Influencer Marketing Vs. User-Generated Content (UGC): Which is Better For Your Brand?
Influencer Marketing and User-Generated Content (UGC) are powerful strategies that have become integral to any digital marketing strategy in the past decade. While both influencers and UGC creators generate content for or on behalf of brands, they each offer unique benefits and aim to achieve specific business objectives.
This article aims to unpack the differences between the two strategies, providing a detailed understanding of their definitions, advantages, and challenges they may pose.
By distinguishing the nuances between Influencer Marketing and UGC, we will equip you with the knowledge to navigate these strategies effectively, enhancing your brand’s online presence and audience engagement.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer Marketing is a marketing strategy that involves partnering with individuals who have a strong online presence on social media and an audience of potential customers. Through their established trust and credibility, these influencers can effectively promote products or services to their followers and promote more sales for brands.
There are four main types of influencers, which can be defined by follower count, from celebrities to industry experts or even micro-influencers (those with smaller but highly engaged audiences).
The rise of Influencer Marketing can be largely attributed to the shift in consumer behavior, as consumers are increasingly seeking authenticity and personal connections in their interactions with brands.
Using their relatable content and trustworthy recommendations, influencers provide exactly that. They offer a human touch to brand marketing, making it more engaging and persuasive.
A successful Influencer Marketing strategy typically encompasses the following steps:
- Defining Goals & KPIs
- Sourcing The Right Influencers
- Publishing Content
- Analyzing Campaign Results – using metrics such as engagement rate, reach, and conversions.
- Optimizing Campaign Performance
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What is User-Generated Content (UGC)?
User-Generated Content (UGC) refers to content created by users or customers instead of the brands themselves. However, UGC creators are often hired by brands to produce content. Brands typically repurpose this content for their social media marketing campaigns without the creators needing to share it on their own accounts.
According to a study by The Bazaar Voice, 60% of consumers believe UGC is the most authentic marketing content. This makes it a powerful strategy brands can leverage to build credibility and authenticity.
To do so, brands typically provide the creators with a brief and script to engage prospective buyers with an experience or opinion of the brand’s product or service. This type of content can take various forms, including text, images, videos, reviews, testimonials, or even podcasts.
UGC creators don’t usually share the branded content with their audience, nor are they tagged in promotional posts by brands, making them akin to the social media equivalent of paid actors or models in commercials.
The primary benefit of UGC lies in its authenticity and the trust it fosters between customers and brands. It represents real and honest content that potential customers can trust, as it’s based on the experiences of other users with the products.
- A successful UGC strategy involves encouraging and facilitating the creation and sharing of user-generated content. This can be done through contests, hashtags, or simply by requesting customers to share their experiences. It’s also crucial to effectively monitor and manage this content, ensuring it aligns with the brand image and values.
Getting in touch with UGC creators can be done with the help of UGC agencies like Moburst.
Influencer Marketing Vs. User-Generated Content
Let’s discuss the key differences between Influencer Marketing and User-Generated Content (UGC):
- Influencer Marketing creators are typically social media influencers with a significant following base of a relevant audience. They have established credibility and influence in their respective domains.
- On the other hand, UGC creators can be ordinary individuals who serve as a representation of genuine customers of your brand. Based on a full creator brief and/or script catered to your brand guidelines, UGC creators will follow the creative concepts while sharing their authentic experiences about your products or services.
- Influencers typically share promotional content on their own platforms, such as Instagram, YouTube, Twitter (X), or blogs. Their followers then engage with this content, amplifying its reach.
- UGC creators often do not publish their content to their audiences, but rather the content is used by the brand on various social platforms. This content is not targeted toward a large follower base but is available for the brand to use for paid media and owned social accounts.
- Influencer Marketing content, while effective, is usually paid and promotional, which can sometimes affect perceived authenticity.
- UGC is generally seen as more authentic because it comes directly from product users without explicit incentives to promote the product. Users share their genuine experiences, adding a layer of trustworthiness to the content.
Control Over Content
- With Influencer Marketing, brands have some control over the messaging and presentation of the content, but less control when it comes to the interactions and engagements of the audience. The collaboration terms usually specify how and when the influencers should post about the product.
- By hiring UGC creators, brands can have more control over their content. Brands can let the creators have creative control, or if preferred, a very specific script and brief can also be provided. The content will still be perceived as a genuine experience because the UGC creators will present it as such.
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- Influencer Marketing often costs more, as influencers charge fees for their promotional services. The pricing varies between influencers, fields, and the influencers’ audience size – from macro influencers with a huge following to micro and nano-influencers.
- UGC is typically more affordable, as it leverages the organic content created by users without with little to no direct costs involved.
- Influencer Marketing campaigns are relatively easier to track and measure using metrics like engagement rate, reach, conversions, etc.
- Measuring the impact of UGC can be challenging due to the diverse platforms and formats where it’s shared. However, metrics like UGC quantity, quality, increased customer engagement, and improved conversion rates offer valuable insights. Hiring a specialized UGC agency like Moburst can help you optimize UGC assets based on specific KPIs to achieve better performance.
- Influencer Marketing aims to leverage the creators’ credibility and reach to promote a product or service. The brand’s aim would be to tap into the influencer’s follower base, which often consists of a target demographic that aligns with the brand’s audience.
- The objective of UGC is to foster a sense of community and authenticity around a brand. It leverages the real experiences and opinions of customers to create trustworthy and relatable content, aiming to enhance customer loyalty, brand awareness, and engagement.
- Influencer Marketing: Influencers typically have a well-defined audience demographic. This allows brands to target their marketing efforts more effectively.
- User-Generated Content: While not as targeted as influencer marketing, UGC still reaches real and potential customers, especially when shared on social networks or review sites. Paid media behind the UGC assets is key to using UGC in a very targeted way.
- Influencer Marketing typically generates high audience engagement as followers tend to actively interact with the influencers’ content. This interaction can take several forms, including likes, comments, shares, and even direct purchases influenced by the content.
- UGC also results in high audience engagement but in a more organic manner. As the content is perceived as authentic and unbiased, it resonates well with other customers. They may engage by commenting on the content, sharing it, or even creating their own UGC in response.
Choosing Between Influencer Marketing and UGC
When deciding between influencer marketing and user-generated content (UGC), brands should consider their specific goals, target audience, budget, and the nature of their products or services.
Here are some factors to consider:
Influencer Marketing may be the right choice when a brand:
- Wants to reach a wider audience: Influencers often have large, engaged followings that brands can tap into. This can help your brand gain visibility among potential customers who might not have discovered you otherwise.
- Needs to build trust quickly: Influencers have already established trust with their followers. When they endorse a product or service, their followers are more likely to trust this recommendation, which can help improve your brand’s credibility.
- Has a substantial marketing budget: As mentioned, influencer partnerships often come at a cost. Depending on the influencer’s reach and popularity, this can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars per post.
- Seeks high-quality, professional content: Many influencers are skilled content creators who can produce high-quality content that aligns with your brand image, which can be repurposed for other marketing channels.
On the other hand, User-Generated Content may be a better fit when a brand:
- Is looking to foster a community: UGC encourages interaction and engagement among users, fostering a sense of community around your brand.
- Wants to boost authenticity: User-generated content is perceived as highly authentic because it’s created by real users who’ve had genuine experiences with a product or service.
- Has a limited budget: UGC generally costs less than influencer marketing. While there are costs associated with curating UGC and developing the creative briefs and/or scripts, these costs are often lower than the cost of an influencer campaign.
- Has a product or service that people love to share: If your product or service is something that users are naturally inclined to share (like travel experiences, food, digital, or fashion), encouraging UGC can be a powerful strategy.
It’s worth noting that these strategies aren’t mutually exclusive. Many successful brands leverage both influencer marketing and UGC in their overall marketing strategy, getting the best of both worlds. The key here is to understand your brand’s needs and make strategic decisions that align with your goals.
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Both influencer marketing and user-generated content have emerged as powerful strategies in recent years, each with unique advantages and challenges.
Influencer Marketing, with its ability to leverage the reach and credibility of influencers, can significantly boost brand visibility and provide targeted marketing opportunities. However, it can be costly and requires careful selection and management of influencers to maintain authenticity.
On the other hand, User-Generated Content, known for its authenticity and cost-effectiveness, has the power to cultivate trust among customers and foster a strong sense of community. However, unlike Influencers, it lacks a dedicated audience base that can be directly targeted. Instead, UGC relies on the brand’s existing social presence and/or media investment to amplify its impact.
- The choice between Influencer Marketing and UGC, or perhaps a combination of both, depends largely on your brand’s specific goals, target audience, and resources. It’s about finding the right balance and using each approach where it can deliver the most impact.
As the marketing world continues to evolve, it’s worth considering leveraging the expertise of a full-service marketing agency like Moburst, which offers both Influencer Marketing and UGC services. With access to our vast army of influencers and UGC creators, you can effectively harness the power of both strategies, creating a synergistic effect that enhances brand visibility, credibility, authenticity, and customer engagement.