What’s the Difference Between UGC and Influencers?

Colby Flood
Creative Strategy

UGC VS Influencer Content

If you’re working in digital marketing in 2024, you’ve heard of influencer marketing and UGC marketing. But… you might still not know the difference. The lines can seem a bit blurry, but there actually is a clear distinction. 

Operating a digital marketing agency, part of my job is to help brands understand the most effective form of marketing for their unique needs, goals, and audience. Having worked heavily with both UGC creators and influencers, I can help you understand the differences, similarities, and benefits of each. While both play significant roles in brand promotion and audience engagement, they serve different purposes and are used in distinct ways.

What is the Difference Between UGC and Influencer Content?

User-generated content (UGC) refers to content—text, videos, images, reviews, etc.—created by people rather than brands. While UGC was often viewed largely as unpaid in the past, it’s now a common paid marketing strategy. UGC creators work with brands to create content that feels authentic but is often guided (or scripted entirely) by the brand. 

Influencers, on the other hand, are social media personalities who have established credibility in a specific industry or niche. They have access to a large audience and can persuade others to make purchases through their authenticity and reach. Brands often pay influencers to use, review, or promote products through their own social media channels.

Exploring UGC Marketing

UGC leverages the authenticity and creativity of everyday users to boost brand recognition and trust. It includes several content types, from social media posts to blogs and reviews. While some think of UGC as being completely user-generated, that isn’t exactly the case anymore. 

Internally, we find and hire UGC creators who align with specific brands or products, create briefs for them to create content, and run the content as ads. The content is still filmed on a smartphone, with the creator maintaining most of the control, but it’s very strategic.

These are a few key benefits of using UGC in marketing strategies:

  • UGC stands out as highly authentic because it is viewed as being created by unbiased users. This authenticity fosters trust among prospective customers, who often value peer recommendations over traditional advertising. For example, when users see real people sharing positive experiences with a product, their confidence in the brand increases, making them more likely to engage and make a purchase.
  • Generating UGC can be significantly more cost-effective than traditional marketing campaigns. Creators can negotiate their prices based on the results they’ve delivered in the past, but even on the higher, it’s likely to be a LOT cheaper than hiring actors and booking sets for a traditional ad.
  • One of the most important advantages of UGC is the diversity it brings to a brand’s content strategy. Different users depict unique uses, settings, and personal testimonials about a product, enriching your brand's narrative. When we hire creators and send them products for a brand, we always emphasize that they should use our brief as a template, but make the video as authentic as possible. Often, we’ll talk to creators beforehand about how they might use a product so we can incorporate that scenario into the brief. 

By incorporating UGC into your marketing strategies, your brand can achieve more authentic engagement with your audience, enrich your content strategy with diverse and genuine narratives, and enhance your marketing reach and effectiveness.

Exploring Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing plays on the credibility and reach of influencers to promote products and services. This strategy depends on an influencer's ability to shape perceptions and influence the purchasing decisions of their followers. 

Here are a few reasons why a brand may opt to use influencer marketing: 

  • Influencers work closely with brands to create content that aligns with the brand’s overall marketing strategy. This collaboration ensures the messaging is coherent across different campaigns and platforms, maintaining the brand's image and voice. For instance, when working with influencers, you can dictate specific messaging points, aesthetics, and even the content's tone, which helps maintain a consistent brand identity.
  • Influencers often have well-defined audience demographics, making it easy for brands to target specific groups. Influencers can deliver content directly to the niche the brand aims to reach, whether by age, location, interest, or lifestyle. 
  • Influencers are content creators by trade, so you can count on them to bring a professional level of quality to the visuals they produce. For example, an influencer specializing in beauty products will create polished, informative content that showcases the products in a visually appealing way, drawing in viewers and swaying potential customers.
  • Unlike traditional advertising, where direct impact can sometimes be difficult to measure, influencer marketing offers tangible metrics like views, clicks, and purchases. Brands can track the performance of influencer campaigns through specific tools or platforms that monitor direct traffic, engagement, and even sales conversions from influencer posts.
  • Influencers build relationships with their followers based on trust and authenticity. When an influencer genuinely endorses a product, followers are more likely to trust the recommendation. This trust translates into greater credibility for the brand and deeper customer loyalty. 

Influencer marketing offers brands a dynamic and impactful way to reach potential customers through trusted voices within their communities. By finding the right influencers who craft strategic, high-quality content, brands can enhance their visibility, strengthen audience trust, and ultimately drive greater sales and growth.

Is UGC or Influencer Content Right for You?

At Brighter Click, we help clients with both UGC marketing and influencer outreach. UGC marketing and influencer content are invaluable to social media marketing in different ways, each serving unique strategic purposes. 

Understanding the key differences allows marketers to choose the right approach based on their objectives: enhancing engagement, extending reach, or building brand trust. Ultimately, determining the right path comes down to a strategic conversation between you and your marketing team or agency. 

Want More Strategies for Success?

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