Creating content that stands out in the saturated ecommerce sphere is hard, especially for brands. The competition in the market is fierce, nobody wants to be sold to, and brands also have to stand out from the sea of global creators out there.
The key is to be more consumer-centric. No more hard-selling content. No more campaigns that the only focus is on increasing sales. Consumers expect brands to be authentic, and portray their community-driven values in the content they share. That’s where user-generated content (UGC) comes in.
Today, 85% of consumers find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos. Additionally, 61% of consumers trust influencer recommendations on social media, while only 38% trust brand content.
As the lines between UGC and influencer marketing have blurred and micro-influencers continue to dominate social engagement, a new type of creator has entered the mix: the UGC creator.
Let’s break down who they actually are and what they do.
UGC: A Quick Overview
Before we get into the details of UGC creators, let's brush up on the basics of user-generated content.
UGC is basically any type of media that’s been created by a user rather than a company or brand itself. That content is mostly for social media campaigns, from Instagram marketing to TikTok marketing.
UGC is important for brands to take advantage of because it helps you tap into your target market as your own media source, rather than hiring outside sources to do things like create advertisements and write blog posts for you.
Cosmetics brand Temptu features UGC from real customers via Instagram Reels and Posts as well as TikTok.
Since the content is created by 'real' people from the point of view of a customer, it's more personalized, authentic, and trustworthy. UGC also tends to blend in with other content shared by users on social media. Users will scroll past an overly produced, obvious advertisement on TikTok, but watch videos from brand accounts that look like the other content on the “For You” page.
This is crucial for marketing, as consumers depend on the recommendations and experiences from people they can relate to. The stats show that 92% of consumers trust word of mouth more than any kind of advertising.
Lamps Plus uses Pixlee TurnTo to automatically collect, curate, and publish UGC from happy customers across the brand’s marketing channels, including shoppable website displays.
What Is a UGC Creator?
Besides leveraging the power of UGC from customers in your marketing campaigns, you can also use UGC creators to help you grow your online community and spread the word about your brand.
UGC creators are people that create content that feels like UGC, showcasing a product or service in the form of photos, videos, blog posts, reviews, social media posts, and more. While their content tends to be more polished and high-quality than everyday social posts, these creators specialize in framing products and lifestyles as attainable, attractive, and authentic.
UGC creators differ from influencers in the sense that their value doesn’t lie in their online presence, posts coming from their accounts, or the audience they’ve built. Instead, the focus is on building engaging, original content that a brand can use on its own channels like an ecommerce website and social media. More on this later.
This new form of content creator is gaining momentum for a few reasons:
No need to reveal face or identity in content created
Unlike influencers, UGC creators don’t need to have a huge social following
It’s lucrative! Just check out these creators:
Why do I need to consider working with UGC creators if I can find UGC from customers for free?
It may be easy when a well-known business already has a solid brand presence to find and repost UGC from their customers– there is tons of content from their customers to choose from. However, for newly-launched businesses that aim to build engagement and trust, collecting organic UGC from customers can be pretty challenging.
That's where UGC creators can come to the rescue.
Many UGC creators work with brands to create sponsored content. This is when a brand pays the creator to produce original content (most commonly videos for social media) that promotes the brand or its products.
Great UGC creators know how to make review-like content using your product or service that appeals to others and sparks their curiosity – all while appearing like your average person.
Chloe Caulton, like many other UGC Creators, has an online portfolio with example content for brands to browse.
What Does a UGC Creator Do?
When you work with a UGC creator, they’ll create and share content as part of your marketing campaign.
Their content could take the form of images, videos, blog posts, reviews, memes, and more. Your UGC creator may have their own following, or they may not. Either way, they should be able to create content that matches your brand voice while being relatable to your followers.
Their posts and images will include your branding, so you can make sure that your customers see your business’s name and logo every time they see your new UGC.
A UGC creator’s posts and images can help you achieve a few different marketing goals. For example, you could use UGC to create brand awareness and drive traffic to your website. You can also use UGC to drive sales and conversions.
UGC Creator Savannah Sanchez teams up with other content creators to build content for clients, outlining the specific steps involved.
Unboxing, day-in-the-life, and tutorial videos are popular in the UGC creator sphere. Make sure to give your UGC creator some freedom when building a content strategy, as they know what works and what doesn’t.
UGC Creators vs. Influencers
When we know what UGC creators really are and what they do, the burning question might be, "So... are they influencers or not?"
There's a fine line between UGC creators and influencers. While there are some similarities between UGC creators and influencers, there are also key differences that set the two groups apart.
The difference between UGC creators and influencers is that UGC creators are those who focus on creating content, while influencers are those who have the ability to influence people through digital platforms.
This means that influencers may not necessarily create content themselves but rather focus on using their platform and reach to promote or share someone else's content. They are typically people who have built up a large following and can generate income from their social media platforms.
UGC creators don't usually consider themselves influencers as they focus more on coming up with ideas to produce authentic content for a brand. And they tend to act like everyday people who produce content for fun or to share with their friends and followers.
Which one is better for marketing campaigns, though?
The answer is simple: it depends on your marketing goals. Both may be a great bet!
Alo Yoga uses a combination of influencers, UGC Creators, and UGC from everyday customers in its marketing campaigns.
If you're looking to reach a large audience with your marketing message, then influencers are the way to go. UGC creators may be a better choice when you’re looking to beef up your content strategy and explore what types of content resonate with your brand’s audience.
How to Work With UGC Creators
Most UGC creators have their own websites, often linked in their social media bios. Reach out via their preferred method, usually highlighted on their website. You can discover UGC creators by searching hashtags like #UGC and #UGCCreator on TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram.
Alternatively, many UGC Creators are already connected with influencer marketing platforms like Pixlee TurnTo for Creators. Influencer marketing solutions like this make it easy to discover, collect and publish content from, and map success metrics from creators. Pixlee TurnTo’s Product for Post feature allows your brand team to track free products sent to creators and store the content they produce with those products in-platform.
Why Invest in UGC Creators?
UGC creators tend to be more relatable than social media influencers. This is because they are typically regular people who create content to share their passion with others. As a result, their content is often more relatable and down-to-earth than the content produced by social media influencers.
UGC creators also typically have a more engaged audience than social media influencers. The reason is that their followers are more likely to interact with their content and provide feedback.
Investing in UGC creators can also be more cost-effective than investing in social media influencers, as most of them charge less for their services than social media influencers.
At the end of the day, UGC Creators build content that centers around your brand or product, not themselves. While influencer marketing is valuable to show that someone influential and idolized on social media likes a brand, UGC puts the spotlight on how that product can be incorporated in an everyday person’s day-to-day life.
UGC creators can be a powerful marketing tool to invest in for your business. With original content and a more personal relationship with their following, UGC creators may be an addition you need for your overall content marketing campaign. It's genuine, authentic, and creative — all qualities that customers are looking for in today's content.
Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).