Ever asked yourself: what is a UGC creator? If you want to know what they are and learn why they're important, this is the blog post for you.
If you’re asking yourself “what is a UGC creator”, you’re not alone. According to Google, there are about 880 monthly searches for this term. #ugccreator has 53.4K associated posts on Instagram and 235.1M views on TikTok.
And if you’ve spent any time on these social networks over the last few months, you’ve definitely come across UGC creators, even if you didn’t recognize them as such.
But what is a UGC creator? Why are they important for brands’ social media strategy? What is the meaning of life? I can’t answer the last question for you, but keep reading to get answers to the first two.
What is UGC?
UGC means user-generated content. User-generated content is social media content created by users or customers of a brand. This content is often reposted by the brand on its own social media accounts, though there is no contract involved that obligates this.
You may have come across this type of content as TikTok videos or Instagram posts. UGC usually features a brand’s product in some way. Historically, UGC has been created organically, meaning the users that created it weren’t paid by the brand to do so. They simply enjoyed a product and wanted to share it on social media.
Here’s an example. British fashion e-commerce ASOS has been posting UGC for years now. First, social media users (like @kleamox seen below) post content featuring ASOS products and tag the brand.
If the brand likes this content, they repost it to their own feed and tag the user.
In this example, both parties benefit. The brand gets organically-created content, which is valuable for two main reasons: they don’t have to spend resources to make it, and it comes across as more authentic. Content created by users who love a brand.
For the user, that tag on the brand’s page is valuable. They get increased exposure and may gain new followers or get a boost in engagement coming in from the brand’s audience.
But UGC has changed a bit in the last few years, so let’s delve into that.
What is a UGC creator?
A UGC creator is a bit different from the example we’ve seen above. UGC creators aren’t simply any user or consumer who creates content and tags a brand when they post it.
In fact, a UGC creator is in a way the complete opposite. Instead of creating content organically—simply because they want to—UGC creators get paid to create content. And I mean paid as in money, not just a valuable tag on the brand’s feed like we saw in the example above.
A UGC creator is someone who gets paid by brands to create content that looks like UGC. Usually, this content is a short-form video for TikTok or Instagram and features the creator either on-screen or as a voiceover while they show off products from the brand.
So, to sum up, the key difference between the historical use of UGC and the newer UGC creators is that UGC creators get paid for their work.
Another way to say UGC creator? Freelance content creator. That term is a bit broader and could apply to videographers, bloggers, graphic designers, and more. So think of UGC creators as freelance content creators who specialize in UGC.
What’s the difference between a UGC creator and an influencer?
Now that you know what a UGC creator is, you might be wondering how they’re different from influencers.
It’s true that the content generated by UGC creators usually looks very similar to the content created by influencers (which, to make this all a bit more confusing, are sometimes called content creators).
But there are a few main differences.
UGC creators don’t need a specific audience size to get recognized by brands
When brands look for influencers to collaborate with, they’re usually looking for social media users with audiences of around 1,000 followers or higher.
From 1K on, we can organize influencers in what we call influencer tiers, like nano-influencer, micro-influencer, and so on. Each of these tiers has its pros and cons, and which one to work with depends on the brand, its objectives, and its budget.
On the other hand, when looking for UGC creators, there is no minimum threshold of followers or “UGC creator tiers” in play. Someone with just a few hundred followers could be a successful UGC creator.
UGC creators usually don’t post the UGC to their own feeds
The reason there’s no minimum audience size for UGC creators is that these creators usually don’t publish the UGC to their own social profiles. They create the content, send it on to the brand, get paid, and move on to their next assignment.
When brands pay influencers, they’re paying for two things:
- The content the influencer creates
- The exposure they get to the influencer’s community when that influencer posts the content on their profile
But with UGC creators, brands are paying for one thing and one thing only: content.
UGC creators’ content is usually less polished than influencers’ content
Another key difference between UGC creators and influencers is in the content itself. In general, UGC looks less polished and perfect than influencer content does.
Influencers post the content they create for brands to their own feeds. And their feeds are usually carefully curated to maintain their personal aesthetics and quality standards. So they’re going to create content that fits within those aesthetics and standards.
UGC on the other hand is all about authenticity. It’s created to look like it comes from everyday consumers, who we assume don’t necessarily know a ton about video editing and photo composition.
For this reason, UGC is usually less polished to give it that real feeling. The focus isn’t on creating perfect-looking content, but rather on the product and the user’s opinion of it.
Why are UGC creators valuable for brands?
We’ve seen that UGC creators are on the rise. But why? What makes them so valuable to brands?
Let’s look at 3 reasons why UGC creators are an important part of many brands’ social media marketing strategies.
Their content is highly authentic and can impact purchasing decisions
UGC is always going to feel more organic than content created by a brand, regardless of how hip or trendy that brand might be. Consumers are smart and their eyes are well-trained, so they can easily tell when a message is laid on too thick.
This is what usually happens when brands try to create this type of content in-house. Why would you trust a product review that comes from someone who obviously works for the brand selling that product?
Now, while UGC is actually paid for the brand, it doesn’t come across as heavily biased. It feels fresher and more engaging, and this is invaluable to brands. UGC gives brands a better chance to catch users’ eyes and potentially make a dent in their wallets.
In fact, a 2021 study by Stackla found that 79% of consumers said user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions.
The study also found that 80% of global consumers would be more likely to buy from an online store if its website featured UGC videos and images. This was particularly true among young people, as 86% of Gen Zers answered yes to this question.
It’s not difficult to understand these statistics. People feel more comfortable buying products if they have social proof—if they know that other people like them also buy and love those products.
They’re cheaper than influencers
UGC creators are also valuable to brands because they’re cheaper to work with than influencers. With influencers, brands are paying for the content and the connection to their audience, so fees end up being higher. Brands can easily end up paying thousands per post for influencer content.
But since UGC creators won’t be posting the content for their audience, fees are lower. Brands are only paying for the content, and on top of that, UGC doesn’t require as much editing and polishing as influencer content does.
What’s more, brands don’t need to exhaust as many resources finding UGC creators as they do influencers. When searching for influencers, brands have to keep many performance metrics in mind: reach, engagement rate, average likes and comments, and so on. They sometimes have to run a fake follower check, and check that the influencer’s audience demographics match up with their target audience.
But with UGC creators, apart from knowing the creator speaks the language they want their content in, they really just have to focus on the creator’s content and if they’re capable of the tone, style, and message the brand wants to promote.
They can produce content faster than the brand alone
The beauty of UGC is that it shows different people’s perspectives on a brand’s products. So it’s also the perfect time for brands to work with various people at once. Brands can create a brief, set a deadline, and then distribute it to lots of UGC creators who will put their own unique spin on the content they produce.
This means that by their deadline, the brand gets a variety of content they can then use across social media, paid ads, and their website.
Compare this to an in-house content team trying to create all that content. Creating content in-house is more difficult logistically, due to the demands of other projects or other stakeholders within the company. But it also doesn’t feel as authentic, which we’ve seen is what drives those consumer buying decisions.
Some examples of brands that work with UGC creators
In case you’re thinking about finding UGC creators to help out your brand, I wanted to share a few examples of brands you can take inspiration from.
Airbnb uses UGC creators to help populate their TikTok feed with content that makes people want to travel (and rent Airbnbs).
In this video, the UGC creators are a designer and a reiki healer who travel the world while they work. We can see a bit of their daily life in Los Angeles, and their Airbnb hosts conveniently pop up in the video, too.
But notice that the creators aren’t tagged and don’t push their own social networks at all. This shows us they’re not influencers, but rather UGC creators using their daily life to create engaging content for Airbnb.
Summer Fridays is a women-owned business that makes vegan, cruelty-free skincare. A quick look at their social media shows off their natural aesthetic: pastel tones and neutrals, makeup looks that exchange natural beauty, and so on.
In this example of UGC, we see that transmitted too. The UGC creator didn’t shoot this Instagram Reel in a studio, but rather at home near a window. This gives viewers an honest, authentic account of what the makeup looks like on her skin tone in natural light. And while we can see that her name is Gabi, we don’t find any link to her social media account or other type of content attribution.
Supergoop is a skincare brand famous. Better said, it’s a suncare brand. Their sunscreen regularly ranks on best of lists and they describe themselves as the only prestige skincare brand 100% dedicated to suncare.
UGC is particularly effective for brands whose products are easy to use with little to no guidance. UGC creators can pick them up and create content quickly and easily without needing any onboarding time. That’s the case for Supergoop’s sun care products, which are easy to apply and incorporate into creators’ existing routines.
How to become a UGC creator
You don’t need a huge audience to become a UGC creator. That said, it still takes a lot of hard work and dedication. If you’ve been reading this article with the goal of wanting to become a UGC creator, here are a few tips to help you.
1. Think of some brands you’d love to work with
Start by thinking of some brands you’d love to create content for. Think of your favorite products and why you love them.
Or, at least narrow it down to an industry and niche. If you’re a fashionista who loves styling outfits, go with fashion. Maybe you’re a cook who loves trying out new cookware and ingredients.
Whatever your passion, do some research on it. Examine the brands you’re interested in on social media to see what type of content they currently publish. Look at things like:
- How are their posts performing? Which ones get the most likes and comments?
- Do they have any UGC on their feeds already? If so, what type of content is it?
- Who does this brand seem to be reaching out to? In other words, who is their target audience?
- Can you think of any content that’s missing? What would you love to see/learn about their products that you can’t already find?
Doing this type of analysis will help guide the content you create to hopefully get noticed by those brands.
2. Build a content kit and create a portfolio
First up, put your kit together. The good news is you don’t need a fancy camera or expensive gear. You’ll definitely need a phone that takes decent video quality, which most phones nowadays do anyway.
You might also want to consider getting:
- A tripod to stabilize your phone while you shoot.
- A ring light to illuminate the products you’re showing off.
- A mic that plugs into your phone jack to enhance your audio quality.
- Some props or backgrounds you think would work well in your videos.Don’t stress too much about the quality of your content. Remember what we learned above: UGC content is rarely perfect, and that’s part of its charm.
You’ll also need products in order to create UGC content. Start with the ones you already have and love. This way, you don’t start splashing out on new products until your UGC checks are coming in.
Once you have your setup ready and your products chosen, start creating! Most UGC is presented either as images or short videos. For videos stick to 15-60 seconds, as they’ll most likely be published to TikTok or Instagram Reels.
Some common types of UGC content you can start with are:
- Reviews. Show off a product and share your honest opinion about it. Remember to keep this short, so you might only want to focus on a specific aspect of the product.
- Demos or tutorials. Audiences love to see how stuff works. So show them how you use a certain product in your daily life. You could focus on a specific benefit it brings you. Or maybe you use the product in a unique way that most people don’t know about.
- Unboxings. If you have some new products around, unboxings are a great way to show what they look like right out of the box. This content helps the audience understand what to expect from that product from moment zero.
You might want to post this content to social media and tag the brands featured. Even if UGC creators don’t usually post the UGC they make, you have to start somewhere to get noticed. Posting your initial UGC to social media can be your portfolio, making it easy for brands to see what you can do.
And if you have doubts, study up! The best place to get tips is on social media itself. There’s a whole community of UGC creators sharing their insights to help others.
3. Network and connect
Once you have a portfolio ready, it’s time to connect with brands. If you’ve posted your UGC to social media, mention the brands or use their branded hashtags. This might help you pop up on their radar.
Alternatively, you could try different platforms designed to help bring companies and freelancers together. If you want to try this route, check out the list below.
Where can brands and UGC creators connect?
There are lots of platforms out there where brands and UGC creators can connect. Usually these platforms require you to sign up as a freelancer and create an account. You’ll have to share some basic information like name and email, and you’ll also be asked to upload a portfolio or some examples of your work.
Here are a few examples of where you could look for opportunities in the UGC sphere:
- Upwork. The most popular freelance marketplace, Upwork, has jobs for everything. Set up your account and make sure your profile is the best it can be, because brands can run searches and invite freelancers to their listings. At the same time, you can search the job marketplace and apply to the ones that catch your eye.
- Fiverr. Fiverr is also very popular, and works a bit differently from Upwork in that it’s gig-based. The freelancer posts gigs they’re willing to do, such as “TikTok video in the style of UGC” and names their price. Brands can browse these gigs or post listings of their own.
- Heepsy. Heepsy is a platform designed specifically for brands who want to do social media marketing and content creators who want jobs promoting those brands. While it’s usually used for influencer marketing, it can be used for UGC creation, too. Brands create campaigns that creators can apply to. Brands can also search the creator database and invite those people they think would be a good fit.
Nowadays, user-generated content is probably the most authentic type of content that brands can post on social media. And UGC creators are the people that make that possible.
So, if you have a brand and aren’t already using UGC, consider finding some creators to include in your social strategy. And if you’re someone interested in creating UGC, remember to keep authenticity at the heart of all the content you create.