UGC is not dead, just different

Jan 11, 2024
ugc not dead
ugc not dead

UGC is not dead, just different

Once upon a digital horizon, User-Generated Content (UGC) emerged like a superhero in the realm of online advertising. People from all corners of the internet were sharing their experiences, and brands saw this as a goldmine! It was the age of authenticity; genuine folks were dishing out endorsements like it was confetti at a party.

But what once felt like authentic storytelling and an endless source for high performing ad creatives turned into a branded content circus. Articles like “IS UGC DYING?” have been flooding the net in the last months, and CPMs for UGC ads on Meta have gone through the roof. So what’s going on here and how could we get our ROAS on UGC back?

The evolving landscape of UGC:

Online chatter about products exploded with the birth of social media giants like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Suddenly, everyone with internet access had a voice, reshaping how we talk. Businesses caught on fast, seeing a goldmine for promoting their brand. What started as genuine praise for products turned into a whole new advertising game. Authentic endorsements from regular folks became marketing gold, influencing what we buy. Studies show our friends' opinions heavily sway our shopping habits—54% of social media users research products, and a whopping 71% buy based on social media suggestions. UGC became a superstar in marketing, with brands urging people to share their experiences. It was a win-win: free advertising that actually worked!

But UGC wasn't just heartfelt; it was practical too. Brands skipped the pricey production studios and fancy cameras, turning to everyday folks armed with smartphones. But then money entered the game. While it started with genuine sharing, brands started to pay users for creating UGC and an industry of “UGC creators” started to blossom.

So why did UGC shine? Because it was real! People resonated with genuine content shared by fellow users, feeling like part of an insider club. It let personal flair and creativity shine, outshining most ads by feeling more authentic and relatable.

Reasons why UGC lost its way:

But alas, with great fame comes great challenges. What once felt like authentic storytelling turned into a branded content circus. It's like having too much of a good thing—suddenly, UGC became as common as selfies at a tourist spot. The quality dropped, and our attention spans? Shorter than a TikTok video. And the reasons for that are:

  • Over saturation of inauthentic UGC: The initial promise of UGC was to provide a platform for genuine, unfiltered consumer expression. However, the overwhelming volume of UGC has led to an over saturation of inauthentic content, diluting the impact of authentic voices.

  • Savvy Consumers: Consumers are getting wiser to marketing tactics, recognizing that not all UGC is as organic as it appears. They are increasingly aware of the transactional nature of influencer marketing. This heightened awareness has led to an increasing skepticism. Brands need to find ways to foster genuine connections with consumers without compromising transparency.

  • Same mold and overused formats: The repetitive nature of UGC has resulted in an oversaturation of similar hooks, formats, and storytelling techniques. This predictability has dulled the impact of UGC and made it less engaging for consumers. It is vital to explore innovative and diverse formats to capture the attention and stand out from the crowd.

  • A mere transactional relationship with UGC creators: The competitive landscape in influencer marketing has led to transactional relationships between brands and creators, specially if the content creation is based on UGC only. This means that the creators are not advocates or even users of the brand they are promoting, which can lead to inauthentic content and lack of creativity and consistency.

How to continue leveraging UGC:

But it’s not over yet. While the challenges associated with UGC are evident, the potential is still there if executed well. Brands who managed to keep their ROAS for UGC up have the following in common:

  • Consistent creative testing: The constantly evolving nature of UGC demands an ongoing process of experimentation and adaptation. Brands should continuously test different creators, hooks, and formats to identify what resonates best with their target audience. This approach ensures that UGC campaigns remain fresh, engaging, and aligned with brand messaging.

  • Long-term relationships with your creators: When brands find the creators that align with their value and objectives, it is vital to build genuine connections with them. This will foster authentic and consistent UGC. Brands should invest in cultivating long-term partnerships with creators who embody their brand values and resonate with their target audience. This collaborative approach allows for a deeper understanding of the audience and ensures that UGC aligns with brand identity.

  • Strike a balance: While authentic and unfiltered UGC is highly valued, it's essential to strike a balance with polished brand content. This blend ensures that UGC campaigns maintain a cohesive brand identity while embracing the genuine voices of consumers. The mix of raw and refined content creates a compelling narrative that resonates with diverse audience segments.

  • In-House production: Leveraging the expertise and passion of in-house creators can be a powerful strategy for generating authentic and engaging UGC. Encourage founders, social media teams, and other employees to share their experiences and perspectives, utilizing their insider knowledge to create unique and relatable content.

  • Full-funnel strategy: Engaging content has to be tailored for each stage of the funnel. Authenticity and format diversity are crucial. For the awareness stage, storytelling is an excellent format and in this moment, the product could be promoted using product placement instead of overt product promotion. The consideration stage is all about in-depth information about your products including product demos, tutorials of testimonials is a good strategy here. Finally, in the conversion stage is where brands should incorporate discount codes, promotional offers, and personalized product modifications.

  • Think in customer journey: The customer journey beings with the UGC creative, but definitely cannot end there. Utilize UGC insights to tailor landing pages, product recommendations, and promotional offers to individual user preferences. This personalized approach fosters deeper connections, enhances brand loyalty, and drives conversions.

Using landing experiences tailored for UGC

Landing pages have been serving as a performance booster for social ads and the saviest brands know that they can leverage the potential from UGC with dedicated landing pages. By creating dedicated landing pages for each UGC campaign or creator partnership, brands can effectively personalize the user experience, track campaign performance, and ultimately boost conversions. They allow brands to tailor the content, messaging, and calls to action to align with the unique voice and audience of the creator or campaign.

  • Conversion Catalyst: Landing pages empower brands to seamlessly integrate clear and compelling calls to action that align with the specific goals of each UGC campaign. These pages offer a unique opportunity to personalize the user experience, catering to the individual preferences and interests of visitors.

  • Tracking Campaign Success: Landing pages provide invaluable data that empowers brands to assess the effectiveness of their UGC campaigns. By tracking metrics such as conversion rates, time spent on page, and bounce rates, brands can gain insights into which UGC formats resonate best with their audience and which influencers generate the most engagement. These data-driven insights enable brands to optimize their UGC strategies, allocate resources effectively, and maximize ROI.

Final words

UGC is not dead, it is just growing up. Brands can still leverage UGC as a efficient and effective marketing tool to acquire customers online, if executed well which means consistent creative testing, doubling down on top-performing creators, balancing UGC with high-gloss content, and using the full-funnel and aligning landing experiences with UGC creatives. Reach out if you want to discuss how we help online brands bringing their UGC approach to the new environment.

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