Consumers Consider User-generated Content (UGC) More Authentic than Paid Posts, Survey Finds

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Modern consumers have several ways to find and buy products and services. With many companies and brands competing for the people’s attention, which sources and content do they trust and find most persuasive in their purchasing decisions?

Stackla recently conducted a 2017 Consumer Content Report that surveyed 2,000 adults in the US, UK and Australia. They asked the respondents what content they make, trust, mention and are influenced by as a customer.

Here’s what they found:

  • Consumers crave authenticity.
  • Most consumers think brands are faking it.
  • They think user-generated content are the most authentic.
  • They see influencers as the least influential in purchasing decisions.
  • Fellow consumers fuel the cycle of social influence.

Consumers Crave Authenticity

Authenticity is more important than ever in a world full of endorsements, influencers and sponsored posts.

The survey showed that 86 percent of respondents consider authenticity as the deciding factor in choosing the brands they support.

Younger respondents are the least engaged with paid posts. With 90 percent of millennials saying brand authenticity is vital, opting for “real and organic” over “perfect and packaged” content.

Consumers Feel Brands Lack Authenticity

Around 57 percent of respondents think that less than half of brand-created content are authentic, according to the survey.

They can distinguish consumer-created content from brand-created content 70 percent of the time.

They can also tell if the brands are faking it, with 20 percent of consumers unfollowing brands on social media if their posts were inauthentic.

UGC Most Authentic

Social platforms now are ubiquitous. It allows you to share thoughts, experiences and recommendations via internet through one click of a button.

Written or visual social media content created by real people are the most genuine content for modern consumers. The survey showed that user-generated content is the most authentic for 60 percent of respondents.

Influencers Least Influential

For most consumers, authentic means the most influential.

While some brands still have influencer marketing at the pedestal for years and running, the survey showed that posts from celebrities and influencers have the least influence on the respondents’ purchasing decisions.

The report found that 60 percent of consumers check the social content of their family and friends before making a purchasing decision. But only 23 percent of respondents said celebrity influencers have the same impact.

Despite the results, online influencers still have a role in targeted marketing.

They can kickstart a user-generated content campaign. They are valuable for brands with a small group of active advocates.

Fellow Consumers Fuel Social Influence

UGC actively drives consumers in purchasing decisions. The survey showed that more than 50 percent of millennials check UGC on social media before making travel plans or eating at a restaurant.

Most people with positive experiences are likely to share about it online. About 48 percent of respondents said they posted the places they visited on social media at least twice a month. And about 39 percent of respondents post about food or beverages at the same rate.

Stackla found in its survey that most people have FOMO or fear of missing out. It has vastly influenced how people make their purchasing decisions.


Most consumers prefer real, organic content over perfectly packaged brand posts. They want trusted content shared by family and friends on social media. A level of authenticity that brands have yet to reach in their sponsored ads.

Social media marketers struggle to create the same engaging, compelling content that connects with their target audience. They constantly compete for consumer attention.

The best advice is to tap into influential user-generated content online and give people the level of authenticity they need.

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Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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