Authenticity in Action: How to Create a UGC Social Media Plan

UGC Creators How to Guide to User-generated content

In digital marketing and social media today, there’s so many trends to keep up with to stay top of mind with consumers. And in the last few years, a new phenomenon has completely changed the way brands interact with their audience — user-generated content (UGC). As a consumer, if you’ve ever posted a review or uploaded a video with a product, congrats, you’re part of the UGC community! As a brand, if you’ve ever posted someone’s review or product video, then UGC is part of your strategy! 

What Is a UGC Creator?

UGC is digital content created by everyday consumers, capturing life’s moments and adventures alongside a brand’s product or services. Throw out the formal scripted marketing pitches! UGC is authentic, sometimes quirky, real stories told by the people, for the people. UGC serves as a powerful way to connect with consumers and is now a major part of social media strategies for brands. 

Types of UGC

When it comes to UGC, the possibilities are endless and as diverse as the digital landscape. Here’s a breakdown of some key UGC types that can be seamlessly shared on social media channels or may even originate from them.

  • Hashtag campaigns: By encouraging users to share content using a specific hashtag, brands can harness the collective energy of their audience and amplify brand visibility. This not only makes it easier to track UGC but also facilitates a sense of community around a shared theme. One great example is the #ShareACoke campaign, which generated tons of user interactions.
  • Reviews and testimonials: Reviews are the bread and butter of UGC. User reviews and testimonials provide social proof, building trust and influencing potential customers. If it’s a visual review, you can even include the photo or video in your product photos on your website. Consumers love to see real people before making buying decisions. Right now, Amazon reviews are all the rage. It’s incredible to see how much UGC content is produced here, especially video reviews, that you can leverage as a brand. 
  • Videos: Speaking of videos… you may have heard the phrase “Video is king.” Videos, being so dynamic and immersive, hold a special place in UGC. Since 72% of social media users prefer to watch videos over any other content, this is especially important for your social media UGC strategy. Unboxing videos, tutorial/demos, and voiceover videos are particularly popular. They not only entertain but also educate and resonate with audiences on a personal level. 
  • Photography: Much like videos, product photography offers a dynamic visual storytelling experience, with users modeling for products in real-life settings. It provides a glimpse into how real people integrate products into their lives in different ways. Leveraging these snapshots across platforms adds social proof and enriches your brand story. And as already mentioned, this type of visual content works great in featured product images on your website or third party seller pages, like Amazon. 
  • Blog guest posts or consumer-inspired content: Blogs aren’t just for the pros. UGCs can contribute guest posts, or you can share consumer-inspired content on your blog. For example, you can put a compelling testimonial into a blog format to share the user’s unique story. All of this again adds a layer of authenticity, but in a different format for consumers to enjoy. It transforms your brand into a collaborative, educational platform and enriches the narrative with diverse perspectives. 

UGC vs. Influencers: What’s the Difference?

If you’re on social media, you know just how big influencers are for brands. So you might be wondering about the difference between influencers and user-generated content. Influencer marketing and UGC have some overlap, but great news — they are also two distinct channels you can leverage for your brand!

UGC creators create content, like a photography review or an unboxing video, and send it to the brand for the brand to use and distribute on their channels as they see fit. UGC creators themselves do not need to have a big social following to create engaging content, which is why it’s become so popular — the average consumer can become a UGC creator without needing to gain all the followers. The value comes from their authenticity, quality of content, and diverse and creative content creation.

Influencers, on the other hand, have grown a dedicated following due to their expertise, charisma, or niche-specific authority. They curate content to align with their personal brand and engage their audience, and post it directly on their own channels to their followers. Since influencers have a more deliberate and cultivated online presence, they use their influence to endorse products or services.

The strategic value of UGC lies in its authenticity. Most people now only want to buy products or services when they see positive reviews or real-life experiences. UGC provides a variety of genuine customer experiences. Meanwhile, influencers offer a more targeted and controlled approach. Their endorsement reaches a specific audience, leveraging their established credibility with their followers. Collaborating with influencers allows brands to access specific demographics and markets through a trusted intermediary.

Both UGC and influencers have great value and their place in an effective social media strategy. When used together, you can see incredible results for your user engagement, awareness, and revenue. 

Why Do You Need a UGC Campaign?

If you have yet to try UGC out on your channels, you may wonder, why do I even need this? Especially if you already use influencers or an affiliate program. Well, simply put, UGC campaigns communicate in a whole different way to your audience, and it’s pretty dang effective. Here’s the top 3 reasons why you might need UGC for your brand strategy: 

  1. Humanizes the brand. As everything gets more and more digital, people crave connection and authenticity — it’s simply human nature. UGC humanizes your brand by showcasing real experiences, stories, and faces, creating a more relatable and genuine connection with your audience.
  2. Boosts brand visibility and sales. When you look at the numbers across the different industries, UGC is a proven strategy to elevate both brand visibility and sales. Everyday experiences help convince potential buyers, and people are more likely to stop scrolling to watch an engaging UGC video than a standard product ad. Ultimately, this type of content creates interest and drives positive outcomes for your business.
  3. Provides more content variety. Let’s face it, there’s a limit to what you can create in-house, whether it be bandwidth or stale creativity. Infusing your social strategy with UGC provides a diverse range of new and interesting content. Featuring different faces and perspectives not only adds variety to your content but also enables your brand to connect with a broader audience. UGC showcases that your product or service is appreciated by a wide demographic, making it more appealing to potential customers.

How to create a UGC creator and strategy plan

3 Steps for a Successful UGC Creator Strategy

Here’s some first steps to take to create and execute an effective UGC platform for your brand: 

Step 1: Create a UGC Strategy and Campaign Brief

The beautiful thing with UGC is authenticity. But even better than that, as a brand, you have complete control over what UGC to share and promote. You can guide the content creation and determine how to deliver the content to your audience. This process is two-fold: creating a UGC strategy, and creating a campaign brief

First off, you want to decide internally how you plan to incorporate UGC with your current social media strategy and goals. Are you looking to build brand awareness, boost engagement, or drive traffic to your website? Whatever your goals, you want to attract the type of UGC that aligns best and magnify it as part of your social strategy. UGC is a great tool to integrate into existing social media strategies, as well, so long as you follow your goals and posting standards. 

Once you have internal guidelines and a plan in place, you can create a campaign brief. This is what you would share with a potential UGC creator to outline exactly what you need for your brand. Here’s some examples of what to include in a campaign brief:

  • Decide the type of content you’re wanting (picture testimonials, voiceover videos, unboxing videos, etc.), on which platforms (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, etc.), and how many posts
  • Provide designated hashtags for consistency and tracking
  • Specify language, tone, and appropriateness
  • Write out specific phrases or copy to use
  • Establish a framework for respecting copyright and intellectual property, as well as staying compliant 

Remember, the campaign brief will be shared externally with UGC creators, so be mindful of what you include. But this step is so important to start the relationship off right and give enough information to set a UGC creator up for success. 

Step 2: Select UGC Creators

Next up is actually attracting or finding UGC creators. Unlike influencer marketing and affiliate marketing, UGC is posted directly by a brand on their social accounts or website, not on the UGC creator’s channels. So you can’t exactly scout talent in the same way you might find popular influencers in your field. You may need to search social media profiles to find the right person and reach out for portfolios. But as you grow as a brand, along with scouting UGC talent, you may receive offers directly from UGC creators. Typically, a UGC creator offers content in exchange for free product or a fee. This content may already be created, or they may be pitching a potential idea for your brand. 

When selecting UGC creators, it’s so important that the content they create is on brand and will resonate with your audience, while still giving them plenty of room to be creative. This is where your content brief comes into play! First, you will want to evaluate the quality of the video or photo, either from the proposed content or past examples, to make sure it aligns with your brand standards. Second, you will want to do your research on the creator to ensure they fit the vibe and tone you are wanting. You can ask for a portfolio of their work or recent examples for other brands. Third, you will want to check if the final product has the right messaging, especially if the UGC creator is producing a voiceover video. 

It can be a ton of work building up a UGC community, as well as continually communicating with them to create and approve new content that aligns with your social strategy. It’s a lot of leg work sifting through the sea of potential UGC creators. That’s why for some brands, you may want to work directly with a social media management agency, like us here at Tuuti. We’d love to tap into our network of UGC creators and execute a UGC campaign for you to make this process that much easier! 

Step 3: Deliver and Monitor the UGC Content

Now we get into the fun stuff — actually posting the content on the different channels to execute your vision. At this stage, everything you planned initially in your social media strategy becomes a reality. You choose where to post the content, how to cut the content or adapt it for different channels, and so on. 

You also want to keep a close eye on how the UGC performs. You may find certain UGC creators connect better with your audience, or that a certain type of content received more attention. This will help you adapt your campaign strategy and brief, as well as shape your messaging to better communicate to your audience. A social monitoring tool, like Sprout or Hootsuite, can streamline this process so you can really dive into the data. 

Final Thoughts

It’s easier than ever for consumers to share their experiences with engaging content, and social media strategy has completely transformed because of it. A well-executed UGC campaign injects a human touch into your brand, harnesses the collective energy of your audience, and amplifies your brand’s authenticity in a way that other digital marketing methods often struggle to achieve. To make the most out of this new, exciting way to build your brand, don’t forget to:

✔️ Make a plan for your brand on what UGC you share and promote to fit into your overarching social strategy 

✔️ Create a comprehensive campaign brief to ensure UGC creators fit your voice and brand

✔️ Mix up what you share — blog posts, reviews, and video are all great forms of UGC

✔️ Review how each UGC creator and type of UGC performs for your brands so you can make adjustments along the way

✔️ Also incorporate influencers to promote your brand for a complete social media strategy

✔️ Get expert help when needed! Sometimes scaling can be a challenge or you may not have enough bandwidth. In those situations, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Look for a social media management agency like us here at Tuuti. We’d love to help build out and execute your social media strategy!

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About Us

Tuuti is a female-owned creative communications agency that specializes in boosting brand awareness, nurturing reputations, and strengthening connections between companies and their audiences. Some of the services we provide include content marketing, creative design, social media, and public relations. We’re here for awesome brands like yours, and are passionate about delivering unparalleled customer experience and killer content you can count on, always.