UGC Insights l Benefits and Challenges of UGC for Brands

UGC just might be the answer you've been looking for. Let's take a closer look at the benefits of UGC.🕵️

Andrea Petrusevska

by Andrea Petrusevska

· 14 min read
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You’re probably spending too much time and effort maintaining your company’s social media presence. Or, you’re not, and you feel guilty because you know that social media is the key to reaching new customers.

Either way–how is that going for you?

Do you have fresh creative?

Do your pages seem vibrant and alive, or are they dull?

UGC just might be the answer you’ve been looking for. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of UGC.

What is UGC?

We’ve discussed this before on the blog, but UGC is content (videos, photos, or reviews) that users of your product make about your brand. You might find UGC because someone tags your company in a post, or you might hire people to try your product and share their honest opinions.

Either way, it’s a GREAT way to connect with potential customers. Before people buy from you, they must trust you, and UGC helps them trust you.

UGC benefits

Increased trust is just one of the benefits of using UGC for your brand–there are SO MANY more. So, in this section, let’s talk about the advantages of user-generated content and why it’s a powerful tool for companies hoping to expand their reach, influence, and sales.

Improved performance on ads

Especially in e-commerce, ads that incorporate UGC perform better than other types of creative content.

In 2023, Tint found that using UGC can decrease your cost per click by 50% (amazing!) and that 62% of consumers report being likelier to click on content that features UGC instead of brand-created content. That’s crazy good!

The reason for this is simple: humans empathize with humans. In the digital age, where faceless brands are a norm, UGC brings back the human connection. If you’ve ever heard the sales adage, “People buy from people,” it’s true–and it applies here, too. UGC is a powerful tool to humanize your brand and connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Here’s the psychology behind why UGC’s benefits are SO MUCH better than those of other ads featuring people. Since everyone is (more or less) trying to sell you something online, people are becoming increasingly numb to the effects of traditional advertising.

Side note: You’ll see this a lot in TikTok advertising circles–if you complain about your engagement rates, people will just blame it on the fact that TikTokers are naturally wary of ads.

When done right, UGC stops the scroll and tells the story of a real user’s experience with the product–and THAT’s the kind of content people are interested in seeing. They’re looking for an “Aha!” moment where they experience the same things as the person in the ad.

Case in point: the last time I bought sneakers, I saw an ad with this guy casually getting compliments from his date for his sneakers. And they looked cool. But there are lots of cool sneakers on the internet–what made me buy THESE is the story. I wanted to get the same compliments on my sneakers from my date.

Finding creators who can tell a good story and hook an audience can be tricky. Most creator-made videos still sound like ads or aren’t super convincing. But when you find a creator who can make the kind of content audiences crave, you’ll find that video outperforms the rest and brings enough ROI to make it all worth it.

However, this doesn’t always happen. And it’s certainly not going to happen on your first try. It takes time to find the right creators AND to learn how to create briefs that generate the results you’re looking for. And, even if you get all those things exactly right, other variables you can’t control can throw the entire thing off. Don’t let me get started on algorithm changes! 😤

Spending less resources for your social media presence

If you can build a pipeline of UGC, you’ll solve a big headache for your brand’s social media channel: generating content.

If you’ve never had the pleasure (or the pain) of managing social media accounts, know that developing a social media presence takes WORK. It takes TIME. And you won’t see results until your brand is established. If you’re a small to medium-sized brand, it’s hard to feel like it’s worth the effort (and, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be your top priority at this stage).

At the same time… You can’t ignore social media. That’s where most of your customers are; empty profiles aren’t good publicity.

So dedicating time to post on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook (if you run ads there, too) can become a chore–mainly because you need content. And content takes time to produce or outsource–like, a LOT of time.

A steady stream of UGC solves this problem: you’ll have videos you can post on social media. (And you can edit and cut the videos to get even more content in way less time)

With UGC, you’re grooving your socials and scooping up the increased engagement and awareness that comes from having a social media presence–and YOU don’t need to be the one to create the content! This means you can spend more time focusing on things that bring ROI immediately instead of down the line. 🎉

A constant fresh look for your brand

Using UGC involves working with creators–so the more content you get, the more creators you’ll have talking about and using your products. You may even see some creators you haven’t worked with talking about your product because they’re inspired by everything they see!

The variety of people talking about and using your product will give your brand a fresh, energized look. And people like that–they like to feel like lots of people are using and loving a product before they buy it.

You know those brands who have one person that you see everywhere? If you see an ad from them with the same face, you’ll often skip it. But having fresh faces and angles talking about your brand will continue to spark that curiosity and *eventually* make people click and convert.

Improved brand awareness, engagement, and sales

Fresh, best-in-class UGC will spark conversations and engagement around your brand and products. This, in turn, will create brand awareness and, eventually, sales. That’s how it works–you won’t see it overnight, but each piece of UGC can potentially move prospects down your marketing funnel.

Challenges of using UGC

Despite the benefits, there are a LOT of ways using UGC can be hard. You CAN overcome these obstacles, but I want to be honest with you about the challenges of user-generated content. They are:

It’s hard to find the right creators

Content creation is like any other profession: There are top-notch creators, and some aren’t as good. You want to hire the good ones for your brand. And that’s one of the first challenges you’ll encounter when you start using UGC: finding creators who move the needle.

You’ll want to look for creators who are creative and fluent in front of a camera. And by that, I mean:

You’ll want them to be able to come up with new ideas and angles that highlight what makes your product unique. And they’ll need to be natural and comfortable speaking in front of the camera. You don’t want someone who has boring ideas or gets fussy and mumbles when they’re recording.

Finding people with that natural flow in front of the camera is difficult. It comes naturally for some people, but it takes a lot of practice for most of us. I can’t help you quantify what this looks like–but you’ll know it when you see it!

Mix that natural flow with creativity, and that’s where you’ll find the creators you’re looking for–their exceptional content means that their UGC performs better overall.

But finding these creators takes time. Even if you do all your research and check their portfolios, reviews, and intro videos, sometimes the results are not what you’d expect. Results can vary.

So, finding creators you want to work with takes time and money…

It gets expensive

As we just discussed, there’s only one way to find the right creators: work with as many as possible, find the ones that move the needle for your brand, and then work with them regularly.

This takes time and money: with short UGC videos averaging £99 on Clip for 15 seconds, you can see how this can get expensive. That’s not even taking into consideration the fact that most UGC platforms cost MORE than we do. You can probably get a cheaper video here and there if you work with creators directly, but that’s even more labor-intensive. And, at scale, it works out to be about the same as working with us.

Bottom line: It’s expensive to build a pipeline of UGC videos.

This leads me to one of my dearly held beliefs about UGC videos: I don't see the point if you’re not using them in performance-based marketing. Using them solely on social media or other channels that don’t require ad spend is pointless. The return just won’t be there the way it is for paid ads.

It requires constant attention and iteration

So, as mentioned above, having a UGC pipeline DOES take the creative pressure off of you to produce social media content. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take some effort.

In general, briefing takes the most time: thinking about what you want creators to talk about and do in these videos takes a lot of time, and you can’t outsource this unless you’re working with a creative strategist.

Writing briefs for UGC is STILL a better use of your time than producing the content yourself or curating it, but it’s not a zero-effort endeavor.

You still have to create campaigns, connect with creators, communicate, and request edits. All of these little tasks add up.

It’s hard to replicate success

I’m talking specifically about performance marketing here–sometimes, you have a video that performs SUPER well. But, when you try to replicate that video with other creators and run ads, it doesn’t perform as well.

Why?

This could happen for many reasons, but it’s either something the creator did or something related to the Meta algorithm, which no one can control (not even Mark Zuckerberg, at this point).

This can be frustrating, and we get it. But there’s not much you can do about it–just keep A/B testing and trying to find the next video that works.

What’s the #1 reason brands stop using UGC?

Brands usually stop using UGC because they have unrealistic expectations. They expect to see immediate results and give up when nothing happens immediately.

By the way, this isn’t just a UGC problem. We see it in other areas, such as influencer marketing or paid advertising.

If you’re thinking about running UGC ads for your brand, hear me: UGC will not make your brand famous overnight.

You’ll only see results with long-term, sustained effort and attention. You’ll need to spend the time to incorporate it into your overall marketing strategy, and you’ll also need to iterate and improve on it to find a winning approach. Then, when Meta changes their algorithm, you’ll have to try again.

After expectations, the other reason brands decide to stop using UGC is a lack of budget. Again, UGC can be expensive, so you’ll need to ensure you have a dedicated budget for it.

The good news is you can succeed where other brands have failed and reap those sweet UGC benefits for your brand. You’ll just need to manage your expectations, dedicate a consistent monthly budget for it, and understand that UGC is something you’ll need to start using and then improve step by step. That’s how you move the needle with UGC. ⚡

Are you using UGC for your brand?

The choice is clear to me: the benefits of UGC FAR EXCEED the challenges.

But then, I’ve been in the UGC space for a while and have a pretty good idea of what works (and doesn’t) for our brand.

You might not be in the same situation. And if you’re nervous, that’s okay. Here’s what I’d recommend to get started:

  1. Dedicate some budget to UGC. Decide how much you want to spend on UGC per month–it does take time and money to figure out what works, but you’ll have the most success if you experiment at a pace your business can sustain.
  2. Join a UGC platform like Clip and post your first brief. This will save you time & help you connect with content creators quickly.
  3. A/B test your first ad campaign. If you need some inspiration, check out examples of UGC ads that work.
  4. Pay attention to your results, and iterate from there.

And, of course, if you have any questions about how UGC can help your brand, we’d love to help! Book a demo to talk to one of our team members about how you can leverage Clip to get affordable, best-in-class UGC for your brand.

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