How To Get Permission To Use User-Generated Content

All the best ways to obtain legal permission to use user-generated content in your marketing.

User-Generated Content, or UGC, is one of the most powerful tools you can use to attract attention and promote your offering. It's trustworthy, it's engaging, and it's the single best way to authentically show off your offering and connect with an audience.

The two best ways you can encourage the creation and sharing of user-generated content are:

What's great about these types of campaigns is that by encouraging fans and customers to create UGC and share it with their own followings you will be able to put authentic branded content in front of a relevant new audience.

As impactful as this is, there are times where you'll want to amplify the reach of your UGC and share it through your own channels. This can be achieved to some extent with Retweets and Facebook Shares, but if you want to share UGC on Instagram, or from your own Facebook and Twitter profiles with ownership over the post then you'll need to get permission from the users who created the content.

In this post we'll show you exactly how you can get the permission you need to showcase all of your highly valuable user-generated content.

If you run a hashtag campaign or a photo contest which asks users to create and share content it is typically implied that you have permission to repost it from your own profile with proper attribution.

This is called implicit permission, and while it will generally suffice it's far from foolproof. For instance, people can easily use a branded hashtag without understanding its purpose or realising that they're giving you the go ahead to use their content.

You don't want to post anyone's UGC without their permission, even accidentally, as this has the potential to lead to a tarnished brand image and even legal action in rare cases. Because of this it's a good idea to always make sure you're getting explicit permission.

The best ways to get explicit permission to use UGC are:

  • Directly asking users for permission to repost their content from your own profile.
  • Ensuring that everyone who enters your photo contest has been clearly informed by your terms and conditions that you intend to use and post submissions.

Directly asking users if you can repost their content is the most explicit way you can go about obtaining permission to use user-generated content as a part of your own promotional efforts.

This is an especially good approach to take if you're collecting UGC from hashtags, mentions, or other public sources where users can easily submit content without realising that you intend to share it through your own channels.

A bonus of directly asking users for permission to use their content is that it's also a great way to connect with your audience on a personal level, making them feel incredibly valued and building loyalty.

The best ways to ask for permission are by sending direct messages to users or commenting on the content you want to use. However you decide to reach out you should keep things brief and friendly, and always make sure you're doing it from your brand's official profile.

Ask customers if you can use their photos in Instagram comments

If you ask for permission in the comments you'll even be able to help build your public presence and help cultivate a personable and relatable brand image.

When you comment on people's posts you need to make sure you're getting clear confirmation that you have permission to use their content. Something you may want to try is asking users to use a unique hashtag to confirm that you have permission so that when you're looking for some UGC to post you can just search through the hashtag to find all the content you've been given explicit permission to use.

PetSmart uses hashtags to get permission to use UGC

Reaching out to everyone whose content you want to use might seem like a hassle, but when you consider how effective UGC is, and how much it can save you on content production it's well and truly worth the effort.

Just remember to always properly credit your content creators when you post UGC. Not only is it the proper way to do things, but it will also help add credibility to your UGC and boost authenticity and engagement.

When you run a photo contest it's generally implied that by entering users are granting you permission to use their content, but to cover all your bases it's still important that you're making this perfectly clear.

You should always have an easily accessible set of terms and conditions for your photo contest that explicitly states that by entering the contest users are giving you permission to use their content. You can direct users to your terms and conditions from all posts promoting your contest, or you can even provide them in the post itself or a comment below it.

If you run a photo contest that allows users to enter by simply posting a photo with your designated hashtag there's still a chance that people will use your hashtag and enter your contest without ever seeing your terms and conditions, or possibly even realising that your hashtag is part of a contest.

This can easily happen when people are exposed to your hashtag by other users rather than by your brand. This can cause permission issues to arise, so if your contest allows users to enter with a hashtag you should consider reaching out to entrants whose content you want to using and asking for permission directly.

Another option is to use a contest tool where entrants have to directly submit their content into your campaign. With Gleam's Competitions app you can easily run this type of photo contest and collect entries from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and offline files.

  Learn More   Use This Template

You can run these types of photo contests on your own website or on a hosted landing page and promote your contest and encourage participation through all of your social channels.

Running this type of photo contest makes it incredibly easy to not only collect tons of awesome UGC, but also get explicit permission to use all of it. With Gleam you can easily attach your terms and conditions to your contest so it's there for everyone to see. You can even require users to acknowledge that they've read your terms and conditions before entering.

Gleam User Details Form

This just goes to show that photo contests aren't only a great way to drive the creation and spread of valuable UGC, they also make it significantly easier to obtain permission to use all the content you collect in your own marketing efforts.

Learn More About Running Photo Contests

Find out everything you need to know about using contests to collect and share user-generated content.

While you need to get explicit permission to repost user-generated content from your own profiles, you can still freely share user-generated content in ways which amplify the reach of the content in its original form without taking ownership of it.

As we mentioned earlier, this includes sharing content through Retweets and Facebook shares. It can also include showcasing UGC on your own website in an stylish customer or community gallery.

With Gleam's Gallery app you can create your own user-generated content galleries that automatically import and display social media posts from hashtags, Instagram mentions and even photo contests.

When you run photo contests you can even allow users to vote for their favourite submissions inside your gallery and use their votes to help determine a winner.

And don't worry, you can easily curate your gallery so only the best content is going on display.

Since these galleries are collecting and showcasing public social media posts rather than posting user content from your own account you don't need to go to the effort of reaching out and getting explicit permission from every user whose content you want to display.

Having said that, you should still be announcing that users who use your hashtag or enter your photo contest may be featured.

Showcasing UGC in a gallery on your website is a brilliant way to show off highly authentic and engaging photos or videos of your customers and your offering in action. You can do this with full page galleries, or subtle carousel galleries that you can incorporate into any page on your site.

This is a great way to provide website visitors with all important social proof and give potential customers the levels of trust and engagement they might need to convert.

Check Out Gleam Galleries

Check out how you can use galleries to showcase your community, boost engagement and maximise conversions.


Ahron Burstin

Ahron is a Growth Marketer at Gleam. Shoot him a Tweet if you got something out of this post ☺