UGC: What it is and How to Use it Correctly

If you are running a business, trying to keep up with social media and feeling the pressure to create fresh content, you will benefit from adding User Generated Content (UGC) into your marketing strategy.

Never heard of UGC? Fear not, as in this post we are going to tell you a) what it is b) how to use it and c) why it could be your new best friend.

Help! What is UGC?

UGC is online content, created and displayed publicly by others—it could be an Instagram picture, a Facebook post, an image on Flickr, a Wikipedia entry or a YouTube video. It is any kind of existing content that (if permission has been granted) businesses or social media managers can curate and repost, using it to fill their feed with beautiful pictures and to market their brand.

Have you ever noticed your favorite restaurant posting Instagram pictures from well-known foodies, giving them picture credit in the caption? Perhaps you remember Coca-Cola sharing images of their followers with personalized bottles during their "Share a Coke" campaign? Or how about Starbucks reposting consumers’ pictures during their 2016 Red Cup Art promo? These are all examples of UGC.

But How Do I Use It?

Just because Instagram pictures, Snaps, Facebook videos and suchlike are posted on social media, they aren’t free of copyright issues. While some consumers may be happy to have their pictures reposted, it’s worth remembering that not everyone feels this way and others could take offense and even pursue legal action if material is reposted without their consent.

Social media analyst Susan Etlinger addressed the ethics behind permission requests in her recent paper, The Impact of Digital Content: Opportunities and Risks of Creating and Sharing Information Online:

“Social media platforms can appear to provide an unending source of free content. However, just because this information appears on the internet does not make it accessible for unbridled use. When looking to incorporate user-derived content, people should be aware of applicable copyright licenses and of the various terms of agreement that users have signed with social media sites.”

There are infinite examples of people and/or businesses using UGC without asking for permission, simply adding in photo credit as a hat tip to the content creator. Yet, by the letter of the law, you should always, ALWAYS ask for explicit approval.

In most cases, it’s very easy to do – just ask! Request approval and tell the content creator how and where the image/video will be used. In the example below, we asked to use an image from Oahu photographer, Misha Kreker (@ikreker) on our own social media channels:

There are other ways—some brands ask for approval in the way of a branded hashtag, as seen in the UGC here, reposted by Air BnB with #airbnbphoto.

Make sure when you post your own curated UGC that you both tag the content creator and mention them with picture credit in the caption.

Another option for generating UGC is creating an online picture competition for your business. Here, online followers are encouraged to submit their own pictures with a unique, branded hashtag and in your competition rules, explicitly state where and how their entries will be reposted.

UGC: My New Best Friend?

If you are a social media marketer or a business owner who needs material, trust us, you will grow to love UGC.

Not only do you get fresh, beautiful content to curate and add to your social content calendar but you will seriously improve your promotion efforts: Studies have shown that UGC is 35 per cent more memorable than other media and that it is a whopping 50 per cent more trusted than other media!

UGC also encourages engagement and drives follower counts, it makes your fans feel seen and heard, it humanizes your brand and it gives an accurate and unbiased representation of your business. As long as you use it correctly, UGC is a must for any social media marketing efforts.

Confused? Have questions? Want to make Cake Media (and not UGC…) your new best friend? Contact us today!

Imua Family Services

We recently had the good fortune of meeting the incredible team at Imua Family Services—a Maui non-profit organization that provides early developmental services for children with special needs, as well as support and resources for their families.

“Imua Family Services’ mission is to, ‘Empower children and their families to reach their full potential.’ Our programs and staff assist children and their families overcome developmental learning challenges in their most critical formative years using play-based instruction designed to help them move forward.”

We were blown away when we found out about the work that Imua carries out here in Maui County and, needless to say, we were delighted and honored to work with them on two very different fundraising projects in the first half of 2017.

Imua Family Services' main headquarters in Kahului, Maui.

Imua Family Services' main headquarters in Kahului, Maui.

The first was the Imua Ball, an annual fundraising gala held at the Hyatt Regency Maui. This year’s event, the Platinum Jubilee, celebrated 70 years of operation for the non profit.

Cake Media were there to help with social media, mostly in managing Imua’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts on the day of the event. Taking on Imua's voice and using it across all our posts, we built up anticipation in the hours leading up to the ball, then covered the festivities as they happened. Our aim was to raise awareness, while encouraging engagement, new followers and—importantly—donations. You can still donate by the way, right here!

We were also taken on by Imua to manage a team of local social media influencers who were helping to get the word out, thank sponsors and spread the use of the #imuaball hashtag. Cake Media had pre-prepared event guides, with key information about the Ball, its performers and key event sponsors and were on hand to provide support as and when needed.

Social Media Prep Kits, created for the Maui influencers.

Social Media Prep Kits, created for the Maui influencers.

The second time we worked with Imua was Saturday May 6 on the 2017 Bluesmiths Paddle Imua, a race from Maliko Gulch to Kahului Harbor. The annual downwinder is open to a number of disciplines, including outrigger canoes (OC-1, OC-2, OC-6), Stand-up Paddle Boards (SUP), Surf Skis, Prone Boards and Hydrofoil SUP.

All funds raised from this event go to Camp Imua—a week-long camp for Imua’s children aged 6 to 16. Here they have an opportunity to do all kinds of fun activities such as horseback riding, ziplining and flying in a helicopter, to name just a few.   

We know the Maliko race well, having paddled it ourselves a handful of times in an OC-6 and we were in our element working at this event, considering our mutual love of paddling and Laura’s passion for and history of covering sports (yep-that’s my first love! – LG)

Image courtesy of Paddle Imua

Image courtesy of Paddle Imua

Based at the finish line, Jenny took on the social accounts for Imua Family services – covering the day’s events from a human-interest angle that would make sense to existing and potential followers. 

Starting at the Maliko Gulch start line before zipping back to Kahului Harbor to see the athletes cross the finish line, Laura took over the social pages for Paddle Imua, sharing content before, during and after the race. Laura’s content was geared more towards people that might have been entering the race, paddlers, sponsors, water people, etc – focusing less on the human interest angle and more on the sport, the conditions, the athletes and the action. Taking on different “voices” for the clients and the respective social media pages that we manage is something that we love to do.

To make a long story short, we had a blast. We relish new challenges and what could be better than working with such an incredible organization and cause? 

For more on Imua Family Services and Paddle Imua, give them a follow on Instagram!

Thanks for reading! Laura and Jenny

Cake Media Turns One!

Cake Media turns one this week, happy birthday (cakeday?) to us!

We have learned a lot over the last 12 months, as we’ve navigated the ups and downs of being a brand new business, not to mention wearing the many hats it requires. From accountant, to human resources department to contract negotiator to social media manager, graphic designer, editor, photographer and more, we do it all. It has been an interesting learning curve to say the least.

However, more than anything, the last year has been FUN. Being able to do what we love and to work together (in Maui!) as sisters, it really doesn't get better than that.

Not to mention, we have connected and worked with some incredible individuals and companies here on the island and we feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to do so.

Thank you so much to all our clients, family and friends who have helped and supported us in getting Cake Media off the ground. We couldn't have done it without your words of advice, cups of coffee, child and dog sitting, patience, encouragement, slices of cake, referrals and—it would be remiss of us not to mention—your likes, shares and follows on social media.

We have made so many great relationships over the last year and we can’t wait to see what comes next.

Thank you for visiting our site and here’s to the next year of Cake Media!

Laura and Jenny

Facebook Messenger Bot Updates - An Overview

Earlier this month, at the 2017 F8 developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg revealed significant updates to Facebook Messenger Bots.

What are Messenger Bots? In a nutshell, Chatbots (shortened from Chat Robots), are a form of interactive artificial intelligence, designed to simulate human conversation. They assist with simple tasks, such as online ordering, checking into flights and/or hotels, plus helping businesses to answer repetitive questions from their customers.

Image from Facebook Newsroom 

Image from Facebook Newsroom 

They have been around for a while on Facebook, ever since the Beta version was launched in 2016. The initial rollout did experience problems, most notably in terms of users having the ability to search for bots. However, with Messenger 2.0 there is now a Discover tab, where you can search for the best bots, places and businesses on Messenger. This includes bots specific to certain regions, in categories such as Food and Drink, Entertainment and News (note that developers must apply to have their bot included in Discover). 

Also, Chat Extensions now allows groups of friends to interact with a bot as part of a group chat—they can order to-go food together, make a shopping list, choose a hotel and book their stays as a group, paying for this all natively through Messenger.

Facebook also now lets businesses create Messenger Codes. Here, customers can launch a conversation with the right bot just by scanning a QR code (although whether QR codes will experience a surge in popularity is a completely different conversation…).

It’s worth pointing out at this stage that Facebook Messenger has 1.2 billion monthly users Worldwide. These users are already checking back multiple times daily to chat with friends. Now they can chat directly with, buy and receive updates from businesses without having to download any new apps. 

David Marcus, image from Facebook Newsroom 

David Marcus, image from Facebook Newsroom 

As David Marcus, VP of Messenger, said at F8: "We think of Messenger as being like the new social living room for the world, where people can hang out, share, chat, play games or buy things, while still being able to reach nearly everyone, wherever they are. We now think we are combining two tools of the past — the telephone directory (the way we used to find people) with the Yellow Pages (the way we used to find businesses)."

Right now bots are made through third parties and creating a professional one for your company is a job for a web developer. However, small businesses without the necessary resources can experiment with Facebook’s new Smart Replies feature. As Facebook put it, “This is where Page admins can now turn on automatic replies powered by artificial intelligence.” Available to restaurants in the United States and getting rolled out later in the year, this feature turns a company's most frequently-asked questions, such as business hours and location, into automatically generated replies.

Here are the thoughts of Pepijn Rivers, Chief Marketing Officer of "With more than 1.2 billion active users, Messenger gives us the perfect opportunity to extend the reach of our own messaging platform, enabling us to potentially converse with a significant chunk of the earth’s population. It also serves as an additional channel to supply our customers with the information they need - we simply take our chatbot straight to them. Just as with the app, it empowers travelers to reach out to us anytime, wherever they are in the world."

It’s not yet clear whether Messenger Bots will be the resounding viral success that Facebook are driving for but to us it really does feel like the next big thing.

Have you tried using Chat bots yet? Let us know below.

Graphic Design = Happy Place

Graphic Design is a big part of what we do at Cake Media and recently we have been kept happily busy with a number of new projects.

Jenny is our in-house graphic designer, with skills that cover a wide range of services, including; logo, apparel, business cards and packaging, plus custom illustration and web design.

In this post, we are going to take a look back at some of her latest work, starting with a project for Taverna.

A relatively new Maui restaurant, Taverna approached Cake Media to design a poster to advertise their 2017 Easter Brunch Buffet. Inspired by the beautiful urban-rustic look of the Italian bar and eatery, Jenny designed the following piece—delivering it not only in multiple poster sizes but also as a double-sided flyer, in newspaper ad format and resized for marketing across social media. 


Business card design is something we get asked about frequently and the example you see below is one that Jenny designed for a Maui startup who were thinking about dipping their toes into the women’s yoga and activewear scene.


When it comes to apparel, Jenny has a lot of design experience. In England, back in 2003, she created her own clothing company, GFTD. Inspired by extreme sports, she featured a range of men’s and women’s t-shirts, hoodies and hats. Locally, if you have purchased one of Lahaina Town Action Committee’s famous Halloween t-shirts in recent years, Jenny is the one who designed it!


In 2016, as one of our first official projects for Cake Media, Jenny designed Star Noodle's “30 Acts of Aloha” t-shirt. We get such a kick out of seeing people wearing this in Maui and posted online.

"30 Acts of Aloha" t-shirt design, modeled here by Star Noodle's Sarah B! 

"30 Acts of Aloha" t-shirt design, modeled here by Star Noodle's Sarah B! 

In short, if you ask Jenny to design a hat, logo, custom tee or just about anything—she is officially in her happy place. 

Need custom graphic design for YOUR business? Contact us today! 

Thank you for reading, Laura and Jenny