The Influence of UGC Creators: How Everyday People Shape Brand Perception

Role of UGC Creators in Shaping Brand Perception | Consultus Digital

User-generated content (UGC) creators are changing the landscape of modern digital marketing. As social media becomes increasingly involved in our daily lives and businesses’ marketing strategies, the way consumers interact with ads–particularly on social media–is evolving. With so much content competing for users’ attention, consumers rarely engage with traditional ads on social media. Only about 1% of millennials find traditional ads engaging and trustworthy enough to be worth a click-through. Reflect on your own experience. How often do you click on Instagram or Facebook ads? When was the last time you intentionally let a YouTube ad play through?

That’s why UGC creators are so valuable. They broaden brand awareness and add a sense of authenticity to your products or services, and authenticity drives sales. 90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands to support, and 84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising. At its core that’s what UGC is–a peer recommendation. 

So, let’s get into what exactly a UGC creator does, who they are, and how you can start collaborating with them as a part of your social media marketing strategy

What is a User-Generated Content (UGC) Creator?

When you hear UGC creator, your mind might go straight to an image of a stereotypical influencer marketing. Like an Instagram account with 200,000 followers publishing a paid promotional reel. While this is an example of a UGC creator, it is just one small part of the puzzle. True, genuine UGC comes from regular people posting about brands, products, or services that they want to share with their community. Then there are UGC creators who actively collaborate with brands to create engaging content that can strengthen brand awareness. 

UGC creators don’t have to have a huge following to be valuable to a brand. Most of the time it is actually more valuable when user-generated content comes from smaller accounts. For one, they cost less to collaborate with (UGC is potentially even free for brands), plus consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content when making purchasing decisions. UGC is just more genuine. 

How UGC is Shaping the Way Consumers Interact With Brands

UGC offers an authentic interaction between brand and consumer through the lens of a peer advocating for a product. The authenticity of UGC serves as a form of social proof. When users see their peers engaging with a brand, product, or service, it signals that the brand is trustworthy and validates the value of the product. That experience is very different from the experience of watching a traditional ad. When consumers see content from brands they aren’t familiar with, it is difficult to discern which brands are scams, which are trustworthy, and what kind of quality you can expect from them. UGC does a better job of clarifying these questions.

The Benefits and Challenges of UGC

The main benefit of UGC is that it can:

  • Drive brand awareness
  • Shape a brand’s image
  • Promote trust 
  • Help a brand’s community grow

Plus, UGC can do all of this for a relatively low cost. Collaborating directly with UGC creators can vary dramatically in cost, depending on the creator and the campaign. However, promoting users to create content for your brand can be extremely cost-effective. For example, just by starting a hashtag and contest, Starbucks’ White Cup campaign yielded loads of re-postable content and consumer engagement for the prize of having their designs featured as templates for future cups. 

UGC is great and all, but brands do need to be aware of the challenges and risks of UGC so they can leverage its value successfully. The main challenge of UGC is that it can put your brand’s image in other people’s hands. In paid partnerships, you can have a say in how your brand or products are represented, but in organic UGC you can’t necessarily control the direction that your brand’s reputation takes. You can limit this by choosing who you collaborate with and how you create campaigns that promote users to create UGC.

How Businesses Can Collaborate With UGC Creators 

Establish Collaborative Relationships

Many social media users are open to, or actively looking for UGC partnerships. Reach out to creators with personalized and genuine messages expressing your interest in working with them. In this way, you can communicate your expectations, offer incentives, and be collaboratively involved in the process.

If you search #ugc or #ugccreator on Instagram, you will see thousands of examples of this in action (most commonly from cosmetic and fashion brands like e.l.f cosmetics), brands collaborate with users with a relatively small following to showcase their products in the real world. 

Encourage UGC Creation

You can run ad campaigns, promote hashtags, or create contests that engage your community and encourage people to create their own content for your brand. Some of the most successful UGC campaigns have been from brands creating engaging trends related to their products. Think Apple’s Shot on iPhone or Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign.

Go-Pro is one of the kings of this. Through contests, reposting content, and collaborating with creators and athletes, they have managed to generate thousands of high-quality user-generated videos, build a dedicated community of brand ambassadors, and have become the go-to camera choice for millions of consumers as a result.

Showcase User-Generated Content Across Your Marketing Channels

One of the main benefits of UGC is that it provides your brand with shareable content to re-post on your social media platforms, website, and other marketing channels. Not only can this offer you a ton of social media content to up the engagement there, but high-quality UGC can be used to showcase your products in creative ways on your product pages, abandoned cart emails, newsletters, etc. Take a look through Article’s website for a masterclass example of using user-generated content to showcase their products. 

Consult with a UGC Agency

If you want to leverage the value of UGC for digital marketing or collaborate with UGC creators but aren’t sure where to start, then remember you’re not in it alone. Working with a UGC agency can provide expert insight into launching UGC campaigns as a part of your broader digital marketing strategy. If you are interested in working with a UGC agency, Consultus Digital is here to help. Give us a call to start the conversation and see how far your business can grow. 

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