Using User Generated Content: A Lesson from the #1 Building Industry Brand in Social Media

May 14, 2018

In our last blog post, we explored passion points and how the top five building industry brands use social media to tap into them. We also examined their content mix, demonstrating how a healthy variety keeps followers engaged and loyal.

But there’s another element that any brand in any industry needs to include to be successful in social media: user-generated-content (UGC). In fact, UGC is 50% more trusted by Internet users than any other kind of content. (Just check out this Adweek infographic explaining why).

Today we’ll explore why UGC is so important as well as four ways that Milwaukee Tool, the top ranked company in our Top 50 building industry brands in social media, uses it phenomenally well across their social media channels.

  • Frequent use
  • Proper Crediting
  • Obtaining UGC
  • Clear Hashtag Usage

A UGC Wonderland

Take one look at Milwaukee Tool’s Instagram channel, and you’ll see a wonderland of UGC. The frequent use of it instantly appeals to its 276K+ followers, and makes the brand feel relatable and authentic.

Followers are less likely to feel pushed by sales and marketing messages; followers instantly feel encouraged to share in the enthusiasm about the products and the euphoria of getting the job done. Followers become a part of a community of like-minded people and even share their own content (creating online advocacy).


Proper Crediting

One of the rules in using third-party content is that brands must give proper credit to the source. This certainly goes for using followers’ content, too. You’ll notice that Milwaukee Tool always credits their followers when they use their content.


Now, this next part is IMPORTANT! Be very careful to not give away personally identifiable information (PII) when crediting an individual. In most circumstances, this means not sharing the person’s first and last name. Providing their social media handle is acceptable in some cases. We recommend working with your legal team or consult with an expert agency such as ours to help you build clear rules and make sure your policies are clear.

Obtaining UGC

One way that brands can obtain UGC is by simply asking followers to share. This is most helpful when you’ve a rather new community, a new UGC strategy, or a specific kind of content you’re seeking.

But one thing that happens when UGC is a primary content format is followers often volunteer their own content in post comments and on their own channels (by using a hashtag), even if the company doesn’t explicitly ask. This is a sign of true community. Here’s an example from one of their Facebook posts:


When followers share content – whether it’s an image or phrase – a company must obtain proper permissions to do so. Again, this is an area that you should consult with your legal and expert teams on in order to keep your brand out of hot water.

Clear Hashtag Usage

Hashtags may be on the most basic features in social media, but they are also one of the most incorrectly used. All too often, we see brands that include too many in a post, expecting followers to understand how, when and why to use it too. Or, they may have branded hashtags but aren’t seemingly used in regular cadence and without clear direction. If you want to curate UGC through hashtags, then tell your followers, regularly, which one to use and stick to it. And of course, fulfill your implied promise by then choosing UGC to share on your channels with those hashtags so people can get the hang of it.

Milwaukee Tool does have a few hashtags in rotation, as you can see from their Instagram profile and posts:


It’s okay to have a few hashtags, as long as you’re clear and concise when applying them. Here’s a great example from their #ToolCollectionTuesday UGC series:


Your Turn

In an industry ripe with rich visuals and passionate advocates, building product manufacturers have ample opportunity to make UGC a major piece of their content marketing strategy. Are you using it in the best ways possible?

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