What is UGC Content? Everything you need to know￼
If you use social media at all, then you know what an influencer is: Someone who uses their large following and online status to make money in various different ways, usually with some forms of brand promotion to “influence” their audience into buying products, services, or more. But in recent years, the popularity and influence of these large creators has come under question by social media users who are tired of the salesy techniques and in-your-face promotion.
Is the influencer dead? No, absolutely not – as long as there are social media users, we predict that there will be some form of influencers.
However, this doesn’t mean that influencer marketing will always be as popular as it was. And in fact, there is a new creative marketing technique being used on social media that’s already more effective than influencer marketing at promoting products and services.
Enter user-generated content, or UGC.
UGC is appealing to social media users because it seems more real. And brands globally are starting to see that creating trust, transparency, and communication with their ideal customer can be done in a better way using UGC.
What UGC Content is
UGC is any content that was created by a real user of a product or service. This means that content created by a large influencer or celebrity is not UGC, but a video created by a follower with a smaller number of followers, the average social media user, is UGC.
So what makes it so effective?
Social media users respond strongly to the “realness” of UGC content. It’s a form of advertising that is completely genuine, honest, and transparent. You can imagine it like reading Google reviews – that’s where people go to find the real information about a product or service. UGC is the same way. Because people are not being paid to promote or endorse a product, you’re getting a real view of their experience. This is worth so much more than an obvious, paid promotion.
Hearing from a real user who is giving their honest opinion just because they want to is so much more effective than watching an influencer promote something with an #ad. Social media has become a very sales-motivated platform over the years, and it seems like everyone is trying to sell something. And social media users are tired of it: Most people don’t go online to be sold to, but to be entertained, delighted, and educated.
And this is where UGC comes in – because it does both.
UGC is entertaining, educational, fun, and typically not pushy. It has a certain amount of honesty and transparency. There is a certain level of social influence involved in UGC, because when users see someone they know and trust using a product or service, it makes them far more likely to do so themselves. Social proof is a very powerful concept, and when applied to UGC, it can help businesses seriously amp up their online marketing on Instagram or TikTok.
How is it different from Influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is created by influencers, who have a large following already, perhaps their own brands, and are very expensive to work with. UGC is created by smaller content creators, micro-influencers, or everyday, normal social media users- like yourself.
Many large influencers can be seen as untrustworthy because they make their living from social media, and they rely on brand partnerships for money. This makes any promotion from these people less honest to the public eye.
However, with smaller content creators, there’s more trust built in because it’s assumed that they are not being paid for their promotion – they are simply talking about the things they love. UGC feels like a real-world review and an honest testimonial or opinion, whereas influencer marketing can come across as overly sales-focused and promotional.
Many social media users don’t like influencer content like this because it seems disingenuous.
Working with influencers can have its advantages, though. Brands can often have more control and creative direction to the ads, since they are paying for them, and there’s more oversight to exactly what’s being said or promoted. Influencer marketing is often more polished, too, and comes across as a “real” ad campaign.
However, it can be pretty expensive.
UGC is far less expensive, since real users are creating it, and although it may seem less polished or professional, this can actually have a marketing advantage for brands who want to seem relatable, real, and transparent.
UGC creators often appear more real, don’t live rich, unattainable lifestyles, and speak to the “everyday person” – the one who is most likely to be scrolling on social media anyways.
Influencers are still relevant, however, and there is a time and a place for influencer marketing vs. UGC.
UGC marketing is helpful for smaller brands or startups who want to start building a transparent, honest reputation with their ideal audience without breaking the bank. UGC can be much cheaper or even free to use, depending on who creates it, and the messaging is often more authentic. If your small company is looking for a way to get started with social media marketing or isn’t liking your results with influencer marketing, give UGC a shot.
Influencer marketing is a great choice if your brand is already large and considerably successful, but if you’re looking to expand your audience even further by using the immense reach of an influencer’s audience. If your company has a very specific niche, like vegan food or supplements, it’s best to select an influencer who already caters to this audience. This way, with built-in market segmentation, you can easily advertise to your ideal audience.
Why UGC is so important
UGC has grown more popular than ever in the last few months. This is because there is a demand from social media users for more honesty, transparency, and realness. Social media can be a place where people only put their best foot forward, but users want something more. They want realness, honesty, and accessibility. UGC makes products and services feel within reach, and they help users imagine them in their own lives. A big part of marketing and sales is creating that trust and intrigue from your ideal audience, and UGC is really helpful for doing exactly that.
UGC can help your company, business, or brand resonate more strongly with social media users, especially younger audiences on TikTok. UGC is very popular on Instagram and TikTok, and this is only going to grow in the next few years.
How UGC is going to grow in popularity
We fully expect UGC to take off in popularity in the next few years, particularly on TikTok. This is because TikTok is a social media platform that was actually created for the everyday user. It has far less emphasis on the “power of the influencer,” and real, everyday users post videos every day that go viral. It’s not difficult to build a large following on TikTok, since the algorithm was created for virality.
This all goes along perfectly with the ethos of UGC – realness, transparency, and honesty. TikTok is helping brands of all types grow their views, their audience, and their sales – just with the power of UGC.
When a small, real world user posts about a great experience with a product or service, this is extremely powerful for a brand, and it can make a huge difference in the way they are seen in the public eye. UGC helps companies build a brand and a great reputation. One of the best ways to bolster your reputation online, especially TikTok, is through real-life testimonials from real people.
UGC is also going to continue to surge in popularity because it does something that marketers and salespeople have been doing for years: putting the customer first.
UGC does this by providing something for the viewer before asking them to do anything. It’s not a sales pitch – it’s an entertaining video, something educational, or an honest, helpful product review.
Another way that UGC can work well is by showing off lifestyle videos and inspiration, which is a very powerful form of social media marketing.
UGC will also very likely grow in popularity because of how it helps the TikTok and instagram algorithms. When more real users create great content and it goes viral, it continues the stream of content on these apps. It also helps cretors because they are able to build an audience, popularity, and get more publicity. Authentic content is more likely to go viral than openly sponsored advertisement content.
And brands, of course, will benefit from this type of promotion as well.
UGC should be fun, short, and sweet. It shouldn’t be too long, and if more information is necessary, include it in the caption. It should also come off as real and not staged, to help contribute to the honesty and transparency of the video.
And of course, it should be entertaining. This is very important. Whether it’s a guide, educational, aesthetic, or just a fun video, the viewer should remain hooked through the whole thing. When creating UGC, consider what your ideal audience would want to see, what they are looking for, what they really care about, and how you can help them with your product or service.
Focusing on solving their pain points or problems with UGC is another effective marketing technique you can use.
Examples of UGC on social media
So you want to use UGC, but what is the best way to start?
A lot of UGC we see online today is in the reel or TikTok format. Reels and TikToks were actually designed to go viral by their algorithms, so if you have to choose one, work with these over photos.
Some examples of UGC reels and videos include:
Get ready with me videos: A content creator walks a user through everything they do to get ready, showing them exactly what they are doing, eating, and using to finish their morning routine.
“POV” videos: A content creator shows the user their point of view, which could be about absolutely anything. Creators film all sorts of POV videos, and it’s something you can get really creative with. Essentially, though, this type of video is meant to communicate a moment in the life of the creator, or how they feel about something.
What I eat in a day: In this type of UGC, content creators will film every single thing they eat in a day, starting with breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, and anything in between. This type of video is very popular for food brands or supplements to be featured along the way. This form of video is very powerful because it’s not promotional at all, but it shows exactly what the content creator themselves use every day, which is a strong form of endorsement.
Any sort of routine: This type of UGC video is another natural way to show users what sorts of products and services you use on a daily basis, which makes them more likely to want to do so themselves.
Product reviews: This is a straightforward type of UGC where the creator explains their experience with a product. Before making a big purchase, or sometimes even a small one, most people look for reviews, testimonials, or experience with the product or service. Lots of people like to browse Yelp or Google, because they want to know what other people think.
There’s a lot of power in testimonials or reviews. A bad enough review can turn a potential customer completely away from a product. And on the flip side, an amazing review, particularly a UGC video on social media, can have a powerful impact on others who might buy the same thing. Product review videos are a great way to convince others to give something a chance.
Product demo: Particularly if a product or service is more complicated or controversial, like a piece of workout equipment or a demo video can be helpful to create more understanding and conversation about how to use it. Once users understand how to use something, or how easy it may be to implement it in their own lives, they are far more likely to take the plunge and try something new.
Product demos are all about making things feel more “possible” to users, or to help them see it in their own lives. This is a very important part of marketing and sales – making something feel within reach or possible for a consumer. Demos help bring products or services to the “real world,” and you can watch the content creator use it themselves.
Brand introduction: This is a higher-level form of UGC that isn’t overly focused on one particular product or service, but a brand as a whole. This is a great type of UGC to create if you are a small brand, trying to build a reputation or name for yourself. In this type of UGC, a content creator would film a video talking about your brand, who you are, and what you do. Ideally, they would talk about your differentiators and what makes you unique in the market, and some of the value adds that would make your ideal customer want to buy from you.
For example, if you are a minority-owned or woman-owned business, this could be important to work in, because this may be a very important deciding factor for certain audiences. Brand introduction videos are particularly helpful if the creator themselves is a user of the brand, and they can communicate why they love using the products or services to their audience.
Lifestyle content: This UGC style is any content that shows users a peek into the creator’s lifestyle. This form of video is very powerful because of the power of social influence, and social media users are likely to take inspiration from content creators, no matter how small. It’s simple psychology: Humans want to do what’s best for themselves, and if a content creator makes something seem appealing, it’s only natural for users to want to try it themselves.
Lifestyle content is often travel related, plant related, food related, clothing related, or about skincare/ health. Think of lifestyle content as an opportunity to inspire your audience and to make them want to do better for themselves. The products and services you feature in lifestyle content will have a massive impact on users’ willingness to try them out.
How to your UGC in your own marketing campaigns
It’s becoming more and more important for businesses to start thinking about how to implement UGC in their own campaigns, because it’s so effective and popular on social media. If you’re not utilizing UGC, you’re missing out on serious potential for your brand.
There are two main ways to use UGC for your brand.
The first is the manual way: Do it yourself. You’ll need to either film the videos yourself, using members of your team, and it’s very helpful to have a full-time social media expert if you choose this route. You will need to plan the strategy, creation, execution, music, and visuals of the video. While making the videos themselves is not hard, there is a lot of strategy that goes into it.
If you don’t have a full time social media person to help assist you, or if you are a very small company, it may be helpful to hire an outside UGC content creation agency to meet your UGC needs.
These agencies are specifically trained to create UGC for your brand, both in strategy and execution. They can help you shine the very best light on your brand.
It’s so important to create content that resonates with your ideal audience, and this strategy can be challenging to figure out, especially if you’re a new company or don’t know much about marketing.
This is where UGC agencies can really shine: They can help you figure out what to say, how to say it, and to whom.
Dally.co helps you build your business the way you want it, with specialized TikTok skills and knowledge about how to create viral UGC content. Running a small business can be stressful and time-consuming already, and many companies don’t feel they have the time to manage their own social media accounts.
Working with a UGC agency can help you not only create one-off UGC, but also to help you to create an effective overall strategy for how UGC is going to propel your marketing forward.