UGC Creators vs. Influencers: Key Differences and Observations

UGC creators and influencers…I can sometimes feel like there's a fine line between these two creative professions.

Stefan Afrăsinei

by Stefan Afrăsinei

· 9 min read
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UGC creators, influencers… What’s the difference? I can sometimes feel like there’s a fine line between these two creative professions, but their differences are worth knowing.

After all… You don’t want to hire the wrong person, right?

Don’t worry! We got you. After you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll know exactly what to expect from both UGC creators and influencers–and you’ll be able to craft a strategy to leverage the work that both do best to grow your brand.

And yes, we only have UGC content creators here at Clip, but we think influencers are great, too. We’ve taken pains to be fair when discussing strengths and weaknesses, so you can be confident that we’re not hiding anything from you that might help you grow your brand.

We’re here to help your brand succeed! So let’s get started! 🎉

What is a UGC creator?

UGC creators are regular people (like you and me, unless you have a huge following on Instagram–in which case, NOT like you) who are paid to work with brands they love by creating content for them. They have great video creation skills, and they’re both comfortable in front of a camera and good at telling a story about products.

UGC creators aren’t easy to find, so you must rely on UGC platforms like Clip or freelancer platforms like Fiverr or Upwork. You may also be able to spot UGC creators on social media occasionally!

What is an influencer?

An influencer, on the other hand, is someone who has all of the video creation skills of a UGC creator but also has a following on social media that they can leverage. If you want the simple version, an influencer is a UGC creator with followers on social media.

It’s a little more nuanced than that when you go deeper because influencers also generally have a better understanding of how to play the social media game, grow an account, and create content that resonates on a particular platform.

You won’t recognize the names of UGC creators, but because of their communities, you may recognize the names of influencers like Charli D’Amelio or Ms. Rachel.

There are a few other differences, too–let’s look at them together!

Key differences between influencers and UGC creators

Now that you understand what content creators and influencers are, let’s look at the differences!

Type of content

If you hire a UGC creator, they will make content based on what you need. If you hire an influencer, they’ll balance your needs with the needs and desires of their audience.

Put simply, a UGC creator will provide videos for a brand, but that’s it. Influencers will also post those videos to their social media accounts to give the brand extra exposure.

Who you want to work with depends on your goals for your brand, but we’ll talk more about that later.

Social media savvy

In general, Influencers have more expertise in social media marketing. UGC creators probably know the basics, like measuring engagement, but they don’t know the ins and outs of branding and building an audience like influencers.

UGC creators also tend to be less current on social media trends. For example, if you’re working with a UGC creator for a video you want to post on TikTok, you can’t expect the creator to know the latest TikTok trends… But you COULD expect that from a TikTok influencer.

Disclaimer: UGC creators will still make great content for you, and many of them ARE up-to-date with social media trends and know how to build a following. We’re not trying to bash them. But in general, you can expect influencers to have more expertise in those areas than UGC creators.

Price

UGC creators are MUCH more affordable than influencers. When you work with UGC creators, you simply pay for the content and the licensing rights to use that content. When you work with influencers, you also pay an extra fee to appear in front of their audience.

The fact that influencers have a community around them gives you a pre-built audience for your ads. When they post about you on their page, they give you some of the credibility they’ve spent years building with their audience. You have to pay for that kind of access.

Of course, while that sounds great in theory, working with influencers doesn’t always generate many sales–a LOT of factors go into selling.

However, influencers aren’t *always* more expensive than UGC creators. If you work with nano or micro-influencers that are okay with gifted collaborations (giving them your product in exchange for exposure), working with influencers might be cheaper than getting top-notch UGC. But, if you compare best-in-class UGC AND influencers at the same level, the influencers will be more expensive.

These are the key differences. We could keep going, of course, but that’s not necessary–no need to confuse and overwhelm you!

Who should brands prioritize working with?

The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might’ve expected–it depends on your goals! Here’s a helpful way to look at it:

If you just want UGC

If you are looking purely for high-quality UGC, pick UGC creators.

There’s no point in paying extra for influencers when you can get best-in-class UGC much more affordably.

Focus your energy on creating GREAT briefs that help you get the UGC you need–and then use it however you see fit! (We recommend running paid ads with it.)

If you need a sales and engagement boost

Pick influencers if you’re looking for a direct boost in engagement and sales.

Paying influencers to promote your brand and products to their communities will boost your brand awareness and engagement and potentially generate sales. You’re paying a little extra to hopefully get some of the benefits of having an engaged audience.

Influencers are a marketing channel in and of themselves (called Influencer Marketing), while UGC creators help boost your paid ads and/or organic social media channels.

What does a healthy strategy look like when talking about these categories?

From our perspective, a good strategy incorporates both influencers AND content creators at the same time.

➡️ Use influencers to boost brand awareness and engagement across social media. Expect this to grow slowly and not lead to sales right away. You can also use the content they make for you as supplementary UGC.

➡️ Use UGC creators to make high-quality UGC for your brand’s social media channels and ads.

As far as budget goes:

  • We’d dedicate a small portion of the overall budget to Influencer Marketing. Try to save money by working with nano and micro-influencers who do gifted collaborations while watching for occasional bigger influencers you can invest in to see how it goes.
  • If we were running ads, we’d take a bigger chunk of the overall marketing budget and use it to get high-quality UGC from UGC creators–because you get better content that way!

This is based on personal opinions. You’ll need to decide what strategy works best for your brand.

But generally, from my point of view, for small to medium-sized businesses, using paid ads featuring UGC as your primary customer acquisition channel and considering influencer marketing as a secondary channel is the way to go. Working with influencers can give you some exposure and show that you’re active on social media, but you probably won’t see sales from it until you have enough budget to work with a LOT of influencers… And let’s be honest, that’s not the case for most small brands!

To connect with UGC creators, we’d look for them on platforms like Clip (hey, that’s us!) because trying to find them on social media or Fiverr is generally a waste of time. Yes, we’re biased, but UGC platforms exist to save you time that you can use for other things.

So bottom line, the recommendation is: Channel more of your budget to UGC creators, get super cool content, test it in ads, find the winners, and then rinse and repeat.

If you want the strategy most likely to get you sales, it’s this one. 👆

What do you think?

Now that you understand the differences between UGC creators and influencers and have heard our recommendations for leveraging them, the real work begins.

How will you use this info to grow your brand?

If you’re ready to connect with UGC creators, we hope you’ll try Clip! We’ve helped brands get performance-driven UGC that gives them real results–we’re talking 4.6X ROAS in some cases!

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