Step 4.2: How to drive user generated content

Step 4.2: How to drive user generated content

If you can motivate users to generate content for your community it saves you from creating so much. Overall, this will save you both money and time. It also creates a more diverse range of content with a wider variety of approaches and opinions.

UGC content and authenticity

One of the key and most underrated reasons for encouraging user generated content is trust. Simply put, content created by users rather than the brand seems more authentic and therefore trusted.

Encouraging community members to generate content

To understand why members take time to create content requires a deeper understanding of  why people need to belong to communities. Different members have different levels of involvement with the community and therefore different motivations. 

Man and woman drawing on a whiteboard

Hierarchy of needs

If you’ve studied psychology or sales you’ll be familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs. This is a motivational theory based on the priority of needs. The lowest level are physiological needs, air, water etc. Safety needs form the next level, security, health etc. Communities are able to contribute to motivation in levels above these.

A hierarchy graph


This is the level above safety. It is why we emphasise belonging and positivity in online communities. Communities help motivate in a number of areas. For example, the feeling of belonging, member-to-member and member-to-host friendship, sense of connection around community theme, subscriber status.

We can use this type of motivation to generate user content with the following types of activity:

  • Share your workplace

  • Share your tips for...

  • What do you like?

  • Tell your favorite story of…

  • Share how you use...

Essentially encouraging content creation around belonging and the community purpose. Therefore, this will apply to all members and result in many contributions of smaller pieces of UGC.

three men sat together


Fewer community members will be driven by esteem. However, for highly engaged members and the main content contributors this is their prime motivation.

The community helps meet their needs through: Likes on content, positive comments and replies to comments, messages of thanks, identity and assumed role within community, shares of content. We can use esteem to encourage the development content like:

  • How to guides…

  • Review of…

  • … in ten steps

  • How I learned to…

  • Dealing with...

Find members that have contributed through engagement or longer answers in threads and directly ask them to create content. Don't forget to praise and give recognition when completed.

Think positive written on the wall


This is the desire to be all one can be. It is the motivation for a few dedicated community members to create long in-depth content or to volunteer to undertake complex tasks. Also, getting this high value content created by users requires very good communication and sensitive handling. Breaking these big tasks down into small pieces will increase the likelihood of completion.

Alternatives: Could I just give them money?

Yes, of course some communities do exactly that and give users points for generating content or contributing. Then rewards users with cash at the end of the month. There are two disadvantages to this approach. One is obviously the cost, as motivating people to work for you means that you have to pay them enough (and has legal consequences). The other issue is that it encouraged financially driven members. Therefore, it discourages members who are driven mainly by passion around the brand from producing high quality content.

Overall, all these tips should hopefully encourage members of your online community to generate more content. Above all, this will make your life easier but also encourage involvement in the community.

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