Getting Started With
It’s no secret that traditional advertising has been on the way out. Brands and companies are now putting a greater focus on organic content marketing, and one of the ways you might have seen this is through UGC content creation, or user-generated content creation.
At Sidewalker Daily, we help Creators and Influencers build out their business strategies and work with brands. We also work on the brand side, consulting with companies on their marketing campaigns. Learning how to leverage UGC Content is a strategy that we focus on because of its numerous benefits.
In this post we’re going to be sharing with you everything that you need to know about UGC content, from what UGC content is, how both brands and Creators can benefit from this type of marketing, and essentially go over exactly what you need to know before you get started with UGC content.
How UGC Content Came About
To get started with understanding user-generated content, it’s beneficial to take a look at where it came from. Traditionally, UGC content in the digital marketing world is referred to any content created by a consumer about a brand or company.
For example, when someone really likes a brand’s product, it’s not uncommon for them to take to their social media and share a picture or video of them talking about the product, reviewing it, or simply just using it. When a brand comes across this type of content from their customers, they might want to reshare it on their own platforms.
Why share content created by their customers?
Because this type of content—user-generated, AKA made by the customer—serves as a form of social proof. Brands want potential new customers to hear from people who have actually used their product, like it and have good things to say about it. In general, consumers trust recommendations from others way more than they trust advertisements from the brand themselves.
Consider a hotel brand as a more specific UGC content example. Say they go on Instagram and see that someone who stayed at their hotel recently posted a series of pictures about their stay, snapping photos of their room and talking about the friendly staff.
That brand’s social media team would then ask that person if they could repost the content on the brand’s own page. Not only does the social media team get more content to post that they don’t have to create themselves, but they also share an authentic, human reaction to experiencing their hotel.
Where UGC Content Is Now
Over the past few years, brands’ desire to incorporate user-generated content marketing into their social media strategy has increased. Some reasons we’re seeing this:
Consumers increasingly turn to social media to get their information: We all heavily rely on recommendations from Influencers, reviews we see online, etc.
The demand for social media content has gone way up: With most brands having marketing strategies across a ton of social media platforms, email marketing and their website or blog, they need to be pushing out new content more frequently than ever before. This is hard to maintain for most brands, whether they have a dedicated social media employee or not.
A shift from perfectly curated content to more authentic content: People don’t expect perfectly curated content anymore—not even from major brands and companies. Instead, consumers value:
- relatability, and
Brands certainly continue to share UGC content in the way we described above…that’s just not the only way they’re getting it anymore. In order to connect with their audiences better and give off more of a human touch in their marketing initiatives, brands turn to specialized Content Creators—UGC content Creators—to help them out.
Instead of putting the bulk of their budget into professional photo shoots that are highly curated, brands are reallocating some of those funds to pay content Creators to create user-generated style content for them to use on social media.
The brand will then either:
- Post this content as organic content on their feed
- Post the content with ad money behind it to push it out to their target audience
What You Need To Know To Get Started With User-Generated Content
Now that we’ve gone over what UGC content actually is and where the term comes from, it’s time to go over some specifics in greater detail. Whether you’re a Creator or Influencer looking to break into the UGC content space, or a brand that’s curious about building out their marketing plan with UGC content, these are 7 essential things you need to know.
1. Good UGC Content Should Look Like Anyone Could Have Done It
One of the most fascinating things about user-generated content marketing is that the Creator is intentionally making content that looks like anyone could have done it. UGC isn’t supposed to look like someone spent a lot of time editing or perfectly styling a video shoot.
Instead, the goal is to create content that looks like it was created by fans, has a raw appeal, and showcases the product/service in an extremely authentic situation.
Think about it this way:
Everyone is tired of ads. More often than not, the second we assume a video on our feed is an ad we scroll right past it.
Brands are using user-generated content to fight this problem, by posting content that matches the rest of the feed. TikTok is known for being an authentic video platform; most content on the TikTok feed is created by “normal people” and isn’t highly curated or edited.
If all of a sudden a user scrolled onto a professionally done video, it would stand out a lot as something different. It would look like an ad. No users want to feel like they’re being sold to as they scroll through their TikTok feed so brands have had to adapt their strategies.
Now, brands need to have content that organically fits in with the rest of the feed, so UGC video content doesn’t need to look like it was done by a film crew and the low production value means it’s easier to make and a higher quantity of posts is achievable.
2. Hiring Out UGC Content Creators Streamlines The Process For Brands
While user-generated content is not a new concept, the way it has shifted recently is changing the game for both Creators and Brands. Brands have been searching for content created by their fans and followers for years. The only difference now is that brands are willing to pay Creators to create this content for them…instead of waiting for someone to make a post.
This new way of going about UGC content is saving brands a lot of time and energy. When you’re relying on your users to post content about you, you could be waiting a long time. Many brands have tried strategies such as asking their audience directly to share their experiences using specific hashtags. But still, there’s no guarantee that anyone will do it!
Now, brands can hire a few content Creators to make multiple UGC-style videos for them. This way they ensure that they have a constant flow of new content to post and they are on the pulse of trends and reaching their target market effectively.
3. Know The Difference: Content Creation vs. UGC Content
A lot of people would refer to this work as simply content Creation. We’ve been helping Creators and Influencers make content for brands for years! The concept is the same:
The Creator is tasked with making content for the brand to post on their own socials. The Creator is not obligated to post on their own account.
UGC content creation is a type of content creation, but that content has a specific look and feel to it. Some UGC content examples are:
- Testimonial style videos
- Showing the product in use
- Unboxing of the product and showing it off
Well-done UGC content should look like it was created by an actual user of the product, with no fancy equipment and scripted text.
4. UGC Content Acts As Social Proof
A question you may be thinking is, “Why is this type of marketing so effective?” It’s because potential customers can relate more to the individual making the post and getting their perspective than trusting a scripted commercial from a large brand or company. Of course a brand is going to claim that their product is amazing! But hearing it from someone they trust or someone that they can actually relate to on a personal level is much more effective.
Having an everyday product user talk about their experience in UGC-style content acts as social proof, showing others that someone real benefited from the product and insinuating that if they liked it, you would probably like it to!
5. Brands Are Putting Ad Budget Behind UGC Content
Because brands know that authentic looking content performs really well on social media right now, a lot of times they’re also willing to put ad budget behind it. This way they can push a high-performing video out to even more people in their target audience.
This is a win-win for both brands and Creators. If you’re a Creator and a brand asks for user-generated content so they can run ads to it, this is a really good opportunity for you to raise your rates and charge more for the UGC content.
6. You Don’t Need Fancy Equipment To Get Started With UGC Content
UGC content is supposed to look like anyone could have done it, which means no fancy equipment is required and anyone can do it! We’re not saying that there aren’t skills involved in being a UGC content Creator—you still have to know things like:
- How to edit social media videos
- How to edit videos using specific platforms
- Which types of organic looking content performs well
- How to create content that looks natural and connects with the intended audience
But if you’re looking to get started with UGC content creation, all you need is a commitment to growing your business and an iPhone or other camera phone that can shoot photos and video. There is no need to go out and invest in special cameras and drones because while those may be needed for content creation in your niche, it’s different for the UGC Content style. It’s relatively easy to get started!
7. You Don’t Have To Show Your Face On Camera To Create Good UGC Content
If you’ve always wanted to get into Content Creation, but have no interest in putting your face on camera, UGC content might be the perfect place for you. Of course there’s nothing wrong with having your face in a testimonial, but there’s no obligation to create content that shows your face when it comes to being a UGC content Creator.
Popular UGC video content styles are unboxing videos or clips of the product being held or used. Neither of these styles of videos require you to be fully on camera so if this has been holding you back then you may want to look into being a UGC Creator.
8. Having A Niche Is Not Required
One of the biggest questions we get asked by Creators and Influencers just starting out on their journey is “do I need a niche?” Figuring out what niche to focus on has definitely been a point of confusion or difficulty for many Creators. With UGC content creation, you don’t necessarily have to deal with finding a niche.
What we do have to say is that having a niche can help you grow your UGC content business and pitch successfully to brands. For example, if you’re really good at making beauty UGC content for cosmetic companies, this would be beneficial when you send your pitches. You can show them your portfolio of relevant content and basically let them know that you’re an expert at creating the type of content that they truly need.
Even so, many UGC content Creators have a variety of content niches in their portfolio. They can create content in a variety of niches without it having a negative impact on their business growth.
9: Pro Of Being A UGC Content Creator: Remote Work
You can be a UGC content Creator full time or as a side gig. If you’re looking to increase your income, taking on UGC content work outside of your 9-5 is totally possible! There’s no need to quit your full time job.
Being a UGC content Creator is mostly working on your own time and the work is remote. If these are qualities you value in a job, UGC content creation is worth considering!
10. Continuous Partnerships & Repeat Brand Deals
One of the best ways to increase your income and provide yourself with a little more stability as a content Creator or Influencer is getting repeat brand deals. This is when a brand hires you on retainer to create a certain number of videos or photos for them.
Brands benefit from this as well because they recieve a continuous stream of content from a Creator that they can trust.
Creators who get really good at UGC content have the opportunity to work with brands on a continuous basis. The expectation to put out new content almost daily means that brands need this type of content all the time.
If a Creator makes successful UGC content for a brand, it’s in everybody’s favor to keep that Creator on retainer for a long time so if you’re building successful relationships with your brand clients, you should definitely considering pitching them a retainer package to lock in work for the future.
11. Brands Can Diversify Their Feeds With UGC Content
Brands can really diversify their content when they work with UGC Creators. Instead of paying one person to do everything in-house, brands can have a bunch of different Creators making content that has different angles, voices, and styles for their page.
Maybe one UGC Creator they hire is really amazing at creating stop motion videos, while the other has a creative ability to make videos that match whatever is trending at the time. Brands don’t have to rely on one person to have all of these skills.
Instead, they can hire out the UGC content work to multiple Creators and really diversify their feed and see what works with their audience.
Ready To Get Started With UGC Content?
Authentic and realistic content is in! There is a huge need for UGC style content right now, and we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. As a quick recap of this post, here are some of the top things to know about UGC content whether you’re a brand or a Creator:
- User-generated content is not a new concept—in fact, brands have been using this for years. However, the need for this content has increased and they are now hiring the work out to Creators.
- There has been a dramatic shift away from highly curated content as the modern consumer increasingly values authentic, raw, and relatable content.
- UGC content is content that looks like anyone could have done it and the goal is for it to come across organic and authentic not overly curated.
- Hiring for UGC content streamlines the content Creation process for brands.
- UGC content creation is a style of Content Creation that has a specific look and feel, such as testimonial videos and unboxing videos.
- Brands rely on social proof to advertise their products to potential customers; UGC content acts as a form of social proof.
- Brands can post UGC content organically on their feed, but they’re also putting ad budget behind it to reach more customers online.
- There is no fancy equipment required to get started with UGC content.
- UGC content doesn’t require you to show your face if that’s something you want to avoid with content creation.
- Follower count doesn’t matter for UGC Creators.
- You don’t necessarily need to niche down to be a successful UGC Creator.
- Hiring UGC content Creators helps brands diversify their feeds.
Ready to start pitching your UGC content to brands? If you need help getting started, we’re here to help. You can sign up for one of our free upcoming Live trainings or if you need personalized advice, you can book a call with one of experts and we’ll come up with a personalized game plan for growing your business and working with brands.
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