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When it comes to the modern media landscape, you’ll agree that this is universally true: everyone walks around with a camera and consumes social media content every day.

Right?

Users no longer just consume ads, some have also become the creators

There’s a high possibility that almost everyone you know has posted a photo of a product they like, wrote a review online, or perhaps created a video tutorial of how to use a product on their social media channels. 

Point is, user-generated content (UGC) is being created every day, and as a marketer, there are plenty of ways you can take advantage of that fact for your brand

In this post, we’ll examine:

  • What benefits does UGC hold for marketers
  • How to get started with UGC
  • How to create high-quality converting UGC 

But first, let’s see what UGC is. 

Table of Contents

What is User-Generated Content (UGC)?

7 Benefits of UGC for Marketers

3 Ways to Get Started with UGC

3 Steps to Creating High-Quality UGC to Increase Your Conversions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is User-Generated Content (UGC)?

User-generated content (UGC) is media created by social media users on behalf of a brand. 

People post UGC in the form of social content, photos, videos, tweets, and even long-form written content. Oftentimes, brands repurpose UGC in their marketing campaigns

Sometimes, UGC is the purpose of the brand’s endeavor. An example of this would be the Red Cup Contest from Starbucks: 

Image Source: Instagram

The coffee chain simply asked users to post creative photos of the brand’s iconic red cups during the holidays—winners were chosen and received various prizes after curated entries. 

In some other cases, UGC is created when a brand organizes a giveaway contest or allows customers to show off its product. 

Just like what BMW does with #BMWRepost on Instagram – giving shout-outs to their customers. 

Image Source: Instagram

At the end of the day, the customer is proud, the brand gets soft promotions, and potential customers are thinking of getting one after seeing happy BMW users. 

What else?

Brands can also source UGC by reaching out directly to creators and offering some type of partnership. These partnerships typically involve compensation for the creator in the form of money or sometimes the product for free. 

Working with creators in your niche is the best option when it comes to UGC for a variety of reasons, including that they know how to create content that converts, they already have an established audience, and so on. 

What makes high-quality UGC? 

In the 2022 State of UGC report, over 90% of marketers stated an already known fact: consumers trust content created by fellow consumers more than content from brands

If that’s the case, brands need to ensure any user-generated content being used is of high quality.

What do we mean by high-quality content?

It means content that has:

  • High video quality 
  • Clear audio
  • An effective hook within the first few seconds
  • The face of the creator fully shown within the camera's frame
  • Honest and authentic content
  • Natural, good lighting
  • A relatable story

High definition video: Reports have shown that people watch at least 19 hours of online video every week. They are also more likely to share video content with their friends than any other content type.

In other words, you need to ensure your video content is of such high quality, entertaining  and appears authentic, so that your customers will enjoy sharing it.

Clear audio: Creators you work with need to be cautious of background noise, the wind, and similar interference when making videos. 

There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing a loud honk sound when the creator’s just about to say the good stuff. 

Add catchy hooks: No, we don’t mean the hook attached to your fishline or Captain James Hook’s hand. 

Image Source: Giphy

Rather, it’s something interesting that happens at the start of the video that keeps viewers glued. 

It could be a surprise being offered to them, a story, or telling them what they need. 

The creator’s face needs to be shown in the video: This is important so that other customers can see and be convinced it’s from their counterparts.

Authentic content: Customers know when a video is doctored and isn’t original. You need to ensure the UGC is filled with honest information.

Natural lighting: Lighting in videos and pictures are like Bonnie and Clyde but in a bad sense.

What we mean is that one (lighting) compliments the other (video). The best lighting is key for any good videos. 

Product placement: The UGC isn’t ad worthy if the brand’s product isn’t placed in an obvious but subtle way. 

Of course, you don’t want the content to be too salesy but also not to disappear completely from the whole picture. 

A relatable story: Everyone loves a good story. 

I remember when my rhinoceros pet was scammed by an Indian princess. 

You were expecting the next line, weren’t you?

Sorry to disappoint… … it’s a completely false story. 😏

The point is stories evoke emotions especially when it addresses a problem.

And when your UGC does that, potential customers get intrigued which means more engagement and sales for your brand. 

What makes poor UGC?

We can’t talk about what makes quality UGC without highlighting what makes a poor one. 

Why?

So you know what to stay clear of.  

User-generated content of bad quality includes:

  • Poor video quality
  • Use of filters that will make the image blurry or overwhelming
  • Creator’s opinion feeling forced
  • The content sounding like an ad or the creator acting in a boring way
  • Poor lighting
  • Filming from just one angle
  • Filming using Snapchat or Instagram
  • Creators use too many shadows
  • Noisy and cluttered background
  • Mentioning a moment in time 

Inferior video quality: Video content played in low resolution is not good for business  – literally and figuratively. Plus, viewers will miss out on key details that could have been beneficial. 

Misuse of filters and shadows: Filters have a place in media content, but they’re best left to expert photographers. Using them without proper knowledge can make images blurry and that isn’t something you want your audience to see. You also need to avoid using too many shadows as they can cause flickers in your video.  

Forced opinion: It’s almost like getting your sleepy baby to smile during a photo shoot. You can try but can’t force it. 

If your creator’s opinion feels forced, the entire content begins to look like an ad. Trust us, you don’t want that. 

Poor lighting: When it comes to visual media, the devil is in the details and poor lighting doesn’t help matters. Always look for creators who have a way to remedy this.

Filming from one angle: Studies have shown that human attention span is short and that means filming from one angle wouldn’t do a good job of grabbing people’s attention. Multiple angles are a much better option. 

Using IG or Snapchat to film: While both platforms are exceptional, UGC made with them can sometimes appear pixelated or lack quality.

Mentioning a time period: UGC needs to be like evergreen palm trees meaning they should always be relevant. In other words, creators shouldn’t say a moment in time - except if you asked them to. 

Poor audio quality: Noisy or cluttered background is a no-no for UGC. The audio should be clean and audible enough for viewers to hear. 

Up next, we look at what you stand to gain from using UGC.

7 Benefits of UGC for Marketers

UGC can be used across the different stages of the consumer's journey. 

Your brand can utilize UGC throughout your digital marketing campaign from the awareness stage to the consideration and decision stage.

Interesting, right?

Now, what other benefits do you stand to gain from user-generated content?

Benefit #1: Social proof

One outstanding benefit of using UGC as part of your marketing strategy is that it acts as social proof to potential customers

Here’s what we mean:

When people go shopping – online or in the mall – they look for recommendations, reviews, or testimonials from authentic users so they’re sure the choice being made is the right one. 

About 80% of Americans require social proof (referrals and recommendations) before making any purchase. 

That's where UGC comes in.

People get to see that your customers are happy using your product or service when you share user-generated content on your social media pages and it influences their purchasing decisions.

Benefit #2: Increased user engagement

User engagement is the holy grail of marketers when it comes to social media or content marketing because it creates buzz and increases sales in the long run

And who doesn’t like that?

According to Forbes, more than 86% of companies are using some type of UGC in their marketing strategy. 

Why?

Well…Shopify reported that ads featuring UGC receive 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click compared to average ads.

So you see, it’s an essential aspect of the consumer’s journey that can eventually lead to brand awareness and more sales.

Benefit #3: Stronger relationships between brands and audience 

UGC also stands as an advocate between brands and their audience. 

It sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true. 

Did you know that only 9% of Americans have a ‘great deal’ of trust in the mass media?

The reason isn’t far-fetched, there’s a lot of misinformation flying around. 

It’s much easier for people to trust content created by regular people than content created by brands.

In fact, more than 50% of millennials rely on recommendations or reviews from friends and family to decide whether to buy a product. 

User-generated content is authentic and people love genuine content. It’s something they can relate to. 

It’s important to mention that working with micro-creators (creators who have no more than 100,000 followers) is more likely to get you the results you want simply because such creators are more relatable and users tend to trust them more than creators and influencers with a huge following. 

Benefit #4: UGC is flexible

Another benefit of UGC campaigns is that they can be used for different marketing campaigns, not just social media. 

That’s what we mean by flexible. 

They can be used for traditional marketing, email marketing, web content, or even retargeting. 

Benefit #5: Cost-effectiveness (compared to influencer marketing)

This is another interesting benefit of using UGC – you don’t have to pay so much if you compare it to influencer marketing

Here’s the deal: 

UGC created by micro-creators is generally more cost-effective to produce than hiring a studio for polished social media ads or working with macro and mega-creators and influencers with a huge following. 

Benefit #6: Marketers can get a volume of content fast

Sometimes, coming up with branded content to work with can be difficult. 

But that doesn’t have to be the case when you use UGC content from a Creator Marketplace, like Insense

Insense gives you access to different creators who know how to create content that’s authentic and engaging.

In other words, the process of sourcing, chatting, and working with multiple creators is simplified.

Essentially,  you don’t have to worry about where to get content from when it’s needed.  

Interesting, right?

Benefit #7: UGC can be used for effective Ad Creative Testing

One of the main reasons for doing UGC with creators is that your brand can easily A/B test performance by changing angles, hooks or CTAs on social media ads. 

On the contrary, content from customers, organic campaigns from influencers, and so on are more difficult to tweak, thus making creative testing (which can save your brand valuable time and money!) almost impossible. 

Now, how can you start benefiting from UGC?

We take an in-depth look at that in the next section.

3 Ways to Get Started with UGC

There are a few ways your brand can start using UGC for marketing. 

To start with, you need to look for how to create and source user-generated content.

Here are a few things you can do. 

1. Work with an agency

One option to get started with UGC is to work with agencies.

How?

They’ve got multiple services such as selecting creators based on the brand’s brief and supervising the entire content creation process. 

So, you can buy a content creation package that includes UGC for your needs. 

There are agencies that provide content and paid media services and also provide useful analytics.

But, they can be quite expensive without having the sufficient talented  creatives to support it.  What you want is an agency where the price has a proportional value to what’s been offered. 

If you like the sound of that and want more flexibility when it comes to selecting creators, then keep reading. 

2. Interact with your existing customers

Your current customers can help you with UGC.

How? 

Simply browse the tagged photos of your profiles or brand hashtags and look for content that fits your needs—you might be surprised at what you find! 

You might have to run a contest so they can participate first.  

By interacting with them, you are sure to find customers who will create the kind of content you need. 

But, this process is time consuming. 

PlantMade is a good example of a brand that harvests the power of customer-generated content. 

More specifically, their homepage is full of content created by real customers.

Here’s some more from their Instagram page:

Image Source: Instagram

We can only assume that they reached out to consumers to create content for them or they simply asked to obtain permission for already existing content.

However, the downside to this method is that customers can be unreliable. 

There’s no consistent flow and they’re not professional creators which means your user-generated content campaigns may not be practical or increase conversions. 

Author’s Note: If you’re going down this route, don’t forget to reach out to the content owner and obtain permission to use their UGC. 

3. Visit a Creator Marketplace

If you’re looking to level up both the volume and quality of your UGC, accessing a creator marketplace is your ticket. 

Marketplaces offer several benefits including: 

  • Access to a ready-made (and potentially large) audience
  • Content from somebody with creative training
  • More control over post topics and timing

You can easily start manually searching your social media platform of choice to start finding creators in your niche, but if you really want to take it up a notch, you’ll want to consider using a UGC platform

Platforms like this allow you to narrow down your search by demographics, niche, social network, etc. 

Additionally, if you choose a platform with an existing network of creators, they’re vetted and accustomed to these types of business relationships and have processes in place for things like delivering content and accepting payment, which can save you a ton of time in the long run. 

So, how can you use such platforms to find creators?

For starters, you need to sign up with Insense.

Thereafter, you get to fill out a brief and then find creators in our Creators’ Marketplace.

We discuss more of this in the next section. 

3 Steps to Creating High-Quality UGC to Increase Your Conversions 

We’ve spoken about what your brand stands to gain when UGC is used. 

One question you’ve probably been thinking about is:

How can I create this and increase my brand’s awareness and conversion?

We answer that question by taking you through some easy steps. 

Step #1: Create a detailed brief for content creators

The next step is to create a creative brief for your creators. 

Giving them a detailed brief will ensure they understand the purpose and the intended direction of your ad campaigns.

Context and understanding are absolutely crucial to a healthy business relationship with your creators. 

Plus, it helps simplify the entire process ensuring there are little to no edits and that the UGC is acquired on time. 

Let them know if their content will be used as an organic post to raise awareness or an ad to drive conversions. 

You want to make sure you provide a scenario for them to operate in while also making sure not to be too prescriptive. And of course, if there’s anything you need them to avoid (brand mentions, etc.) be sure to spell that out.    

In general, a creative brief should provide (at minimum): 

  • Campaign goals–Do you want to achieve reach? Do you want conversions?
  • Campaign type–Indicate whether you’re looking for just content or influencer partnerships (posting, ads, creator ads)
  • Content format–Provide the specs for the content (video/image, aspect ratio, etc.)
  • Content type and messaging–Product review, testimonial, demo, tutorial, unboxing video, etc.
  • What the creator should do–Point out any important features (video length, music/ no music, natural light, background, etc.)
  • Key product features - (benefits, what problem it solves, etc.)
  • Share examples and references–So the creator can visualize what you’re looking for. Make sure to provide several content examples
  • Do’s and Don’ts–If there’s anything they can’t do or say, make sure to indicate that (don’t mention a holiday/event like the Superbowl, don’t use filters, use natural lighting, etc)

How do you create a brief on Insense?

Click on fill out a brief under Create Campaign.

Then, you can fill out details about your brand and information about your campaign too. 

You also need to include which platform you want the content for. 

There are detailed instructions on the screen just in case you’re stuck. 

Now, keep in mind that there’s a fine balance between getting what you need out of the content without limiting the creator’s natural creativity.

When you’re done with the brief, feel free to share it with the creator you have chosen in our Marketplace. 

Step #2: Select your creators, interact with them and share as much information as possible

You’ve finally reached the point where you can select the creators you want to work with. Here’s a  glimpse of the Insense Creator Marketplace:

Now, it’s very likely that the creators you choose to work with will have questions for you or vice versa. 

It’s all part of the process and taking extra care of this step will ensure that you communicate your goals in the best way possible. 

Insense’s chat feature makes it possible to communicate with creators directly. There’s no need for emails or any third party.  

This makes it incredibly simple to chat with creators.

Working with experienced creators that are part of an established creator network can help ensure you get the UGC you need within your specs.

Author’s note: From our chat feature, you can also connect with the creator’s Facebook Ads account to possibly see how well the content is performing. That’s if the creators grant you access though.

Step #3: Approve the content and optimize the process

After you’ve reviewed and approved of the creators’ content it’s time to optimize your creative brief for future collaborations with creators.

This will allow you to source a lot of creators over a longer period of time. 

In other words, having an optimized brief and generally automating the process is particularly important for long-term creator partnerships

You wouldn’t want to keep going through the same details over and over again. 

You’ve got a business to run, right? 

Here are some important processes you may want to establish and optimize to create high-quality user-generated content at scale:

  • Communicating with creators
  • Establishing creative workflows
  • Establishing an effective review and approval process

Communication: This is another reason why the influencer brief is needed. It contains important details about the project the creator can refer to instead of trying to contact you. 

Creative workflows: Automating the process by which ad creatives are made would make life easier for everybody. 

Comprehensive approval process: How do you intend to review each content that’s created and approve each one?

Let’s let you in on a little secret… 

                                         … Insense has streamlined workflows for most of these. Shhh!  

So, that saves you a lot of time and stress. 

It’s time to bring this guide to a close.

Now Over to You

We hope you’re now familiar with how you can get high-quality UGC at scale.

Whichever way you choose to get started, we wish you success on your journey. 

But, if you need to know how much you will need for a high volume of UGC, don’t hesitate to book a demo with a member of our team. 

We’ll discuss your product, what you need, and run you through the overall costs. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What does UGC stand for?

User-generated content (UGC) is content created by real people specific to a brand about their product or service. It is usually published on social media.  UGC comes in several forms including videos, images, reviews, podcasts, or testimonials. 

Q2. Can you use UGC in ads?

Absolutely yes, UGC can be used for your marketing campaigns provided you’ve obtained permission from the customer that posted it or the creator that made it. You also need to ensure the content is of high quality before using it. 

Q3. Do you need permission to use UGC?

Brands require implicit or explicit permission from the owner of a piece of UGC before they can post it or use it as an ad. 

You only have the right to view, not the right to use without permission. It’s good practice to always get explicit permission by directly asking your customers.

Q4. How much should you pay for UGC?

There are lots of variables when it comes to compensation, such as: 

  • The creator’s built-in audience (large or small)
  • The engagement level of the creator’s audience
  • The length of the video
  • If they edit their videos
  • Whether you’re licensing a creator (what was previously called whitelisting) or not

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