Community Building for User-Generated Content: Part II

By Genny Toddy • March 15, 2023

Welcome to UGC 101! Part 1 introduced the benefits of user-generated content. Now, the second of this two-part series will show you how to build your community as a foundation for mining the best UGC.

Now that you have an idea of what user-generated content is, the next step is to foster a community rich with UGC. “Foster” is the key word here.

Change the “If You Build It, They Will Come” Mindset

A lot of your members’ community spaces are social media platforms that are free, and your members are used to working in them. Another dedicated space to commune may not be needed, but you should have a presence where your members already are. Why? They’re already there and engaging. Your association should be, too.

Members who engage on social media are superstars for content needs. They’re more likely to respond to feedback requests, they’re already engaged in a public platform and most folks tend to provide multimedia – images of their spaces, colleagues, communities – and more.

It’s likely that you do not need to create a new space for members to engage, though that can certainly occur. Chances are, though, that your Millennial and Gen Z members are already somewhere, you just need to be there, too.

Instead of focusing on building a new space from scratch, create one where they already are. Perhaps your association has a Facebook page, but it’s inactive. Re-engage your association and find the people who are already active there.

Find what your members are already discussing and make that part of your editorial plan. What questions are they asking? What resources do they need? What do they want more or less of?

Voice & Tone

If you already have a solid content plan in place, you probably have an idea of the voice and tone you use in your communications. Consistency is key, but so is uniqueness. There also needs to be room for tone adjustments – reaching out to businesses about booking booth space probably will have a more serious tone than your association’s young leaders’ mixer recap. However, both tones are perfect for building a robust, three-dimensional presence.

If social media has shown us anything, it’s that a relatable brand voice is attractive, especially for Millennials and Gen Z. For an example, see Duolingo’s TikTok page. It’s been called unhinged – which means people are talking about it.

There’s a good chance that the active users you’ve found on any platform have a unique voice/tone of their own. For associations, these are usually business members, so you can likely take cues from how they write for your own voice. A blend of professional, confident, and conversational will be your best friend.


Now that you have an idea of how to build a community rich in UGC, the potentially most important step is to make sure you have permission to use that content. You should have a specific timeframe in mind, as well as what platforms will be used to share content. Will there be photos or video? Who will likely see it? What copyright information applies to this content? Providing your members with this information upfront when you request to repurpose content will signal confidence and shows how the association will collaborate with users rather than simply mining for the content. The bottom line: No one should be surprised to see their content repurposed. Getting permission to repurpose your community’s content is non-negotiable.


Another way to mine for UGC is at your events. At your convention, regional meetings, or any kind of event, humans like to interact with one another. Whether it’s the extroverted networking events or the safety of a screen for introverts, there’s room for everyone to connect and contribute. Give your event a hashtag, then scour that tag for excellent content. Pre-, during-, and post-event content adds up quickly.


That’s the real meaning behind all of this. We talk about engagement, ROI, and other business buzzwords, but those buzzwords are a symptom of the very human desire for connection. People want to be in communities with others. That’s why social media is so successful. That’s why people attend events. That’s what makes us human.

About The Author

Genny is a digital content specialist with Naylor, a proud pet parent and nap enthusiast. Reach her at [email protected].