teenagers sampled Coca-Cola the following summer, and sales of participating Coca-Cola products surged by 11% in the US alone.

In addition to creating a branded hashtag, you can enhance your website with a specific landing page for user-generated content. For added impact, select a domain name that clearly describes your business and the purpose of the page, e.g., or This strategic approach can efficiently direct your customers to genuine content and bolster your brand narrative.

Offer something in return with a social media contest

When it comes to user-generated content, social media is an absolute goldmine. Outside of helping you summon your customer base via creative initiatives and branded hashtags, as illustrated by the Coca-Cola campaign, you can also encourage real stories, videos, and comments by starting a carefully crafted social media contest.

Chipotle provides another example of a marketing masterclass. In 2020, the international fast-food chain launched the #ChipotleRoyalty contest on TikTok, having David Dobrik invite users to post a "creative TikTok video explaining why their Chipotle is superior" for a chance to win $10,000 in cash for their featured menu item. The original video generated millions of views, which led to thousands of entries from people seeking the lucrative prize. The competition helped Chipotle grow its TikTok base, strengthening its brand recognition and appeal to new customers.

Final thoughts: Lead with authenticity and honesty

Honest, user-generated content remains the cornerstone of an effective marketing strategy. Numerous examples showcase how it amplifies your brand’s credibility and deeply resonates with consumers looking for genuine experiences and recommendations. It's an authentic pathway toward building lasting customer loyalty and sustainable business growth.